Is there a better way to prove the virtue of the cinematic experience than to get 5,000 people on their feet giving a film a standing ovation?
Cannes Film Festival chief Thierry Fremaux did just that on the opening night of his 14th Lumière Film Festival in Lyon with Louis Garrel’s romantic comedy “The Innocent.”
The movie played in the jam-packed Halle Tony Garnier before a star-studded crowd, including Garrel and his cast, Noémie Merlant and Roschdy Zem, as well as Sebastián Lelio, Costa Gavras, Leila Bekhti, Marina Fois, Lee Chang-dong, Nicole Garcia, Sabine Azema and Damien Bonnard.
Industry players also turned up, notably MK2 Films’ co-CEOs Nathanael and Elisha Karmitz, Series Mania’s director Laurence Herszberg, Ad Vitam co-founder Alexandra Henochsberg, the Annecy Film Festival head Mickaël Marin, and “The Innocent” producer, Anne-Dominique Toussaint. The opening night event was held in the city’s historic 5,000-seat Tony Garnier concert venue which Frémaux called “the biggest cinema theatre in the world.”
“The Innocent,” which shot entirely in Lyon – the birthplace of the Cinematograph and their creators, the Lumière brothers – had also played on the 75th anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival in May.
“When we started the Lumière Festival [in 2009], the idea was to show classic cinema on the silver screen, to educate via the big screen, by getting people to come and see films they had discovered on TV or on DVDs,” said Fremaux.
“Today, it’s not just about screening classics, but about screening cinema as a whole,” continued the artistic director, who is also welcoming at the festival Tim Burton, who will receive the Prix Lumière, its prestigious honorary award; James Gray, who is presenting “Armageddon Time” and participating in a masterclass; as well as Guillermo del Toro with “Pinocchio” and Alejandro González Iñárritu with “Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths.” The latter two are Netflix films. The lineup also showcase the international premiere of Steven Spielberg’s latest movie “The Fabelmans.” The Universal title had a banner bow at September’s Toronto Festival.
While theatrical admissions in France are 30% down on 2021, the Lumière Film Festival, which celebrates classics and select contemporary films, sold nearly 90,000 tickets for this edition. The festival will host approximately 200 screenings over the course of nine days.
Special events this year will include cine-concerts of Wilhelm Murnau’s classic “Nosferatu” at the Lyon Opera House to mark the film’s centenary, and a world premiere of the restored copy of French silent film “In the Night” by Charles Vanel.
“It’s a chance to discover a long-lost masterpiece,” said Fremaux, whose Lumière Institute, an org dedicated to the preservation of heritage cinema, is giving the film a second life.
“Lumière Classics is a label that has made a name for itself,” he told the crowd. “Trust us to go and discover films that you don’t know,” he added, referring to the fest’s sidebar “Trésors et Curiosités,” a curated selection of cinematic gems.
The festival president Irene Jacob concluded, wrapping the opening ceremony, saying that “Technology changes, knowledge changes, but the human spirit, the desire for cinema, doesn’t.”
“This is a sustainable festival, with non-disposable films, which means that, here, films are protected, restored and shared, and the authors are remembered, loved and celebrated,” Jacob continued.
Previous Lumière Prize honorees include Jane Campion, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Francis Ford Coppola, Jane Fonda, Wong Kar Wai, Catherine Deneuve, Martin Scorsese, Pedro Almodovar, Quentin Tarantino, Ken Loach, Gérard Depardieu, Milos Forman and Clint Eastwood.
The Lumière Film Festival runs in Lyon over Oct. 15-23.
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