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At dinner with the co-founder of Les Arcs Film Festival

Discovering the story behind the event and some helpful clues about making a film festival.

Pierre-Emmanuel Fleurantin and Guillaume Calop at the opening ceremony 2022

Around a table of Le Savoy restaurant, in Les Arcs 2000, it’s common to hear great stories. The greatest story of the night of 14th December was Guillaume Calop's, the co-founder of Les Arcs Film Festival.

Guillaume grew up in these mountains during the 80’s, when it was difficult to get out of the place. At some point he had the feeling to escape; he knew that he wanted to work in the cinema, but there was no opportunity except from being a projectionist. His first job was at the Annecy Film Festival and he loved the energy of these kinds of events. After so many years and different occupations, destiny brought him to a train to Normandy, where he casually ran into Pierre-Emmanuel Fleurantin. He was also raised and born in Les Arcs and at the time of their encounter he was working as a movie producer. After a long talk, they discovered they had the exact same idea: to create a film festival in Les Arcs.

To make their dream come true, they had to convince the political forces and the economical fields of the village. When the new local administration, which wanted to build a big event for Les Arcs, got elected, Guillaume and Pierre-Emanuel, who then became the co-founder of the festival, proposed it to the mayor, with the benefits of having grown up there instead of being only an external investor. Then, they had to convince the hotels and the Les Arcs 1950 economic activities to help them with the accommodation of the guests. They thought to start the festival at the beginning of the tourist season, in the early days of December, in order to make the village live also during that part of the year.

As Guillaume said, it was a rough path because in 2008, one year after he met Pierre-Emmanuel, the economic crisis came out. The project, which was just ready, struggled to receive funds and find sponsors. Nevertheless, in 2009 the festival came to life.

During the first years, the festival didn’t have the strength to invite big names but, as soon as participants returned home and to their works, they just spread their experience and the peculiarity of the festival, the sense of community, the possibility to have fun. In the beginning, a great help also came from Frédéric Boyer, who was working with the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs in Cannes as a programmer. Right after signing with Guillaume, Frédéric became the artistic director of the Quinzaine: this helped to bring Les Arcs good movies and, with them, a lot of credibility.

By 2022, the project is four times bigger the project of the first years. Despite this, the main ideas supporting the festival didn’t change so much. For example, the idea of the Industry Village of creating a community of producers and distributors, the spotlights on social issues and the desire to make a little village living, were some of the principal aims of Guillaume and Pierre-Enmanuel in 2008.

Three things to know if you are as crazy as Guillaume

With the experience of Les Arcs Film Festival, Guillaume has the status to advise young people about starting a festival from the ground. One of the most important rules is that on the top of organizations there should be different characters and specific professionals. For example, while Guillaume is a very creative person, Pierre-Emmanuel has a wide vision of the industry and, as a producer, he knows what kind of cinema he wants to show and promote.

Setting up a new film festival in a little place, apart from being a crazy idea, should be something new. The ambitious aspect is to see what is happening in the world and mark a difference with other film festivals. The key is to be global in a creative sense and local in logistic terms, trying to bring a new cinema to people who otherwise wouldn’t be interested in it and to highlight the spot of the event.

Guillaume's last tip was to choose the right partners and team, because as they think a film festival is something collective: a collaboration between different visions. In Les Arcs Film Festival the essence of the 100 staff people and volunteers is the passion that binds them, building something everyone in the team enjoys. 


By Paolo Rissicini and Sofía Romera (MIOB Journalism Lab)

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