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Cannes’ cash call

Gallic fest crew stumps for Buenos Aires

PARIS — The Cannes Intl. Film Festival’s Directors Fortnight team has launched an appeal to fests worldwide to bail out Argentina’s cash-strapped Buenos Aires Film Festival.

The government has cut the budget for the event, which will unspool April 18-19, from last year’s $1 million to $200,000, and money from private sponsors and partners has dropped from $300,000 to $100,000. The funds will only cover 20% of the event’s cost.

The news comes as Argentina continues to struggle with mounting political and economic problems. The government recently devalued its currency by at least 30% and declared it will default on $140 billion in international debt.

“I just got back from Buenos Aires where I saw the situation with my own eyes,” Directors Fortnight selection committee member Jacques Gerber told Daily Variety Wednesday.

Funding hold-up

According to Gerber, the Buenos Aires city government has refused to give the fest any more money until it pays back the coin it has received since it was founded four years ago. “But there’s no way they can pay the money back,” Gerber stated.

The Cannes appeal for funds was also sent to foreign embassies and international film companies.

According to Buenos Aires fest director Eduardo “Quintin” Antin, the event already has received $20,000, including $15,000 donated by the Rotterdam Film Festival. The Berlin, Locarno and Thessaloniki fests have pledged support, as has Cannes, which saw its own budget slashed this year for the first time.

“I want to stress that the festival will take place,” Antin told Daily Variety from Buenos Aires Wednesday. “We have money to secure all the films. Now we need money for things like plane tickets and hotels for the participants.”

This year the festival features 150 films, compared with 220 in 2001. Opening-night film is Gallic helmer Laurent Cantet’s “L’emploi du temps” (Time Out). Movies shown in competition are by first- and second-time directors.

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