Jérôme Seydoux: why his comments on French cinema are false and belligerent

Guest of the morning in the company of Nicole Garcia, Nathanaël Karmitz and Isabelle Madelaine, the wealthy French producer approached French cinema and completed the polarization of the profession into two clans that, on the contrary, should work together to get out of the current crisis of the attendance.

Ten days after the controversial coverage of the french movie where he was enthroned as patriarch of a herd of guys and quasi warlord of a “reconquest” made with a lot of testosterone and blockbusters, Jérôme Seydoux, multimillionaire of French cinema and boss of Pathé, was the guest this morning, along with the filmmaker and actress Nicole Garcia, the general director of MK2 Nathanaël Karmitz and the producer Isabelle Madelaine, from the morning program of France Inter, on the occasion of a special day dedicated to cinema.

Once the scenario of a record crisis in Nicolas Demorand’s attendance was set (-34% in September, the worst month since 1980), a first round table brought to light the ideological vacuum that was glimpsed on the front page of the french movie. While García and Karmitz confirm the current impasse, ask for a protective CNC and praise a French cinema that has won awards at the most important festivals thanks to its directors (Audrey Diwan, Alice Diop, Claire Denis, Julia Ducournau), Jérôme Seydoux discusses the current assistance crisis into perspective and describes the French films of the last twelve months as “poor”, “weak” et “is not sufficient”. This is evidenced by the fact that, in the period, the French film with the best market points to thirteenth position at the box office, behind twelve American productions.

The fact that he is wrong is not the most heartbreaking part of his claims, but let’s start there. In the last twelve months, three French films are among the twelve films with the most admissions: What the hell have we all done? (9th with 2.4 million viewers), Retirement house (11th with 2 million) and despite himself superheroes (12th with 1.8 million). It is certainly worse than in previous years, but for someone who puts accounting logic above all else, this approach is a stain.

Economic profitability

More shameful is the confusion it makes between the quality of the works and economic profitability. Particularly refined, Jérôme Seydoux’s market cynicism is expressed here with chilling clarity: a good film is, for him, a film that generates a lot of money, no matter if French auteur cinema shines in the world, but also in the cinemas (on their scale, films by Moll, Mouret, Winocour, Zlotowski and Carrère are true successes with the public). He continues to deliver his vision of tomorrow’s room, calling out to “getting better” offer, without us really understanding what that means, if not an increase in the price of tickets, to end up being cut short in the recent Convocation of the General States of Cinema, accusing part of the profession of waiting for the public powers to do the Santa Claus paper.

For about twenty minutes, the schism that shakes French cinema today was very clearly illustrated. On the one hand, there are those who speak of artists, artisans and works, who extol the merits of a quality film industry but which needs the support of public authorities to survive and adapt to the current upheavals. On the other, there are those who speak of entrepreneurs andentertainment, who criticize this industry while believing that the “invisible hand” of the market will eventually fix everything. The former believe in their films but are concerned about the influence of market logic, while the latter believe in the market but criticize the quality of the films.

Working together to find solutions

Seemingly irreconcilable, these two camps have always existed and cohabited very well in the ecosystem of French cinema. If they confront each other today (in addition to the morning set, one thinks of the muscular response that the Appeal to the General Estates of Cinema group has just given to Michel Guerrin’s petty chronicle in The world a few days ago), it is because they have to distribute the portions of a cake that has become smaller. The causes of this decline are multiple, but more than blaming us (Netflix, Covid, movies, inflation, old people who do not return to theaters, public authorities, the market), French cinema has everything the interest in working. together to find solutions.

They exist and are evident: tax platforms more, maintain and reaffirm image education policies in education, reaffirm the role of the CNC as a bulwark against purely commercial logic, ensure more than ever that young filmmakers can have the means to produce works that give new generations a taste for cinema and have a cultural policy concerned with the diversity of works and audiences. If between the Convocation of the General States of Cinema and the coverage of french movie, the protagonists of the debate have come out of nowhere, there are still two major absentees who in the end will have to come to the fore: the CNC and the Ministry of Culture. At the moment, the only project presented by the public authorities, called France 2030 – The great image factory (mainly consisting of a modernization plan for the big studios) is a largely insufficient and unsatisfactory industrial response from the point of view of the diversity of French cinema.

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