The Lumière Film Festival pays tribute to Tim Burton

Cannes director Thierry Fremaux brings a deep love of cinema and film culture back to his hometown of Lyon with the Lumière Film Festival.

Thierry Fremaux may be the director of the Cannes Film Festival, but his heart is in his hometown of Lyon. He is also a lover of old films and director of the Institut Lumière, which specializes in the preservation and enhancement of cinema classics. It bears the name of the Lumière brothers, pioneers, who invented the revolutionary Cinématographe, a camera capable of recording, developing and projecting films, in Lyon in 1895.

Incredibly, Fremaux also has a third role as director of the Lumière Film Festival, which has taken place in October since 2009. Over the years, the festival has grown to encompass new cinema as well. As director of Cannes, Fremaux has considerable leverage in attracting big names to the festival.

Each year, a special Lumière Prize is awarded to one of the greats of cinema. Last year it was Jane Campion and this year the honor went to Tim Burton, who thanked the festival at numerous events including screenings of his films.

“This festival is so great because it’s all about movies and not business or awards and that’s why it’s so strong and powerful and beautiful.”

At the closing ceremony, Fremaux told the crowd how their thunderous response to Burton’s presence attests to his incredible popularity as an artist, his artistic ability, and his ability to present humanity in his films.

Burton admits the festival is now one of his favorites. “Like Arnold Schwarzenegger says, I’ll be back.”

Fremaux announced that sleepy hollow had won a poll voted by students as their favorite Burton film. Incredibly, the filmmaker has only been nominated for the Oscars twice, in the animation category for Frankenweenie and Corpse bride. He says his favorite movie is probably Ed Wood, although he admits it was also his biggest box office bombshell. The film played in competition at Cannes long before Fremaux’s arrival.

Thierry Frémaux presents In the night

FilmInk was only at the Lyon festival in its final days, when there were two standout screenings of iconic silent films that were painstakingly restored and accompanied by live music. Thursday, the 1929 film In the night, probably the last French film of the silent era, projected on the playing of an incredible organist in the Auditorium which looks like a spaceship in the city. But the piece de resistance was a German orchestra accompanying a screening of Murnau’s classic Nosferatus, which celebrates its centenary this year. It happened at the Opéra de Lyon which is black and steely and postmodern and would surely be to Burton’s taste.

Similarly, Burton would approve of Guillermo del Toro’s new stop-motion animated musical version of Pinocchio which is coming to Netflix in December. The Mexican filmmaker was unable to travel to Lyon as his mother died suddenly, but he sent a video message to the sold-out screening of the film.

“Animation is an art; it’s not a genre just for kids,” he insisted. “It took 14 to 15 years to get it done and it had to be the right atmosphere for my partner and me,” he said of his co-director Mark Gustafson.

Del Toro asked Cate Blanchett to be part of the project when she starred in her previous feature film, alley of nightmares. The Australian actress has a leading role as the voice of a monkey named Sprezzatura who befriends and assists Pinocchio. The film is visually stunning and inventive.

Main photo: Institut Lumière, Olivier Chassignole

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