In 2018, Swiss actor-director Vincent Perez teamed up with the Cinémathèque Suisse, the country’s premiere film archive, to launch a heritage film festival in the actor’s hometown of Lausanne. For its first edition, the event ran under the title r7al – the Rencontres 7e Art Lausanne – and was rebranded Think Cinema Lausanne the following year.
“We wanted to put something forward for our English-speaking friends,” says Perez. “[Whereas] Re7 spoke more to Francophones, we wanted a name that really said everything. Something that would explain our mission, that would be simple and direct.”
Going into its third edition, which runs from March 4-8, Think Cinema continues to hone its voice and sharpen its brand. “We’re beginning to really understand what makes our festival unique,” Perez tells Variety. “Our identity is becoming more and more clear.”
As Perez explains it, that identity is linked to the festival’s English name. Because the curatorial mandates for retrospective festivals – which don’t chase world premieres or slot in films riding the circuit – are a good deal looser, Perez and his team of programmers have constructed this year’s edition around introspection, framing the four-day event around a series of presentations that question the creative impulse.
“Nobody asks us to make art,” he explains. “We do so because we want to, and we want to because we need to. So we’re interested in those questions, in asking why we tell stories, and then exploring the answers with our guests.”
This year’s roster includes actors Pierce Brosnan, Isabella Rossellini, and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, as well as filmmakers Luca Guadagnino, Roland Joffé, Cédric Klapisch, and Bertrand Blier, among others. All will be on-hand to present their own films while sitting for a series of masterclasses and public conversations to offer their own spin on those central concerns.
“Nobody is here to promote anything, and there’s no competition,” Perez adds. “That changes the nature of the conversations, of the questions the audiences ask and the answers the filmmakers give.”
Think Cinema has also partnered with pay-TV service Canal Plus for a thematic retrospective reconsidering the way love stories have been depicted on-screen. Alongside pantheon titles like “Casablanca,” “Sunrise” and “Jules and Jim,” the festival will screen contemporary classics like “Blue Velvet,” “Brokeback Mountain” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” using the love story to interrogate questions of transgression, taboo and metaphysics.
“We’re interested in curating a selection of films that can track social transformations in the way they treat a shared subject,” says Perez. “Love stories from the 1950s treated their female characters very differently than love stories from the 1970s… [So] we thought it was interesting to have overview of that evolution. Society liberated itself from certain dogmas, and the cinema mirrors those changes.”
What’s more, media partner Canal Plus will air a parallel selection of love stories on their specialized film channel Cine Plus, thus extending the retrospective’s reach beyond the city limits of Lausanne.
“The festival is growing,” says Perez. “The baby we cradled on our laps is now beginning to walk all on its own. Maybe it’s no longer a baby,” he laughs. “Now it’s a toddler.”