Plunged into crisis, French cinema asks the government to organize a States General

Something happened during the call for the States General of Cinema, which took place, Thursday, October 6, throughout the afternoon, at the Institute of the Arab World (IMA), in Paris. A hyphen has emerged between the “cinema du milieu”, an expression designating rather well-funded auteur films, and the weakened sector of works produced with less than one million euros. The profession has little choice: the cinema is on a platform, between the decline in cinema attendance (- 30% compared to 2019), and the growing success of home viewing, of films and series, on the platforms precisely. As for the various signals sent by the government (in addition to the abolition of the audiovisual levy), aiming to bring cinema and audiovisual closer together, or to invest in favor of “new writing” – evidenced by “the great factory of the image” of the France plan 2030 – they are not reassuring according to many professionals. We talk more about “content” than works, despair the authors.

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The policy of the “cheque book”, which Emmanuel Macron drew during the pandemic, (343 million euros paid to the profession, to compensate in particular for the closing of cinemas, plus a fund for filming in the amount of around 50 million euros) is no longer enough. Certain statements by the President of the Republic, such as his enthusiasm for e-sport – competitions on video games – which could indiscriminately invest stadiums or cinemas are worrying.

Professionals are waiting for other words. In a column published in The worldon May 17, more than two hundred personalities called for the “general vigilance”, but their cry resounded in the desert. In the line of fire, the president of the National Center for Cinema and the Moving Image (CNC), Dominique Boutonnat, author in 2018 of a report on the private financing of cinema, before being appointed head of the CNC – then reappointed in July 2022, when he is soon to be tried before the criminal court for acts of “sexual assault” against his godson – an accusation which he strongly contests. Invited to the day of October 6, the Ministry of Culture and the CNC were absent subscribers.

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But the eternal Minister of Culture, Jack Lang, 83, current boss of the IMA, was there, purple scarf on a dark suit, with the aura of the one who wrote part of the history of the regulation of culture, as a former guest at Rue de Valois (1981-1986, then 1988-1993). As a perfect gentleman, in the packed basement room, “Jack” congratulated the current minister, Rima Abdul-Malak, before begging the profession not to “don’t panic”. It would be too good a gift for the adversaries.

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Plunged into crisis, French cinema asks the government to organize a States General