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INDUSTRY France

The controversial opening of a support fund

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The French Cultural Affairs Secretary Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres’s decision to open the film support fund to extra-European companies is still hotly-debated. On Tuesday, Catherine Colonna, head of the Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC) chose Isabelle Lemesle to bring the question before the highest administrative court, the Conseil d'Etat, and deal, before the end of June, with the revision of the current regulations, in consultation with professionals. This mission has already raised of storm of protests from those who are against the above-mentioned opening of the film fund, mainly because it would allow big American firms to benefit from CNC money, and thus sell in advance more ‘nationalised’ programmes to French TV channels. Besides, as many professional unions —such as the Independant Producers’ Union and the API (Gaumont, Pathé, MK2— claim, there is a risk that French and European producers will miss this lottery money if it goes to their American fellow-producers. It could also cause more inflation regarding the production costs of French big-budget films. These points were all mentioned by Pascal Thomas, president of the Film Directors’ Society, in an interview published yesterday in Télérama : ‘if you let American money into French films, small films will really struggle to find funding’.

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As far as the French Producers’ Union (CSPF) is concerned, its members proved surprised by the procedure used by the national secretary, as a statement published yesterday revealed, underlining that ‘a great majority of film professionals have been asking for a report-study on the relevance of an opening and on its possible consequences for months’. The CSPF regrets the fact that Isabelle Lemesle’s mission is only to deal with the technicalities of this opening without determining how relevant it is. It would seem ‘more urgent and legitimate to adapt our current system to ensure better relationships with our European partners, and all the countries which have coproduction agreements with France’. The CSPF, directed by Jean-François Lepetit, also mes back on the controversy raised by A Very Long Engagement. Despite the compromise the CSPF had agreed upon (under exceptional circumstances) at the time, its members still think ‘any undue reform to a system which has proved to work, enforced too fast on the basis of a single case, would be at all the industry’s expense’.

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(Translated from French)

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