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Rendez-Vous Unifrance 2024

Rapporto industria: L'Europa e il resto del mondo

Vendere o no film e programmi alla Russia?

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La Russia è il paese in cui il cinema francese ha registrato il maggior numero di presenze all'estero nel 2023: di questo si ha discusso al 26mo Rendez-Vous di Unifrance a Parigi

Vendere o no film e programmi alla Russia?
Un momento dell'incontro (© Christophe Clovis/Unifrance)

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With 7.09 million admissions, Russia leads the rankings of nations where French cinema proved most popular abroad (read our news), which inevitably raises a few questions given the context of the War in Ukraine. For the record, unlike other sectors where embargos are in place, Europe hasn’t banned the export of films and audiovisual shows to Russia. This tricky subject was tackled head-on during the round table entitled "Issues surrounding the promotion of French film and audiovisual works in an uncertain world" (moderated by Daniela Elstner), unfolding within Export Day which opened the 26th Unifrance Rendez-Vous in Paris (read our article).

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"I believe in cultural diplomacy. We have to talk to children from all over the world, offering creative, intelligent works which expand their imagination rather than politicising them", stressed Aton Soumache (Mediawan Kids & Family), the happy producer of animated title Lady Bug & Cat Noir Awakening, which reported the most admissions for French films abroad in 2023 and which also proved a hit in Russia. "We’d sold the film to Russia well in advance of the war. Miraculous [the French title of the film] is also a series which enjoyed global success. So it didn’t make sense to penalise children. I aim to be pragmatic, and borders couldn’t hold this film back, which revolves around a French heroine living in Paris, because we have to preserve our cultural heritage and share it with the world. It’s an entertaining film which is good for us all."

A different tune was sung by Alice Lesort (director of international sales at Les Films du Losange and co-president of Europa International): "we opted for a very individual position because we ask our producers and filmmakers their opinion whenever there’s an opportunity for sales in Russia. It’s a complicated matter for sales agents because even arthouse films which don’t attract many admissions play a part in the Russian economy. And even if distributors are trustworthy and not necessarily pro-Putin, we’re not in a position to check what happens afterwards: if they sell a film to a Russian TV network, who says it won’t then be broadcast between propaganda messages? But on the other hand, it’s also about helping the Russian public to access something other than propaganda. So it’s complicated, there’s no straightforward answer. Russian distributors aren’t to blame, so we keep in contact with them. If people make offers for films, we ask the producers who often pass the decision on to the filmmakers, who have all refused up until now. Obviously, it means we lose a bit of money, but there’s no way we’d go against the filmmakers’ wishes".

For Emmanuelle Jouanole (Gedeon Media Group & Terranoa), the answer is clear: "We’ve stopped selling shows to them. It’s on hold. But I respect the different positions on this because there isn’t one right answer. We have to think about it on a case-by-case basis".

The debate was settled humorously by Bertrand Faivre (The Bureau Sales): "As Jean Renoir would say, "my homeland is film". We produce and sell films about police brutality (The Monopoly of Violence [+leggi anche:
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intervista: David Dufresne
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), whistleblowers (The Sitting Duck [+leggi anche:
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) and tax evasion (Tax Me If You Can [+leggi anche:
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), so if Russia wants them, I’ll happily hand them over for free."

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(Tradotto dal francese)

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