The Cannes Film Festival has released the transcript of a speech artistic director Thierry Frémaux will give tomorrow after the unveiling of the Official Selection. The speech (scroll down for the full version) reveals details about the makeup of this year’s lineup, without revealing specific titles.
Cannes was due to take place last month but had to cancel its 73rd edition due to the coronavirus. Movies such as Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch and Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria were among those widely tipped for the event. Netflix was also due to make a return to the Riviera festival with Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods.
The festival says that tomorrow it will announce all movies, whether they be Competition, Un Certain Regard, Out Of Competition, Midnight Screenings, or Special Screenings, in one single list: “We will therefore let you…forge your own opinion about the ideal Cannes 2020 program, and which movies would best fit each category.”
The festival’s Official Selection will comprise 56 films, a volume consistent with recent editions. However, the festival received 2,067 features, a record number of submissions. Within that, there were a record 909 debut films. 258 of those debut films were directed by women (28.4%), 651 by men (71.6%).
In the Official Selection, there are a record 15 first films (26.7% of the total), compared to 10 in 2019 (17%).
A total of 532 female directors submitted their film to the Official Selection, 25.7% of the total, compared to 575 female directors registered in 2019. But there is an increase of women directors chosen for the Official Selection with 16 female directors in the lineup, up from 14 last year. In percentage, this number is 28.5% of the selection, higher than last year (23.7%) and, higher than the percentage of female directors submitting movies to the Selection.
Frémaux says: “This growing number of female directors in the selection is the result of an evolution observed for several years. It testifies, in number and in value, to the artistic and human contribution of women in contemporary cinema, whether they are directors or technicians.”
He notes that there is a “wider selection” of nationalities this year, but also a particularly large contingent of French films: “Alongside countries always well represented on the Croisette (USA, South Korea, Japan, UK), as well as rare or new territories (Bulgaria, Georgia, Congo), the 2020 crop distinguishes itself by a strong French selection. Each year, Cannes presents between 10 and 15 French films. This year we have 21 French films, 5 more than in 2017, 11 more than in 2018 and 8 more than in 2019….among these 21 French films, where a new generation of actors explodes, 8 are directed by women, that is 38% of the total and 9 are first films (42%), two figures pointing to the future.”
Frémaux says that Cannes films will play at upcoming festivals, providing those festivals can go ahead. There has been much talk that Venice will show some would-be Cannes movies. “Many other festivals around the world have expressed the desire to welcome the Cannes 2020 selection films,” the Cannes boss says. “The Cannes Film Festival will soon unveil how it will operate next fall. Traditionally, successive festivals such as Locarno, Telluride, Toronto, Deauville, San Sebastian, Pusan, Morelia, Angoulême (for French cinema), New York, Rome, Rio, Tokyo, Mumbaï or Mar del Plata and even Sundance have invited the films of the Official Selection. They will do it again this year with the active support of Cannes and its teams.”
He continues: “As we did last year, the festival will present one or two films together with ACID (Association du Cinéma Indépendant pour sa Diffusion), one of the Festival’s parallel sections that will also announce a selection. The Critics’ Week will also announce its own selection. Finally, Lili Hinstin, the Locarno Festival’s director wanted to be the first to welcome Cannes films (before she too was unfortunately forced to give up), and we also spoke with Jose-Luis Rebordinos, the director of the San Sebastian festival, who decided that the films included in the Cannes 2020 Official Selection could also compete in San Sebastian. He changed the rules, just for us. Exceptional circumstances, exceptional measures.”
The festival veteran also notes that “the complete list of the Cannes Classics program will also be revealed soon, headed by Wong Kar-Wai’s masterpiece In the Mood for Love, announced last February and which will be released in French theaters next December.”
READ THE SPEECH IN FULL:
Due to the global pandemic, the Cannes Film Festival will not
take place this year under its usual conditions, nor on the dates it
was scheduled: May 12th to 23rd, 2020.
On March 19, the Festival was postponed to the beginning of
July. With Pierre Lescure, the Président of Cannes, we had until April
15 to make a decision. But on April 13, French public authorities announced that no major cultural event could take place during the summer. September
being traditionally the time of Venice and Toronto festivals, it was out
of the question that we would hold our festival in September. As for
organizing Cannes later, in October or November, after all the fall
festivals, that was just not possible either.
However, cancelation has never been an option. As you probably
know, the Festival was canceled only once, in 1939. And only one
other edition did not go to completion, it was in 1968. In 2020, if the
International Film Festival (the FIF as locals like to call it) could not
take its usual form, it was necessary for it to take another form. It
could not just disappear.
It was also because of the filmmaker’s hard work that we didn’t
want to give up. We couldn’t send everyone to 2021. So, we
continued our selection. And it was the right decision. By choosing to
work until the end to establish a selection, we received more than
2000 feature films, 2067 to be precise.
This Selection is here, and it’s a beautiful one. Even though
movie theatres have been shut for three months – for the first time
since the invention of film screening by the Lumière Brothers on
December 28, 1895 – this Selection reflects that cinema is more alive
than ever. It remains unique, irreplaceable. We live in a world where
moving images are in constant evolution, whether we talk of the way
the movies are shown or the movies themselves. Cinema makes a difference thanks to those who make it, those who give it life and
those who receive it and make it glorious, “Coming soon to a theatre
near you”: the formula has never been so compelling. We will see it
soon: cinema is not dead, it’s not even sick.
During the winter and spring of 2020, the selection screenings
continued. First collectively in the Festival office in Paris, and then
individually. Selection committee members received films via the
Internet and watched them at home. Then, through written
exchanges and many conversations, we distinguished the films that
caught our attention. It was quite a busy confinement!
Some of the titles revealed on June 3, 2020 appeared in
commentator’s forecasts. They saw in the selection a lot of
recognized filmmakers whose work was known to be ready this year.
Other films, also expected, viewed and loved by the selection
committee, will be absent because their authors and producers have
chosen to postpone their release to winter or spring 2021 and thus
apply for festivals next year – including Cannes. Therefore, their
absence in the Official Selection this year won’t be surprising. We’ll
meet them again in 2021.
On the other hand, we’ll see that many discoveries are shaping
this Selection 2020. A festival’s purpose is to place emerging talents
on the world map. In Cannes, we’re fully aware of this. In this year
like no other, we saw films made for the big screen masterfully
occupy small screens. So we want to confirm our desire to preserve
the mythology of cinema as well as to look towards its future.
To be adamant in our decision to deliver an Official Selection is
ultimately, for the Festival, the best way to help cinema, as well as
focus on the films that will be released in theaters in the coming
months. The reopening of cinemas, after months of closure, is a
crucial issue. The Cannes Film Festival intends to accompany these
films and support their careers in France and abroad, as well as
confirm the importance of theaters as in what makes the value of the
Seventh Art. We know that many festivals are taking the same
Because of the absence of events on the Croisette, the Official
Selection will more than ever retain its role. The means may be
different, but we will retain the same convictions and, thanks to all,
the same efficiency.
With our teams in both Cannes and Paris, but also alongside the
artists and professionals of the selected movies, and the exhibitors
and festival directors around the world, the Cannes Film Festival will
maintain its mission of putting cinema at the heart of the world, as it
has been doing since its first edition We will bear witness to cinemas
imperious presence and prodigious vitality.
Usually, the Festival shows about 60 films in its Official Selection
(59 in 2019, 56 in 2018). The selection presented on June 3, 2020 is
comprised of 56 films. They were chosen from the 2,067 feature films received this year compared to 1,845 in 2019, 1,916 in 2018 and 1,885 in 2017 or,
to take a more distant figure, 1,665 films in 2010.
It’s the first time that the number of films submitted to Cannes
exceeds 2,000. The crisis and the slowdown in post-production
processes have therefore had no impact on the number of films sent
We must look for this increase on the side of the first films: 909
were submitted to the selection, more than any previous years. 258
of these movies were directed by women (28.4%), 651 by men
In the 2020 Official Selection we have 15 first films (26.7% of
the total), compared to 10 in 2019 (17%). We have never had this
many first time filmmakers in the Official Selection. It comes to prove
the vitality of cinema. It’s also a proof of the Festival’s commitment
to the future of cinema.
Another growing figure is the constant geographic expansion of
the film’s countries of origin. In 2020, the films came from 147
countries, compared to 138 in 2019, an increase of 6.5%.
Regarding the presence of female directors, the Cannes Film
Festival has made a commitment to “Collectif 50/50” to provide
statistical information on the presence of female directors.
Here are two:
– 532 female directors submitted their film to the Selection,
25.7% of the total, compared to 575 female directors registered in
2019, a slightly lower figure.
– The number of female directors included in the Selection shows
a significant increase. We will have 16 female directors in the
selection. They were 14 in 2019, 11 in 2018, 12 in 2017, 9 in 2016,
and 6 in 2015. In percentage, this number is 28.5% of the selection,
higher than last year (23.7%) and, above all, higher than the
percentage of female directors submitting movies to the selection. It
should be noted that the same figure rises to 38%, when we only
talk of French cinema in the official selection.
This growing number of female directors in the selection is the
result of an evolution observed for several years. It testifies, in
number and in value, to the artistic and human contribution of
women in contemporary cinema, whether they are directors or
technicians. It is also less a matter of numbers than an enjoyable
prospect: when we will publish the statistics of the short film
competition or that of the Cinéfondation films later in June, you will
be able to see that, among the younger generation, the presence of
female directors is even more important and promises the advent of
a parity that we are all looking for.
Since there won’t be any screenings on the Croisette, and there
won’t be any traditional festival programming, we have decided to
group the films selected in one single list without registering them in
the usual separate categories: Competition, Un Certain regard, Out of
competition, Midnight Screenings, and Special Screenings.
We will therefore let you, when you’ll have viewing all the films,
forge your own opinion about the ideal Cannes 2020 program, and
which movies would best fit each category.
You can also, in a list containing many newcomers, invent other
categories, that will be more sentimental, more arbitrary, geographic
or artistic. It will all depend on what one finds there: some
established filmmakers, surprises, young filmmakers, rare countries,
documentaries and animated films. And more this year: comedies,
which we too often regret the absence in the Officiel Selection.
To confirm what we stated above, this selection was built with
the prospect of seeing the Cannes Film Festival assume more than
ever its primary mission: to promote films, artists and professionals
by showing their work, to be the bridge between the screen and the
This Selection was also made with filmmakers, producers and
distributors who decided to face the uncertainty of the times by
committing to release their films by winter 2021. This 2020 Selection
therefore reflects our desire to focus our attention on films that will
try to reach there audience before the end of the year. To our usual
criteria of selection, as undefined as obvious (and sometimes not so
much!), to our usual question: “Is this a film for Cannes?’, we
sometimes added this question: “Isn’t this a perfect film to get
people back to the theaters”.
That meant a wider selection, in particular for French films.
Alongside countries always well represented on the Croisette (USA,
South Korea, Japan, UK) as well as rare or new territories (Bulgaria,
Georgia, Congo), the 2020 crop distinguishes itself by a strong
French selection. Each year, Cannes presents between 10 and 15
French films. This year we have 21 French films, 5 more than in
2017, 11 more than in 2018 and 8 more than in 2019.
Many international festivals also give professionals and
journalists an opportunity to publicize their national cinema. This
wasn’t the case here. This is not a return to this old section of the
Festival: “Perspectives du cinema français”. Rest assured, French
cinema is not getting any special treatment. Simply put, even if some
well-known artists will wait for next year, the number and quality of
films viewed have led to this strong presence.
A political presence, in this case: we know how much the
necessary international diversity of creation comes first from the
strength of each region of the world. France thus shows the example
of a pugnacious cinema, which produces its vision of cinema, its own
films and, sometimes, those of other countries. That is why I would
like to express our support to the filmmakers and producers of
Mexico, a great country of world cinema and a great supplier of films
for the Festival de Cannes who, through the voice of the 2019 Jury
President Alejandro González Iñárritu, and those of Alfonso Cuarón
and Guillermo del Toro, fight for a brighter future.
This French presence is also the fruit of this opportunity: we
want to be in harmony with future theatrical releases. Finally, it
should be noted that among these 21 French films, where a new
generation of actors explodes, 8 are directed by women, that is 38%
of the total and 9 are first films (42%), two figures pointing to the
We will all miss the Cannes experience this year. We will all miss
the Cannes effect: what a single projection at the Palais des Festivals
gives birth to, an acclamation, a reputation, a storm and sometimes a
thunderstorm. All things that make up the flavor and richness of the
12 days of the Cannes Film Festival, before the films go to find other
fortunes and other successes in cinemas and festivals around the
With my colleagues on the selection committee, we will also be
deprived of the bets we make each year on the films reception. Of
the thrill when the lights go out, the curtain opens and Camille Saint-
Saëns’s music begins. There are some works we selected specifically
for this moment. For the emotion they can provoke, the effect that
they will cause in the room, the “Croisette buzz” that a single
projection can give birth to, the support that we give them, and the
appetite they will create at the Market. To see exhibitors around the
world rejoicing in their coming season.
We will have to find another way to support these films. Now
that the world premiere at the Palais won’t happen, it will have to be
in theaters and festivals around the world. It has been abundantly
written and commented, we all felt something was missing last May.
The manner in which newspapers (I’m thinking in particular of the
marvelous New York Times article which gave voice to “Cannes”
filmmakers and to all those who wished to bring to life our shared
memories last May) expressed their deep attachment to the Festival
encourages us to continue and to think about the future. The year
2021 will be important in many, many ways.
Many other festivals around the world have expressed the desire
to welcome the Cannes 2020 selection films. The Cannes Film
Festival will soon unveil how it will operate next fall. Traditionally,
successive festivals such as Locarno, Telluride, Toronto, Deauville,
San Sebastian, Pusan, Morelia, Angoulême (for French cinema), New
York, Rome, Rio, Tokyo, Mumbaï or Mar del Plata and even Sundance
have invited the films of the Official Selection. They will do it again
this year with the active support of Cannes and its teams. As we did
last year, the Festival will present one or two films together with
ACID (Association du Cinéma Indépendant pour sa Diffusion), one of
the Festival’s parallel sections that will also announce a selection. The
Critics’ Week will also announce its own selection. Finally, Lili Hinstin,
the Locarno Festival’s director wanted to be the first to welcome
Cannes films (before she too was unfortunately forced to give up),
and we also spoke with Jose-Luis Rebordinos, the director of the San
Sebastian festival, who decided that the films included in the Cannes
2020 Official Selection could also compete in San Sebastian. He
changed the rules, just for us. Exceptional circumstances, exceptional
As previously announced, the Marché du Film will have an online
edition this year, organized by its director Jérôme Paillard. Such an
online edition was possible for the Marché, but it is not something we
wished for the Festival itself (we don’t even know if it would have
been allowed by the right-holders of the films). At the Marché, both
participation and desire are promising (all information is available at
The short film competition and Cinéfondation competition
selections will be revealed in the coming days. The complete list of
the Cannes Classics program will also be revealed soon, headed by
Wong Kar-Wai’s masterpiece In the Mood for Love, announced last
February and which will be released in French theaters next
Through this text today I hope to share with you a glimpse into
the Selection process and the preparation of the entire Festival
during this challenging year. And I would like to pay tribute to all
those who make the Festival possible, and first of all thank Christian
Jeune, the director of the Films department, true conductor of the
organization of the Official Selection, and his assistants Zoé Klein,
Nadine Famien and Bruno Munoz, as well as those who make up the
selection committee Virginie Apiou, Paul Grandsard, Laurent Jacob,
Stéphanie Lamome, Eric Libiot, Lucien Logette, Johanna Nahon,
Guillemette Odicino, Caroline Veunac, and to our foreign
correspondents Didier Allouch, Joël Chapron, Isabelle Glachant,
Agnès Poirier, José Maria Riba, Yuka Sakano and Ilda Santiago. I
would also like to salute the beautiful presence of François-Michel
Allegrini, Oualid Baha, Lorenzo Chammah, Luc Dandrel, Simon
Gabriele, Clayd Genestet, François Lardenois, Manuel Moutier,
Emmanuel Raspiengeas, Adrien Valgadier, Wang Muyan, et Julien
I wanted to also thank François Desrousseaux (general
secretary), Aida Belloulid, Fred Cassoly and Clément Lemoine (Press
service), Samuel Faure (Partnerships), Michel Mirabella (Executive
secretary), Geneviève Pons (Un Certain Regard), Vinca Van Eecke
(Cannes digital service), Caroline Vautrot (Communication service),
Isabelle Michaud and Emiline Ange Gbehiri (Accounting), Nicolas Van
Herrenthals, Olivier Bouilland and Pierrette Clain (I.T.), Christine
Aimé (Service Archives), Patrick Lami (projectionist Paris), Jean-Pierre
et Virginie Vidal, Sylvain Lauredi (Cannes’ Team), the entire team
Marché du Film as well as Marie-Caroline Billault, our general
I have a special thought for Fabrice Allard and Emilie Renault
(Credential Service), Laure Cazeneuve (Jury) and Laurence Churlaud
(Protocol), who saw their great work abruptly interrupted this year.
This is also the case for all of those who join us on the Croisette:
projectionists, hostesses and hosts, technicians, security agents, etc.
I also have a thought for the publicists in very dire economical
difficulties today, for the freelance journalists, the drivers, the florists,
the cooks, the beach attendants, the hoteliers and all those who in
Cannes and around also organize this Festival with us and contribute
to its prestige.
With Pierre Lescure, we would like to express our gratitude to
the CNC, the PACA region and the Alpes-Maritimes General Council
for their unwavering support. Valuable support is also given to us by
the City of Cannes, a city especially threatened by the coming
economic crisis. Finally, we would like to thank all of the private
partners without whom the Festival can exist as it is and who are
going through the same torments.
All of us together, we will have even more energy and desire to
meet again in 2021 and make the most beautiful of festivals.
Finally, it is an important tradition even if it is full of sadness, I
would like to salute the memory of those who have honored Cannes
with their presence, their support and their affection: the journalists
Claude Carrez and Peter Van Bueren, our dear colleague José Maria
Riba, as well as Jean Douchet, Philippe Nahon, Christophe, Guy
Bedos, Tonie Marshall, Jean-Loup Dabadie, Kirk Douglas (President of
the Jury in 1980) and Michel Piccoli, so often present in Cannes as
both an actor and director, Best Actor winner in 1980 and member of
the jury in 2007. He made his last appearance in competition with
Nanni Moretti’s Habemus Papam in 2011, before entrusting his
Mémoires to our former president Gilles Jacob for the book J’ai Vécu
Dans Mes Rêves.
One last thing: 2020 is Federico Fellini’s centenary. During these
twelve days, we would all have embraced the three words from the
Maestro that Quentin Tarantino never fails to repeat and which, more
than ever, flow through the veins of all film lovers:
VIVA IL CINEMA!
See you in the movie theaters.
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