Film critic and writer Professor Jean-Michel Frodon doesn’t need an introduction. He is a well-known A-lister in Iran. He has a master’s degree and a DEA in history. His name is Jean-Michel Billard with a pseudonym borrowed from Frodo a character in The Lord of the Rings. In 1983, he became a journalist and film critic for the weekly periodical Le Point, of which his father, Pierre Billard, also a journalist and a film critic, was one of the founders and chief editors. He took the same position at the daily newspaper Le Monde in 1990 and in 1995 and became responsible for the daily film column. In 2003, he became head editor of Cahiers du cinémas four years after its purchase by Le Monde. He writes the blog Projection Publique on website slate.fr.
In an exclusive interview with the Press Office of Fajr, Frodon says perhaps even more so than with paying tributes to established directors, the festival programmers and the film businesses in Iran should always be on the lookout for new directors, and jury members and special guests are happy to oblige.
You have attended the previous editions as well. Tell us more.
I don’t know, maybe twelve times. I don’t know much about this year’s edition but I think the festival is doing a very important work, a very useful task. Probably, it’s difficult to attract the major directors because of the time that is close to the Cannes Film Festival.
What do you think about the Iranian films screening this year?
Well, there are a lot of good Iranian films now and it’s important that we keep paying attention to the new directors and new propositions in terms of filmmaking. I’m very confident, because there are a lot of people here who care about the Iranian cinema. There are good films and there will be even more in the future.
Do you think Iran could have another Abbas Kiarostami?
Abbas Kiarostami was unique and also he was unique as a man, he was unique as a filmmaker and also he was unique because he was Iranian cinema’s ambassador. Iranian cinema is now recognized in the world mostly because of Abbas Kiarostami. So no, it cannot happen again because it is done! But of course we still expect to see some good directors to emerge.
The works of which Iranian director do you enjoy the most?
I really respect a lot the works of Dariush Mehrjui, Amir Naderi, who doesn’t make films in Iran anymore, and I like the films made by Jafar Panahi. He is a really important filmmaker for the younger generation. I also like the works of Mohammad Rasoulof.
How about Asghar Farhadi?
Yes, Farhadi is very successful too. Now we want to watch his film in the Cannes Film Festival. He is an inspiring director, but he is so much into scriptwriting than directing. I like directing more than scriptwriting.
Presided over by writer-director Reza Mirkarimi, the 36th edition of Fajr International Film Festival runs in Charsou Cineplex and other venues in Tehran until April 27. The event organizers are receiving over 300 special guests, ranging from filmmakers to screenwriters, actors to critics and scholars. A host of A-listers like Franco Nero are also attending, including influential American film director Oliver Stone.