The Film Industry

Cinema celebrated its centenary in 1995: on 28 December 1895, the Lumière Brothers held the first screening for a paying audience at the Grand Café in central Paris. The first moving images they had recorded on film were shown under the title Sortie des usines Lumière (Leaving the Lumière Factory). France was the birthplace of the Seventh Art and to this day remains a hub of the film world. It has given it some of its legendary figures: from the inspired trail-blazer Méliès and the generation of poetic realism in the thirties (Renoir, Carné, Prévert), to the New Wave cinema of the sixties (Truffaut, Godard, Chabrol, Malle, Rohmer). This French tradition of cinéma d’auteur or art films stands alongside brilliant commercial successes (Pathé, Gaumont) and internationally recognized stars such as Brigitte Bardot, Yves Montand, Gérard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve.

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A movie theater in Paris
A movie theater in Paris
© F. de la Mure

In 2002, cinemas throughout France sold some 184.5 million tickets, with box-office takings standing at 893 million euros. 58.4% of the population go to the cinema at least once a year, and 34.6% at least once a month. The number of cinemagoers is currently experiencing a slight upturn and attaining the level at which it stood in the 1980s, even though it is declining in the long term, due to the competition from television and video cassettes.

The French film industry thus continues to play an international role. It has benefited from a comprehensive support system at the filming, production and distribution stages, organized under the aegis of the National Centre for Cinematography (CNC), which redistributes the funds obtained from a tax on box-office takings, sales of video cassettes and television broadcasts. The “advance against takings” system, which is at the heart of this scheme, is also a means of encouraging emerging talent and supplementing - in the case of ambitious projects - the funding provided by the usual production circuits. This policy has had a quantitative effect. With over 5,240 cinemas - 97 of which are multiplexes - France is among the countries with the densest network of cinemas.

The number of feature films produced every year exceeds 120, of which approximately a third are first films. Exceptionally for Europe, French films accounted for 28.5% of ticket sales in 2000. This shows that French productions hold their own in the face of American films, which enjoy a virtual monopoly on many foreign markets. The success of the DVD, which consolidated its growth in 2002 and continued progressing in 2003, has brought about deep-seated changes in methods of disseminating films. A new kind of “cinemagoer” is emerging.

The vitality of the French film industry is epitomized by several directors who have a personal touch, such as Bertrand Tavernier, Maurice Pialat, Bertrand Blier, André Téchiné, Alain Resnais, Eric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol and Jean-Jacques Beineix. Quality films with a wider appeal likewise draw on a reservoir of talent, such as Jean-Paul Rappeneau, Claude Berri, Claude Lelouch and Patrice Leconte, whose films have been enthusiastically received by the public. Comedies starring actors such as Josiane Balasko, Michel Blanc, Christian Clavier, Gérard Jugnot, or Thierry Lhermitte have also done well. The genre came back into favour in 1993 with The Visitors, meeting with the kind of success it used to enjoy in the 1960s. In 2002, Alain Chabat’s Asterix & Obelix Meet Cleopatra pulled in over 14.2 million spectators. As for Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amelie from Montmartre, it attracted an audience of 8 million in France and nearly 20 million abroad.

Some French film directors enjoy an international reputation, such as Jean-Jacques Annaud and Luc Besson. Finally, a new generation of film-makers like Olivier Assayas, Cédric Klapisch, Arnaud Desplechin, Manuel Poirier, François Ozon, Olivier Dahan, Mathieu Kassovitz and Agnès Jaoui is emerging, even as their successors at the European Foundation for Audiovisual Professions (FEMIS), a school located at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, are preparing to step into the fray.

Cinematographic Cooperation

Currently, film creation plays a determining role in the assertion of the cultural identity of each nation. Support funding for the production and distribution of films in developing countries is one of the main priorities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Support fund for the production of short films in sub-saharan Africa

This action is part of the global framework of the Plan Images Afrique set up by the French Foreign Ministry in 2003.

The support fund for the production of short films in sub-Saharan Africa aims to encourage the emergence of new talent. Short films are a perfect field for learning, a priority space for encouraging vocations and the transmission of knowledge and therefore the renewal of skills in all image-making professions (producers, scriptwriters, directors, performers and technicians).

In addition, the lack of any real economic stakes for short films makes this a fully-fledged creative domain that allows powerful and innovative artistic projects to emerge.

Supported by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Festival des 3 Continents organisation is setting up, from 2007, a direct aid measure for production of short films in sub-Saharan Africa

Production aid is allocated to producers based in sub-Saharan Africa. Decisions are made by an independent committee (Commission Fonds Courts Métrages Afrique) consisting of audiovisual professionals from Northern and Southern countries (appointed for one year. Appointments can be renewed once). The aid amount is approximately €10,000 per project, and is capped at €15,000.


Aid requests must be presented by production companies located in countries in the Priority Solidarity Zone in sub-Saharan Africa. Each company may present one or several projects to the committee. Eight copies of the application must be sent to the Co-operation and Cultural Action Department of the French embassy in the company’s country of business. The deadline for receipt of applications by the embassy is set for May 31st 2007.

The Co-operation and Cultural Action Department will then send the eligible applications, with its comments, to the Festival des 3 Continents in Nantes.

The Commission Fonds Courts Métrages Afrique is the sole decision-maker concerning allocation of production aid to projects and the amount of this aid. The committee may also decide to provide support for rewriting.

Applications not selected by the Commission Fonds Courts Métrages Afrique may be re-submitted if they have been reworked and substantially modified. A summary note concerning the changes made must be included with the application.

Eligibility criteria

The following must come from one of the African countries concerned:

- Director (The director must be under 35)
- The majority of the technical and artistic team
- The delegated production company

Eligible projects: drama, animation films lasting less than 30 minutes, shot on film or digital media.

At least 75% of scenes must be shot in eligible countries.

Composition of the committee

The committee, consisting of five recognised professionals in the audiovisual sector (three from the South and two from the North), will consist of scriptwriters, directors, producers, technicians and actors.

Appraisal criteria

The following in particular will be taken into account:

- Content

Originality (idea, theme developed)
Quality of the audiovisual or cinematographic work
Career path of the project sponsors

- Production

Production company’s potential
Co-production agreement(s)
Financial elements that guarantee successful completion of the project
Realistic nature of the budget
Budgetary contribution in cash and in terms of the industry of the country(ies) concerned

The Fonds Courts Métrages Afrique subsidy

The aid contributed to selected projects will be in the form of a subsidy paid directly by the Festival des 3 Continents-Produire au Sud into the account of the locally registered production company, after signing of an agreement between the festival and the company.

For all short film projects, the subsidy, for an amount of €15,000 euros maximum, will be paid in two parts:
- Payment of 60% on signing of the agreement
- Payment of 40% on receipt of the master video subtitled in French

French Foreign Ministry broadcasting rights

For all short films supported, this subsidy releases, for the French Foreign Ministry, the rights to reproduce and broadcast for non-commercial purposes abroad, within French cultural establishments, and for France, in the “Cinémathèque Afrique” (Culturesfrance) network of the French Foreign Ministry. These rights are acquired for all media (except television) for a period of seven years for all versions of the work.

Application contents

Production aid:

The eight copies of the application must include:

- A registration form
- A note from the director in French
- The synopsis in French
- The script in French
- The director’s curriculum vitae
- The detailed production budget (including production of an international version)
- The funding plan (acquired and planned)
- The execution schedule including the provisional date for the start of production
- The status of the production company, its capital stock and references
- Copy of the copyright assignment contract
- The list of technicians with their functions
- Copies of the co-production agreements, if any
- Commitment from a broadcaster or distributor, if there is one


- Festival des 3 Continents, Guillaume Marion: + 33(0) 2 40 69 74 14

- Ministère des Affaires Etrangères - Bureau de la coopération cinématographique: François Bélorgey: + 33 (0) 1 43 17 99 48

African film library

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ African film library aids the distribution of films by African film directors. The works, covering over 30 years, include fiction and documentaries devoted to French-speaking Africa and its developmental problems. Films are distributed in France (in informative, educational and sociocultural organisations, establishments and institutions), abroad (in the French cultural centres of countries covered by the ex-Ministry for Cooperation), and film festivals, on condition that permission is granted by the interested parties. The African film library possesses 1200 Feature Films and documentaries as well concerning Africa. 500 are avalaible for a non commercial distribution.

- Film loan procedure

The African film library possesses 1200 Feature Films and documentaries as well concerning Africa. 500 are avalaible for a non commercial distribution.

In French cultural centres in countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean.

In France, from not-for-profit organisations.

In French Institutes in other foreign countries and at film festivals, subject to authorisation. Other films are subject to specific terms and conditions.

- Registration

Only organisations registered with the Film Library can borrow films. For further information, please contact the person in charge of the Africa Film Library:

- Contact

Madame Jeanick Le Naour
adpf-Cinémathèque Afrique
6, rue Ferrus - 75683 Paris cedex 14
tel: 01 43 13 11 15
fax: 01 43 13 11 16

Dernière modification : 09/02/2008

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