France's SRF sounds the alarm in support of debut films
by Fabien Lemercier
- Rapidly evaporating private funding and the cap on public support are putting young French cinematic creation in jeopardy
More than 130 filmmakers, screenwriters and producers have signed an open letter from the SRF (French Directors’ Association) addressed to the French Culture Minister, Françoise Nyssen, demanding swift action in support of young cinematic creation, which is facing hard times owing to the current situation.
Underlining the high artistic standards of current French feature films, as demonstrated by the Caméra d'Or awards won at Cannes by Party Girl [+see also:
interview: Marie Amachoukeli, Claire B…
film profile] in 2014, Divines [+see also:
interview: Houda Benyamina
film profile] in 2016 and Montparnasse Bienvenüe [+see also:
interview: Léonor Serraille
film profile] in 2017, the SRF points out, "It is precisely debut works and the most daring projects, those that it is riskiest to ‘take a punt on’, that are particularly weakened today, a situation verging on insecurity in some cases. Year after year, private funding, which mainly comes from television channels, has been drying up, channelled first and foremost into auteurs who are already well known, the safest bets and the genres that are flourishing the most. For a small number of films that are easily identifiable and are often iconic in terms of creation, the impact is not to be underestimated. The lack of a television channel in pre-funding – or the meagre amounts offered – almost automatically generates a majority of public funding, which is capped at 60% for low-budget films. The sheer absurdity of the system forces these movies to forgo certain forms of support – in particular the tax credit."
For the SFR, "the solution is simple: authorise a maximum of 70% of public funding in the budget of these films. In this respect, let us not forget that French legislation is the toughest in Europe (...) For up-and-coming filmmakers, whose projects have been chosen on account of their artistic qualities through extremely selective mechanisms (the CNC’s advance on receipts, for instance), the capping of public support drastically affects the production, imagination, and artistic and visual ambition of the projects: reduced crews, non-existent extras, ever-tighter shooting periods, pared-down screenplays… This insecurity is spreading continuously and is curbing the blossoming of a new generation of auteurs, actors and crew members."
Requesting that the minister make the most of the debates on the draft budget bill in order to "guarantee greater equality between films requesting the tax credit, a fiscal measure that should be accessible to all, without exception", the SRF highlights the fact that the financial cost of such an amendment would be "negligible, bearing in mind its artistic and economic effectiveness, especially since very few films are affected."
The first signatories of the open letter include filmmakers Claire Denis, Catherine Corsini, Céline Sciamma, Rebecca Zlotowski, Katell Quillévéré, Pascale Ferran, Tonie Marshall, Agnès Jaoui, Julie Bertuccelli, Jacques Audiard, Robert Guédiguian, Bertrand Bonello, Pierre Salvadori, Cédric Klapisch, Nicolas Philibert and Lucas Belvaux, in addition to producers Pascal Caucheteux and Grégoire Sorlat, Philippe Martin and David Thion, Jean Bréhat and Muriel Merlin, Sylvie Pialat and Benoît Quainon, Marianne Slot, Marie Masmonteil, Didar Domehri, Marie-Ange Luciani, Gilles Sacuto and Miléna Poylo, Patrick Sobelman, Bertrand Gore, Nathalie Mesuret and Sandra Da Fonseca, Tom Dercourt, Laurent Lavolé and Bertrand Faivre.
(Translated from French)
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