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Mathieu Fournet • Director of European and International Affairs, CNC

“This Cannes Film Festival is for us the symbol of recovery”


- CANNES 2021: The director of European and international affairs of the French centre reflects on this singular year and on the event programme at the festival

Mathieu Fournet • Director of European and International Affairs, CNC

The director of European and international affairs of the CNC since April 2019, Mathieu Fournet, reflects on this singular year and on the programme of the CNC pavilion (read the news) during the 74th Cannes Film Festival, which started yesterday.

Cineuropa: How did the CNC implicate itself in the pandemic with its French exporters and its European partners?
Mathieu Fournet: During the entire period of the pandemic and despite the inability to travel, we have maintained the greatest coordination possible with our European counterparts, multilaterally via the group of the EFAD (European Film Agency Directors), and bilaterally with Belgium, Germany, Italy, Croatia, Portugal. Beyond this european coordination, regular relations have been maintained with countries such as Canada, Quebec, Argentina, Tunisia, to exchange our responses to the crisis and to share what we have put in place in France. Some of our measures have inspired our counterparts, in particular the indemnity guarantee fund which has allowed shooting to restart in France with an insurance against the COVID risk. A strengthened reciprocity was created between France and Germany by crossing the bilateral fund with the guarantee fund. Faced with a unique situation, it seemed essential to us to ensure coordination and the exchange of good practices in all transparency in order to adjust the measures based on experiences. This guarantee fund, of 50 million euros, to which were added some commitments from mutual insurers, is prolonged until the end of August.

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The lockdown has forced some producers and international sellers to turn to VOD or SVOD platforms to export their films abroad: what is the magnitude of this change according to you?
The situation varies greatly from country to country; some cinemas stayed open for a very long time, as in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan; others are once again closed. It is hard to know what to expect, but in France, the audience is returning to the cinema, with 8,5 million entries in June. During this crisis, we remained as close as possible to French exporters, to best accompany them through this crisis that will have mid- and long term consequences. Exportation and the international sector are our priority and our programme at the pavilion of the CNC this year is testimony to that.

We have perpetuated the FSA (automatic support fund for cinema exporters, set up in 2017, editor's note) which even benefits from a budget reinforcement to reach 7 million euros today. We also wanted to ensure the flexibility of aids to foreign distributors, who have a great relationship with Unifrance. The new Unifrance widened the audiovisual perimeter was decided on 23 June by the general assemblies of Unifrance and TVFI. For the CNC, it is an additional means to stand beside French professionals to get out of the crisis on top: returning to conquer emergent markets, win back and renew audiences with increased resources since 3 million euros are planned for Unifrance as part of the recovery plan. We truly wish to accompany cinema and audiovisual professionals, exporters who need to win back markets, producers involved in coproductions. The festival is for us the symbol of business recovery.

What does the CNC offer in its pavilion for foreign professionals in Cannes?
Thursday 8 July is dedicated to attractiveness and exportation, with meetings in English. In fact, we have noticed a bigger presence of American buyers in Cannes than expected: distributors such as Neon, AFC Films, Sony Pictures Classics, the programmers from the Lincoln Center in New York, are at the rendezvous. On Friday 9 July, we will again discuss the international sector but through the prism of solidarity, and of the Aide aux Cinémas du Monde (Help to World Cinemas). Because this aid, aimed at filmmakers from around the world, has also been reinforced: a third college has been created, an aid to completion, that will benefit from 2 million euros over two years (which brings the envelope to 6,45 million euros for 2021, cofinanced with the French Institute).

We will also present two crisis devices set up this year. The first is the emergency Liban fund, which has accompanied 17 films in production and post-production, for a real restart of activities. The second, Deental, is a programme cofinanced by the European Union and the CNC targeting countries from the ACP zone (Africa Caribbean Pacific): the films from that region helped by Cinémas du monde or by the fund for young francophone creation will benefit from a financial bonus, as well as actions to strengthen productions. In Cannes, we are welcoming seven young producers from Senegal, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Tunisia. Seental means “together” in Fula. We truly put the international sector at the centre of priorities for the CNC, we never intended to have only national responses. We did not focus on the French ecosystem.

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(Translated from French)

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