Anaïs Emery • Executive and artistic director, Geneva International Film Festival

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– We met the new director of the Geneva festival, who told us about her passions and her first edition at the helm of the event

(© Vincent Calmel)

Anais Emery is the artistic co-founder of Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival (NIFFF). She led the artistic direction of the festival from 2006 to 2020 and is now, as of this year, the executive and artistic director of the Geneva International Film Festival (GIFF), whose next installment is expected to take place between November 5 and 14.

Cineuropa: Can you tell me a bit about your professional background?? What attracted you to the world of cinema?
Anaïs Emery: I took a liking to the world of cinema and audiovisual, in the broad sense of the term, when I was a child. My parents were movie buffs. The first movie I saw in the cinema was The King and the Mockingbird (Paul Grimault), which was a good start, I would say. Later, I studied the history and aesthetics of cinema in Lausanne where I met other students who, like me, wanted to found a fantastic film festival. I did not initiate the NIFFF but I was part of the group that created it. The person who really started the movement was Olivier Muller, who left in 2005-2006. Subsequently, I took the reins of the festival and made it grow, for the most part, around the notion of multidisciplinarity, by working on its international influence. At the same time, I got involved in various selection committees and got interested in digital creation. In light of these learning experiences and new interests, GIFF felt like a golden opportunity. GIFF has indeed a fascinating history that revolves around its open approach to TV formats, which have been part of its DNA from the very beginning. I wanted to take up this new intellectual challenge which was moving towards a new and more global definition of the seventh art. An art that does not stop at the cinema, but which also embraces series, video games and new virtual worlds. I was also interested in working for a festival with a developing market, which emphasizes its prospective dimension.

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What personal touches did you bring to GIFF? What’s new and what will remain in this 27th edition?
To be honest, I started here only ten months ago and on top of that we also had the Covid 19 pandemic. I look at this first edition from a very humble angle. I have tried to learn rather than impose my personality, but it is clear that parts of myself and my personal experience will inevitably seep into it. What really interests me about GIFF, and what I want to keep, is its openness to formats, its international network in the field of immersive works and new technologies, and the fundamental question of how new technologies can be used to promote fiction. and imaginary worlds. For my part, I have introduced new sections, such as Future is Sensible and Tales of Swiss Innovation. I would really like the international competition, and especially the international cinema competition, to be better known as a place of reflection on narrative innovation, storytelling and more innovative forms of contemporary cinema. I think the most visible change is our focus on GDM (Geneva Digital Market). We really put it at the heart of the festival in terms of volume of conferences and guests. I also attach great importance to the notion of “festival of creators” which goes beyond showing films to the public, creating a dialogue and potentially also encouraging the production and dissemination of works.

Can you tell us about your juries, each of which includes a prominent figure in the world of cinema, as well as the young people who are part of the new guard?
This development was really important to me. I see GIFF as a space where we can reflect on the future of the audiovisual industry, the changes it must face, changes that are also the subject of heated debate within the film industry. I thought it would be interesting to have a jury made up of an important figure in the field of the seventh art, accompanying the new guard of cinema. But when I discussed it with other people, I realized that it was a shocking decision for many, because at festivals the jury is an untouchable institution. I thought it would be a real challenge for me. I think it’s important to be consistent and given that we’re trying to come up with a new vision of the 7th art that explores new avenues and trends in the industry, it felt like a really relevant decision to me. If there’s one place we can get away with it, it’s at GIFF.

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(Translated from French)


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