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Gallic minister puts focus on local biz

Centre National du Cinema to evaluate funding aids

PARIS — France’s new culture minister, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, has pledged to reform state funding to boost the film and TV industry and to support original productions.

He outlined his plans for the first time since taking the post during Monday’s national Authors Day, put on by the Society of Authors & Composers of Dramatic Works.

But, with the Cannes Film Festival due to start next week, Donnedieu de Vabres did not address striking showbiz workers’ complaints about cuts to their unemployment benefits. The workers have threatened to disrupt the fest.

The culture czar said he would ask funding org Centre National du Cinema (CNC) to evaluate how efficiently government coin is helping independent producers at present.

Donnedieu de Vabres said he wouldn’t hold “a simple review of quotas, which would risk, in the long term, homogenizing creation.” He added, “Clearly the maintenance and development of a strong original creativity supposes the consequent financial means.”

He said the CNC soon would publish reforms to state aid for TV production. Among these would be a provision that allows producers who are eligible for “comptes automatique” to use part of the funds to develop productions without having to reimburse the CNC if those projects never come into being.

“But this measure is not enough,” Donnedieu de Vabres said. “I want the CNC to think about a measure that goes further to supporting original creation.”

The culture minister also said he wants to unleash a relocalization movement of film production, to help stem the exodus to other countries where costs are lower. To this end, he plans to ramp up local tax credits for filmmakers.

The minister recently replaced Jean-Jacques Aillagon, whose star faded after many of last year’s summer fests were canceled when showbiz workers went on strike.