The Cannes Film Festival is 70. A lovely age.
Its younger sister, La Semaine de la Critique, the first parallel section, is 56. Pretty good too.
In 1962, fourteen years after the creation on this annual cinema banquet where the who’s who of the seventh art would unfurl from planes or the Calais-Méditerranée Express, the journalists of the French Union of Film Critics, called « Association » at that time, wanted to have their own input and their own film selection. A selection faithful to their criteria as film critics.
The goal was to bring a complementary perspective on cinema, to discover and encourage young filmmakers, to reveal new ways of making films that the Official Festival, subject to what each country would want to put forward, didn’t necessarily show.
Obviously, things have changed since those times. In 1969, the Directors’ Fortnight joined in. Since the ‘70s, the films in competition are not sent by each respective country anymore, but are directly chosen by the Artistic Director of the Cannes Film Festival. The Un Certain Regard section came to complete the Official Selection and has recently become a competition with its own jury. The Caméra d’or was created to reward talented first time directors among those who have now become famous. ACID, with a parallel program selected by filmmakers, is the most recent hub of emerging talents.
The films at the Cannes Film Festival stand for all this diversity, complementarity and massive numbers (as everything expands, the number of films does too). We are proud to contribute to this great gathering, with the concept of “cinema family” regaining over and over its original meaning through La Semaine de la Critique’s commitment to first and second films.
For the sixth consecutive year, Charles Tesson, our Artistic Director, brought together the most eminent and enthusiastic members of our union, and thus of the French film criticism, to compose the short and feature film selection committees. The French critics are begrudged by some because too jaded or too “intellectual”, whereas through downsizing and budget cuts others organise their demise and that of the written press in general.
Allowing to be seized, overwhelmed, doubtful, persuaded, heckled, makes us what we are, journalists and film critics. It also makes us proud. Being able to resonate, to believe in fresh starts and in renewal, bearing our certainties, fears and hopes, makes us keep our eyes wide open.
President of the French
Union of Film Critics