"A triple A mini-treaty"
by Fabien Lemercier
24/11/2011 - "In the past, from the point of view of German producers, getting involved in a French film was considered too expensive, complicated and chaotic, not to mention the language barrier. The reverse was just as inconceivable with French producers who had major doubts about the cinematic skills of their German counterparts." At yesterday’s opening in Paris of the 9th Franco-German Film Meetings organised by Unifrance and German Film, Peter Dinges, director general of the FFA (German Federal Film Board), gave a very positive assessment of the 10 years of the Franco-German co-production mini-treaty, without, however, hiding the fact that there is room for improvement. This analysis is shared by Eric Garandeau, president of the
A total of 86 co-productions have been backed with €33.1m in funding, including films like The White Ribbon [trailer, film focus], Merry Christmas [trailer, film focus], On Tour [trailer, film focus] and Pina [trailer]. As pointed out by Dinges, who awarded it a triple A rating (renamed Amicable and Artistic Alliance), the Franco-German co-production fund (which has an annual budget of €3m) has, in a decade, totally proven wrong "those who thought that the cinematic cultures of the two countries were too far apart". For his part, Garandeau emphasised that Germany was France’s second co-producing partner and that 2010 had seen a record of 23 co-productions between the two territories whose cooperation was more vital than ever in the current situation.
The two heads of the two countries’ film institutions also called for improvements, in particular hopes of an additional sum of €300,000 per year (€150,000 for each country) in order to finance the development stage of productions. Garandeau thinks they also need to step up efforts in terms of distribution, for example by better coordinating releases in both France and Germany. The president of the CNC also invited majority German co-productions to also apply to the new French fund “Cinémas du Monde”, which will come into force in 2012 with an annual budget of €6m.
Dinges didn’t hesitate in bringing up a few sensitive issues, specifying that "the aim of the mini-treaty wasn’t to be a miniature Eurimages" and that it shouldn’t "support invisible films in the partner country". Speaking of the possibility of a more intense selection of projects, he suggested "resolving the question of whether the co-production fund is a film workshop or a commercial co-financing institution." He also hoped for a more active involvement from Arte and regretted that the approval systems for French and German films weren’t more compatible: "certain co-productions are hampered due to administrative issues". This demand for a relaxing of the French points system (linked to the French language) was supported by the producer Margaret Menegoz (member of the mini-treaty committee) who pointed out the destabilising paradox of purely financial French/German co-productions that are too easy to get off the ground compared to the complexity of setting up traditional artistic co-productions.
(Translated from French)