PARIS — The resignation of Pierre-Henri Deleau, vet head of the Directors Fortnight at Cannes, comes at a time of increasing friction between the main festival organizers and the various sidebars.
Deleau, who founded the Fortnight 30 years ago and who helped set up the more recent Cinemas en France sidebar, is stepping down in order to ease a workload that includes overseeing the Festival International des Programmes Audiovisuels (FIPA), the Forum du Cinema Europeen in Strasbourg and the Festival du Film d’Histoire in Pessac.
Commenting on his decision, Deleau noted that he had been looking to scale back his schedule for the past two years and wanted the Directors Fortnight to have an injection of new blood.
A new Fortnight head will be named by the Societe des Realisateurs de Films. A decision is expected this month, with Deleau’s right-hand man Olivier Jahan hotly tipped to get the job.
But whoever gets the post will be in the hot seat. There have been increasingly vociferous complaints both from the Fortnight and the Intl. Critics Week that fest toppers Pierre Viot and Gilles Jacob are trying to marginalize the sidebars.
This year, Cinemas en France and the Critics Week lost screening facilities in the main Palais venue. Fest organizers said the move had been prompted by a need to provide more English-lingo subtitled screenings for the press.
The Cannes mayor’s office has also said that sponsors can display their logos only within the proximity of the Palais, raising the question of how the sidebars will attract sponsors if they are barred from displaying their brands further down the Croisette.
The problem could get worse when construction work is completed on the Palais extension, which will include several new screens. “The danger is that people will never leave the Palais and won’t bother to walk down the Croisette to discover films in the sidebars,” notes Deleau.
“I fear the survival of the Fortnight and Critics Week depends on them being given some screen space in the Palais.”