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Illustration by Chris Morris
To many festgoers, Thierry Fremaux is the guy in the tux with the raspy voice standing on the red carpet next to festival president Gilles Jacob, shaking everyone’s hand. The Hollywood Reporter’s France correspondent Rebecca Leffler went in search of more details about the man behind the handshake.
The Hollywood Reporter: How many hours do you sleep during the festival?
Thierry Fremaux: I go to sleep around 2 a.m. in general and wake up around 8 a.m., with one or two nights a bit shorter than that. But I need at least five hours of sleep per night in order to last for 15 days.
THR: How many e-mails do you receive?
Fremaux: Around 300 per day, including a few sexual and commercial spam messages. The phone rings all the time.
THR: Worst night ever in Cannes?
Fremaux: Let’s just say that I live in constant fear of a technical or security incident. The rest, for better or for worse, is all part of the game.
THR: How did you start in this field?
Fremaux: As a volunteer at the Lumiere Institute in Lyon, on the rue du Premier-Film (literally, First-Film Street).
THR: If you didn’t work in film, what would you do?
Fremaux: I’d be a historian, because that’s what I studied. Or a bike racer, but it’s too late for that. Or maybe a gardener, in the future.
THR: What book are you currently reading?
Fremaux: I read a lot, several books at the same time. The new Jim Harrison; a philosophical essay by Regis Debray; and Jack London’s “Martin Eden,” that I re-read every year.
THR: Biggest regret?
Fremaux: To not be able to welcome Terrence Malick. I’m, like the rest of the world, inconsolable.
THR: Who’s your hero?
Fremaux: Mandela, Gandhi, peaceful people. But history teaches us that we need to be skeptical of heroes, right? Otherwise, Hugo Lloris, the goalkeeper for the Olympique Lyonnais soccer team, the hero of this winter.
THR: What do you do the night before the festival to prepare yourself?
Fremaux: I have dinner with the jury. I listen to Bruce Springsteen and Astor Piazolla.
THR: Worst film you’ve ever seen?
Fremaux: I love movies too much; even a horrible film interests me.
THR: Best film?
Fremaux: There are too many. The first movie in history, “La Sortie des usines Lumiere,” is a great one-minute film!
THR: Is there something about you that would surprise people?
Fremaux: That I have trouble responding to this type of very personal interview.
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