The Cannes Film Festival called an impromptu press conference this afternoon to give Thierry Fremaux a chance to meet with journalists a day ahead of kick-off and to elaborate on some of the biggest issues at this year’s event. One of the most pressing is the will-it-or-won’t-it screen question hanging over Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. The film is set to close the proceedings on May 19, but has been caught in a legal tussle over rights.
Paulo Branco and his Alfama Films are seeking an injunction on the Cannes screening with a judge hearing from the parties this morning in Paris. Frémaux confirmed that the decision will be delivered on Wednesday this week (tomorrow is a national holiday in France).
Frémaux also addressed the climate in a post-Harvey Weinstein world, echoing many statements he made during the lineup press conference in April. The fest chief said, “It’s not just the Cannes Film Festival that has changed, the entire world changed last year.” He said the festival had been unaware of Weinstein’s alleged behavior, “We had a professional relationship.” Cannes has established a sexual harassment hotline at the festival, as previously reported.
The festival took stock of its own standing with regard to equality and recruited more women for the selection committee. Frémaux also said today that there will be more female jury presidents in the future. Cate Blanchett is presiding this year.
On Saturday during the fest there will be a special red carpet with about 100 female artists “to affirm their presence.”
Turning to Netflix, which pulled its movies from consideration this year in light of a rule that all films in the main competition must have the option of being released theatrically in France, Frémaux reiterated, “We have very good relationship with Netflix. There is a disagreement. Last year was Epsiode One,” when Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories ran in competition. “This year is Episode Two and next year will be Episode Three,” Frémaux said.
The fest has been criticized for the shift to showing press screenings simultaneously with the evening world premiere galas this year, but Frémaux said this was not designed to alienate journalists. “Why would we go against the press when it’s one of the four pillars of Cannes: The press, the auteurs, glamour and the red carpet?,” he posited.
Frémaux did not have much to say about the Academy’s recent decision to boot Roman Polanski from its membership. “Our friends from the Academy are here and we will talk with them. It’s a very particular situation. The question of how do we look at the past through today’s eyes is a bit complicated.” Polanski won the Palme d’Or for The Pianist before he won the Oscar for Best Director of the same film. Frémaux noted the Cannes prize was given “by a jury.”
Asked if Lars Von Trier is not in competition so as to avoid a press conference, Frémaux said, “After you see the film, you’ll tell me if it should have been in Competition. Fellini never went back into Competition after La Dolce Vita… For Lars what was important for us was to see him come back to Cannes. All the world’s filmmakers should feel Cannes is their home. Cannes does not belong to us, it belongs to all of us. Cannes is a place of artists and one that protects artists.”
Von Trier in 2011 “joked about subjects that should not be joked about, but in no way make him an anti-semite or a nazi. He was punished, and (Cannes President) Pierre Lescure with the board judged that the punishment had been long enough and that it was time for Lars Von Trier to return,” said Frémaux.