“The very essence of cinema is conflict.
There’s no cinema without conflict. It’s boring as hell if there’s no conflict.”
Benoît Poelvoorde in Cowboy, dir. Benoît Mariage (2007)
Creating this Festival was something we all felt was a must. But why this newcomer on the festival scene, when there are so many other events, both in France and throughout the rest of the film world?
The festival’s inspiration lies in the very region that it hopes to enrich: the Pays de Châlons, the department of Marne and the broader region of Champagne-Ardenne have, for over 2,000 years, borne witness to the true significance of war. Now, with the benefit of this history, it makes sense for our region to showcase the strength and vivacity with which filmmakers, reporters, not to mention video game creators, reveal these conflicts.
What is more—and as strange as it may seem, nowhere else will you find a moment of the year dedicated exclusively to screening works that deal with war and conflict. The Festival intends to avoid restricting its scope to the “war film” genre as a stereotypical reconstruction of battles and military events. Rather, the festival will cover a diversity of artistic and cinematographic approaches to war, as well as diversity in the conflicts dealt with. From the hackneyed American tradition to emergent forms of cinematography, our aim is to explore the history of a genre whose output is as plenteous as it is varied. From historic epic to western, from sci-fi to social narrative, from comedy to historical panorama, from spy film to political thriller, practically one in every 5 films produced deals with some war or conflict. Ultimately, we will be concerned with any film that could not exist without the presence—be it in the foreground or background—of a conflict involving at least one State, past, present or future.
In this first ever War on Screen festival, we also sought to take inspiration from comedy, derision and satire. The caustic power of humour, as served up by the most preeminent masters of filmmaking, often boosts the power of their work in highlighting the absurdity of conflict.
The two international competitions will include the first ever public screenings of no fewer than 25 films, in most cases French or world premieres.
In a bid to accommodate all forms of moving image, we were keen to include all forms of media and expression, be they fiction (both feature length and short films), documentary, archive footage, news reports or video games. In future years, we will have an opportunity to explore this diversity in even greater depth and to add TV series to the list: the latter is an area that has seen particular creativity over the past two decades or so.
Setting up a festival against a background that could otherwise be a reason for disengagement is testimony to our conviction to develop a region whose riches remain hitherto unrecognised. Huge thanks are due to all those who have made this initiative possible. The State and other bodies, in particular the Pays de Châlons, for getting the festival off the ground. The philanthropists and sponsors who have given their backing. The employees, volunteers and advisors who are so crucial to the festival, while the Jury members are its public face. To the artists, filmmakers, designers, reporters and academics who enrich it with their imagination, spirit and vision. We look forward to an enthusiastic
turnout from the public.
May the Festival make our area a focal point, where screens across the region will offer us a better picture of our world as it is today, and paint a better picture for tomorrow.
CEO and Artistic Director