May 27, 2024

Co-organized by the Cannes Film Festival and Market and Argentina’s INCAA film-TV agency, late November’s Ventana Sur market looks set to have at least one star: Cannes head Thierry Fremaux himself.

Presenting the Cannes Film Week, a extraordinary showcase of 2023 winners led this year by Justine Triet’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Anatomy of a Fall” and bowing on Nov. 27 with Wim Wenders’ “Perfect Days,” Fremaux usually conducts or presents on-stage conversations with Cannes winners, which of course take in a significant part of the greatest filmmakers in the world. In Argentina, a country with a huge film tradition and one of the biggest market shares for national films until economic crisis and the pandemic decimated state funding, visiting auteurs have been treated like rock stars, even such unyielding social realist directors such as the Dardenne brothers.

This year round, however, the limelight will fall on Fremaux himself who will talk about “Cinema (of) Tomorrow.” 

“After the pandemic, it was said that cinema had died. From then, we’ve shown that cinema didn’t die and, better still, there are sufficient motives to maintain hope,” ran a brief explanation accompanying the announcement of the masterclass, made Friday by Argentina’s INCAA. 

Fremaux’s masterclass follows just a few weeks after underwhelming markets at Toronto and the American Film Market where only a small clutch of higher profile movies – such as AGC Studies Toronto duo “Hit Man” and “Woman of the Hour” – managed any significant sales traction at all. 

That prompted senior sales agents to suggest that the traditional sales model, bulwarked on the strength of ancillary sales to TV in Europe, haS now broken. Streaming services, led by Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Video, had become the effective gatekeepers of international film sales, and that gate is still very strait.  

Whether Fremaux will come in at his subject in industry terms, however, is another matter. For motives for hope, he could point to his own experiences in event programming not just at Cannes but the Lumière Festival at Lyon where screenings of classic films, introduced by French stars or big name U.S. directors, can be packed to the rafters. 

Or he could cite to the growing world cinema landscape, such as in the Persian Gulf, as he did to Variety in his first interview this year on the then upcoming Cannes Festival. Or underscore the growing place of women in cinema, though far as yet from parity, talking about Triet’s win at Cannes.

Or maybe none of these motives for hope: It is difficult to second-guess Thierry Fremaux’s focus in full flow on stage, apart from that it is likely to be entertaining.

The Cannes Film Week will run Nov. 27 to Dec. 3 at Buenos Aires Gaumont Cinema. Further screenings take in Aki Kaurismäki’s “Fallen Leaves,” a Jury Prize winner; Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Monster,” a best screenplay laureate for Yuji Sakamoto; “Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “About Dry Grasses,” which won best actress for Merve Dizdar, and Jonathan Glazer’s Oscar hopeful “Zone of Interest.” 

Thierry Fremaux

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