Gilles Jacob

Last Updated: April 15, 2014By Tags:

Gilles Jacob’s passion for cinema is clear: throughout his career he has always placed art before commerce. At the helm of the Cannes Film Festival since 1977, you might say he’s a walking history book of the cinematic arts. Initially a film critic for French daily L’Express, Jacob was fired after he wrote a negative review. In 1968, he selected Andrzej Wajda’s “L’Homme de Marbre,” which had been censored in its home country. He is especially responsible for modernizing the Cannes Film Festival and transforming a seasoned institution into a media and market powerhouse. In 2001 he was named president of the Cannes Festival. Here’s our version of the Proust questionaire:

Ali Naderzad- Do you have a cult film?

Gilles Jacob- “The Rule of the Game,” by Jean Renoir.

AN- What is your greatest quality?

GJ- Obstinacy.

AN- Describe an ideal Saturday night.

GJ- Fish for diner at home with my wife (mullet, preferably) and chocolate mousse made with 70% concentrated cocoa, watching a movie, preferably a classic film, for example like “The Samourai,” by Jean-Pierre Melville or also by Melville, the Paul Meurisse shootout scene in “Le Deuxieme Souffle.” Reading a book by Haruki Murakami, for example like After the Earthquake, especially after p. 22, starting with “Miss Shimao took a sip of beer,” until (p. 24) “Ding, ding, ding!” rang Ms. Shimao. Listening to ‘Harold in Italy’ by Berlioz, preferably conducted by Abbado, and lastly, what pertains to the private side of life. 

AN- What would cause you great despair?

GJ- That ‘Harold in Italy’ not be conducted by Abbado, or that the tape of the Samourai movie gets jammed.

AN- What’s your biggest fear?

GJ- To not be obstinate enough.

AN- What’s the best aspect of your profession?

GJ- Discovering a masterpiece and announcing to the director that he is being selected, and asking him to not tell his producer right away.
AN-What kind of music are you listening to right now?

GJ- Right now, I am listening to the entire recorded opus of “Kalliwoda” (Johann Wenzel, Prague 1801, Karlsruhe 1866), especially the chord quartet, and in particular the third Opus 90 scherzo in G major, although the adagio (attaca) of the 2nd is quite brilliant as well.

AN- What’s the last film you’ve seen?
GJ- “Le Deuxieme Souffle” by Alain Corneau, based on Jose Giovanni.
AN- Who’s your favorite French director currently?
GJ- Agnes Jaoui.

AN- What drives the dynamic between Thierry (Fremaux, Cannes’s Artistic Director) and yourself, professional courtesy or great friendship?

GJ- Friendship between us succeeded to professional courtesy, but courtesy affords us a chance to ask one another whenever we meet: how are you?