Klapisch warns market is killing culture
The concern felt by French filmmakers about the slipping standards of current productions found a popular spokesperson this week: director Cédric Klapisch (whose next film Paris - see interview – will be released February 20, 2008). He expressed his views on the subject in an editorial published in daily newspaper Le Monde entitled "Cinema that helps us to live more fully".
Appealing to the president, the Minister of Culture and "all those who have blind faith in ‘viewers’ expectations’, without gauging to what extent cultural diversity is thus being threatened," the filmmaker speaks of "the crisis affecting cinema in recent years."
Recalling the fact that he was amongst those who once criticised French cinema for being "snobbish, pretentious and intellectual," Klapisch recognises the irony of “having campaigned for many years in order to assert the importance of popular cinema” only to find himself today having to “defend cinema which is not elitist but cultural. I’ve always believed it was possible to make commercial films whilst refusing to treat viewers like fools. I believe in a third way that denies the eternal dichotomy: auteur cinema versus commercial cinema."
"Today," the director continues, "what worries us as directors is having to witness the slow and insidious death of films that surprise and stimulate viewers. Cultural standards are slipping in our country and those in power are not even planning to try and slow the process down. By making this stand, I am following the example of Pascale Ferran at the César Awards. Along with the Society of Film Directors (SRF), we have noticed, as she has, the extent to which the situation is quickly deteriorating, and we now urgently need to act. Cinema should certainly entertain, but it should also inform. (...) It shouldn’t ‘lull’ viewers but give them something to think about, educate them and awaken their curiosity."
According to Klapisch, "the increase in the number of screening venues contributes to the Audimat [French equivalent of Nielsen ratings] logic and the omnipresence of blockbusters. The end result: an unprecedented formatting of films. In cultural terms, it is now essential to offset the negative effects of the market. We don’t want subsidised culture, we want protected culture (…). Standing back and letting the market dictate culture is tantamount to killing culture".
(Translated from French)
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