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FNE at 9th Les Films de Cannes à Bucarest: Interview with Founder Cristian Mungiu Featured

2018-10-23
Cristian Mungiu and Asghar Farhadi, one of the festival's guests Cristian Mungiu and Asghar Farhadi, one of the festival's guests credit: Ionut Dobre

BUCHAREST: Cristian Mungiu, the founder of Les Films de Cannes à Bucarest, spoke with FNE about the highlights of the industry events and the plans for the 10th edition of the festival. Les Films de Cannes à Bucarest takes place in Bucharest from 19 to 28 October 2018 and in seven other Romanian towns until 11 November 2018.

FNE: How has the festival developed from its first edition?

Cristian Mungiu: The festival has developed naturally following the interest it has created among the audience, which increased so as it allowed us to finance it a little better with every new edition and to bring more films, rent more cinemas and organise more screenings and promotion. Three or four years ago we decided to include the second weekend so now the festival takes 10 days in Bucharest. We also expanded it to other Romanian towns so now we are organising it in Bucharest and another seven towns.

We wanted to keep the festival in Bucharest to a maximum of films that can be seen reasonably in 10 days. I am not a fan of a festival with 400 films of which 370 are not very interesting for most of the audience and everybody wants to see the rest of them.

FNE: Some of the films will also be screened in a caravan. Do you already have a schedule?

Cristian Mungiu: Not yet. Last time we organised a caravan in almost 10 towns later in spring, but it depends on the requests we are receiving. It is possible to have some screenings with 10 films during weekends until the end of 2018. But these local cinemas need to follow some rules of which the most important is to have a DCP projector. Usually we look for a local partner who can cover at least these costs because they are bigger than what the tickets can cover.

FNE: Why are the industry events important for your festival?

Cristian Mungiu: We try to have only events that are useful to the film community. For example, this year we have a masterclass for cinematographers held by Manuel Claro and organised together with the Romanian Society of Cinematographers (RSC).

We are hosting the 3rd edition of Managing Talents, which is very useful for Romanian actors because the four casting directors invited this year (Richard Cook, Debbie McWilliams, Frank Moiselle and Anja Dihrberg) will teach them practical things like making a reel, contacting a casting agency, etc., and they might also cast them in films.

Another important industry event is the discussion about the Romanian cinemas and not in a general way. We have invested in a 3D scale model of a refurbished cinema hall and we plan to put at the same table representatives of four key institutions. This event is the follow-up of a discussion I had at the Berlinale 2018 with Mariya Gabriel, the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, and with representatives of the MEDIA Programme. The local authorities that took over the local cinemas need to know how they should refurbish them and how to apply for European money for their digitalisation. Also the Romanian Film Centre needs to include in its new film law a subvention allowing multiplexes to screen European and domestic films.

The Work-in-progress section presents all the Romanian feature films which are currently in postproduction. We cannot disclose the titles because the filmmakers don’t want to, but I can tell you that the members of the selection committees of important festivals such as Cannes, Berlin and Karlovy Vary are very happy to have a glimpse of the upcoming 13 or 14 Romanian films in just one weekend.

Another important event is the debate around the legislation which is not only about the Romanian cinema. It is the third year when we collaborate with France’s SACD / Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques, which we try to put in close contact with its Romanian counterpart Dacin SARA in order to correct the problem of Romania collecting copyright but not paying authors from abroad.

We will also discuss the new rebate law because it has provoked a tremendous confusion among the Romanian filmmakers. Many of them think that it aims at encouraging the Romanian cinema. This law doesn’t have anything to do with the Romanian films unless we introduce in the new film law a tax, so that a percentage of the funds that the state would get from the American films shot in Romania would support the Romanian cinema in a creative way.

FNE: How do you manage organising the festival, your work as a producer through Mobra Films and as a distributor through Voodoo Films with your own creative work?

Cristian Mungiu: One cannot do more than one does. It is a lot for me, but I am trying to increase the level of quality and responsibility in those who work beside me so that in the near future I could concentrate more on my own films. All these years I have tried to fill some holes regarding structures and initiatives in the Romanian cinema, but I am coming to an age when I have to allot more time to my personal projects.

FNE: Do you already know what the 10th edition will look like?

Cristian Mungiu: We very much depend on Cannes’ selection and we are organising the festival step by step. We had bigger plans for this year, but the funding process was long and complicated, so we saved what we could. In 2019 we definitely plan to invite the General Delegate of the Cannes Film Festival, Thierry Frémaux, because it is a festival that I conceived together with him. I just spoke with Christian Jeune from Festival de Cannes and we invited him too. We plan to have a Work-in-progress event again and also the Managing Talents. I also have four names of important international filmmakers to whom I spoke through the years. Two of them might have a film in Cannes in 2019 so we can invite them with their films and for the other two, even if they don’t plan to do a film very soon, we can organise a retrospective. We also need to find better dates so as the festival doesn’t overlap with other important film and cultural events in Bucharest and Romania. But this is very hard.

We also hope to continue the Orange Cinema concept created this year with our partner, the French telecommunications company Orange, which is giving a 5,000 EUR award to a project showcased in the Work-in-progress section. But we have to wait and see what will come of the new cinema law proposed by the Romanian Film Centre (CNC), which stipulates that all the funds from adverstising should be collected by the CNC. If this happens, it will be almost impossible to convince anybody to allot additional money from what it has to give to the Film Fund.

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