Mathieu Fournet • Director of European and International Affairs, CNC
"We’re optimistic that the crisis will begin to lift in the spring"
- Strategic European cultural assets, the AVMS Directive and expectations of change all form part of the CNC’s online "Independence in the Service of Creation" conference on 25 January
To mark the French presidency of the Council of the European Union, the CNC is organising an online conference for Tuesday 25 January, entitled "Independence in the Service of Creation" (click here for accreditation). With just a few days before the event unfolds (accessible in French, English and German), we met with Mathieu Fournet, director of European and International Affairs at the CNC.
Cineuropa: After a two-year crisis brought about by the pandemic and a first, somewhat stymied recovery phase, what is your take on the situation, and is this view shared by your European counterparts?
Mathieu Fournet: Since the beginning of the crisis, we’ve not only been in touch with our European counterparts but also those all around the world. Together, we discuss the measures taken in France and good practice. We’ve often been a source of advice, especially on emergency measures such as the implementation of the insurance fund to counter the risk posed by Covid, which was then adopted in French-speaking Belgium, Germany and Quebec, using a plan based on the French model. Our coordination efforts were reinforced by the crisis, and we work with our counterparts in a bilateral and multilateral fashion on an almost daily basis, notably via the EFAD network, regarding our response to the crisis and the rapid changes unfolding within the sector, in order to plan for the future. What do we anticipate for the year to come? We feel a bit like everyone else. It’s a year which we want and hope will be a year of recovery. Moreover, in France, we’ve decided to press ahead with events - whilst respecting governmental health policies - like FIPADOC, which is currently unspooling in Biarritz, like the Angers First Film Festival which will open on 24 January, and like last week’s UniFrance Film Meetings in Paris, where upwards of 250 audiovisual and film buyers were able to get together and enjoyed an export day in a hybrid form, a form which we’ve also chosen for French Presidency of the European Union Day, which we’ll be hosting at the CNC on Tuesday 25 January. The Berlinale’s announcement that the European Film Market will take place online is undoubtedly a bit of a blow for French producers and sales agents, but the physical edition of UniFrance’s Film Meetings in Paris has allowed us to hope for a rebound in international sales this year. So we’re optimistic that the crisis will begin to lift in the spring.
What topics and courses of action do you plan on broaching during the conference of 25 January, with a view to strengthening the sector and enhancing its flexibility, so that it bounces back as quickly as possible and continues to grow?
It’s a day which will look at the new regulatory issues within the sector, in respect of the European Union. The most important topic, in our eyes, which will likely be highlighted by the Minister for Culture Roselyne Bachelot during her opening speech, is the matter of strategic European cultural assets, and notably protecting them vis-a-vis non-European states, in view of the buyouts which we’re seeing all over the world and which could jeopardise catalogues of works and their exploitation, cinema networks, film studios, specific historic broadcasters or video game production studios. Given that the protection of strategic assets is dependent on European treaties, it’s a long-term issue, but we have to broach it and we’re going to do so with Pascal Rogard (managing director of France’s Society of Authors and Playwrights - SACD) moderating proceedings and with various other players hailing from the sector: Sidonie Dumas (chairwoman of Gaumont), Christian Brauer (chairman of the International Confederation of Arthouse Cinemas - CICAE) and Odile Limpach, representing video games. We’ll also place an emphasis on the decarbonisation of our industry, how we can move towards practices which are compatible with sustainable development and a decarbonised economy, and which will provide us with an opportunity to present the CNC’s Action Plan! A second round table will then examine European works: how they’re defined within the film and audiovisual worlds, and the importance of independence. Moderated by Daniela Elstner (CEO of UniFrance), the debate will involve European MP Laurence Farreng, Bruno Patino (chairman of Arte), Greece’s Deputy Minister for Culture Nicholas Yatromanolakis and, in production terms, France’s Marc du Pontavice and Spain’s Mariela Besuievski. Last but not least, the final round table, moderated by Karim Mouttalib (managing director of the Institute for Funding for Film and for Cultural Industries - IFCIC), will focus on the progress and prospects of the AVMS Directive, which was adopted in 2018 and has gradually been transposed into law over the last two years. Guests debating the matter include Roch-Olivier Maistre (chairman of Arcom), Belgium’s Karim Ibourki (who chairs the Group of European Audiovisual Media Services Regulators - ERGA), Norway’s Gudny Hummelvoll (chair of the European Producers Club), Jean-Baptiste Gourdin (managing director of Media and Cultural Industries at the Ministry of Culture), Delphine Ernotte (chairwoman of France Télévisions and of the European Broadcasting Union) and Madeleine de Cock Buning (Netflix’s vice-president for Public Policy in Europe, the Middle East and Africa).
We’re often told that France is a model in terms of the support it offers to film and audiovisual creation, but it’s also seen as something of a Gallic village which is resistant to invaders. To what extent is France an inspiration for other countries? Is there any kind of shared European desire to move in the same direction when it comes to growing the industry?
When it comes to the main topic that concerns us – the transposition of the AVMS Directive - it’s very clear. France’s transposition of the directive, which imposes ambitious quotas (European works must account for 60% of on-demand audiovisual media services’ catalogues, even though the directive only insists on 30%) but which mostly utilises the possibility for Member States to introduce investment obligations to protect independent production (also involving sub-quotas favouring French-language works), is a model which appeals and interests very many countries. Italy has now drafted an ambitious transposition approach, and in countries which haven't been taking full advantage of the option of investment obligations, representatives of industry professionals - especially producers - are coming to us with questions on a very regular basis and would strongly support a transposition approach which allows for the proper incorporation of streaming platforms within the audiovisual funding model. Within the Europe region, we talk a lot with Germany, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia and Croatia, for example, so even with smaller-sized countries that base themselves on what’s been done in France when they themselves negotiate with platforms. And outside of Europe, it’s also the case for South Korea and Canada, among other nations. So I wouldn’t say France is a Gallic village, but a country intent on protecting its audiovisual and film creation, its authors, its industry, and which doesn’t want to become a service industry country but seeks to protect independent production.
(Translated from French)
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