A French man in New-York: Interview with Frédéric Boyer, Artistic Director of The Tribeca Film Festival

After two years at the head of the Cannes Film Festival’s Directors’ Fortnight, Frenchman Frédéric Boyer has crossed the Atlantic to take over as artistic director of the Tribeca Film Festival. The 11th edition of the event co-founded by Robert de Niro will be held from April 18 to 29 with 89 films from 32 countries in the programme. Fifty of these films will have their international premiere at the festival.

Cineuropa: Is the Tribeca Film Festival a good platform for European films?Frédéric Boyer: It’s one of the best audiences in the world and a popular festival whose cinemas are always full of spectators really hungry for cinema. In New York, and more generally in the United States, there is little space for European films. So Tribeca is a great opportunity for all European filmmakers because there is a great community of intellectuals and journalists here. It can be a springboard, a trigger for another film.

How is this 2012 edition shaping up?

The number of selected films (89 compared to 200 at one time) is a good measure, and there is quite a balance in the two competitions (fiction and documentary feature films) between American and international films. More than just diversity, Tribeca wants to highlight a certain mixture, by crossing very different films, genres, and budgets. Before I chose the films, we talked about it at length with Geoffrey Gilmore who contributes with his enormous experience from Sundance.

Where does Tribeca stand faced with the awesome competition of other big international film festivals?

It’s not always easy, before Cannes and after Berlin and Rotterdam, to find films that have not yet had an international premiere, and definitely so for the competition because it’s not just about reshuffling the best from other festivals.

This year, we will present 50 films as world premieres, and I intend to be more aggressive next year, for example by inviting films to apply a little earlier and expanding towards other cinematographic genres. Cannes is the biggest film festival in the world, but it only programmes 80 films and it’s very difficult to get in, so some films prefer another destination. I am very satisfied this year, notably with Yossi by Ethan Fox which will open our fiction feature competition. The director will be present at Tribeca for the third time. Strong bonds have formed with filmmakers who have already attended and the idea is to follow their work like it’s done at Sundance and other festivals.

What of the Spanish film in competition, Unit 7 by Alberto Rodriguez?

It’s a tense, sometimes violent, thriller that tells the story of a police unit put in charge of cleaning up the town of Sevilla of all its drug dealers before the World Expo. But it’s also an extremely touching film in its treatment of many characters.

There are many Scandinavians in the various sections…
There’s the Norwegian film Jackpot that will be screened in the Cinemania section. Many film directors have tried to copy Tarantino without success, but Magnus Martens succeeds in doing this, with a Nordic twist. In the Viewpoint section, there is Swedish film Certain People by Levan Akin, or even the Finnish Rat King by Petri Kotwica. But the rest of Europe is also well represented by the British and the French (Cédric Kahn, Julie Delpy, Marjane Satrapi), Elles [trailer, film focus] by Malgorzata Szumowka, the surprising Gypsy documentary Turn Off the Lights by Ivana Mladenovic, or even, for its international premiere, The Fourth Dimension, a film in three parts directed by Harmony Korine, Alexey Fedorchenkom, and Jan Kwiecinski.

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