Producer (Les Films du Worso - France)
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« Criticism can help make films in the sense that filmmakers that enjoy strong critical support acquire a certain legitimacy. As a producer, when a director who’s very much liked by critics pitches a project, I tend to welcome it more willingly.
I read reviews but when I’m producing a film, I never try to anticipate what critics might think. I have no problem speaking about films in pre-production with critics because that’s beside the point. Even if the films I produce then need reviews when they come out, that’s not what I’m thinking about as they are being made: I think of the audience. Who’s going to watch the film? Will it touch people? Will it speak to them? With everything that’s available from home at the click of a button, that’s an essential question. Watching indistinguishable content from your sofa or going to the cinema and watching an original work are not the same thing. Cinema must help people live. Staying at home doesn’t help us live.
Critics are the last to still talk about mise en scene, a subject that otherwise doesn’t interest many people. We are thus talking about the same thing and it allows us to come together. This is something important that we can share. It’s the mise en scene that dictates how a film touches us, moves us or makes us laugh. The emotions we feel come from there and yet it’s indescribable for most viewers, who don’t know how to analyse it.
To make us want to watch the films, to touch us, film criticism must learn to be sentimental in the widest sense. No need to go overboard: in a few lines, one can incite readers to watch a film.
Criticism arrives at the hardest moment for the director: just before the film meets its audience. Poor reviews are a real blow. Festivals are such a great springboard and if the film is successful on the circuit it’s not always because it won awards, it’s because critical reception has been positive. It can happen that a festival run doesn’t go well but that the film later picks up positive reviews. For a director and by extension the producer and the distributor a festival can either be terrible or amazing. Cannes or otherwise. »
As told to Nathalie CHIFFLET