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Funding showdown

Gaul industryites mull future of film financing

PARIS — French cinema financing is facing a crisis, Canal Plus Group chief operating officer Denis Olivennes told industry reps Wednesday.

He reiterated the warning that the TV industry can’t continue to bankroll the film biz, which it is forced to do by law.

“Canal Plus needs to reduce its contribution,” Olivennes warned a symposium on the future of French and European cinema. “New mechanisms must be created to avoid a crisis in 2004” when the channel’s funding pact with the film biz ends, he said.

Although the Canal Plus Group is now part of the global Vivendi Universal, its 49%-owned Gallic pay TV service is subject to French law and in 2000 invested in local movies more than 900 million francs ($124 million) — a quarter of the film industry’s total production budget.

Sat, cable contributions?

Producer Philippe Carcassonne suggested that satellite and cable channels, which are rapidly increasing their movie broadcasts, should pay their share toward the French film industry. At the moment only terrestrial webs and Canal Plus, the only terrestrial pay TV station, contribute.

The debate also stretched to Europe and the idea of linking up funding systems across the continent.

“We can never harmonize the system throughout Europe; the other countries need to apply the French system,” said helmer Colline Serreau, prexy of the powerful writers, directors and producers’ lobby, ARP. “Cultural exception has to be the rule,” she added.

An association was created this week by newspaper Le Monde and the Institute of Political Studies (IEP) to feed the debate on how to modernize the French cinema system.

The aptly named Exception, in reference to the famous French cultural exception, will bring together filmmakers, philosophers, researchers, teachers, journalists, civil servants and critics.