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Film4 director Ole Madden on bringing new and old voices to Cannes – The Hollywood Reporter


After an impressive award streak, this time it is largely thanks to Anisherin from Inisherin (Which, despite all the love for Jenny the Ass, was rudely snubbed at the Oscars.) Film4 kicks off the summer festival season with a selection of titles that could be part of the discussion next year. And the company’s three features to Cannes somehow manage to sum up all that the envelope-pushing bastion of British filmmaking – founded in 1982 and still wholly owned by BBC Four – stands for.

In Jonathan Glazer’s competition entry area of ​​interesthas one of the festival’s most highly anticipated titles, the first film in 10 years from a cult director whose previous film, Under the skinis regularly cited on best film lists (and is widely considered Film4’s best film – not bad, considering a library that includes trainspottingAnd My beautiful laundry And four lions).

With Steve McQueen occupied city After receiving a private screening, the acclaimed Academy Award winner brings to the festival with his first foray into documentaries (and one of a rather daring length — Scorsese’s piercing 262 minutes). It’s worth noting that both McQueen and Glazer are regulars on Film4, an impressive roster of indie heroes that also includes Mike Leigh, Lynne Ramsay, Yorgos Lanthimos, Andrea Arnold, Lenny Abrahamson, and Martin McDonagh.

A name that could soon be added to this lineup is Molly Manning Walker, who comes to Croisette with her buzzy debut feature, How do you have sexpremiering in the Un Certain Regard section.

As Oli Madden — who was promoted last year to Film4 director after Daniel Batzek was bumped into the chairman position — explains the three Cannes titles underscore the company’s core desire to discover and nurture new talent while ensuring that its roster of established filmmakers keeps coming back for more.

Talking to Hollywood ReporterMadden discusses the privilege of working for a company where the stakes are part of their mandate, details the (thankfully now lifted) concerns I had last year when Channel 4 appeared poised for privatization, and reveals the whereabouts of BansheeA famous donkey (sort of).

Does the broad mix of filmmakers at Cannes this year sum up the work Film4 is doing almost perfectly?

definitely. The core of our mission and strategy is to get that full reach, to find, identify and give a platform to the most ambitious, exciting and innovative new filmmakers. Molly fits perfectly into this category. We think it’s a really exciting new sound. And also continue to support really well-known filmmakers making risky, interesting and very engaging work. And I’d say in addition, we want to work hard to support mid-career filmmakers as well. At Sundance, we had a William Oldroyd movie Eileen. We were not involved in Lady MacbethBut it’s one of the most impressive and memorable premieres in recent years and we’ve been trying for several years to make a movie with him and it’s a relationship we want to continue to grow. But as far as Cannes is concerned, this is a spread we’re really proud of and an indication of where we’re at.

There’s clearly a great deal of interest around Glazer’s area of ​​interest, but very little information. He didn’t do any press before the festival and I understand there will be very little on the ground. Why the secrecy?

I’m not here to justify or explain Jonathan Glazer’s press preferences, but all I will say is that the film is exceptional and we’re also excited to have it released at Cannes. It really is the best possible launch for the movie, and we can’t wait for everyone to see it.

Almost 10 years have passed since then Under the skinas well as Film4 title, and area of ​​interest It’s been a long time making it. Given how much Under the skin Beloved, does the prolonged wait for the continuation add any extra stress to the movie?

I hope and expect that when the movie is revealed, all of that goes away and all we’re talking about is the movie. The word “author” gets around regularly now and I’m very guilty of it, but Jonathan is incredibly thoughtful, hardworking, specific, unique and takes his time to get things right.

Speaking of authors, anything written by Steve McQueen is something to celebrate. but occupied city The clocks in at approximately four and a half hours. Would even the great man himself push it a little too long?

never. I think it’s an incredible movie. It’s an experience, it’s an event. I think it totally justifies and rewards that experience.

But is the plan for her to have a stage show? It’s been a long time since someone sat in a movie theater.

A24 is our partner on the film, and we’re talking about that now, but the plan is to have a theatrical release and an “event.” And making the experience and commitment to the film was a huge part of that experience.

How do you have sex It’s a great start. After I saw what happened with after the sun In Cannes last year, how exciting was it to come to Cannes with a hitherto unknown director like Molly Manning Walker and watch a career potentially take off?

That’s why we did it, really. For Film4, with me as its current agent and Daniel [Battsek] And Farhana Bhola, our new Chief Creative Officer, and our amazing team, feel it’s our mission to continue developing the great legacy. Steve McQueens, Jonathan Glazers, and Lynn Ramsey have all been Molly at some point in their careers, and our job is to help identify that talent and support them, but also support them throughout the journey. It’s developing the film and making the film, but also launching it in the right way and helping them find the right distribution partners, the right audiences, helping them orchestrate its entry into the world, because we know that’s very important. There is a lot of noise outside.

Around the time you announced your deal with Searchlight for Three billboards outside Ebbing, MissouriFilm4 said its business model was to create these occasional large projects with studios and use the proceeds to fund smaller titles. I’ve made many big movies in the years since, and Sorcery from Inisherin He was also with a scout. Is this still the same strategy?

Yes, it’s an ongoing part of our business — making bigger movies with major studio partners and having a bigger stake in those movies. This is partly because, if successful, greater revenues can flow back into the roster. But also in order to have a proper seat at the table and we can support our filmmakers with a voice that helps get a bigger stake in film. So it’s partly commercial but it’s also about giving what we offer to filmmakers. Three billboards It was the first out of the gate, but we’ve obviously done a number of these partners since then. And we have Yorgos Lanthimos Poor things coming.

Channel 4, of which Film4 is a part, is now out of the woods regarding the proposed privatization being discussed. severely by the UK government last year. Did this unpleasant and prolonged episode cause you anxiety?

We obviously have concerns about anything that could undermine what we do. Two areas of particular concern were our commitment to making debut films, which are often unprofitable. But also what we offer filmmakers and producers is the independence and freedom when they take our support to work with any number of partners. We rarely fully fund a film, so once we have incubated a project and helped develop it, we then go out to market and help our filmmakers identify the right partners to make the film. We are able to do this because we do not have any corporate ties or any kind of responsibility to serve a specific partner. So complete freedom and independence benefits the independent film community, and I think anything that was going to undermine that or challenge that would be difficult.

I remember talking to Daniel shortly after he joined about how working at Film4 must be one of the most rewarding jobs in the British film industry because you can be much more daring than BBC Film or the British Film Institute, for example. Is this still the case?

What I will say is true and remains true – what draws us all to the job and why it is a privilege – is that we have a mandate to take risks. We have a responsibility to take risks and innovate, and a culture where that is our duty. And we’re looking for filmmakers, artists and voices who want to go on that journey. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But this is what we are about. This is where the best work is done. And it is extremely rare in the world of international cinema for a company to have the responsibility to comply with that.

Having worked with Martin McDonagh Sorcery from Inisherin-Do you know the top secret location of Jenny the Donkey?

Jenny is still relatively young, but she has retired after one movie and is happily living out her days on a beautiful farm in Ireland – a generous and respectful retirement environment. But I don’t want to send her to an early grave by subjecting her to swarms of visitors.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.