Katherine Butler on what Cannes and other festivals mean to Film4, in 2013 and over the years
Cannes is fast approaching, and very excitingly we’ll be launching two British films there this year – Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant and Paul Wright’s For Those In Peril – which have been selected for Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week respectively.
Both are low budget British films from directors at the early stages of their feature filmmaking careers. Paul is a first-time feature director, recently graduated from the NFTS and with a background in short films, including the BAFTA-winning Until the River Runs Red. The Selfish Giant is Clio’s second feature (and first fiction film) after her critically-acclaimed and award-winning Channel 4-backed The Arbor which merged documentary and actors to ground-breaking effect.
“From first short to international festival debut”
Cannes can be a great launch pad for British directors, and for first or second-time filmmakers it’s often just the beginning of their story. A big part of our role here at Film4 is to support filmmakers throughout their filmmaking careers: from first short to international festival debut to established British auteur.
Just as our current slate features the next Mike Leigh and Ken Loach films, we are also funding and developing the latest films from other former Cannes debutantes. Lenny Abrahamson, whose second feature Garage won the CICAE Art and Essai Cinema Prize in Cannes in 2007, is currently in post-production on Frank. Steve McQueen, who followed up the Camera d’Or-winning Hunger in 2008 with the multiple award-winning Shame, is currently in post-production on 12 Years A Slave, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch and Paul Giamatti. In 2012, Ben Wheatley’s murderous caravanners were the talk of the Croisette with Sightseers, Ben’s third feature. Less than twelve months later he’s finished production on A Field In England, and will later be starting work on US big-budget Freakshift. Casting our minds back ten years, David Mackenzie’s Young Adam played Un Certain Regard in 2003 – he is now in post-production on Starred Up, starring up-and-comer Jack O’Connell alongside Ben Mendelsohn and Rupert Friend.
However, our festival relationships extend well beyond Cannes. We work hard all year round to make sure each film finds its best possible way to audience and a big part of this begins with finding the right festival home to start each film’s journey. In the past 12 months, we have premiered films at Sundance, Toronto, Telluride, Venice, Edinburgh and played many many other festivals in between. This year will be no different – we have a larger than ever slate of films launching across 2013 featuring a mix of both new voices and established directors working at all sorts of different levels.
To give you a quick flavour… Jonathan Glazer’s long-awaited third film Under The Skin stars Scarlet Johansson and is based on Michel Faber’s cult novel. And speaking of cult novels, Kevin Macdonald has brought Meg Rossoff’s award-winning How I Live Now to the big screen with Saoirse Ronan in the lead role. Anton Corbijn’s third film, an adaptation of John Le Carré’s A Most Wanted Man, stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Rachel McAdams. And judging by the reaction to a sneak industry preview of a few seconds of footage of Richard Ayoade’s second film The Double, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowksa, the world can’t wait for a follow-up to his first film Submarine.
As if this isn’t enough, we have several more feature debuts in the works including award-winning promo director Daniel Wolfe’s Catch Me Daddy, multi-award winning playwright and Bafta Single Drama winner Debbie Tucker Green’s Second Coming and Yann (Top Boy, Criminal Justice) Demange’s thriller ’71.
This huge wealth of British film-making talent brings a depth and breadth of vision and audience appeal which shows us what rude health the home-grown industry is currently in. Our Cannes debut film-makers Paul Wright and Clio Barnard epitomise the kind of talent we are honoured to work with here at Film4. Instinctive British filmmakers with truly distinctive voices, making films that are both intimate and cinematic, exploring stories that are of a certain place and time and yet speak to us all. Their films are beautiful, moving, powerful, poetic – more than that, they could only have been made by British filmmakers. Or rather, British auteurs. We feel very privileged to be premiering these two films in Cannes, and look forward to seeing the other British films playing there (Ruairi Robinson’s The Last Days On Mars, Mark Cousins’ A Story Of Children And Film, and Andrew Kötting’s Swandown). And here’s to a whole year of premieres across many different festivals with a superb slate of British talent.