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- 18.3.2016 11:18 -

"To Present a Plurality of Visions of Reality": Interview with Luciano Barisone


The 47th edition of the film festival Visions du Réel is just about to start in three weeks. The festival is also the first member of the Doc Alliance film festival platform that is going to present its film programme and thus set a high standard in terms of seeking for original artistic expressions and strong social issues. In the following two weeks, from March 21 to April 4, DAFilms.com is hosting an online film event which presents the most interesting and successful documentaries of the last festival edition. Andrea Průchová talked to the festival director Luciano Barisone about important moments of the festival and highlights of the upcoming edition.

First of all thank you for your precious time devoted to DAFilms.com, Luciano! It has to be a very busy time of the year for you now, and therefore let’s start with the question which concerns the schedule of your festival. As mentioned above, Visions du Réel is the first festival of the Doc Alliance platform which presents its film programme to audiences in the second half of April (this year specifically from April 15 to April 23). How do you perceive the situation when you become the first member of seven festivals that is revealing the program? What are the advantages, disadvantages and challenges related to this specific position?

For quite a long time, Visions du Réel has been the first member of the seven festivals of Doc Alliance to announce its programme; but this is nothing special. To make a festival, it is the same for all: make a project, define an editorial line, ensure a budget through negotiations with public institutions and sponsors, decide on a communication strategy, travel around the world scouting for new projects, watch thousands of films in order to select the best of them. So I cannot say which could be the advantages, disadvantages and challenges of this position in relation to the other six DA festivals. What I know and can say is that to be at the start of the year means to have strong competitors – such as Sundance IFF, Rotterdam IFF, Berlin IFF, Tribeca IFF, BAFICI and Hot Docs – making their selection, too. In this case, the disadvantages are many because these festivals are, like Visions du Réel, a good professional opportunity for documentary producers and filmmakers. At the same time, this concentration of festivals is an advantage, too, because exactly for this reason, many films in production tend to be finished at this moment of the year and the offer is large. The challenge is always to ensure the best for your programme, according to your editorial line.

The 47th edition is going to welcome some very famous and internationally recognized directors like Peter Greenaway, Dominic Gagnon and Audrius Stonys. Peter Greenaway will be awarded the Raiffeisen Maître du Réel Award while Dominic Gagnon and Audrius Stonys will participate in the Ateliers program, hold a masterclass and their work will be celebrated in the form of a retrospective. Could you please tell us why you have decided to invite those three very different film personalities as the main festival guests and also where you see the place where their specific work can meet and communicate together?

According to the first point of our regulations, “two essential notions derive from the name of the festival: vision and reality. Reality stands for both the physical world and our perception of it as human beings. In reality, objectivity and subjectivity overlap. Reality is what we see, hear, smell and touch, but it is also what senses pass on to our minds: the very idea of reality. Réel is therefore reality and the imaginary world that comes with it. As for the vision, that’s more than a look. It develops and confronts ideas while capturing moments in order to interrogate our relationship with the world and society today and tomorrow. Reality and vision mean more than a simple observation of the world. These concepts evoke the diversity and creativity of the human spirit.” In that sense, the filmmakers we are focusing on this year, the Canadian Dominic Gagnon and the Lithuanian Audrius Stonys, as well as the British “Maître du Réel” Peter Greenaway, fit perfectly with the mission of the festival: to present a plurality of visions of reality. All of them are directors with a peculiar creativity. All of them resist in their professional paths, in the name of art and humanity.

Nowadays we can identify several important social issues, or even crises, which strongly resonate in film programs of festivals from all around the world. Currently the biggest topic for European festivals probably consists in the "migrant crisis." As an artistic director of the festival, how do you approach the process of creating a film programme? Are you inspired by one main topic which is of more abstract character, or do you pursue a programme which serves as a mirror of current society and its issues? Is there a main theme of this year’s festival edition?

I think that the first goal of a film festival’s director is to care about films. Being a citizen of the world, I am of course interested in what is happening on the planet and touched by all that concerns human beings. But I don’t put that as a filter in order to select films. I need, love and look for films not simply as vectors of information. For that you already have mass media. I need, love and look for cinema. I mean films that have sense and sensibility, a reason to exist, an aesthetic strictly connected with the topic: films that make me dream, that let me think, that mix the visible and invisible. Art touches because it is connected to the invisible side of life. To just follow the topic is, in my eyes, to enter into a mechanism of good will propaganda (even though all kinds of militancy have reasons to exist). Cinema is art. So said, at the end of the selection, all films in the programme of course end in a sort of a map of humanity of the present time. In this case, many topics could be found as the main themes of the current edition. This year we could say that young generations and human resilience could be the two main themes of Visions du Réel 2016.

Film festivals cannot exist without their audience and juries. Let’s discuss that second important ingredient of a successful festival - the jurors. Is it possible to reveal some names as well as to provide us with at least a brief insight into the process of selection of jury members?

A jury member should be not only a qualified professional but also a curious and generous person. To watch many films in a few days is a demanding job (although pleasant) and it could turn out to be a heavy task. So a juror should be conscious of his duty and be fully available for the whole duration of the festival. Usually we select jurors not because they are famous but rather based on these values. We do choose the jury towards the end of the selection process in order to choose professionals who fit our selection. For each jury, we try to invite three persons with different professional skills, like a producer, a filmmaker and a film festival director. But other professionals (film critics, world sales agents, film festival programmers, journalists...) can also be considered for this task. Among the jurors of the next edition of the festival, you can find filmmakers such as the Iraqi Abbas Fahdel, winner of the International Competition of Visions du Réel 2015 with Homeland (Iraq Year Zero), the Italian Carlo Hintermann (The Dark Side of the Sun), the French Moroccan Safia Benhaim (A Spell of Fever) and the Paraguayan Arami Ullon (El tiempo nublado).

And now there remains the audience to discuss. Each visitor of your festival, I assume, is also a visitor of your new website, which I find very well structured and designed. Are there any other important visible or less visible changes which will make the 47th edition of the festival even more memorable and special to its guests and viewers?

Every year, our programme changes. It is an important, visible change. The 47th edition’s programme will be more memorable and special to its guests and spectators than ever.

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