When will we see a prize for film music at the Cannes film festival?

Voices are rising to demand the creation of a musical award in the Cannes palmares. A prize that would reward the essential work of composers.

D-1 before the big night. The jury of Cannes film festival presents its prestigious distinctions tomorrow, Saturday, during the traditional closing ceremony. Who will win the Palme d’Or, the Jury Prize, the screenplay prize, the interpretation prizes? Suspense, but one thing is certain: the music will leave empty-handed. In Cannes, no award comes to crown the work of composers and composers of film music. Yet, many are calling for the creation of such a prize.

The composer, third author of the film in France

All the musicians questioned hammered it in: of course, the Cannes festival is an international festival, but it is held in France, where the composer has a special status. This is what the musician recalls Eric Neveux. “The composer of the film score is, in terms of copyright, the third author of the film in France, along with the director and the screenwriter”, underlines the one who notably composed the soundtrack of Cézanne and I of Daniele thompson, with Guillaume Gallienne and Guillaume Canet : “It’s a specific copyright, very different from that of Anglo-Saxon countries for example. It’s something that makes you want to talk about it and put film music forward. It could also be a a good way for the festival to justify the creation of a film music award at a festival like Cannes, that would make perfect sense! “

I believe that most composers claim and dream of this award at Cannes, and of course I include myself in it. I think that would do justice to the importance of music in the cinema “ – Éric Neveux, composer

The music has, however, already been awarded at Cannes. When the Festival was created, from 1946 to 1952, the Sacem International Grand Prix crowned the best score. It will then be necessary to wait until 1977 for the music to make its return to the charts, to see the soundtrack of Rose Royce and Norman Whitfield awarded for the film Car Wash of Michael schultz. Then, in 1985, Philip glass will be awarded for the score of Mishima of Paul Schrader. Since then, the music is absent subscribers. With, little consolation, the “Cannes Soundtrack Award”, an independent prize awarded by a jury of journalists on the sidelines of the Festival, which since 2010 rewards the best composer of films in official competition.

The reasons for an absence

Why is it blocking? Éric Neveux suggests that rewarding music would open the door to a whole host of prizes: “It would possibly raise questions about giving other prizes to very central actors in films, such as photography”, he raises. Audrey Ismael, composer of music for films and series, gives an additional explanation: “The rationale would be that not all movies have original music, that’s what was explained. It would mean that some movies would have an advantage over others to win a prize.”

As a composer, it’s difficult because we tell ourselves that the screenplay is award-winning. It’s also an author’s job, so it’s a little frustrating at times to think that it’s not rewarded. Of course I hope that the music will be rewarded one day in Cannes “ – Audrey Ismael, composer

Not to mention the fact that in France, the composer has often been relegated to the background. This is the opinion of Bruno Coulais, author of the film’s music The chorists or even Microcosmos. “In France, film music, while there have been real composers, is a little neglected. Perhaps because it is a cinema with a lot of dialogue, more realistic, the critics speak little about it, they tend to think it is invasive “, he says. “And above all, I have the impression that we don’t hear it. I know that in the United States, when there is a review of a film, we always talk about music. In France, we We rarely talk about it. As if the stakes of the film were not there, as if the contribution of the music was a sort of decorum or embellishment that we do not care about, that’s a shame. “

“I think that rewarding music at Cannes would be a great thing. But at that point, you also have to reward the operators… It becomes a bit like the César, I don’t know if it is necessary” – Bruno Coulais, composer

But for Bruno Coulais, there is still a revival of consideration for film music in recent years: “I have the impression that there is more and more curiosity for what is called film music, which is not a genre in itself”, observes the composer: Bruno Mantovani, when he headed the CNSM created a film music class with _Laurent Petitgirard_, which I picked up after. Composers and people in the cinema need to understand that film music is not just a pretty thing that embellishes the film, but on the contrary can be an experimental field… and that’s kind of what happens. “

“This is a discussion we are having”

In any case, Jean-Noel Trunk, who heads Sacem (the Society of Authors, Composers and Music Publishers), ensures that the question of creating a prize arises: “This is a discussion we have withPierre Lescureand _Thierry fremeaux_. I hope that the board of directors of the festival will take up the question to see in what form we could add an award that pays homage to the composer or the composer, who are an integral part of the emotion that a film gives us. gives, and this from the beginning. “

“We are going to get there. It has to be done in an extremely positive way in the dialogue, all of this is obvious. We just need the festival board to find the time so that we can succeed. in the moments which come to an additional and specific recognition “ – Jean-Noël Tronc, Managing Director of Sacem

“There is more reflection than debate, because it is basically obvious. But we know that Cannes is an institution of world stature and that therefore shifting the lines a little bit in this area is not easy. “, continues the Managing Director of Sacem, who is also one of the partners of the Cannes Film Festival. “This is a debate that we would like to speed up, especially since the Covid crisis has illustrated the central role of the creative link that composers constitute: for musicians whose copyright is devastated in that moment would be a very nice signal sent globally. “ Jean-Noël Tronc who hopes to achieve specific recognition for the composers on the Croisette next year.

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