The 36th Fribourg International Film Festival (FIFF), which will run from 18th to 27th March, is set to welcome music star Gjon's Tears and French comedy icon Pierre Richard. The singer, who had all of Switzerland rooting for him at the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest, will present films from his parents' birthplaces of Albania and Kosovo, and give an intimate concert at the Nouveau Monde. During the first weekend of the Festival, the “Tall Blond Guy”, as Pierre Richard is affectionately known around the world, will share five films that are especially close to his heart.
After two years of COVID-induced disruptions, the 2022 Festival will return to its traditional March slot. As FIFF's initial announcements prove, the cancellation of the 2020 edition and the postponement of the 2021 edition have failed to weaken FIFF's embrace of diversity. As well as a Genre Cinema section dedicated to (post-)apocalyptic films, the Festival can now reveal the recipients of its two cartes blanches.
"We have long wanted to offer the Diaspora carte blanche to a well-known figure who has roots in the Balkans and could offer us a tiny glimpse into Kosovan and Albanian culture", explains Thierry Jobin, FIFF Artistic Director. “Even though Albanian is the sixth most widely spoken language in Switzerland, we still know very little about this community's cinematic tastes. When we saw Gjon's Tears' incredible performance during the final of last year's Eurovision Song Contest, it was clear that we had to reach out to him. Another reason why he is the ideal recipient are the subjects his music touches on. His latest song, Silhouette, for example, deals with the pain of forced exile. The icing on the cake for us is that he's a real movie buff, too!” The young music star, who grew up as Gjon Muharremaj in Broc, in the canton of Fribourg, with his Albanian mother and Kosovar father, put his heart and soul into his choice of films. They include three shorts and four features, including Hive (Blerta Basholli), Kosovo's entry in the 2022 Oscars. As well as attending the screening of some of his films, Gjon's Tears will give an intimate concert at Nouveau Monde on 22nd March, accompanied only by his piano and a microphone. On 23rd March, he will meet the public again to discuss his Kosovo-Albanian heritage and his love of cinema.
Pierre Richard, Guy Bedos, Claude Riche in Et si on vivait tous ensemble? by Stéphane Robelin, 2011
Following on from the king of French pop, Étienne Daho, last summer, it is the turn of another icon to curate the Sur la carte section. This year's recipient is Pierre Richard, actor, screenwriter, director, producer, singer, and winegrower. A huge comedy star since the early 1970s, Pierre Richard will travel to Fribourg to present his choices in person. Each film reveals a little part of his life story, from the discovery of his artistic vocation as he watched Danny Kaye's performance in Up in Arms (1944), to the more recent Et si on vivait tous ensemble? in which he stars alongside Geraldine Chaplin, Guy Bedos and Claude Rich, and plays Jane Fonda's husband, no less. FIFF's Artistic Director explains how the invitation to Pierre Richard came about, “The process of planning the Festival often leads to chance encounters.” Three years ago, Thierry Jobin was at the Udine film festival in Italy, on the lookout for Asian films for the FIFF programme. A French producer invited him to dinner and talked about the film he was shooting in the city. He mentioned that a member of the cast would be delighted to talk to a fellow French speaker. “So, I find myself sitting at a table with Pierre Richard! From starter to dessert, he proves incredibly similar to the characters he plays: unaffected, modest, pensive, deliciously whimsical and generous. He loves doing impersonations of famous fellow actors like Depardieu, and is also really good at it. The next day, I had the irrepressible urge to invite him to Fribourg. FIFF has always wanted to expose the audience to real people, and if there is one person that our audience must meet, it's him!” Pierre Richard will be in Fribourg during the first weekend of the FIFF.
Gjon's Tears will be in concert at Nouveau Monde on Tuesday 22nd March, during FIFF. © Daniil Zozulya
FILMS OF THE CARTE BLANCHE SECTIONS
Diaspora: Gjon’s Tears, Albania and Kosovo
Fin de Partie, Fisnik Maxville (Switzerland, 2020)
Hive (Zgjoi), Blerta Basholli (Kosovo, Switzerland, Albania, North Macedonia, 2021)
The Marriage (Martesa), Blerta Zeqiri (Albania, Kosovo, 2017)
Sisterhood (Sestri), Dina Duma (Noth Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, 2021)
Skanderbeg (The Great Albanian Warrior Skanderbeg), Sergei Yutkevich (Albania, USSR, 1953)
Short film programme
Lost Exile, Fisnik Maxville (Switzerland, Kosovo, 2016)
Sans le Kosovo, Dea Gjinovci (United Kingdom, 2017)
Shok, Jamie Donoughue (United Kingdom, Kosovo, 2015)
Sur la carte de Pierre Richard
Les Belles de Nuit, René Clair (France, Italy, 1952)
Et si on vivait tous ensemble ?, Stéphane Robelin (France, Germany, 2011)
Le Jouet, Francis Veber (France, 1976)
I nuovi mostri (Les Nouveaux Monstres), Mario Monicelli, Dino Risi, Ettore Scola (Italy, 1977)
Up in Arms (Un fou s’en va-t-en guerre), Elliott Nugent (USA, 1944)
The full programme of the 36th FIFF will be unveiled on 2nd March 2022.