“A festival for a city that is cosmopolitan, young and open-minded”
Now entering its second year, Discovery Zone is once again bringing an impressive line-up of international film to the Grand Duchy. Cinémathèque director Claude Bertemes spoke to wort.lu/en about what goes into the making of the festival.
As a member of the executive committee, the artistic committee, and as director of the Cinémathèque, one of the festival venues, Bertemes is on a triple mission for the festival. The goal is to bring fresh, new, ambitious films to the capital in “an age of sequels, prequels, and déjà vues in cinema.”
“The title Discovery Zone is not just a marketing ploy,” he says. Together, the artistic committee wanted to see through the motto established at last year's festival. “We had a basic idea which worked well the first time around. We wanted to stay true to that and remain consistent in the programming of the festival.”
Experiencing new film from across the globe
But don't expect the festival to fulfill some kind of cliché, filled with boring and difficult films made for “hard core cinéphiles.” On the contrary. The programme is about “pleasure; it's fun to see and experience something new,” says Bertemes.
Especially for Luxembourg, “a festival that brings young trends in cinema fits into a city that seeks to be cosmopolitan, young and open minded.”
Even though the programme includes ambitious film and sometimes hard-hitting drama, there always remains a lighter touch. “You don't need to have gone to cinema school to watch and enjoy these films. We chose the films on a gut feeling, not some kind of abstract intellectual reaction.”
“It was hard to chose from the panoply of possibilities”
So how does one go about selecting the films to be screened at the festival? “It's like a casting,” says Bertemes, “the more films you see the better you can make a selection.” At the same time he says there is a process of editing, putting the films together in a framework.
Film lovers might envy the chance to be among the first to lay eyes on some of the films to be screened at the festival cinemas. However, watching screener reels is not as glamorous as it sounds, and Bertemes is looking forward to catching some of the films on the big screen rather than his TV or computer.
Still, some tough decisions had to be made. “It was hard to choose from the panoply of possibilities,” says Bertemes, even though the committee united in a “clear vision of the festival.” That some of last year's films went on to do extremely well on the festival and awards circuit, such as A Separation, winning this year's Foreign Language Film Oscar, reconfirmed the committee's choices.
Young audiences, film prize and more
With the festival calendar full to the brim, there is something for everyone, including the young film enthusiasts. The Jeune Public programme, with several thousand youngsters and students signed up this year “brings the experience of cinema closer to a new generation who are watching films on their iPhones and iPads,” says Bertemes.
Not only is the programme new this year, but so are some of the festival venues. Reaching beyond the screens at Utopolis, Utopia and the Cinémathèque, the festival also takes place at the Cercle Cité, the Casino Luxembourg and the Mudam. For the first time also, the Luxembourg Film Prize will be awarded on the last day of the festival.
Despite the growing reputation and innovative programme, Bertemes remains modest, “it would be megalomaniac to think we were playing in the same league as Berlin, Venice or Cannes. But that doesn't mean that we can't build up a profile.”
In the meantime, once the last credits have rolled, the team will start getting to work on the next festival edition. “The first day after the festival is the first day before the festival.”