Cannes 2016: William Friedkin masterclass

Director of “The French Connection” to talk at Cannes

The Cannes Film festival strikes again. Every year, the event invites noteworthy directors to give a masterclass. Over the years, this has included Martin Scorsese, Nanni Moretti, Wong Kar-wai, Quentin Tarantino, Marco Bellocchio, Philip Kaufman and Jacques Audiard.

For the 69th edition, they have chosen another remarkable director. William Friedkin is one of the leading figures of American cinema and recently published the book “The Friedkin Connection: A Memoir”.

The renewal of American cinema

William Friedkin

Photo of Friedkin by Elen Nivrae, Paris

Friedkin played a large part in the renewal of American cinema at the beginning of the Seventies with “The French Connection” (1971), “The Exorcist” (1973) and “Cruising”. He won an Academy Award as Best Director in 1972, and multiple other awards around the world.

When accepting the Cannes invitation, he said: “It’s an honor to share my thoughts and ideas with an audience at Cannes, the home of world cinema”.

The world has changed dramatically since his big hits. “This is the most challenging time I can recall for the future of world cinema,” he says. “There are massive changes coming for production and exhibition, more than I’ve experienced in over fifty years.”

Born in Chicago in 1935, Friedkin decided to become a film director after seeing “Citizen Kane” by Orson Welles. Going through the school of television and reporting, they have to this day remained strong marks in his style and narration mixed with a deep sense of realism. Refined man and movie buff, he directed a long interview of Fritz Lang in 1974, before delivering in 1977 “Sorcerer” — an adaptation of “The Wages of Fear” by Henri-Georges Clouzot — a film he considers to be his masterpiece.

He directed two astounding landmarks of the Eighties: “Cruising” (1980) and “To Live and Die in L.A.” (1985), exploiting crime and thriller themes, then went into the horror genre with “Rampage” (1987) and “The Guardian” (1990).

Often involved in opera staging, William Friedkin has continued to direct films, such as “Bug” (2006) and “Killer Joe” (2011). His masterclass will take place at the Buñuel Theatre in the Palais des Festivals, hosted by film critic Michel Ciment.

As you can see from the video above, you can expect some real from-the-hip talking.

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