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Frédéric Sojcher • Writer, Director

"Cultural diversity at stake"

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- Frédéric Sojcher • Writer, Director "Cultural diversity at stake"

Frédéric Sojcher • Writer, Director

Cinema lecturer in France, Belgian Frédéric Sojcher has already made films and the recent documentary Cinéastes à tout prix. His recent publication in the Carré Noir collection for French editor Séguier, "Luc Besson, un Don Quichotte face à Hollywood ", is a reflection on the diversity of filmmaking in Europe. The book is based on French director Luc Besson who made it successful the American way.

At a time when everyone thinks that cinema is changing because of technical reasons, you prefer to think of these changes in terms of content.
Frédéric Sojcher: There is, sadly – from my point of view in any case – a tendency today to place too much emphasis on marketing and what are called film events, films made from the outset according to certain rules, whose very simple pitch can be summed up in one or two sentences, often made attractive either by the stars in the cast or by special effects that are accompanied by a whole advertising campaign. The focus is on pleasing the audience and this is the case regardless of the quality of the film. And that’s where the problem lies. The game plan is wrong, as these films are leaving less and less room for others. In order for the diversity of filmmaking to be truly sustainable, I think it’s important to reflect on how these two steps can coexist. Is competing with Hollywood, not reproducing the same type of formula? Is it necessary to fight using the arms of the enemy? And if so, have we not already been defeated on a cultural front? What is the point in having a proactive policy and regulations if it is do the same thing as Hollywood cinema, less well? You have to be clear, as we don’t invest the money needed to do this.

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But how do you promote what is sometimes "regionalist" cinema?
We can draw inspiration from the past! There was a fine example of success in the 70s with French/Italian cooperation, which in the end fell apart, in large part because of Berlusconi’s policy of deregulation. Michel Reilhac, head of cinema at ARTE, claims that television has a large responsibility where as concerns the lack of circulation of European films. Since we still have public broadcasters in Europe, why not show once a week, or once a month, at prime time, proactively, a European film that is not a local production? Is it not one of the public sector’s objectives to be open to other European cultures? I think that if we don’t introduce regulation or a proactive policy at some time or another, we will be dominated economically.

What do you think of the policies of the European Union and of the MEDIA Programme with regard to these issues?
There are wonderful things in the MEDIA programme: everything that has to do with development, with regard to scripts for example, or broadcasting. Certain MEDIA actions are vital because they have truly made it possible for films to be made and directors to be broadcasted. We could never reverse the trend just because we don’t put in the necessary investment. But the MEDIA budget is far from sufficient to meet needs. It is impossible to reverse this trend – the domination of the market by the US audiovisual industry – in any industry, if you don’t put in the necessary investment. Viviane Reding recently presented the new directive “Télé Sans Frontière” as a success (read news). I have the feeling that in this respect we are making a serious political error. Because we already see the presence of advertising especially in certain programmes, in general those with broad appeal and prime time programmes. Private broadcasters have already invested more in certain types of programmes and films that have nothing to do with auteur cinema. This is definitely a good thing for certain producers and possibly for private broadcasters. But there are several people for whom it isn’t, filmmakers on the one hand and audiences on the other hand, who have nothing to win. And then, in certain policies or considerations of MEDIA, there is this tendency to want to promote marketing, to think of cinema in market terms. It’s not about denying the laws of economy of cinema – which would be absurd – but, in my opinion, it is necessary to do the exact opposite. European cinema should be an alternative to US cinema and not a copy of it, which – with less funding – will always be doomed to failure.

See the streaming at Cinergie's website.

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