“We must not sound the death knell of cinema”

The cross : With a drop of almost 30% in cinema attendance compared to before the pandemic, what is your assessment of the situation?

Anne Le Ny: I don’t think it’s definitive. It is true that there has been a 30% drop, that the platforms have changed habits and that the pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated this process. But don’t tell yourself that it will always be like this. I distrust self-fulfilling prophecies.

The cinema is in a moment of change, as in the era of talkies or the arrival of television. We all have concerns, but that shouldn’t sound the death knell. The cinema received enormous support throughout this period. We have kept our number of cinemas, which is unique in Europe, and succeeded in preserving our financing structure, which shows the capacity for rebound of a country that is deeply cinephile. But this support must continue and cinema must remain at the center of public policies.

In this context, is the proliferation and development of platforms a threat?

NLA: Platforms do not necessarily represent a threat, provided they are regulated. That’s what we’ve done with the new media timeline that brings them into the deal (it sets for each media the time limit for the distribution of films after their theatrical release according to their level of investment in cinema, editor’s note). Novelty should not plunge us into states of panic.

The platforms need our films and I think we can feed each other. Moreover, film directors are already working for them. It is obviously neither the same mode of narration nor the same rhythm, but we must not reject everything altogether. We have to see what they can bring us and how they lead us to reflect on our own practices.

Precisely, voices reproach the French cinema for not making its self-criticism, criticizing the number of films produced and sometimes their quality. What do you think ?

NLA: It’s not for me to pass judgment on the quality of the films. And if the producers knew in advance what the good films were, they would put all their money on them. Even great directors sometimes make bad films. You have to produce a lot so that “nuggets” come out of the mass.

What seems dangerous to me, on the other hand, is the tendency towards a polarization of financing with, on the one hand, overfinanced films, but which in any case will never reach the means of American cinema and, on the other, underfunded movies with the risk that they end up looking like TV movies. It is the so-called “middle” films that risk suffering from this, whereas it is precisely they that ensure the success of French cinema.

What do you think of the call for a general assembly of cinema launched by a group representing independent cinema which criticizes the policy of the CNC?

NLA: It reflects the current concerns of the profession, and their diagnosis is well founded. But we must not forget that our sector has been considerably helped. It’s true that we may be lacking a proactive policy, but rather than a general overhaul, it’s up to us to provide food for thought to try to get things moving in the right direction.

Is the renegotiation of the media chronology under pressure from the platforms a source of concern?

NLA: We reached an agreement less than a year ago that was going in the right direction. There is a standoff engaged by certain platforms which moreover did not want to sign this agreement. It is important not to give in if we don’t want to fall into a form of uberisation of cinema. It is up to them to adapt to our ecosystem. Especially since it works and the rest of the world envies us. We must continue to defend the diversity of a strong and lively cinema when it already hardly exists any more among some of our neighbours.

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