×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Pierre Rissient, Influential Cannes Film Scout, Dies at 81

Pierre Rissient, a French producer, publicist and formerly an influential festival selector, has died. He was 81.

His death was announced (in French) by the Institut Lumiere and French director Bertrand Tavernier. “Pierre Rissient died last night. His wife Yung Hee asked me to let you know this, and, thinking of her, it is with infinite sadness that I write this message. Pierre was a great human being and an total cinephile. We will miss him,” Tavernier wrote on the institute’s Twitter feed.

Former festival head Gilles Jacob tweeted, “Pierre Rissient was a super-discoverer of filmmakers, with an inestimable flair and curiosity. When he helped someone like Jane Campion, he took them under his wing and helped them develop their art. He loved and supported the Cannes Film Festival, I can say with sadness and feeling.”

After being an assistant to Jean-Luc Godard on “Breathless,” Rissient went on to become a publicist and film distributor. In the late 1990s he became a talent scout for CiBy 2000, the production and sales company controversially backed by French construction giant Bouygues.

Clint Eastwood credited Rissient with helping to change his image and reputation from wordless cowboy, to courageous director. He nicknamed Rissient as “Mr. Everywhere.”

Rissient was also important in promoting and interpreting the works of Jerry Schatzberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Quentin Tarantino, Jane Campion, Abbas Kiarostami, King Hu and Filipino Lino Brocka.
Former Variety film critic, Todd McCarthy made Rissient the focus of his 2007 documentary “Man of Cinema.” In 2015, Rissient was the subject of another documentary, “Gentleman Rissient” made by the trio of Benoit Jacquot, Pascal Merigeau, and Guy Seligmann.

“Whether extolling the treasures of silent film (on which he is inexhaustible), or defending the most recent film by a Zainichi Korean which profoundly affected him (‘Unforgiven’ by Sang-il Lee) or insisting on rereading Alfred Hayes, an American novelist and screenwriter discovered late in life, Pierre Rissient appreciates, discusses, becomes passionate, fights, always in the name of cinema or literature” the Institut Lumiere, wrote in its 2015 tribute to Rissient.

“He will at least avoid posthumous ridicule, unlike those in the 1970s who dictated good taste in the name of ideological considerations bogged down by semiotic or structuralist jumble.”

Rissient was also a divisive figure. As much as he was highly esteemed by top directors including Clint Eastwood and Bertrand Tavernier, for pioneering, discovery work. But his domineering manner angered festivals and individuals in Asia. There his discovery work initially gave him power. But his role in Asia was overtaken by the activities of sales agents, emerging institutions and other festival selectors.

The Institut Lumiere acknowledged as much: “This somewhat uncouth man has not made only friends in the industry, the close relationships he was able to maintain have sometimes suffered. Yet they all express the immense respect for his “eye” and his uncompromising convictions.”

More Film

  • The Favourite Black Panther

    Audience for Best Picture Nominees Most Diverse in Years, Report Shows

    Theatergoers for Academy Awards best picture-nominated films have become younger and more diverse over the past four years, a report released exclusively to Variety showed. Movio, which specializes in cinema marketing data analytics, said the changes in demographic shifts correspond to the best picture lineup becoming more diverse since the 2015 Oscars, when the #OscarsSoWhite [...]

  • Emma Thompson

    Emma Thompson Exits Skydance Animation Movie 'Luck' Over John Lasseter Hire

    Emma Thompson has dropped out of the voice cast of Skydance Animation’s upcoming film “Luck,” a spokesperson for the actress told Variety. The beloved British star did some recording for the project, but dropped out in January, following John Lasseter’s hire to the top animation job at David Ellison’s studio, an insider close to the [...]

  • Daniel Kaluuya Lakeith Stanfield

    Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield in Talks to Star in Film About Black Panther Party Leader

    Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield are in negotiations to star in the historical drama “Jesus Was My Homeboy” about Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton. The project is set up at Warner Bros. with “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler producing along with Charles King through his Marco production company. Executive producers are Sev Ohanian, Zinzi [...]

  • Watch First Trailer for Motley Crue

    Watch First Trailer for Motley Crue Biopic 'The Dirt'

    Netflix has dropped the first trailer for its Motley Crue biopic “The Dirt” — based on Neil Strauss’ best-selling history of the legendarily bad-behaved ‘80s metal icons — and it looks like the film pulls no punches in terms of the band’s famously sordid history. In this two-minute trailer, we get glimpses of singer Vince [...]

  • ‘Tomorrow and Thereafter,’ ‘Diane Has the

    MyFrenchFilmFestival Prizes ‘Tomorrow and Thereafter,’ ‘Diane Has the Right Shape’

    Actress-director Noémie Lvovsky’s “Tomorrow And Thereafter,” a heartfelt homage to the director’s own mother, and Fabien Gorgeart’s “Diane Has the Right Shape,” about one woman’s surrogate motherhood, both won big at the 2019 UniFrance MyFrenchFilmFestival which skewed female in its winners and viewership, making particularly notable inroads into South East Asia and Latin America. Opening [...]

  • Vue International Chief Slams BAFTA For

    Vue International Chief Slams BAFTA for Awarding Prizes to 'Roma'

    Tim Richards, the founder and chief executive of Vue International, one of the largest cinema chains in Europe, has slammed the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for awarding prizes to Netflix’s “Roma.” Alfonso Cuaron’s black-and-white film, which is also up for several Oscars, won four BAFTAs at the awards ceremony in London on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content