More to film reviewing than a 140-character tweet, says Thierry Frémaux.

Thierry Fremaux

Cannes Film Festival chief Thierry Fremaux has hit out at the impact of social networks on the coverage of the festival and its Official Selection.

“It was the first real ‘Twitter festival’ where everyone decided to say whatever happened to pass through their heads,” Fremaux told French film industry trade Le Film Francais

“This created a permanent race against the clock between journalists and amateur neo-critics.”

“Writing a review, is about formulating and putting down a thought, and can’t be summarised in 140 characters written as soon as the credits have stopped rolling,” he continued.

“In Cannes, I am not sure the social networks do any good for the general spirit.”

Frémaux was speaking in an interview with Le Film Francais summing up his thoughts about the 68th edition, which ran May 13-24.

“The degree of fantasy that Cannes arouses isn’t a licence to write any old thing. On the internet, an article is judged by the number of clicks it generates, civilization is making progress!,” he said with irony.

Frémaux’s comments echoed the sentiments of the festival’s new president Pierre Lescure in an interview with La Croix newspaper last week in which he complained about the fact critics were tweeting during press screenings.

“Everything is accelerating. The instantaneity leads to hasty, excessive, definitive judgements. The critics are tweeting during projections. The nature and the function of the profession are changing. By acting like this, I’m not sure the profession is doing itself any good,” he said.

Frémaux and Lescure’s comments follow this year’s request that attendees refrain from taking selfies on the red carpet at the 68th edition. Some French media outlets have questioned whether they will be turning their attention to twitter next year.

Social Media mentions down in 2015

Interestingly, however, social media analysis firm Way to Blue reported a 29% drop in social media mentions for the festival in 2015.

According to a post-Cannes study, the festival generated close to 1 million mentions overall with Mad Max: Fury Road prompted the most Cannes related tweets (18.9k) followed by Carol (17.3k) and The Lobster (12.4k).

Way to Blue pinned the drop in mentions to the absence of stars with big social media followings such as Robert Pattinson.

Race to get online

The fall does not discount Frémaux and Lescure’s comments on how social media is impacting coverage of the festival and the films premiering in Official Selection and the parallel selections.

There was much debate at the festival, for example, amid critics and industry alike – over the race to get reviews online first and how the ever quicker turnaround might impact the quality of the reviews. 

Difficult festival

Le Film Français interview came at the end of a turbulent Cannes for the delegate general and its new president, who found themselves on the receiving end of a number of, sometimes, contradictory criticisms ranging from suggestions that the competition was weak to a backlash over the glitziness of the red carpet and complaints that the event had become too “bling bling” or flashy. 

Frémaux noted, however, it had been business as usual the festival team. “The festival’s image. It’s the press that create it. The Bling-bling, that’s created by a certain press. We haven’t changed anything, we’re occupied with the films and welcoming the artists and that’s already enough to keep us busy”