Boyer says 2011 selection was attacked by French press before films were even screened.

Last week, the French Directors Guild (SRF), announced the departure of Frédéric Boyer as artistic director of the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight. Boyer, who held the post for 2 years, responded in a statement to Screen on Friday in which he laments a “Franco-French attack” on the 2011 selection “whose primary goal was to make heads roll” (see full statement below).

Although the Fortnight has publicly remained mum as to why Boyer’s contract was not renewed, rumours have circulated since the festival in May that it was felt his selection was somewhat lacking, especially as compared to Critics Week, which many declared a rousing success this year.

In a statement on Tuesday, the SRF said, “The French Directors Guild has decided not to reappoint Frédéric Boyer as director general of Directors’ Fortnight. It thanks him for the work he accomplished as artistic director” It further added that the group is now recruiting a new director for the 2012 edition and is accepting applications.

Boyer responds with this statement:     

“The Director’s Fortnight was founded in 1969 to showcase totally free films. This guiding principle has led to the discovery of unique talents that have gone on to travel throughout the world, from one red carpet to the next. The Director’s Fortnight asks for no credit other than seeking out and accompanying daring and visionary talents.

“What gives the Director’s Fortnight all of its meaning is the discovery and encouragement of a cinema constantly reinventing itself despite obvious challenges in financing and distribution.

“Whether provocative, specialised or demanding, a Director’s Fortnight’s programme is decided first and foremost for the audience, who, year after year, expresses a passion for new forms of filmmaking.

“The 2011 selection was the target of a Franco-French attack whose primary goal was to make heads roll. The result has been a declaration of war on film itself. 

“Nevertheless, if these films are travelling throughout the world today, it is thanks to their audacity and international potential. Contrary to those who chose to ignore or attack my programme before even screening the films, the international press proved to be a most supportive partner.

“The French Film Directors’ Guild (SRF) has decided not to renew my contract as Artistic Director of the Director’s Fortnight. I wish to acknowledge and thank all of the filmmakers and industry professionals who have been sending me their messages of support. Their surprise, perplexity and disappointment can only be met with the hope that the SRF will continue to resist interfering pressures and maintain a spirit of freedom, all too rare in this increasingly formatted world.”