Twenty years on, the Cannes Festival’s Gilles Jacob remains an ardent believer in the Cinéfondation’s virtue to discover and foster new filmmaking talent

Last Updated: March 8, 2019By Tags: , ,

So I got curious about Cinéfondation, an incubator created within the Cannes Festival’s ecosystem to lend certain filmmakers a helping hand, whether that’s advice, a network, or funds. It’s been two decades since its inception and I needed to situate this program within the festival’s many other endeavors. Gilles Jacob, former president of the Cannes Festival, created Cinéfondation in 1998, over twenty years ago. The foundation lends assistance in several ways to filmmakers, from the scriptwriting stage to helping film projects gain exposure through their vast network, to helping filmmakers find funding. Jacob was very gracious to answer a few of my questions in an email response to my inquiry :

“I’d say that we’ve led this Cinéfondation project pretty consistently ever since its founding, from a final-year film school contest held during the Cannes Festival, to a Paris residency for future directors working on their first feature-length film, to, finally, a workshop, in Cannes, the “Atelier,” one that is intent on helping filmmakers with an ongoing project who need finishing funds. One of the more rewarding aspects of the Atelier has to do, obviously, with the slew of successes that we’ve earned, with people going through the program. Some of the directors going through the Cinefondation program have recently been invited to submit their latest feature-length work in first-tier festivals, like:

Etienne KALLOS (2006) : Cannes – Un Certain Regard 2018
Gonzalo TOBAL (2007) : Venice – Competition 2018
Sameh ZOABI (2005) : Venice – Orizzonti 2018 (Best Actor Prize : Kais Nashif)
Claire BURGER (2008) : Venice – Giornate degli Autori 2018 (Best Film)
Hagar BEN-ASHER (2007) : Venice – Giornate degli Autori 2018
Nadav LAPID (2004+2006) : Berlin – 2019 Competition slate (Golden Bear)
Syllas TZOUMERKAS (2001) : Berlin – Panorama 2019
Mateo BENDESKY (2015) : Berlin – Panorama 2019
Frederikke ASPÖCK (2004) : Rotterdam – Voices 2019
Pippa BIANCO (2015) : Sundance – U.S. Dramatic Competition 2019 (Best Screenplay)”


(pictured, from left to right: Nadav Lapid, Hagar Ben-Asher, Sameh Zoabi, Gonzalo Tobal, Etienne Kallos)


Gilles Jacob further told me:

“Out of the thirty five previous classes and 212 filmmakers that we’ve been following, 145 movies have been completed (which comes out to about 70%) and 29 movies out of those are in pre-production (84,5%).

Twenty films out of this crop was in world-class festivals : Rotterdam, Berlin (“Les Héritières” by Marcelo Martinessi, which won the Alfred Bauer prize, comes to mind, among others), Locarno, Venise (“Los Versos del olvido” by Alireza Khatami, Jury’s prize out of the Orizzonti selection), San Sebastian, New York, Toronto and in Cannes’s Un Certain Regard program, the following movies, “Girl,” by Lukas Dhont (he won the Caméra d’Or and best male interpretation),”Die, Monster, die,” by Alejandro Fadel, and, by Etienne Kallos, “Les moissonneurs.”

Ali Naderzad will be at the Cannes Festival May 14-25 covering every film premiere in the two official selections, and beyond (@alinaderzad)

(in this photo, Gilles Jacob stands on stage with the winners of the 2016 Cinéfondation Awards: some of the filmmakers I was able to identify are, Or Sinai [front row, third from left], Hamid Ahmadi [fourth from left], Michael Labarca [second from the right], and Nadja Andrasev [last one on the right]; @Festival de Cannes)

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