The 37th edition of the Namur International Francophone Film Festival will take place from 30th September to 7th October 2022. On this occasion, Moonday interviewed Anaïs Boudry, programmer at the FIFF.
Moonday: Can you introduce yourself in a few words, what is your background?
Anaïs Boudry: I am from Namur and I studied at the IAD. I have been passionate about cinema since I was very young, a passion passed on to me by my mother. When I left school, I was able to do internships in production which led me to work with Frakas Productions and Eklektik Productions. Being from Namur and being passionate about cinema, it was difficult not to know the FIFF. I started by I started attending the festival as a spectator, then as a volunteer and then as an intern at the FIFF Pro in 2015. In 2016, I took on the position of copy control manager, a position I took over in 2020. In 2021, Nicole Gillet, General Delegate and Director of Programming, offered me to join the team on a permanent basis.
What are the different stages of programming for the FIFF?
Prospecting for films is a large part of our work. We remain attentive year after year to the work of directors from the Francophonie. There is a "theoretical" prospection that we carry out via newsletters, professional film magazines, etc. And a more practical prospection where we travel to other festivals: Clermont-Ferrand, Berlin, Marseille and of course Cannes, to meet the rights holders of French-speaking films. We also work with Unifrance. Once we have seen a certain number of films and some favourites appear, we start to contact the rights holders to find out if the film is available for the festival.
What criteria do you use to decide whether or not to programme a film?
I would say that I base myself on two criteria: the emotion and the technical qualities of the film. We also make sure that our selection includes films from as many French-speaking territories as possible.
How has the FIFF evolved in the past few years?
The festival was obviously affected by covid but we were also very lucky because we were able to offer a physical festival in 2020 and 2021, unlike other colleagues who had to resort to organising online festivals. That being said, we had to do reduced editions and the pandemic allowed us to develop the FIFF Off. In 2020, the installation of a big top was not allowed and the FIFF Off led us to initiate collaborations with other local cultural partners. Since then, the concept has remained and we have expanded it. It now includes all the FIFF activities that take place outside the cinema. This year we have put the emphasis on meetings with film teams; every day the audience will be able to attend a meeting with a guest. The big top is part of the big changes following the pandemic, but we are keeping a nerve centre in the NEF (a former desecrated church). Spectators and professionals alike will be able to find all the usual activities organised there. The pandemic has had a major impact on cinema attendance, so we must redouble our efforts to ensure that our audiences want to go to our cinemas.
The particularity of the FIFF, as its name indicates, is that its programming is French-speaking;
Why is it important to highlight French-language cinema today?
This is important because for films from certain French-speaking territories such as Quebec, Romania, Rwanda, etc. there is little room in Belgian cinemas. The FIFF Namur gives spectators the opportunity to come and see films that they will not see elsewhere because they receive less international visibility than American, English or French films. These different nationalities allow us to open up to the world, to the problems specific to each of us but also and above all to our common problems.
Can you tell us a bit more about the First Work Competition and the Nuggets?
We are once again very proud of our first work competition. It is a pleasure to be able to follow the young generation. The themes that you will find the most are family relationships. We have also opened up the First Work Competition to documentaries, whereas before it was only reserved for fiction. This year, we are offering two: "Le Film de mon père" by Jules Guarneri and "We, students!" by Rafiki Fariala.
The Nuggets offer a more eclectic selection that will take the audience from laughter to tears. We are also very happy to be able to present a Quebec film, "Arlette" by Mariloup Wolfe in this section this year, as well as a first feature, "Les engagés" by Emilie Frèche. There will also be something to delight families with "Little Nicholas" by Amandine Fredon and Benjamin Massoubre, "The Black Pharaoh, the Savage and the Princess" by Michel Ocelot and "Ride Above" by Christian Duguay.
Do you have a favourite film this year that we shouldn't miss?
You absolutely have to see them all of course! But if I have to point out one, I would say: "The Gravity" by Cédric Ido in the Official Competition, a futuristic suburban film that will surprise more than one, "Amore Mio" by Guillaume Gouix in the First Work Competition, a story of mourning in which those who have already been there will be able to recognise themselves, and "For My Country" by Rachid Hami for the Nuggets, which will also be our closing film.
The entire FIFF programme can be found on Moonday.