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French film industry “shocked” by surprise election that raises the prospect of far-right influence

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French film industry “shocked” by surprise election that raises the prospect of far-right influence

Source: Goodfellas

‘After the Fire’

The surprise decision by French president Emmanuel Macron to call elections for France’s lower house of parliament has caused huge alarm within the French film and TV industry. The snap election is the most serious consequence of the European Parliamentary Elections. One executive believes that if Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party replicates its European performance in the home country, it could be “hugely harmful” for the entire European Film and TV industry.

There are fears the far-right party could dismantle, or at least “de-prioritise” France’s uniquely supportive and generous funding ecosystem for filmmakers.

“I am still in shock,” one French executive has told

Screen. “Everything is uncertain at the moment.” “If there is a far right government in France, then it is serious for all,” said the executive. Macron, who will remain as president and not be up for election, has been a strong supporter of both the EU’s AVMS Directive, which provides a framework for each EU member state to regulate their audiovisual media sectors, as well as France’s powerful film organisation, CNC. For years, the French industry has enjoyed the most generous state support of any European country in the form of state funding, levies, investment obligations and tax incentives.

If the far-right wins, audiovisual policy could change significantly. National Rally supports the privatisation of publicly owned broadcasting companies, including France Televisions. France Televisions is one of the biggest champions of film in France thanks to France’s investment obligations. It invests at least EUR60m per year in European and original French-language films, co-producing around 60 features a year.

Creeping impact

Already, France has seen smear campaigns by the far-right that have ruined box office chances for a handful of films. Mehdi Fikri’s family drama

After the Fire,

about an angry woman who seeks justice after her brother dies while in police custody. The CNC is an independent body that is overseen by France’s culture ministry. One executive said there is ‘mood music’ emanating from some political quarters in France – like in Italy – about too many films being made that do not find audiences in cinemas.“This is something we are strongly fighting. The executive said that if some films don’t find an audience, it’s just R&D. They cited the example of Justine Triet whose first two films had small audiences, but who achieved global success – and an Oscar and Bafta – for her third, Anatomy Of A Fall.“Financing first or second films that do not find their audience should not be seen as a loss of money,” said the executive, who points out French films have a 40% share of the local box office. “It is part of the system. We are the largest market in the EU. We are also the first EU market for American blockbusters. We are seen as the place to co-produce, for authors, for filmmakers in danger to come and residencies, and write their new scripts. This is something we will fight for, whatever happens.”

Another European executive feared an elected far-right government in France could “de-prioritise” culture. “In the French context, where culture is so important, that is unbelievable.”

Additional reporting by Rebecca Leffler

What impact could the results of the European elections have on the film and TV sector?

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