Oliver Stone, Viggo Mortensen, Mads Mikkelsen Brave Clampdown as Lyon’s Lumière Festival Opens On Site
"Ouf!" - "Phew!" in French: The sigh of relief was the first word to appear in the opening clip of the opening ceremony of the Lumière festival in Lyon, which began on Saturday night when the city was on high alert amid the coronavirus pandemic.
While visitor numbers are limited, cinemas in France will remain open and the festival can take place as planned.
Under the direction of Thierry Frémaux, who also directs the Cannes Festival, it is one of the world's premier classic film events that celebrates both heritage cinema and more contemporary works. Among these, audiences will be able to discover no less than 23 premieres that were originally intended to be shown in Cannes before the festival was canceled after the global lockdown.
This year's opening ceremony, which usually takes place in front of a packed house of more than 5,000 people in Lyon's Tony Garnier slaughterhouse concert hall, was a muted, almost intimate affair without the usual twinkle and glitter.
In front of a thousand people, Frémaux told them that this was the year they wanted to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the cinematograph invented by the Lumière brothers in Lyon. "But," he said, "we couldn't have chosen a worst year ... even the war didn't close the cinemas." Not even the restaurants and bars! “He reminded the audience that cinemas reopened on June 20th in France but remained closed in other places. "You hear a lot about the death of cinema these days," he said, "but we don't believe it."
It's not the first time the festival director has expressed this view by comparing cinema to football, saying that the crowd will return to the stadiums in due course, as well as to the big screen. "You have to wear a mask in cinemas. This is where people feel safe and come back," he added.
Echo Frémaux, a clip from an interview with Jean-Pierre Dardenne, who, together with his brother Luc, will receive this year's Lumière Prize, was shown on the big screen behind him: “There is no cinema without the eyes of others,” said the Belgian Director.
An outstanding number of celebrities attended the ceremony, only removing their face masks so the photographers could take a few shots before replacing them and taking their seats. Among them, Oliver Stone shows a newly restored version of "Born on the Fourth of July" and presents his memoir "Chasing the Light" in Lyon.
The director-turned actor Viggo Mortensen, the Danish director Thomas Vinterberg ("Festen") and the actor Mads Mikkelsen were also there. They each present their films “Falling” and “Drunk”, which were selected in Cannes and for which Mikkelsen selected the best actor at the San Sebastian Festival last month. Other guests of honor are the Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher, whose most recent short film "An Agricultural Prayer", a collaboration with the French artist JR, who was known as the peasant sermon, was shown at the opening ceremony.
French director Ladj Ly, whose “Les Misérables” won numerous awards, including last year's jury prize in Cannes, Vincent Lindon, Lucas Belvaux, Emmanuelle Devos, Tony Gatlif and French singer-songwriter director Abd al Malik, also took part attend the ceremony.
There were none of the usual speeches that year - the only two guests Frémaux invited on stage were Jacques and Stéphane Audiard, the son and grandson of legendary French screenwriter and film director Michel Audiard, whose 100th anniversary throughout the Lumière -Festivals is celebrated.
The British musician and composer Steve Nieve, who was also invited on stage, played a 10-minute piano homage to Ennio Morricone, whom he will remember at the festival with Tonie Marshall and Michel Piccoli. Frémaux also made special mention of former HFPA President Lorenzo Soria, who passed away earlier this year.
Finally, Frémaux waved his twenty or so guests onto the stage to attend the festival's traditional official opening speech, which they were asked to read out loud, in unison and in French - which led to a joyful cacophony that always makes the crowd laugh. Although limited, it was a warm and enthusiastic crowd that willingly responded to Frémaux's calls to bring loud applause during the ceremony in honor of this year's guests.
The opening ceremony ended with a demonstration by Gaumont of a new restoration of Georges Lautner's black and white classic "Les Tontons Flingueurs" ("Crooks in Clover", 1963).
The Lumière Festival in Lyon takes place from October 10th to 18th. The World Classic Film Market, the MIFC, runs from October 13th to October 13th. 16.
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