If you see any French films this year, you’ll have Isabelle Giordano to thank for that. Since June 2013, Giordano has been the General Director of Unifrance Films, the government agency that promotes French cinema abroad. A former journalist with decades of experience in print, television, and radio, Giordano is also the mastermind behind the upcoming panel “ACTION! French and American Women Directors” at the 2014 Rendez-Vous with French Cinema film festival (March 6-16) at New York’s Lincoln Center.
Unifrance Films is a non-profit, Paris-based state association founded 65 years ago that promotes French cinema abroad. We have agents in New York, Mumbai, Beijing and Tokyo. Each year, we organize the biggest French cinema market in Paris, create French film festivals in strategic countries (and even online with MYFrenchFilmfestival.com), and work with the international press to promote our talents, movies, and sellers to help them present our films worldwide.
How does your experience as a journalist help you with your job at Unifrance Films?
The key word today in international promotion is communication. As a former journalist, I understand how important it is to create powerful messages and to have an appropriate strategy of transmitting our passion for French cinema. [My background has been] quite helpful in inventing new ways of presenting our movies with ideas, debates, panels, and discussions.
Is the US a good market for French films?
What is unique about French cinema?
We are the only [country] that has such diversity. And only we tell stories the way we do.
Last fall a charter was introduced in France to improve the numbers for women working in the film industry. Does Unifrance support the charter?
It is obvious that there are a lot of influential women in French cinema — directors and producers. I will tell you more after our panel discussion with French and US women directors that we organized!
There are plenty of way to explore. The US has to follow the example of the great Kathryn Bigelow!
You have put together a panel of women directors this year on International Women’s Day. Talk a little about your objectives for the panel.
Since we have a new generation of women being more and more creative and influential in the French film industry, we thought it might be a good idea to present some of them during the Rendez-Vous film festival and share our views and experiences with US women directors. This is a great time right now in France for women in films as [directors] Katell Quillevere, Axelle Ropert, Justine Triet and Rebecca Zlotowski gain exposure. I can’t wait to get feedback from our US guests.
The festival opens with the ultimate French emissary, Catherine Deneuve, in On My Way, directed by Emmanuelle Bercot. Explain why this film was picked to open the festival.
On My Way is a very good example of how French cinema creates new narrative processes and how it is still modern. Catherine Deneuve is one of our best emissaries, and she always chooses to work with new directors. You will see that she had very good instincts in trusting Emmanuelle Bercot, who happens to be as gifted as a director as she is as an actress.