Fabien Lemercier: An 'inspiring' mixed bag of genre films at Cannes this year

Fabien Lemercier, a journalist at Cineuropa.org and Le Film Fran├žais, with 11 Cannes Festivals already under his belt, enthuses about this year's "inspiring" and "diversified" selection of movies, including a mixed bag of "genre films."

Relaxnews: What's your state of mind going into this 66th edition of the Festival?Fabien Lemercier: I'm champing at the bit! I find the official selection inspiring, in terms of the mix of films, but also the kinds of films. There are always major filmmakers in the official competition, but there may have been fewer feature-length films in some years past that allowed for a breather.

This year you've got quite a mixed bag of genres. It's very, very diversified. You've got a movie that looks to be "quite trashy" with the Winding Refn title [Editor's note: "Only God Forgives"]. You've got a slightly stagy Polanski ("Venus in Fur"). You've got period pictures like the James Gray one ("The Immigrant") or "Michael Kohlhaas."

You find a bit of this genre mix in the other sections. It's a phenomenon that's gaining steam with an injection of genre films: crime films, horror flicks, science fiction and so on, that's more conspicuous than previous years.

R: How do you account for this phenomenon?FB: There are two factors. For starters, getting the public's attention is harder nowadays. It's pretty grueling to confine yourself entirely to true arthouse films in the official competition. To mix it up a little, to satisfy every audience, a bit of genre film is mixed in. We've reached a stage where the audience and even the journalists are sometimes looking more for an electrifying film than one that's simply aesthetic.

This is a major trend we've got here and it's downright mouthwatering. It's pretty gratifying to know that us journalists can take a breather with movies which, though they still have cinematic quality, are a little closer to real 'genre' movies. That makes for a change of pace.

What's more, some major directors are also taking on genre films. Maybe to make it easier to raise funds for their movies - that's just conjecture. Or simply because their artistic careers impel them to take a stab at different genres. Hard to say.

R: Your best memory of Cannes?FB: The moment I found the most remarkable, to tell you the truth, was the end of the screening of "Antichrist" by Lars Von Trier [in 2009]. There was a sort of hullaballoo between the people applauding, the ones booing, the shouting. A real rodeo [smiles]. I found that pretty fascinating.