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Cannes Tackles Television: Why a Global TV Festival Could Be a Gamechanger

The city of Cannes wants to launch a new TV festival to rival its famous film event. Here's what it might mean for the future of great film and great TV.

Palais Des Festivals along the Croisette in Cannes

Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

The city of Cannes wants to build its own TV event, one that’s on par with its famed film festival — but it faces competition from an increasingly crowded marketplace, as well as real questions about how a television festival might best serve creators and attendees.

The Cannes Film Festival prides itself on being the most prestigious cinema showcase in the world, and for years, has resisted the notion that television exists in the same sphere. When TV does surface in the Cannes lineup — as as when Steven Soderbergh’s 2013 HBO telefilm “Behind the Candelabra” landed a coveted Official Competition slot — it’s presented in the same terms as everything else there: As a movie. However, as the line between TV and film industries become increasingly murky, the festival remained loathe to include a television component. That made it easier for the city to start its own event, one that the Cannes Film Festival may ultimately view as competition when it comes to attracting talent and high-profile projects.

“Cannes is a film festival,” artistic director Thierry Fremaux told IndieWire’s Eric Kohn last year. As for television, “we must invent a special festival for it.”

And so they have. What does it mean for the future of film and TV festivals when the world’s most famous film festival is forced to deal with a TV showcase on its home turf?

The Cannes TV Festival, Not the Cannes Film & TV Festival

The fine line between what is film and what is TV continues to dissolve. That’s especially true on the unscripted side, as projects like “O.J.: Made in America” are categorized as both (and made eligible for both Emmy and Oscar consideration). Just this week, David Lynch told reporters that he considered his 18-hour “Twin Peaks” to be one long movie. And these days, A-list talent slides effortlessly between limited-run episodic and stand-alone projects.

“Our best directors, producers, writers and actors move gracefully between movies and television,” Robert De Niro said last year at Tribeca, right before the festival’s screening of the OWN series “Greenleaf.”

That’s why Fremaux’s insistence that the Cannes Film Festival won’t include television seems a bit out of touch, as Sundance, Tribeca, SXSW, and other festivals have incorporated TV into the mix without impacting their identities. Of course, the Cannes Film Festival would be the last place to acknowledge influence from other entities. “Cannes does not compete with anyone,” Fremaux told IndieWire in 2011. “Cannes is Cannes.”

READ MORE: Why TV Isn’t Working At Festivals Yet: A Modest Proposal

Regardless of the Cannes Film Festival’s stance, the city of Cannes is ready to adapt. But it’s in a race with the entire of country of France, which is also planning a major television festival that will be held in either Bordeaux, Lille, Nice, Paris or Cannes.

Cannes is already home to two of the world’s largest television markets, as MIPTV and MIPCOM showcase new TV to thousands of international attendees every year. Reports out of France speculate that the proposed Cannes TV festival would be concurrent with MIP (in April) or MIPCOM (October), which makes sense given the talent and industry already in town. But MIPTV and MIPCOM have dominated the global TV scene for decades, and will cast a huge shadow on whatever the city of Cannes tries to do with its own television festival.

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John Doe sounds too frenchy

Okay you have a project to sell and the new mayor of Cannes want to resolve some booking problems of his expansive hotels during the out of season

I hope you are not against free of speech especially when you approach the french culture

Thierry Fremaux is still committed; not “out of touch”!

To be clear, TV has a culturicide effect therefore it’s vital for film to not merge with that industry

In fact, there is a radioactivity problem, TV has already infiltrated the Cannes FILM festival in an irrational way when the last main Canne’s boss, Gilles Jacob, voted for an ex-TV-head, Pierre Lescure, as his successor…
All the big names (R. De Niro, D. Lynch) dropped in your statment have actually the same problem than G. Jacob: they are pushing the date of their retirement therefore to stay connected to that doom game they repeat and do non-sens…

What sense does it make to compare the experience to watch alone or in couple a-well-financed-40-hour-digital-TV-series-over-interrupted-by-commercials-and-written-by-8-experts to watch with an unpredictable audience a-single-author’s-original-threfore-weird-90-minute-uncut-film?

It’s like to compare a modern-big-block to a simple-old-fashioned-house?

“Strangely”, why most of us would prefer to live in that simple-house? (which is old-fashioned but not “out of” time : Godard (who lives in a small place) said “Le passé n’est jamais mort. D’ailleurs, il n’est même pas passé”)

About Lynch who lives in an expensive castle and working for TV over two decays, why did he accept the proposal to sign for a theater release of his originally-scheduled-TV-movie entitled “Mulholland Drive”?

Michael Doe

About Lynch who lives in an expensive castle and working for TV over two decays, why did he accept the proposal to sign for a theater release of his originally-scheduled-TV-movie entitled “Mulholland Drive”?

What are you babbling about?

    John Doe sounds too frenchy

    Sorry, for speaking about Lynch I used his own language

    Lynch has jumped on the first occasion he had to be back in theater: He was struggling with some american producers about his TV-movie “Mulholland Drive” when a french film producer, Alain Sarde, came to re-buy his deal with the help of a french TV channel owned by… Pierre Lescure at that time. Thanks to these frenchies “Mulholland Drive” has been released in theater (although the film keeps that awful TV framing)…

    Here is a double topic about the french TV cinema

    Because of one french law, the French films “had” to be mainly financed by the contribution of one major channel and one cable from french TV. Therefore the movie must include bankable french TV stars (and, colorful cinematography,TV framing,…)
    I’m wondering who many French TV stars, Paul Veroevhen did he accept in his french financed movie entitled “Elle”? 1, 2, no 3!
    As much I respect Thierry Fremaux, is it really fare to select some of those movies in Cannes?
    I guess his answer could be: How many french films could I select if I don’t pick those financed by TV?
    Probably: 0! or just 1 like for Italy, Africa,…even for America which are now too afraid to be boo at this festival

    I don’t remember all details about “Behind the Candelabra” however the Soderbergh’s first intention could be to make a film with a theater release. But he knew nobody can’t reach a huge release in USA with that kind of “controversial” topic; so why not produce it with and for the cable. (The movie did have some theater releases in few places in Europe…which doesn’t make sens).

    My point these both unofficially-retired directors, Soderberg and Lynch, still prefer film to TV; and when they do TV they claim some s**** to save their damaged images.
    At the end, it’s legal to switch between the two medias but there are some terrible radioactive side effects. Right now, we can seriously doubt about the Lynch personal ability to make a simple and raw 90-minute film after his his post-TV-series-era. The non-sens of his 3-hour film « Inland Empire » proved it…
    I’m quite concerned by directors who watched too much TV series. For example, David Fincher when he did “Gone girl” it looks to me like one more long and emptiness episode of “Dexter” (which was respectable for at least his two first seasons). But the “Dexter” series in a way as many cop-series has been influenced by one of the darkest Fincher film’s “Seven”; therefore it’s like he’s eating the crumbs of his own feast…

    Sorry to say, but drop those two examples Lynch and Soderbergh sounds “out of focus” for introducing a statement defending the quality of TV and the necessity for Cannes festival to merge with the TV market…
    Speaking of TV quality why the author doesn’t mention the creator of the best TV series named « The Wire »?
    Oh, yes, David Simon is too honest about the fact he doesn’t like the cinema and he doesn’t desire to make a film. Therefore his TV series was not repetitive, accurate, unique, intelligent so really refreshing for film lovers

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