Between restoration funding and broadcasting issues

On Wednesday, October 19, a round table was held. Between restoration funding and broadcasting issues, what complementarity between public actions and private initiatives? moderated by Florian Krieg of Film Français. The panel included Gian Luca Farinelli, director of the Cineteca di Bologna, Sophie Seydoux, president of the Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé Foundation, Olivier Snanoudj, senior vice president of cinema distribution at Warner Bros., president of the French-American Film Union and deputy president of the National Federation of Film Distributors, Arike Oke, executive director of knowledge and collections at the BFI, and Elodie Drouard, film program advisor at France Télévisions.

First of all, a round table discussion allowed to review the functioning of the different companies, foundations or organizations. Sophie Seydoux explained that Pathé and the Seydoux-Pathé foundation each have their own economic model for restorations. Thus, Pathé, which has some 1,000 films in its catalog, receives 22% of public aid, whereas the Foundation and its 9,000 titles (of which 3,000 are actually accessible) survives mainly on public aid for its restorations. It has given the rare exception of the film La Roue by Abel Gance, which benefited from the collaboration of several actors such as the CNC, Arte, the Cinémathèque Française and the Cinémathèque de Lausanne.

For his part, Arike Oke recalled the three roles of the BFI: a cultural charity, a National Lottery distributor and the UK's leading organization for film and moving image. On the archive side, the BFI receives 40% of its funding from the state (part of which comes from the National Lottery), private trusts, foundations and a share donated by Ofcom, the UK equivalent of Arcom. At the moment the BFI is working on about 600 titles (of all durations) to be restored and/or digitized by 2024. These restorations are partly financed by the Film Foundation and sponsorship. As Arike Oke pointed out, the difficulty that the BFI faces is the political instability of the country, which has given some 11 ministers of culture in 10 years. Even though the British Institute remains very active with the government, it is still subject to this instability.

Speaking of political instability, it was Gian Luca Farinelli who took the floor to explain the difficulty for Italy to have a good minister of culture because it seems that it is a position that is not very desired locally. However, for the last 9 years, the country had known an enthusiastic minister in this role who allowed the creation of restoration aids for heritage cinema. Except that since the elections, the uncertainty is total for the country and for the Cineteca in particular. But Gian Luca Farinelli explained that the laboratories of L'immagine ritrovata restore some 80 films per year. If the public contributions are important, the private contributions are essential and cover about 1/3 of the costs. The problem in Italy, according to Gian Luca, is the inaction of the rights holders who put no or almost no funds into these restorations and the Cineteca is obliged to rely on the patronage of the Film Foundation or the Fondation Seydoux-Pathé. And if the heritage market in Italy is not particularly developed, the director of the Cineteca di Bologna hopes that the development of digital technology will change things.

According to Olivier Snanoudj, Warner is active in restoration. And this is due to a strong will of the team but also to an economic quest, as the company does not really do patronage. Every week, exhibitors ask to have access to catalog films, Warner including, in addition to Warner films, the catalogs of MGM and RKO. And some of these films are particularly popular. A restoration is then particularly envisaged with the aim of a re-release (in theaters and on DVD/blu-ray/4K) which allows to give a second life to these works, which then become events. This was the case, notably, for the restoration of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Christopher Nolan. Television also plays a big role in financing these restorations, because they are in demand, and soon, according to Olivier Snanoudj, the platforms should be just as important.

This is confirmed by Elodie Drouard who specifies that it is rather the distributors who warn the channels of restoration projects in progress to see if they are interested or not in a possible broadcast. The advisor of cinema programs at France Televisions specifies that the group has been broadcasting heritage since the 1970s, in particular thanks to cult programs such as the midnight movie, and that the will is now to continue this tradition, in particular on the platform, whose programming is unconnected with the linear. The difficulty for this platform? To rejuvenate the audience, which is the same as the one that watches movies on television.

Then, they specified together the importance to go towards the young public to make them discover the cinema, to educate them to the cinema and especially to the language of the image. Arike Oke specified that it was difficult to do in England, this kind of experience and program not being supported at a governmental level. However, everyone around the table understood that we don't attract flies with vinegar and that the way to bring a young audience to the cinema was to hook them with films they like and to make the effort to know their codes.

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