Jean-Pierre Rehm talks to Business Doc Europe of his relief at being able to run a ‘non-virtual’ FID Marseille, which again sets out to blur the lines between documentary, fiction and experimental within its programme.
It was touch and go for a long time. Yes, if push came to shove, FID Marseille would have gone virtual, but that would have been a subprime solution, says the festival’s executive office Jean-Pierre Rehm. “Going online would have been meaningless. We would have done it, but it would have been meaningless,” he stresses.
The U-turn in fortunes came at the end of May when the French government announced that theatres would open again on June 22.
“Of course the festival has changed. There are fewer films, 92 films instead of 130… but we were very happy because suddenly the meaning was back,” he explains, at the same time illustrating the grim alternative to ‘live’. “You show a film as a world premiere which is shot in Mexico, with huge landscapes, and then you watch that [at home] on your computer with the lights on all around you, and it’s not fair. It’s not fair for all the work that has been done, nor for the meaning of the work. Maybe documentary can endure [this] ill treatment, but even then it concerns a certain type of documentary, but otherwise no film should suffer this.”
The 31st edition of FID Marseille runs 22-26 July, its 82 films hailing from 31 countries. The festival’s industry component FIDLab ran online 6-10 July.
Seventeen films from 16 countries will compete in International Competition, nine of which are directed by women. Across all competitions (International, French, Premiers and CNAP) the gender split is exactly 50/50. The 4 competitive sections gather 50 films, including 46 world premieres and 4 international premieres, representing 28 countries.
A new competition entitled FLASH “brings together films as dazzling as lightnings that are true cinematic proposals, regardless of their brief duration,” and traverses the other four competition sections. Two prizes will be awarded, one of which, the Alice Guy Prize, will go to a female director.
German filmmaker Angela Schanelec will be awarded the Grand Prix d’Honneur and the festival will screen a retrospective of her films. A tribute will also be paid to “the amazing actor” Michel Piccoli.
When going through the works in selection, it is hard to determine whether a film is documentary, fiction, non-fiction or experimental. But this is very deliberate, Rehm explains, pointing out that it is a long time since the ‘D’ in FID denoted ‘documentary’. These days, the letter could as easily refer to the festival’s choice of ‘diverse’, ‘difficult’, ‘dynamic’ or ‘daring’ films.
“I don’t believe in a difference between documentary and fiction,” he says. “I believe in films. Each film is particular. I am much more interested in what is at stake within each film rather than say it belongs to this [category] or belongs to that. All the films we show… are deeply wishing to connect with reality, with the world that we are in, the world we are surrounded by.”
That said, he is aware that the festival’s industry component FIDLab defines projects as documentary, fiction animation etc, acknowledging that industry personnel feel safer investing in future works if they are categorised along standard lines. But still, he would like to bring protocol in line with the festival. “That’s my sadness, and every year I want to erase that,” says Rehm. “If it was my strict decision, I would say, ‘say nothing’.”
Rehm further points to his festival as a home for brilliant new talents (Apichatpong Weerasethakul kicked off his international career in Marseille 2001 with his first film Mysterious Object at Noon) and claims that, due to long-standing contacts with exhibitors and distributors, selection in the FIDMarseille is a near guarantee for a theatrical release in France. FID Marseille is also part of the 7-festival partnership/lobby Doc Alliance.
In conclusion, Rehm points to the festival mission statement to sum up the Marseille offer. “Cinema harbours a plurality of forms, of formats, of lengths, of approaches, and of visions. A unique moment when filmmakers from all over the world nurture our present with all they have… If testifying is urgently required, we also know that courage, aptness, and even a cheerful conviction are likewise needed, in order to make [things] audible and visible and to move ahead. Unexpected, daring, relevant, rebellious, as surprising as our world itself: this is the kind of filmmaking the FID rejoices in championing!”
The films in International Competition are as follows (for full programme click here):
A DANÇA DO CIPRESTE
(THE CYPRESS DANCE)
Francisco Queimadela, Mariana Caló
Portugal / 2020 / 37′ Première Mondiale
Serbia / 2020 / 63′ Première Mondiale
LAW TO KWAME
Israel / 2020 / 23′ Première Mondiale
EYES / EYES / EYES / EYES
(YEUX / YEUX / YEUX / YEUX)
Spain / 2020 / 37′ Première Mondiale
GLI APPUNTI DI ANNA AZZORI / UNO SPECCHIO CHE VIAGGIA NEL TEMPO (THE NOTES OF ANNA AZZORI/A MIRROR THAT
TRAVELS THROUGH TIME)
Austria, Germany, France / 2020 / 72′ Première Internationale
GOODBYE MISTER WONG
Kiyé Simon Luang
Laos, France/2020/106′ Première Mondiale
US, Sweden / 2020 / 42′ Première Mondiale
France / 2020 / 70′ Première Mondiale
Belgium / 2020 / 60′ Première Mondiale
Brasil / 2020 / 74′ Première Mondiale
SE ESCUCHAN AULLIDOS
Julio Hernández Cordón
Mexico / 2020 / 70′ Première Internationale
Tatiana Mazú González
Argentina / 2020 / 81′ Première Mondiale
TODA LA LUZ QUE
Pablo Escoto Luna
Mexico/2020/129′ Première Internationale
TODO LO QUE SE OLVIDA EN UN INSTANTE (EVERYTHING THAT IS
FORGOTTEN IN AN INSTANT)
Argentina / 2020 / 61′ Première Mondiale
Wendelien Van Oldenborgh
Germany, Neths/2020/61′ Première Mondiale
Chile / 2019 / 80′ Première Internationale
Maéva Ranaïvojaona, Georg Tiller
France, Austria, Madagascar / 2020 / 78′ Première Mondiale