Cannes Film Festival chief Thierry Frémaux took part in a ‘meet the press’ session with journalists in Cannes yesterday afternoon.
The long-time chief was asked multiple questions about the festival’s stance towards Russia and about Deadline’s censorship story from yesterday.
Given that the festival has a ban on Russian journalists from pro-Putin publications and on state-sponsored Russian delegations, he was asked the extent to which Cannes was concerned about the sanctioned Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich being a financier of Competition film Tchaikovsky’s Wife (whose director Kirill Serebrennikov is a Russian dissident).
Frémaux, who noted that he received five emails a day with questions on this subject, explained that the festival decided to accept the film because it was shot before the war against Ukraine, when receiving Russian money wasn’t problematic.
“The film had already been shot, so that is the rule we decided to follow,” the festival head told the room full of journalists.
Frémaux was asked by another journalist why the festival had decided to celebrate India as a ‘country of honour’ this year when it is a strong ally of Russia.
“We have a different position from that of France or the European Commission,” he explained. “One might consider that you should sanction countries that support Russia – well no, we haven’t gone that far.”
The festival head was also asked multiple questions about Deadline’s story yesterday concerning censorship of his interviews with press.
Frémaux confirmed that he revises quotes but claimed that organizers don’t remove questions. Per Deadline’s story yesterday, this isn’t our experience.
Frémaux asserted: “There isn’t self-censorship and even less censorship. If I’m doing an interview and the journalist accepts — and it’s a French tradition to back-read interviews — I’ll back-read and if I want to change something, I’ll change it; I don’t change the text of the journalist.”
He added: “I have the right to control what I must say and even change opinions, why not? I prefer to speak normally and then decide what I want to keep in the interview.”