Art and Experience: Born in Switzerland, 42-year-old journalist Emmanuel Cuénod worked for ten years as cultural editor and film critic for the Tribune de Genève. He has been a film producer (with Rita Productions, among others). He is now the executive and artistic director of the Geneva International Film Festival Tous Ecrans. He is attending Fajr Festival for the first time:
What brought you here?
I am director of the Geneva film festival. It’s a specific festival because we are exploring the relationship between cinema, television, and digital creation in this festival and it’s more than a cinema festival. I am here to watch and select films for our own festival. Last year we screened Iranian movies in Geneva festival which won prizes and I found out that one of them will be screened here. I also want to see other Iranian films. So the director of Fiff invited me to this festival.
How is the film industry in your country? Tell us about your new generation of filmmakers.
We have problems in Switzerland, as our cinema is not seen by the rest of the world. We have some political problems in Europe and it’s difficult to export movies in Europe. We are a small country and we have no blockbuster production. Sometimes we have some collections that is not really known by the people in the film industry. Also many films are produced in Europe every year and it’s difficult for us to compete.
How is the atmosphere of this festival?
Oh actually it’s really nice. I think it is good that everything is mostly in the same place. And for us it’s better because we can see movies, meet film buyers and sellers, and we can go to the hotel by walk and rest and back again. And the people are cool and very active.
Which Iranian film makers do you know?
A lot of them. I know Iranians have produced lots of movies in the past decades and I know many of them are international like Jafar Panahi, Abbas Kiarostami, and today Asghar Farhadi. I know many Iranian films and short films are screened in international festivals and win prizes. Also it’s very interesting for me that the new generation of Iranian filmmakers try and do things a bit differently. Sometimes at Geneva festival we have many good films from Iranian filmmakers that are not famous. For example, the film Farda (Tomorrow) was screened in our festival in 2014 and I found out there are many genres in Iranian cinema.
As a European cinema specialist, which country’s cinema is close to Iranian cinema?
First, I think we have Iranian cinema but we have not something named European cinema. Because the cinema of north and east and other parts of Europe is very different. And I think probably there are many differences between Iranian cinema and the cinema of these parts. But you can find some similarities between Iranian and Italian movies. For me a lot of elements are the same: People that talk a lot in the films and many different characters are in a film and you may see many situations like dramatic and comedy all in one film. For example, we screened a film last year in Geneva festival and it won the first prize. Its name was Life and a Day and I think it has a lot of Italian elements.
Presided over by Reza Mirkarimi, the 35th edition of Fajr International Film Festival will take place from 21 to 28 April in Tehran.