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"Building cultural diversity by promoting a rich and inventive cinema", by Xavier Lardoux

 Does culture/creative imagination give you a reason to hope?

At a time when audiences and cinematographic productions break records in France (216.6 million tickets in the French cinemas in 2011 and more than 272 French movies produced in 2011) and at a time when the market share of the national cinema in France remains very good (41% in 2011), the French cinema and its diversity of genres seem to be doing well, even if those figures do not reflect exhaustively the reality of an economy of prototype, which is, by nature, fragile!

On the other hand, if we look outside our borders, even if we are far, very far, in terms of global market shares, from the American cinema, our 7th art continues to be the 2nd cinematography in the world’s exportations (status that many countries envy, like Germany, Italy or Japan) with 72 million viewers abroad in 2011. The year 2012 will confirm this situation thanks to the success of 2 French movies on all continents (The Intouchables with 23 million viewers outside France and The Artist, which won 5 Oscars, with more than 13 million viewers abroad).

So if we consider cultural diversity in general, and cinematography in particular, as one of the goals of every national or international cultural policy, the results of the French cinema in France and abroad constitute a great reason to hope: the movies in question may not be impeccable but they show rare artistic freedom and variety (from the documentary to the comedy, from animation to historic movies …) and they are often co productions (120 co productions with 38 different foreign countries in 2011) and constitute an open window to the world. 

The main reason for the good health of the French cinema is well known, it is the inventiveness of the system of support created after the war by the National Center of Cinema (NCC). This tool, which was adapted with success to the different technical evolutions (televisions, video on demand, digitization …) and which was imitated in many countries concerned about their cinematography, like Korea or Brazil, vouches for this virtuous cinematographic circle, in which the cinema finances the cinema, and in particular the most fragile and the most audacious. The diversity of movies makes the force of our cinema, but also the diversity of the auditorium that show them : our fleet of auditoriums, supported by the NCC and the local entities, is historically dense but it continues to be thanks to inventive private operators, thanks to a regulation imposing diversity and thanks to vital public support. The cornerstone of an inventive cinema is the adaptability and the permanence of this system of redistributive support.


How would you like to pass it on to future generations?

One of the exemplary policies conducted by the NCC, in partnership with the local authorities and the networks of auditoriums in France, is the one aiming at giving an artistic education in the field of cinema. From nursery school to high school, the NCC encourages the teachers to accompany, several times during the year, their pupils in the auditoriums close to their school in order to watch movies they would never have seen otherwise in auditoriums they would never have visited either! Since their progressive implementation for 20 years, these educational actions concern today almost 1.5 million pupils every year in France, that is 10% of the French pupils and 3.6 million tickets.

Even if these results can still be improved, those approaches enable the teachers to show eclectic movies from the entire world and train the look of the future viewers for all students, with no social distinction and to create an immediate and potential public in different auditoriums. Beyond the artistic interest these operations could be a tool of learning of foreign languages because the cinema is without question one of the best driving forces to learn a country and its language. That is why these simple actions deserve to be developed abroad, and particularly at the European level, to avoid a massive cinematographic standardization. This standardization, which often resembles a cinematographic poverty, is already effective in many countries, but it is not ineluctable.