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Lyon’s Lumiere Festival Honors Classic Film

The 9th Lumière Festival in Lyon, France, is again bringing together some of the biggest names in world cinema, including Guillermo Del Toro, Wong Kar-wai and Michael Mann, while celebrating the history of film with some 400 screenings of international classics.

Launched in 2009 by Bertrand Tavernier and Thierry Frémaux, the respective president and director of the Institut Lumière, the event has become one of the largest international festivals of classic cinema. Last year it hosted 160,500 festivalgoers – up from 2015’s 150,000 admissions – and more than 1,000 industry professionals.

It was in Lyon where brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière invented the cinematograph in 1895, and in keeping with the city’s cinematic tradition, the festival celebrates the history of film by presenting restored works, retrospectives, tributes and master classes.

In 2013, the festival also started what it describes as the first and only classic film market in the world, noting that the heritage cinema sector is currently expanding thanks to advancements in conservation standards and an increasingly diverse media landscape.

This year the Lumière Festival is honoring Wong with the Lumière Award, whose past recipients include such luminaries as Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Milos Forman and Clint Eastwood. The fest is also screening Wong’s entire filmography, while the filmmaker will also present his 10-title Carte Blanche selection of favorite films, which includes gritty crime thrillers “Infernal Affairs” by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak and Johnnie To’s “PTU” as well as Stephen Chow’s action comedy “Kung Fu Hustle.”

The fest is also showcasing Del Toro’s works, including the French premiere of his latest film, “The Shape of Water.” The Mexican director is likewise presenting his Carte Blanche list, including Orson Welles’ Franz Kafka adaptation “The Trial”; Luis Buñuel’s scandalous 1961 Golden Palm winner “Viridiana” and Mario Bava’s sci-fi-horror 1965 classic, “Planet of the Vampires.”

Mann will be on hand to introduce a restored version of “Heat” never seen before in France.

Also being feted at this year’s event are filmmakers Tilda Swinton, William Friedkin, Diane Kury, Anna Karina and Jean-François Stévenin.

Among the nearly 200 films to unspool in Lyon in various sections are Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack 1933 classic “King Kong,” Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” Hugh Hudson’s 1981 historical drama “Chariots of Fire” and “Reds,” Warren Beatty’s 1981 biopic of American journalist and socialist activist John Reed, as well as newly restored versions of Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” and Jacques Rivette’s 1981 French drama “Le Pont du Nord.”

In its fifth year, the International Classic Film Market is expanding on many levels, according to project manager Gérald Duchaussoy, who oversees the market’s programming coordination.

“The first step was to modify our name from Classic Film Market to International Classic Film Market,” Duchaussoy says. The event has from the very beginning welcomed many professionals from abroad and always offered bilingual materials and information at all of its roundtables, “so we figured it would be normal to make it official.”

The market, which runs Oct. 17-20, also added an extra day in order to squeeze in more activities, Duchaussoy adds.

“We also wanted to develop the DVD/Blu-ray aspect of the event, which is still very relevant in many countries and a must among cinephiles, hence in the DNA of the Festival Lumière, with its biggest shop in Europe and its market. DVD/Blu-ray line-ups will be presented by recognized publishers in the same way we have been doing with film theater distributors.”

Market organizers have also expanded facilities, adding new spaces for meetings, roundtables and commercial operations and transformed its theater venue by installing new screening and sound equipment.

Juliette Rajon, head of development at the Institut Lumière, expects some 300 accredited professionals from around 20 countries to attend this year’s market, the same level of attendance seen last year.

“We expect the same number this year as we work in a niche market and the number of companies is quite stable.”

Rajon points out, however, that business is tough for buyers and sellers. “We also feel that their financial situation is also quite difficult, that the tension is palpable. Our goal is to help them find more possibilities with the market we organize. We will have one-third of professionals from abroad, more companies represented and a diversity in the different restoration fields.”

Some of this year’s market highlights include a keynote from Jérôme Soulet, Gaumont’s head of video, television and new media. Soulet is the perfect choice for the new keynote event, Duchaussoy says, “as he is at the crossroad of the different mediums besides being innovative, farseeing and penetrating.”

In addition, the market will offer regional focuses on heritage cinema in Greece, Hungary and Latvia.

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