PARIS– France’s National Film Board, the CNC, has just approved a 12 million Euros ($12.7 million) subsidy plan for international sales agents.

Frédérique Bredin, the CNC president, said the initiative coincided with a strategic turning point for sellers and was aimed at supporting the growth of the international sector and the conquest of new markets for French films and TV programs.

“The export of content, once marginal, has become a priority. It’s an imperative on an economic and cultural level,” argued Bredin.

The CNC pointed out to the subsidy plan would allow French industry players to pursue projects with a strong artistic and international ambition, and thrive in spite of a highly competitive market increasingly dominated by multiplexes and streaming sites.

Bredin said France’s production industry had to think globally to invest in fast-growing markets such as Asia, Latin America or Africa.

Divided between film and TV, the subsidy plan will back initiatives undertaken by UniFrance and TVFI, the promotion orgs for film and TV, respectively.

The subsidy allocated to international sales agent, which is set at 8.5 million Euros, has three long-term goals: “increase the number of films that have an international career, increase the number of countries in which they are sold and increase the overseas audiences for each film,” noted Bredin.

Under the plan, a percentage of foreign sales on French and/or European pics and international ticket sales will be taken into account on a sliding scale by French promo org UniFrance. The sliding – degressive — scale will ensure the diversity of French companies.

According to a report compiled by René Bonnell, a film producer and former TV exec, the international sales sector has become the fastest-growing field of France’s film industry and a significant source of financing, at a time when DVD and TV markets are weakening and theatrical distribution in France is as volatile as ever.

France’s international sales companies are already considered to be ultra competitive and well plugged into the festival circuit in Europe, including at Cannes and Venice.

This year’s Palme d’Or in Cannes was won by Ken Loach’s “I, Daniel Blake” which is sold by Wild Bunch (pictured above).