The Man who Plans Cannes

Thierry Fremaux is one of the most influential figures in the film world, as the moving force behind the Cannes Film Festival. General Delegate of the festival and its artistic director for a decade, he also heads the Lumière Institute in Lyon. He speaks about what makes Cannes special, and why India has been chosen as the guest country at the 66th edition of the festival.

What's the mission of Cannes, in your view? What is your special imprint on the festival?

Every year for twelve days, people come from around the world to this small city in the south of France, to celebrate cinema. Cannes exists to tell the world that cinema is an art, cinema is an industry, cinema is a passion, cinema is alive. It is the greatest film festival in the world — not just in terms of the film competition but also in terms of the market it facilitates.

What I've done in the last ten years is to manage a balance, between art and the market, between arthouse films and the red carpet. In fact, Indian cinema is a good example of that balance I've tried to achieve.

Could you elaborate on that?

Traditionally, we associated Indian cinema with the great auteurs — Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, and so on. When I came on board, in 2001, I began with a Raj Kapoor retrospective, following it up with Devdas the next year. Bollywood was a revelation for everyone, and drew mixed reactions from the Western press. We went further with Shekhar Kapoor's documentary on Bollywood. Now, Bollywood is almost expected — it is that other tradition of auteur filmmaking that we miss. This year, as Indian cinema celebrates 100 years, we hope to focus on both strands, popular and arthouse, as well as the young "third wave" I have found very interesting.

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