Following months of uncertainty, Jean Pierre Jeunet's latest effort, A Very Long Engagement, looks set to receive its stamp of approval from France's national cinema centre (CNC).
In an interview with French daily Les Echos published Tuesday, CNC director David Kessler said he was prepared to sign off on the film this week. The CNC said it stood by the Les Echos article but chose not to comment further.
The film, which stars Jeunet muse Audrey Tautou, has been shooting outside Paris since late August, but Jeunet had previously threatened to halt production should the film not be approved by the CNC. The approval means that the film will have access to funding from the CNC as well as marking a precedent.
Because the film is produced by new entity 2003 Productions, minority owned by Warner Bros., a polemic had grown in France over whether or not the film could qualify as French under existing regulations. The debate centred around Warner's participation in the film which had been given a provisory green-light from the CNC pending investigation into the financial structure of the new production company. Warner Bros. France president Francis Boespflug appears to have convinced the powers that be that 2003 Productions is indeed majority controlled by its French partners.
With a budget of roughly $50 million, the film is one of the most expensive ever produced in France and will now be able to create a compte de soutien - a revolving fund set up for producers at the CNC via a tax on ticket sales, video and broadcasters. Foreign producers do not have access to this fund but now that it seems 2003 Productions has been deemed French, the compte de soutien will be created thus allowing the company to reinvest in its future French productions.
Within the French industry, locals were concerned that by giving 2003 Productions access to state funding it would in essence mean giving access to the Americans.
Another concern was that other American companies would follow suit only to reroute their compte de soutien funds into non-French productions.
Boespflug has argued since the beginning that 2003 Productions will only produce French films in the French language. According to the Les Echos article, 2003 Productions has proven that the board will be able to make decisions without the possibility of being blocked by Warner Bros. US.