Cinefondation czar seeks friendly biz ties

Goldenstern strengthens role as backer of auteur cinema

While the market continues to be tough going for indies, Cannes’ Cinefondation’s director, George Goldenstern, continues to strengthen his role as backer and gatekeeper of auteur cinema.

Created in 1998 by Cannes’ fest prexy Gilles Jacob to “help forge the contours of a young cinema landscape,” the Cinefondation has been showcasing the best student films and helped a dozen of first- and second-time directors finish their scripts at the biannual Residence.

And since joining the Cinefondation eight years ago, Goldenstern has turned the academic institution into an industry-friendly hub.

In 2005, he launched the Atelier in which five helmers — freshmen or vets — get the opportunity to network with producers and distribs to fast-track the finance on their projects.

“The Cinefondation is evolving to become more and more in tune with the state of the industry,” Goldenstern said. “We’re looking for ways to help directors through every stage — development, production, post-production and distribution.”

Goldenstern points out last year’s official selection featured numerous films from Cinefondation alums including two competition titles, Tsai Ming-liang’s “Face” and Lou Ye’s “Spring Fever,” which were partly financed through the Atelier.

Meanwhile, Diego Lerman’s “The Invisible Eye,” which was presented at the Atelier’s previous edition, screens this year in the Directors’ Fortnight.

Goldenstern, who sits on a lecture committee for French film org, said he’s open to different types of films, “even genre pics as long they have a singular tone and a compelling point of view.”

“We’re seeing more genre film projects but they often read like sitcoms or cheap TV films,” he said.

This year, the Atelier’s selection underscores the Cinefondation’s commitment to shedding light on small but substantial films that wouldn’t be completed without the org’s support. The eclectic lineup features Moroccan helmer Nabil Ayouch’s “Les Etoiles de Sidi Moumen,” based on Mahi Binebine’s novel about Casablanca’s 2003 suicide bombings; Urszula Antoniak’s “Code Blue” about a nurse who practices euthanasia; and first-time director Show-Chun Lee’s “Shanghai-Belleville.”

During his 15-year tenure as head of the film division at Franco-German net Arte’s film division, Goldenstern opened doors to first-time directors with ambitious projects, such as Mathieu Kassovitz’s urban tale “Hate” or Cyril Collard’s gay drama “Les Nuits Fauves.” He also bet on Nanni Moretti’s breakthrough pic “Red Lob,” as well as Lars von Trier’s “Breaking the Waves.”

Goldenstern’s track record continues to strengthen at the Cinefondation. As many as 89% of the projects that have been developed there have either been shot, distributed or are in pre-production.

Up next, Goldenstern is thinking of launching a script-doctoring program and mentoring from professional editors. Goldenstern also plans on inking a partnership with French theater circuits to help the Cinefondation films get theatrical distribution in Gaul.

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