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Paris Cinema detoured by protest

Some filmmakers offered to withdraw from fest

PARIS — Showbiz union reps held up the opening of the Paris Cinema film event as they protested about proposed cuts to unemployment benefit.

Several dozen filmmakers were invited on stage at the city’s Grand Rex cinema to debate the controversy by the event’s president Costa Gavras and programming director Marie-Pierre Macia.

But their invite nearly scuppered the opening of City Hall’s two-week long, 35-venue, 300-film celebration when the discussion carried on for over an hour.

At one point filmmakers, including Franco-Icelandic helmer Solveig Anspach and vet director Agnes Varda, offered to withdraw their work from the event.

“Thirty-five theater owners have decided to take the risk of running our programs,” Macia was quick to point out. “If filmmakers withdraw their work, we’ll be leaving exhibitors in the lurch.”

Costa Gavras, Macia and paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe eventually persuaded the protestors to leave the stage so the screening of Philippe Le Guay’s feature “Le cout de la vie ” (The Cost of Living”) could begin. However, they canceled Tuesday night’s after-show reception as a gesture of solidarity.

The summer festival season of dance, opera, theater, jazz and cinema has already been seriously undermined by strikers determined to rescue the unique system whereby people who work in the performing arts have a financial safety net between jobs.

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