Estates General of Cinema: an “appeal” in absence – Les Inrocks

The profession met this Thursday, October 6 at the Arab World Institute for an afternoon of dense interventions but still ignored by their recipients, the CNC and the Ministry of Culture.

A wind of revolt is stirring within independent French cinema, in this return to school which is seeing an accumulation of bad news in a worrying climate of non-interventionism, even assumed neoliberal aggravation.

An informal collective of professionals talked about him during the week and met yesterday to publicly express its call for the holding of an assembly of cinema, in the face of the stack of alarm signals such as attendance still as low (peaking at two thirds of pre-Covid levels ), the abolition of the royalty, the questioning of the chronology of the media (in particular around the threats exerted by Disney to reserve its next releases, crucial for the exhibitors, to its streaming platform) with the only answer being the filthy sneers of the “powerful” and the CNC’s off-the-ground prospects (“Great Image Factory” project aimed at maximizing the reception of platform filming, support for the metaverse, etc.).

Diversity Support

It is in a small climate of consensus on the air of art against industry that around thirty interventions by representatives of the trades took place on the stage of an auditorium of the Arab World Institute production, distribution, exhibition, festival programming, etc., calling for a profound rethink and vigorous strengthening of support for diversity, which is more than ever threatened with survival.

But as the filmmaker Arthur Harari summed it up well, perhaps sensing a few yawns in the audience (notably from Jack Lang, much thanked host, living symbol of a political possibility of strongly supporting culture, but who will end up fall asleep in the front row) after an hour of speaking: “Today we are pushing in a number of open doors, but it doesn’t necessarily hurt when they are all closing!”

French cultural exception

A conversation in the presence of some leading artists (Agnès Jaoui, who spoke, and in the audience Léa Drucker, Swann Arlaud, Maud Wyler, Clotilde Courau, Nicolas Pariser, Justine Triet, Audrey Diwan…), but in the absence of the public authorities, except for a deputy, the LFI Sarah Legrain who took the microphone for a few seconds to express timid support (let’s say rather attention). It was the catastrophic situation of countries less well endowed than us that first served as a warning: “500 cinemas closed in Italy, no more in Venice, the city of the Mostra” ; in Spain, a production that turns to the English language to survive. France is like Fort Alamo: Charles Tesson, former general delegate of the Semaine de la Critique, reports with what envy all his counterparts have always spoken to him about the CNC, especially in countries with a well-equipped cinephilia, such as Korea.

The influence of France is on everyone’s lips, as evidence that should shame those responsible for the dismemberment of the sector. The three “Ds”, Ducournau-Diop-Diwan (the latter being moreover present) are regularly cited as the standard-bearers of a French cinema which has won the greatest awards (Palme d’or, Lion d’or, Silver Lion), and what’s more, with women.

List of demands

Few major points of disagreement emerge (perhaps the number of films produced, put back on the table this week by a interview to World much discussed by producer Saïd Ben Saïd, who is also present on stage), if not from the room which came to add to the demands of the collective a few additional subjects: the disappearance of independent and alternative cinemas, thanks in particular to the intervention of a representative of the collective La Clef Revival who challenged the audience on the threat of closing the Luminor Town Hall; the situation of film schools with a student from the ENS Louis Lumière, warmly applauded, who came to talk about the dislodging of his school by the 2024 Olympics and a partnership with TikTok; the paper press crisis recently federated withinan appeal to the Minister of Culture.

So many subjects that the historically federated profession (we had rarely seen such an audience of professionals from all walks of life, big, small, tiny, old, young, famous, anonymous, firmly sticking together) tries to merge into a single a word that for the moment resembles a bottle in the sea filled to the brim with grievances, but without the slightest clod of earth in sight.

Two filmmakers present in the audience were there to testify to the general assembly of cinema in 1968 – which had contributed to the cancellation of the Cannes festival and called for radical measures (shooting strike, suppression of the CNC, etc.) but ended in failure – and perhaps, to learn a lesson from it: the Lebanese Heiny Srour and the documentary filmmaker Abraham Ségal, who at the height of his 85 years did not hesitate to denounce a certain softness and call for the protest is heating up. Message it seems heard by Arthur Harari in his closing speech: “now, let’s hope that the CNC and the ministry hear us and seize these general states; if not, let us seize ourselves, and go into revolt.”

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Estates General of Cinema: an “appeal” in absence – Les Inrocks