Thierry Fremaux, the Cannes Film Festival supremo, is not quitting. He denied rumours about his resignation that have been circulating in the French media and in the festival circuit.
The rumours also spoke about his stepping down as head of the Institut Lumiere in Lyon after being approached by a big time French media and entertainment company. A Lyon website said that the firm could be either Canal + or Orange, a telecom conglomerate which is now expanding its activities in the field of cinema.
Fremaux posted his denial in the Festival’s website, something that he has refrained from doing in all the 15-plus years he has been with Cannes.
Frémaux confirmed in his statement that he had received a “professional offer”, but added that the proposal had been made several weeks ago. “After lengthy consideration, I have decided not to accept the offer and to continue in my position with the Festival de Cannes, as well as at the Institut Lumière in Lyon, serving the audiences, artists and professionals of the worldwide film industry,” he said.
Fremaux firmly affirmed that he was continuing to say yes to the world’s greatest movie Festival. He joined Cannes in 2000 as Artistic Director, when Gilles Jacob was at the helm of affairs there. And Fremaux rose to be the number one at Cannes a couple of years ago.
In all the years that this writer has covered Cannes, he has always found Fremaux affable and one who went out of his way to be friendly and helpful.
And it is this kind of stability at the top that has made Cannes the Queen of all Festivals. Jacob ruled, so to say, Cannes for about 25 years.
In comparison, Venice may be the oldest Festival, having begun in 1932, but its instability at the helm has often stood in the way of it achieving greater glory. The joke about Venice has been that it has had as many chiefs as there have been governments in Rome.
And for all those who have loved Cannes, Fremaux’s statement saying that he is not leaving the Festival or the Institut will come as a blessed relief. It may even call for a celebration.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran has covered the Cannes Film Festival for 26 years)
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