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Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight Topper Edouard Waintrop: ‘My Exit Is Not Voluntary’

Edouard Waintrop, the topper of Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight, told Variety that he had not planned on stepping down from the post for at least another two years.

The French directors’ guild (Société des réalisateurs de films) announced Thursday that Waintrop would oversee his seventh and last edition of Directors’ Fortnight in 2018, which will mark the Cannes Film Festival sidebar’s 50th anniversary.

Waintrop, who is on a yearly contract, said he had asked the guild to allow him to extend it for two years, rather than one, so that he could focus on the selection of the 50th anniversary without having to be concerned about his next professional steps.

“I did not expect nor did I anticipate that [the] next edition would be my last. I was told by Celine Sciamma” – who presides over the guild together with Rebecca Zlotowski and Yann Gonzalez – “that I could not stay beyond the 50th anniversary,” said Waintrop, adding that he had faced some criticism for selecting several French films, including Bruno Dumont’s “Jeanette,” for the most recent edition.

He said his popularity might have suffered with French directors considering the large number of helmers he has said “no” to.

The directors’ guildc praised Waintrop for curating “with care, warmth and intelligence, surrounded by his team and selection committee” but said that changing the leadership of Directors’ Fortnight was part of its mandate and was necessary to ensure some change and diversity within the selection.

Speaking to Variety, Sciamma applauded Waintrop’s long tenure and said the guild would be seeking an artistic director – possibly a woman – who will echo the new voices and reflect the rapidly changing composition of the French directors’ guild. Sciamma said the candidates do not have to be French, as international film figures are being considered.

Sciamma said they are also aiming to appoint an artistic director who will be able to make bold choices, as Waintrop did with the selection of comedies such as Thomas Cailley’s “Love at First Fight,” and also films from promising first-time helmers and more established directors.

In six editions, Waintrop succeeded in revamping Directors’ Fortnight with a mix of up-and-coming directors such as Deniz Erguven (“Mustang”), Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”), Chloé Zhao (“The Rider”), Houda Benyamina (“Divines”), Pablo Larraín (“Neruda”), and Clio Barnard (“The Selfish Giant”), as well as high-profile, critically acclaimed directors such as Arnaud Desplechin (“My Golden Years”), Marco Bellocchio (“Sweet Dreams”), and Bruno Dumont (“Li’l Quinquin”).

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