One of several high-profile guests scheduled to attend the Lumière Festival in October, Oliver Stone will be screening a newly restored copy of 1989’s “Born on the Fourth of July” at its world premiere in the French city of Lyon.
Other guests of honor include actor Viggo Mortensen, Danish director Thomas Vinterberg (1998’s “Festen”), Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher (“The Wonders” 2014; “Happy as Lazarro,” 2018) and Oscar winning composer Gabriel Yared. Sofia Coppola, whose father Francis Ford picked up the Lumière Prize last year, is bringing her latest film, “On the Rocks”, starring Bill Murray and Rashida Jones, to Lyon.
Run by film director Bertrand Tavernier and Cannes Festival head Thierry Frémaux, Lumière is one of the world’s leading film heritage events. This 12th edition will also feature contemporary works including 20 films originally scheduled to run in Cannes before the festival had to be cancelled due to COVID-19. Titles include Vinterberg’s “Drunk”, “Last Words” by Jonathan Nossiter, Lucas Belvaux’s “Des Hommes” and “ADN” by Maiwenn who won a Jury Prize in Cannes for “Polisse” in 2011.
This year’s Lumière Prize, a lifetime award whose previous recipients include Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Catherine Deneuve and Jane Fonda, is going to Belgium’s Dardenne brothers, who “are part of the very small club of people who have won the Palme d’Or twice,” quipped Lumière chief programmer Maelle Arnaud. The duo picked up Cannes’ top prize in 1999 for “Rosetta” and again in 2005 with “The Child.”
Festival-goers will be able to attend a retrospective marking the centenary of legendary screenwriter Michel Audiard (the father of “A Prophet’s” Jacques Audiard). There will also be tributes to Tonie Marshall and Michel Piccoli, who passed away this year, and to less well-known U.S. director Joan Micklin Silver, as part of the festival’s Permanent History of Women Filmmakers section.
This year’s classics include a rich selection ranging from Howard Hawks’ “Red River” (1948) to “Breathless” by Jean-Luc Godard (1960), along with a recently restored version of iconic director George Romero’s long-lost 1973 feature “The Amusement Park,” whose rights were picked up by arthouse sales outfit Yellow Veil Pictures at Cannes’ 2020 virtual market. Among other events, there will be a Laurel and Hardy day, cine-concerts with Lyon’s National Orchestra, and some gems in the festival’s “Treasures and Curiosities” section like “Cutting It Short” (1980) by Oscar winning Czech director Jiří Menzel.
On the industry side, the 8th edition of the Classic Film Market (MIFC) will be welcoming professionals at its dedicated venue on the festival’s premises at the Institut Lumière. This year’s keynote speaker is Nathanaël Karmitz, chairman of the board of MK2, France’s biggest art-house cinema chain, which made headlines in April – during France’s lockdown period – after signing a partnership with Netflix.
Industry events include roundtables, conversations and workshops with guest speakers from France’s Society of Authors (SACD), the European Film Agency Directors association and representatives of the European Commission. This year’s country of honor is Portugal, whose film archive was one of several including those in Milan and Paris to offer free access to its catalog during the confinement period.
Special online access will be given to those who cannot travel to Lyon because of the pandemic, but organizers say that, so far, 85% of those accredited plan to attend the market.
While the festival is a popular public event that draws hundreds of thousands of cinema-goers to theaters across Lyon, organizers expect to see a drop in revenue this year as they can only partially fill theaters due to social distancing rules and have lost some long-standing sponsors to the crisis. The opening evening is already sold out, however, and hopes are up that the sanitary situation will allow screenings to go ahead as planned.
As Frémaux said in a recently published open letter, “we will watch films wearing masks, we will talk about them in the street wearing masks, and we will take care while having dinner with friends. And when better days will come, we will fondly remember that we stuck it out.”
Lyon’s Lumière Festival runs Oct. 10-18, with the MIFC scheduled for Oct. 13-16.