The year started brightly with the implementation of atax-credit scheme meant to bolster production at home - and ended bleaklywith the ruling that a film French to its Tricolore core, Jean-PierreJeunet's A Very Long Engagement,did not qualify for state subsidies.

The pedigree of its production company, 2003 Productions,was considered American given Warner Bros' part ownership, thus strippingthe World War I saga of its French status. An appeal is likely.

In between, local films had a good year at the local boxoffice and there was much movement in the distribution sector with the break-upof partnerships between UGC and Fox, as well as Gaumont and Buena Vista asGaumont joined forces with Sony.

Tarak Ben Ammar created Quinta Distribution and released thecontroversial The Passion Of The Christwhile Wild Bunch took over Pan Europeenne, and Bac was rescued frombankruptcy.


'Riot police with body armour and God knows what wentin.' Barry Gill, managing director of Vine International on the stormingof the Star Cinema by disgruntled showbusiness workers and police at Cannes.

'If [Terrence] Malick had understood the extent of the problems he has caused, I don't think he would havedone things the way he has.' Wild Bunch chief Vincent Maraval onthe director's decision to pull out of Che for which Wild Bunch had pre-sold $23m worth of deals onMalick's name.

'The French majors are frightened. They were alone intheir little garden and now they don't want others to come in. For theothers it's ideological. 'We don't want those mean Americanshere.' It's ridiculous.' L'ARP chief representativeMichel Gomez in response to a court ruling stripping A Very Long Engagement of its French status.

Breakthrough talent

Since co-starring in husband Guillaume Canet's 2002directorial debut, Mon Idole, DianeKruger has seen her star rise faster than most European actresses even dare todream about. Although she was born in Germany, the actress has made a careerfor herself in France where her husband is a bona-fide box-office draw.Following Cedric Klapisch's Ni Pour, Ni Contre (Bien AuContraire) in 2003 she took a role inEuropaCorp's Michel Vaillantbefore snagging the highly-coveted role of Helen of Troy in WolfgangPetersen's Troy. Thatblockbuster was followed by L'Appartement remake Wicker Park and current release National Treasure. Despite all the attention in the US, Kruger -who has only made eight films to date - continues to work in Francehaving recently collaborated with Canet on Narco and the upcoming Joyeux Noel. She is next slated to star with Ed Harris inAgnieszka Holland's low-budget US indie, Copying Beethoven.

Box office snapshot

Top-grossing film: Les Choristes (Pathe Distribution) $63.4m

Top-grossing int'l film: Shrek 2 (UIP) $57m

Top-grossing arthouse film: Podium France (Mars Distribution) $26.5m