×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Local Hero: Christian Jeune, Head of Cannes Film Festival’s Film Office

Cannes’ man keeps the fest’s fortnight of films on schedule despite many hurdles

JOB DESCRIPTION

From scouting films to pre-selecting and organizing screenings and pressers, Christian Jeune is the fest’s behind-the-scenes hero. “Scheduling the screenings of 50 films according to the films’ status, the talents’ schedules, superstitions, along with other parameters is total hell,” says Jeune, a discreet and friendly man. “It’s like playing a big domino game.” Jeune begins his job every year in the fall, traveling across Asia, notably China, Japan, South Korea and India, to dig up cinematic gems and do some PR for the fest. Industry insiders — from filmmakers to sales agents — know him well: He’s the guy who says “no” to 90% of the films that don’t make the official selection cut.

SPECIAL CHALLENGE

Jeune remembers the almost-disaster of Wong Kar Wai’s “2046” in 2004. The competition contender got to Cannes in pieces. Literally. “We had to reschedule the morning press screening to the evening, but even then, we only had the first half of the reels,” Jeune notes. While “2046” was unspooling for the bejeweled crowd in the Palais, the remaining reels were flown straight from the lab to Mandelieu, about 20 minutes away from Cannes. “We sent our staff on motorcycles to pick up the material at the airport and deliver it to us at the Palais during rush hour. It was mission impossible, but we did it. Audiences only noticed a brief black screen between the two halves of reels,” Jeune says.

BACKGROUND

A devoted cinephile who grew up in Toulon, on the French Riviera, Jeune worked his way up through the festival ranks. He started in low-level jobs around the fest in 1983, while studying languages at a college in Nice. A few years later, he was offered a stint as chauffeur for the fest. “I told them I couldn’t take the job because I wouldn’t be able to see the films. It was daring but it worked — I got a gig at the press department,” Jeune recalls. In 1988, Gilles Jacob, then Cannes’ prexy, offered him a job in the festival’s Paris office. He quickly made his mark and took the reins of the fest’s film department in 1994. By 1998, he had begun traveling around the world, screening films and building the relationships on which the festival now relies.

SIDE BIZ

Jeune owns a firm that subtitles and translates films into French, and he personally tackles about three to four a year. His subtitling credits include Sam Mendes’ “Skyfall” and Nicole Kidman starrer “Stoker.”

STATS:

NAME: Christian Jeune

TITLE: Head of Cannes Film Festival’s film office; deputy to festival director Thierry Fremaux

FUNCTION: Scouts for films; pre-selects pics; negotiates with filmmakers, producers, film commissions and sales agents; coordinates screenings and press conferences

DOMAIN: Cannes Film Festival’s Paris office

YEARS ON THE JOB: 19

NUMBERS OF FEATURES HE’S WATCHED THIS YEAR: 1,800-plus

NUMBER OF REJECTION EMAILS HE’S SENT THIS YEAR: 1,700-plus

NUMBER OF CANNES SCREENINGS COORDINATED: 950-plus

(Local Hero is a tribute to the people who are invisible but invaluable: They’re not in the spotlight, but the biz couldn’t function without them.)

More Film

  • Lucas (Jonah Hauer-King) and Bella (Amber)

    China's Bona Film Boards Brad Pitt's 'Ad Astra,' 'A Dog's Way Home' (EXCLUSIVE)

    China’s Bona Film Group is co-financing Brad Pitt space adventure “Ad Astra,” one of several films in a strong slate of international movies the company plans to release in the Middle Kingdom over the next year. Bona has also acquired Roland Emmerich’s war spectacular “Midway” and is investing in “A Dog’s Way Home,” the sequel [...]

  • Aquaman 2018

    Film News Roundup: 'Aquaman' Sets Pre-Sales Record

    In today’s film news roundup, “Aquaman” sets a pre-sales record, “Bohemian Rhapsody” hits a milestone, and SAG-AFTRA promotes four executives.  PRE-SALES RECORD “Aquaman” has set a pre-sales record for Atom Tickets, topping “Deadpool 2,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” and “Black Panther.” “Clearly, ‘Aquaman’ has captured the attention of movie fans with its larger-than-life adventure that must [...]

  • 'Liga' Kicks Off At Ventana Sur's

    Ventana Sur: 'La Liga' Kicks Off at Buenos Aires' Animation!

    Spain’s Quirino Awards, Argentina’s Animation! and Mexico’s Pixelatl Festival, three key events in Ibero-American animation, will join forces to create La Liga (The League), as announced Wednesday at an Animation! round table hosted by the Quirino Awards, titled “Iberoamerican Alliance Models.” Speakers included Quirino Awards promoter José Luis Farias, Mexico’s Pixelatl director José Iñesta, Gonzalo [...]

  • The Quake Review

    Film Review: 'The Quake'

    Roar Uthaug’s 2015 “The Wave” revived the pleasures of the 1970s disaster-movie cycle in a form that seemed purer than the never-quite-dead genre’s recent Stateside incarnations — most of which seem to involve Dwayne Johnson in a generic pileup of CGI perils. “The Wave” wasn’t high art, but it was entertainment that delivered some standard [...]

  • The Mule trailer

    Film Review: Clint Eastwood in 'The Mule'

    From Dirty Harry to … dirty grandpa, Clint Eastwood certainly has a type of character that he plays best, and “The Mule” finds him squarely in his comfort zone, appearing as a surly old horticulturalist who, at age 90, has become perhaps the most reliable drug runner for the Sinaloa cartel, evading detection for nearly [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content