"War is hell, Mr. Thornhill, even when it's a cold one."
Alfred Hitchcock, North by Northwest (1959)
War On Screen is dedicated to films dealing with wars past, present and future, and aims to represent all aspects. In keeping with this ambition, the Festival is not limited to a purely military approach to the theme. Far from it, the Festival explores all facets of warfare and embraces both the reasons for war and its effects and aftermath. Moreover, it gives a voice to the human lives that have been turned upside down by wars and conflicts, even from afar.
The majority of our screenings are of works that do not feature any actual battles, concentrating instead on less factual, more intensely psychological and human aspects.
These films are particularly symbolic—if not the very definition—of our Festival. First and foremost, in that they tackle the most guarded and under-portrayed aspects of conflict, and those that are the most difficult to portray, especially in fiction. And secondly, because the directors are forced, in order to represent the most heinous of atrocities, to invent new art forms. A decidedly radical approach to filmmaking that immerses the cinema-goer in what they can empathise with most directly: the individual, their sensitivity, their strengths, vulnerabilities and uncertainties.
If there is one filmmaker who has made conflict a central theme of his works, it is without doubt that unfathomable master, Stanley Kubrick. His six legendary portrayals of warfare span the full gamut of film genres and periods of history. It takes the wisdom of Michel Ciment to explain this exceptional filmmaking career.
The spotlights and retrospectives on offer this year cover a range of topics:
• The Spanish Civil War, a major conflict of the 20th century whose aftermath lives on to this day, and a precursor to current issues such as the refugees fleeing from war and repression today.
• A spotlight on 1975, a year that saw an end to hostilities in Vietnam at the same time as unrest in Lebanon.
• The First World War is seen from the perspective of aviation, an industry whose development is closely associated with the Marne region, home to the Festival.
• Finally, we have a more unusual series looking at the surprising relationships between Sport and Warfare.
The special screenings are largely dedicated to the portrayal of conflicts taking place before our very eyes, attempting to offer a virtually real time exposé while a the same time setting such wars in context with conflicts past.
The international competition covers an unrivalled range of periods, continents and artistic approaches, all testimony to the the unwavering desire of directors from the world over to take stock of the events that seal the fates of so many in countries both near and far.
Roland Joffé, whose career has so vividly captured the spirit of the Festival on film in masterpieces such as
The Killing Fields, is the president of a jury comprising artists and reporters who together will offer a rounded perspective.
The short film competition is testimony to the creativity allowed by this format, with the immense freedom it affords. The student jury deciding between our entries will have the pleasure of working with a president, Etienne Labroue, whose unbridled imagination has been a hit for Canal+.
Our festival opens and closes with screenings of two cinematic masterpieces demonstrating how the Great War invaded and upturned the lives of ordinary citizens.
Even more directors, actors, reporters and a whole host of other artists will be here to share their experiences with audiences and explains what drives them.
I would like to thank all of the people who, with such dedication, work so hard to make War On Screen a milestone event for our region.
C.E.O & Artistic Director