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France’s National Film Board Faces Presidency Crisis

A sign of the times: France’s National Film Board (CNC) has no president for the first time in its 70-year history. Fredrique Bredin, who was finishing her second three-year term at the end of the week and was running for a third one, exited the institution on Wednesday. Some reports in France claimed that Bredin left because the government of French President Emmanuel Macron had not yet confirmed whether she would be reappointed for a third mandate.

Bredin was facing very few other credible candidates, though rumors started swirling that Macron was about to appoint Dominique Boutonnat, a film producer and supporter of Macron’s centrist political party, who delivered last May a report on French film financing and suggested ways to improve the profitability of local movies.

The report, which pragmatically called for an overhaul of the current subsidized film financing system implemented by the CNC and for greater input from private financing sources, sparked uproar from many industry players, from producers to filmmakers. Jacques Audiard, Emmanuelle Bercot, Michel Hazanavicius, Arnaud Desplechin and Bertrand Tavernier are among the 70 industry figures who signed a letter to Macron saying that they oppose the appointment of Boutonnat at the helm of the CNC.

The letter claims that Boutonnat helped fund Macron’s presidential campaign in 2017 and argues that his appointment would create conflicts of interest. The government has not yet denied or confirmed the rumor.

In recent months, Bredin was at odds with the government after the publication of a report conducted by two Parliament members which proposed reforms to restrict the CNC’s resources and autonomy. Some of the proposed reforms called for the capping of taxes levied by the CNC to finance the film industry. The excess of the money raised through those taxes would be collected by the French finance ministry rather than the CNC and would be split between film and TV, as Boutonnat’s report also called for.

The CNC, whose budget in 2018 was 813 million Euros, has historically played a key role in the funding of French movies via revenue generated rom a levy on theater tickets and DVDs, as well as on Internet Service Providers, VOD services and broadcasters. But in recent years, the CNC has been blamed for bolstering the volume of French productions though subsidies.

Although France remains Europe’s biggest nation of moviegoers, ahead of the U.K., Spain, Germany and Italy; and the market share of French films was near 40% last year, the number of admissions per French film continues to fall.

The presidency of the CNC is expected to be sorted out by the Council of Ministers on July 17.

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