Eric Garandeau • President of the CNC
by Fabien Lemercier
31/01/2011 - Interview with the new president of the National Film and Moving Image Centre (CNC). Before taking up this post, Eric Garandeau (37) was previously official representative of the head of France Télévision from 2001-2002, adviser to the Culture Minister from 2002-2004, financial and legal director of the CNC from 2005-2007, then culture and communications adviser to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Cineuropa: What are your priorities as head of the CNC?
Eric Garandeau: Véronique Cayla really kick-started the digitisation of theatres, a third of which are already digitally-equipped, putting France ahead of the rest of Europe in terms of the percentage total. My ambition is to finish this process as quickly as possible without forgetting anybody along the way, especially small and medium-sized theatres. We absolutely must avoid a two-speed film sector, whether it be at the level of theatres or films.
And what I really want to do is continue the restoration of heritage films, begin their digitisation (starting with the CNC’s rich collections: over one million reels) and distribute them as widely as possible by making them available to commercial platforms.
In terms of financing French production, what are the chances of investment growth (€1.4bn for 261 features in 2010)?
The idea isn’t necessarily to produce more films, but to finance them well by taking into account changing technology, in particular 3D which generates extra costs. On a competitive international market where the United States is investing more and more money in its productions, we have to be up to standard, which means diversifying our funding sources.
Today we live in the age of connected televisions, which is a fantastic opportunity for developing access to the whole wealth of films on offer but it could also weaken the position of traditional television networks which are the leading financers of films. They must be able to continue to invest and must also be substituted with other mechanisms. The CNC is involved in this for in 2007 it developed a plan for contribution from Internet access providers (IAP). My work will be to secure this financing source, which is justified by the fact that IAPs use audiovisual content to expand. We must also preserve the traditional fiscal mechanisms (tax credit, Sofica).
What are your plans in the field of international co-productions?
The CNC is regularly questioned about certain criteria for its different funding schemes (tax credit or approval conditions) which could act as obstacles or brakes to international co-productions. These are difficult issues, but I fully intend to carry out a study into what may hinder these co-productions. To bring renewed creativity and originality to cinematic works whilst performing better on the export market, we need to encourage co-productions as well as a diversity of talents starting from the writing stage.
Do you foresee any joint initiatives with your European counterparts?
Our model by which the authorities contribute to film financing must always be defended before the European Union authorities, because our financing mechanisms are regularly examined and validated by the European Commission. Each time, we have to justify the necessity of this funding and its non-discriminatory and non-penalising nature from the viewpoint of EC law. It’s an effort of persuasion that needs to be carried out constantly. That’s also why we must develop European co-productions: to show there is no antagonism, but a collective body of European works in the making. The more each country’s National Film Centre supports its film industry, the more easily we can then circulate our films across the Union and create a real European culture and real European cultural industries.