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Cannes 2021

Industry Report: Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Industry professionals debate liberty and diversity of audiovisual creation in Cannes

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CANNES 2021: The CNC-organised debate "Liberty and Diversity in Creation: A Key Issue As Of the Writing Stage" allowed various actors within the audiovisual sector to make their voices heard

Industry professionals debate liberty and diversity of audiovisual creation in Cannes
A moment during the debate

Last Monday 12 July, a round table was organised by the CNC on the fringes of the 74th Cannes Film Festival in order to ask the following question: how do we unearth the talent which is needed by the industry now more than ever? At a time when new actors are arriving on the French film funding scene - namely streaming platforms (Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in particular), whose contribution towards audiovisual creation is now enshrined in law by the AVMS Directive (obliging them to invest 20% of their turnover achieved in France in such creation) - it is especially paramount that the new works financed by these sources "make the grade in terms of artistic quality", warns the deputy CEO of the CNC Olivier Henrard. How, then, asked Henrard, kicking off the round table discussion, do we ensure that all types of projects, regardless of genre, author or producer, are given the opportunity to "contribute towards new audiovisual creation and its propagation?".

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The event moderator, CNC Director of Film Magali Valente, reminded attendees that this issue is central to the action embarked upon by the CNC, which notably takes the form of support subsidies for authors, such as advances on receipts or screenwriting aids (for writing and re-writing). Indeed, the screenwriting aid committee has been directed, these past two years, by Laure Adler, who took part in the discussion and declared herself delighted to have "come through a magisterial collective adventure" through contact with “a reservoir of imaginary worlds". The projects submitted to the committee represent “the pulse of society", although they are characterised by uneven levels of quality, which raises doubts in the mind of the now former president of the committee as to the pertinence of further facilitating the process for submitting requests for support. The philosopher and author Ollivier Pourriol, who is a former member of this committee, would sooner stick with the "collective development process" and the constructive disagreements which fuel debate between committee members.

Screenwriter Sabrina Karine (who co-wrote Agnus Dei [+see also:
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, directed by Anne Fontaine), who also took part in the panel, called out the CNC on the lack of coherence sometimes observed when projects are refused funding and returned to their authors, as well as a potential formatting of films on the part of the committee, and its lack of openness towards projects which are sometimes described as "not made for the CNC". In response to this, the producer of Julia Ducournau’s Titane [+see also:
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Jean-Christophe Reymond (Kazak Productions) argued that the Centre adapts its criteria according to the particular sensitivity of each fund offered. The director of Alice and the Mayor [+see also:
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interview: Nicolas Pariser
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]
, Nicolas Pariser, replied that there was nevertheless "something random" about the allocation of the CNC’s subsidies (his film was granted screenwriting aid after being refused the first time round, as of the first selection round, on the basis of an “almost identical” dossier). Pariser also lamented a bias linked to authors’ profiles: those boasting an academic background which is reputed to be demanding tends to "reassure committee members ". But if that’s the case, "how can we avoid formatting and successfully single out interesting projects which aren’t produced by intellectuals?", he asks.

The panellists likewise debated the issue of so-called “genre” films, to which the CNC has devoted a specific aid committee since 2018. It’s a form of categorisation which Reymond doesn’t approve of, much like Pariser, who believes that "there is no such thing as genre film; there are films and there are authors". Karine also rejects this unnatural categorisation, asserting that viewers should be free to interpret the dominating genre of each work as they see fit.

Finally, the round table participants explored several initiatives which favour the development of young authors. Pourriol presented the experimental methods used by Groupe Ouest, a programme aimed at supporting and speeding up film projects by orchestrating opportunities for sharing and for collective interaction between a handful of young authors, in the absence of producers, during work sessions. Similarly, Karine, who is a former member of Groupe Ouest, now lends her expertise to the Screenwriters’ City, a mentor programme aimed at helping young screenwriters integrate the field by way of a sponsorship system involving experienced professionals. These initiatives allow for a “diversification of talent pools”, Valente emphasised while moderating the exchange. Last but not least, Pariser extolled the virtues of collaboration between authors and producers: "Producers aren’t just money-focused men or women, they’re people who understand film and who play a significant part in the screenwriting process."

In short, it was an exchange which provided the CNC with an opportunity to listen to the criticisms levelled by various actors within the audiovisual creation chain, but also to reassert its commitment to supporting diversity in terms of both talent and viewpoints, by way of its authors funds.

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(Translated from French)

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