FOR Indian filmmakers, the Cannes Film Festival has remained one of the choicest platforms to showcase their newest work. Yet, year after year, they have failed to secure a place in the competition section. Christian Jeune, director of the Film Department of the festival, says: “Believe me, we are dying to get more Indian entries and to have them in the competition section. We have had some very good films at the festival, Masaan, Titli and Ugly. But they were not in the competition. Indian films should feature in the competition section of other festivals too.”
During his recent visit to India, Jeune explained the process of picking movies for the festival. “We try to make the best selection possible. Of course, there will be mistakes, as the selection is based on personal choices.” So, there are movies that the festival didn’t pick but they went on to become successful eventually? “Yeah. Probably,” says Jeune with a chortle.
However, in defense of the festival’s selection process, he says, “The audience at Cannes is very different from other film festivals. It consists of professionals, mainly mediapersons. While selecting movies, we have to keep that in mind. The flip side of this is that the mediapersons expect every movie to be a masterpiece. Sometimes, we don’t select certain films assuming that they would be at risk in Cannes, where they will be open to severe criticism. However, it is okay to take a risk.” Jeune, who is the main contact for sending entries for the festival, believes that films are more “kindly judged” at other festivals, compared to Cannes.
However, Cannes gives the global visibility that most filmmakers aspire for. Last year’s winner, The Square, is currently in the Oscar race for the Best Foreign Film Award. While Jeune concedes that winning
Palme d’Or gives a film “a lot of exposure”, there have been occasions when the winners of the top award at Cannes have not had a great run at the box-office.
When asked about the statement made by actor Jessica Chastain — who served on the festival jury last year — about the representation of women in films, Jeune said: “We are not making the films. We are selecting them.” While presenting the jury report, Chastain had stated, “One thing I really took away from this experience is how the world views women from the female characters that I saw represented. And it was quite disturbing to me, to be honest. I do believe that if you have female storytelling, you also have more authentic female characters.” Referring to Chastain’s statement, Jeune added, “This is something to do with our society. This discussion should take place at various sections of our society.”