The first international film festival "Cinema Heritage" kicks off in Paris

The first edition of the international film festival "Cinema Heritage" opens this Tuesday, November 28, 2023 in Paris, under the patronage of UNESCO. The aim of the event is to highlight the world's cinematographic heritage and to "develop a dialogue between cultures and nations". Nine feature films are in competition. Among the guests of honour are Chinese director Zhang Yimou, French-Greek filmmaker Costa-Gravas and his Romanian counterpart Cristian Mungiu. Interview with the festival's Executive and Artistic Director, Diana Ashimova.

Poster for the first international film festival "Cinema Heritage", in Paris. © Kèoprasith Souvannavong / RFI

By: Kèoprasith Souvannavong


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RFI: How did you come up with the idea of creating the "Cinema Heritage" festival in Paris?

Diana Ashimova: The idea of the "Cinema Heritage" festival was born from a meeting between the Director-General of UNESCO, Mrs. Audrey Azoulay, and the Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to France, Mr. Sadyk Sher-Niyaz. In addition to his role as ambassador, Mr. Sadyk Sher-Niyaz is also a producer and director, best known for his film Kurmanjan Datka: Queen of the Mountains. The meeting between these two personalities led to an agreement on the creation of an annual international film festival, under the patronage of UNESCO, whose objective is to popularize and disseminate the ideals and mission of UNESCO: the rapprochement of peoples and cultures, but also the preservation of historical and world heritage, as well as the development and preservation of folk art and the opening up of new capacities for cooperation in all fields of culture.

What is special about your festival?

In addition to presenting the new films of contemporary cinema, our festival is a journey through the history and heritage of world cinema. We strive not only to draw attention to contemporary works, but also to cherish and pass on the great masterpieces that laid the foundation for the development of cinema. We believe that the restoration of classic films is an important step in the preservation of cultural heritage – and our festival is designed to stimulate interest in this process. Our competition focuses on intercultural relations and the richness of cultural diversity. We want to create a platform in which each film tells a unique story of its culture, promoting mutual understanding and respect for differences. It is important for the younger generation to appreciate the origins and foundations of cinema, seeing it not only as entertainment, but also as a powerful means of cultural exchange.

We hope that our festival will provide the public with an unforgettable experience, but also that it will contribute to the preservation and promotion of cultural richness, helping to build bridges between different peoples and their artificial expressions, especially in Paris, the cradle of world cinema.

We don't just use the film, the infinity sign and the umbrella as symbols of the festival, we cherish our heritage by honoring both established directors and young filmmakers whose films will be our cinematic heritage in the future.

What is the programme for this first edition?

This year, we received about 500 films from 56 countries. Our international selection committee has chosen nine films for the international competition. Many films will be screened in France for the first time; The Parisian public can also expect European and even world premieres.

We have also created two other programmes, "Heritage" and "National Film Day", in which we screen cult films that have already become classics of world cinema, as well as arthouse films.

Diana Ashimova, executive and artistic director of the international festival "Cinema Heritage", in Paris, in November 2023. © Kèoprasith Souvannavong / RFI

"Cinema Heritage" International Film Festival in Paris, from November 28 to December 2, 2023, in the Mac-Mahon and Élysées Lincoln cinemas.

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