“There are too many films and many are the same”

Faced with the worrying crisis in attendance at the cinema, about three hundred independent professionals in the sector – all the professions put together – had signed, on 17 May 2022, a forum in The world expressly questioning the political choices of the National Center for Cinema and the Moving Image (CNC). This text, concerned about an ideological inflection of the institution, provided for the holding of the General States of French cinema. A day of assembly of the profession is planned, on 6 October, at the Institute of the Arab world, in Paris, to encourage the public authorities to their concrete organization. Meeting with producer Saïd Ben Saïd (André Téchiné, Paul Verhœven, Nadav Lapid, David Cronenberg…), one of the spearheads of this movement, to better understand the problems.

The report on the financing of French cinema presented in 2018 by the then new director of the CNC, Dominique Boutonnat, immediately worried part of the profession. What do you blame him for?

It is a relationship that does not take into account the singularity of films by acting as if they were all the same and which hopes, in the name of a purely accounting conception of culture, the destruction of public action in terms of cinema.

What has changed in CNC policy since then?

First of all, we recall that the CNC does not distribute subsidies to cinema professionals, but reinserts the money deriving from the exploitation of films in French cinema in the form of automatic and selective support. This automatic support is proportional to the commercial success of the film, while selective support is granted to films with an artistic dimension but not necessarily meeting market criteria. It is this equalization principle, which has been proven for decades and which the whole world envies us, which is gradually being challenged by results, profitability and performance objectives.

Read also the section: Article reserved for our members “The political choices of our institutions seriously weaken cinema”

The marginalization of cinema in favor of the audiovisual sector in the CNC’s aid policy is an important element of his argument.

Dominique Boutonnat would like to merge the support and support mechanisms of cinema with those of the audiovisual sector, on the basis of the observation that series have gradually filled the void left by a part of cinema. The observation is not entirely false, but it could not be more partial and partial. Cinema has become, with the disappearance of studios, which only produce franchises, a craftsmanship that produces prototypes: the films of Kelly Reichardt and Bennett Miller in America, those of Hong Sang-soo, Lee Chang-dong or Hamaguchi in Asia, Abdellatif Kechiche, Julia Ducournau or Alice Diop in France… Series production is an industry. It is the realm of quantity. These are two radically different economic and artistic approaches.

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