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Source: CNC

French prime minister Jean Castex has announced a $196m (€165m) rescue package for France’s National Cinema Centre (CNC) as part of a massive $2.4bn recovery programme for the arts and culture sector, the full details of which are due to be revealed on September 3.

Castex detailed the aid earmarked for the CNC at the opening of the Angouleme Francophone Film Festival in south-west France on Friday evening (28).

Created in 1946 as part of a drive to rebuild the country’s cinema industry in the wake of the Second World War, the CNC lies at the heart of France’s world-renowned state film funding system.

It administers state support across the production and distribution chain as well as to festivals and, in recent years, TV and digital projects. 

A large part of its budget is generated via a 10.9% levy on cinema tickets as well as obligatory contributions from broadcasters and any other entity making a profit from the diffusion of content in France, as a set percentage of their turnover.

The body had a budget of around $808m (€680m) in 2019, making it the biggest state film and TV funding body in the world.

Much of its revenue has dried due to the pandemic, however, which resulted in the country’s some 2,000 cinemas shutting down for 14-weeks from March 14 and advertising revenues drying up at broadcasters.

Most cinemas reopened on June 22 but the box office for the period is some 70 to 80% below normal levels 

Castex said part of the cash injection would go towards filling the resulting $71m (€60m) hole in the CNC’s budget. The remaining $124m (€105m) will be ploughed into recovery initiatives across the whole film and TV industry chain.

“The whole cinema and audiovisual chain – producers, distributors etc – will be covered but the main focus of these measures will be the cinemas, which will get a third of the aid,” said Castex.

In addition to the CNC support, Castex also announced that cinema theatres would also be eligible for a $112m (€100m) compensation fund aimed at cinema and live entertainment venues that had suffered financial losses due to the pandemic.

This fund is on top of the money set aside for the $2.4bn recovery programme.

The Angouleme Francophone Film Festival is one of the first major national-level film festivals to take place in France since the pandemic hit the country in the beginning of March. 

Some 60 French-language features are set to debut at the event, including a number of films in the Cannes Film Festival’s special Official Selection, which was announced in June after the physical event was cancelled.