This story was corrected May 6, 2003.
PARIS — Cinematheque Francaise prexy Jean-Charles Tacchella resigned Monday in a spat over the directorship of the organization.
He ankled after the official cinema body, the National Cinema Center (CNC), issued an ultimatum Friday threatening to cut off financial backing unless Tacchella accepted Serge Toubiana as director.
Toubiana is former editor of highbrow cinema mag Cahiers du Cinema and the author of a recent government-commissioned report on France’s film archives and cultural institutions devoted to cinema.
Cinematheque old guard are up in arms over the move, which they say flouts its independent status. According to Cinematheque rules, only the prexy (an unpaid position) can appoint the director (a paid position).
However, the French government provides 80% of the Cinematheque’s financing via the CNC.
Screenwriter and filmmaker Tacchella (“Cousin, Cousine”) has been intimately linked with the Cinematheque since he came to Paris as a young man after WWII. He was prexy for three years and before that sat on its board of administrators for more than 20 years.
Toubiana has now been named director, and Cinematheque VPs Martine Offroy and Humbert Balsan will be joint acting presidents until the annual meeting June 24.
The director’s post has been vacant since American Peter Scarlet stepped down late last year after 10 months. Cinematheque vet Patrick Bensard, director of its subsidiary, the Cinematheque de la Danse, stood in as acting director.
Although CNC chief David Kessler has repeatedly stated that the government has no intention of taking over the Cinematheque, Monday’s maneuver raises serious doubts about the government’s intentions. Politicos often complain that the Cinematheque has been badly run, but they have never named Tacchella personally.