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French filmmakers sound the alarm about the future of France’s media chronology


- About 100 celebrated French filmmakers warn against a new media chronology that would be too favourable to streaming platforms

French filmmakers sound the alarm about the future of France’s media chronology
Directors Jacques Audiard, Arnaud Desplechin and Claire Denis, who are among the signatories of the open letter

Jacques Audiard, Arnaud Desplechin, Claire Denis, Olivier Assayas, Michel Hazanavicius, Laurent Cantet, Stéphane Brizé, Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano, Robert Guédiguian, Emmanuel Mouret, Michel Ocelot, Agnès Jaoui, Pierre Salvadori, Cédric Klapisch, Catherine Corsini, Philippe Faucon, Rachid Bouchareb, Emmanuel Finkiel, Claire Simon, Philippe Lioret, Philippe Le Guay, Martin Provost, Nicolas Philibert, Bruno Podalydès, etc. In an open letter published today in the daily newspaper Le Monde, a very large number of some of the most prestigious French filmmakers add their voices to the debate, just as the 31 March deadline for the interprofessional negotiation regarding the reform of France’s media chronology rears its head. If no agreement is reached, then it is the government that will decide on this reform, which concerns the timing and rhythm of films’ screening windows across various types of media, following their cinema release. This change follows the adoption of the European decree (read our interview with Olivier Henrard, deputy chief executive officer of the CNC), which obliges powerful SvoD platforms to support French creation. And indeed, young French cinema is well represented in this open letter, with signatories including Rebecca Zlotowski, Justine Triet, Jérémy Clapin, Sébastien Lifshitz, Houda Benyamina, Thierry de Peretti, Stéphane Demoustier, Bertrand Mandico, Louis-Julien Petit, Katell Quillévéré, Axelle Ropert and Carine Tardieu.

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A few selected excerpts:

“We are worried about cinema’s future. On 31 March, the government risks ratifying a decree that would be particularly favourable to streaming platforms by offering them an advantageous place in France’s media chronology, in return for ridiculously small investments in our cinema. It is estimated for example that Netflix, the biggest of them all with 8 million subscribers, would invest about €18 M in pre-buying French films… Compare this with the €104 M paid by Canal+ in 2019 and which, thanks to binding agreements with the industry, guarantee about a hundred films a year and real variety. If the government forcibly passed this decree, ignoring those necessary interprofessional agreements, this would have the immediate consequence of weakening long established partners, and it would push some to align themselves with the models of these new industry players. What would happen if, following simple logic and in order to protect itself from this competition, Canal+ itself became a platform subjected to much lesser obligations regarding cinema?”

“There is nothing dated about media chronology: it is precisely what, thanks to a sophisticated mechanism, forces cinema broadcasters to finance film creation.”

“We are not resisting because we want to preserve the privileges that come with our small territory – we are fighting so that a fertile ground for creation can survive across the country.”

“We are open to welcoming streaming platforms, but it will be on them to adapt to the country’s media chronology, and not the other way around.”

“Today, our films only exist thanks to a precious and subtle ecosystem for the financing of our works, one that brings together independent distributors, established audiovisual broadcasters, national and regional organisms. It is this ecosystem that then allows us to bring to vibrating life the most important expanse of cinemas in Europe.”

“The platforms are welcome to join us and strengthen this ecosystem, but we will not sign an agreement that would threaten to destroy it.”

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(Translated from French)

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