Serious friction around the diversity of films in French cinemas
by Fabien Lemercier
- Independent filmmakers, producers and distributors demand better regulation of the screening of films in cinemas from the public authorities
Hidden by the very good results obtained by certain driving forces that have pulled up admissions in French cinemas so far this year, the strong tensions that have been brewing in the independent film sector for some time have crystallised and been brought to the fore by the Bill on the Freedom of Creation, which is currently in the early stages of being examined by the French parliament. The government’s decision to withdraw an amendment laying the foundations for regulating the conditions for screening films in cinemas sparked things off, leading all associations representing the French independent film sector to issue a press release demanding that the Minister of Culture take action over the course of the parliamentary debate to ensure the necessary conditions for a diverse offering of films in cinemas.
"The phenomena of concentrating on and over-exposing some films to the detriment of diversity, multiple screenings, multiprogramming, speeding up the rotation of films, increasing promotional costs, the problems arthouse cinemas have in accessing certain works, are all observations that have been shared by the entire profession for a number of years”, highlighted the signatories, who pointed out that they have already listed ways of remedying the situation over the course of a year of working together under the aegis of the CNC. The recommended measures for "fighting the negative effects that harm the screening of films in all their diversity and contribute to the division between consolidated groups and independent companies” most notably include strengthening programming commitments and creating distribution commitments, more control and sanctioning powers for the public authorities, a more balanced sharing of value between exhibitors and beneficiaries, maintaining multiple cinemas in local areas, specifying the conditions of application of the written contract between the distributor and the exhibitor, and planning schemes for unlimited access to film.
The joint text was signed, among others, by the ARP (Civil Society of Authors-Directors-Producers), the APC (Association of Film Producers), the SPI (Union of Independent Producers), DIRE (United European Independent Distributors), the SDI (Union of Independent Distributors), the SRF (Film Directors’ Company), the SPFA (Union of Animated Film Producers), the ACID (Association for Independent Cinema and its Distribution), the GNCR (French National Association of Research Cinemas), the SFA (French Union of Performing Artists), the union of artists, authors and composers, the UNEVI (Union of Independent Video Publishers), the Guild of Screenwriters, and so on and so forth.
A number of filmmakers have also written to the Minister of Culture, urging her to not "sacrifice the quality of the diversity of production and the exceptional fabric of French arthouse cinemas solely in the financial interests of large business groups". Presenting the situation as on the brink of rupture as “the formerly precarious balance between the various types of company and the various stakeholders of the sector has been insidiously unsettled, and the resulting imbalance has become increasingly evident in recent years”, the signatories of this letter most notably include Mathieu Amalric, Jacques Audiard, Lucas Belvaux, Emmanuelle Bercot, Julie Bertuccelli, Jérôme Bonnell, Bertrand Bonello, Guillaume Brac, Stéphane Brizé, Thomas Cailley, Laurent Cantet, Catherine Corsini, Arnaud Desplechin, Philippe Faucon, Léa Fehner, Pascale Ferran, Eugène Green, Robert Guédiguian, Michel Hazanavicius, Agnès Jaoui, Cédric Klapisch, Thomas Lilti, Gilles Marchand, Dominik Moll, François Ozon, Antonin Peretjatko, Martin Provost, Katell Quillévéré, Pierre Salvadori, Céline Sciamma, Bertrand Tavernier, Agnès Varda and Rebecca Zlotowski.
(Translated from French)