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Jérôme Baron, director of the « Festival des 3 continents »: « 2013 is a good year for cinema »

Jérôme Baron, director of the « Festival des 3 continents »: « 2013 is a good year for cinema »

The 35th edition of the Festival des 3 Continents will take place from the 19th to the 26th of November in Nantes. Preview seized the opportunity to ask Jérôme Baron, artistic director of the festival, a few questions.
Could you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Jérôme Baron and I have been the artistic director of the « Festival des 3 Continents » since 2010. My career path was relatively predictable: I have a Master’s degree in civilization and I have also studied film history and philosophy.

Tell us more about this year’s programme.

For this edition we have come up with a wide variety of topics, but we were also determined to showcase African cinema. As you may know, nowadays, African cinema is in an extremely vulnerable state. It wasn’t easy to find the necessary material for the programme about the African continent.

This immediately explains the idea behind the poster of this 35th edition.

To mark the occasion, we wanted to suggest something that everyone can relate to. That’s why we chose the movie kiss. I think it’s a great way to celebrate African cinema. We also wanted to avoid the typical portrayal of Africa with smiling kids or black people dancing.

Was it complicated to put the whole programme together?

I have to admit that we didn’t get much sleep while we were preparing the festival and there was a lot of stress. The programme was very, very difficult to conceive. After months of research and dead ends, things started to fall into place a few weeks before the beginning of the festival. This was probably the most difficult programme I have ever put together since I started working for the « Festival des 3 Continents ». But it’s the price we pay for favouring rare films. Every year, people in Nantes get to see movies that other festivals would never project. This year, there will be films that have never been shown in Europe before.

It seems that the festival is trying to please a wider audience to the detriment of quality. Do you agree?

I donít think so, because the films in every programme are chosen above all for their quality. It is quality that will help us reach students, young adults and schoolchildren. We have a very loyal public which has been with us from the very beginning, but this is the 35th edition, which means that these people are at least 35 years old. This is why we have to maintain a high level of quality and at the same time, introduce other types of films, even if they aren’t present in the festival’s DNA.

How did the Crossroads idea come to mind?

At first, I thought of the problem of human migration, because it is a highly topical issue at the moment. But when I looked through the films chosen for the 35th edition of the festival, I realised it’s a topic that is quite restrictive. I understood that the idea of finding your path, of shifting and wandering, and everything that it implies, is more important. The question should be therefore asked differently – why do people move about, why do they travel?
A word about the 100th anniversary of Indian cinema…

Because it’s their 100th anniversary and our 35th edition, we thought it would be great if we could celebrate together (laughs). The films chosen for the inauguration and closing nights of the festival, like « The Lunchbox », will be dedicated to Indian cinema. There will be a special event at the Grand T the 20th of November, with an exclusive concert of Wassifuddin Dagar who is probably the greatest living Indian musician. We will be showing true Bollywood classics with subtle scenarios and wonderful actors, etc. We want to address all audiences, without compromising on quality.

How did you put together the official selection of the festival?

We saw around 500 movies. We also received a lot of full featured films. I think that 2013 is a good year for cinema. It is true that there are only 9 movies in the official selection, unlike other years when there were ten, even twelve, but we decided to leave out a few that have already been shown by other festivals. We have selected restored films and experimental full featured films. The public will also be able to discover never before seen movies during preview screenings.

What do you think of the jury of this 35th edition?

We tried to bring these people together, because we are certain that they will be able to bond. I think the result will be quite interesting. The jury members are from America, Britain, Iran and France. They are all very young and have a great sense of contemporary cinema. It is a wonderful team, I am very pleased.

Produire au Sud is making its grand comeback in the 2013 programme.

That’s right, we are interested in partnerships between directors and producers and we have formed groups of two. We would like them to acquire a certain number of skills which they could pass on to other people in their countries. Of course, our main objective is to accompany them in carrying out their projects from beginning to end, from an artistic and economical point of view, etc…

What is your opinion on the evolution of the « Festival des 3 Continents »?

We are doing much better today, not to mention that we are no longer in deficit! (laughs) Ever since 2010, it has been a huge gamble for all of us. Every year, we made cuts in our budget and started off with a deficiency of 250 000 euros. We had only three years to save the festival, and we did, while developing new projects for the 2014 and 2015 editions. By the way, the festival has a very rich history, but up until now, nobody thought of preserving it. One of our next objectives will be to create DVD’s and books, so that the « Festival des 3 Continents » can be relived all through the year.


Adrien Léger

Ilglika Stankova – Translation