Cannes Film Festival celebrated the 100th anniversary of Indian cinema in May 2013. In November, Thierry Fremaux, the Delegate General of the festival visited NFDC Film Bazaar looking out for new Indian films. Fremaux stressed on how the Croisette doesn’t make value judgement and is keen to welcome different kinds of Indian cinema. Excerpts from an interview:
In our last interview, you spoke about France’s perception of Indian cinema as either Bollywood or the films of Satyajit Ray.
The usual perception of Indian cinema in France is split into those two categories. But a third category is now emerging, thanks to the new generation of filmmakers who are able to make different kinds of cinema. Films like Gangs of Wasseypur, Miss Lovely and Monsoon Shootout show that they have something purely Indian as well as are able to meet the expectations of the audiences at film festivals.
This new Indian cinema is like the new Hollywood of the 1970s. It is still fragile but I believe that this movement will be stronger in the future.
It doesn’t mean that one should stop paying attention to Bollywood. Like even in Korea, traditional popular cinema, auteur-driven cinema and the genre films co-exist. But I would like to pay more attention to the new Indian cinema.
What kind of Indian films do you want to show at the Cannes Film Festival?
Our strategy with Indian cinema is the same as what we do with Hollywood. We opened the festival with a film like The Great Gatsby but we also include auteur films of Coen Brothers or Alexander Payne. Similarly we would like to show the different sides of Indian cinema. For us, it’s not one side pitted against the other.
How do you view the trend of increasing co-productions between India and France like The Lunchbox and Qissa?
The Indian market was considered to be very local, specific and closed. It is good to see these kinds of exchanges happening between India and France.
How was the year 2013 for French cinema?
French cinema is still going solid. But there is a big economic crisis in Europe and cinema is not a priority for the government. The government should understand that cinema can also be efficient from economic point of view.
French cinema has had a tradition of welcoming foreign language films. Some of the most successful European films are co-produced with France. Amour, that won the Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film last year, was a French co-production. So, protecting French cinema is also protecting world cinema.
Is there a market for Indian films in France?
In our attempt to promote Indian cinema, we even pay attention to having Indian artists in the Jury at Cannes. But that’s not enough. The French audience is really interested in Indian cinema but there are not enough Indian films that they get to watch. There aren’t enough celebrations of Indian cinema and culture in France.
What do you think of NFDC Film Bazaar as a co-production market?
I am in a position to judge this market as a professional as I have been to all major co-productions market in the world. I have to say I am quite impressed. It’s full of good filmmakers and good projects. In the long run, I see Film Bazaar at par with Cannes, Berlin and American Film Market.