Winning the Oscar for best foreign film came too late to bring much comfort to Noe Productions.
The company, which was the French co-producer on Danis Tanovic's No Man's Land and has previously been behind pictures such as Train De Vie and Les Portes De La Gloire, was declared insolvent on 2 April. Unable to service its current obligations it was put into court-sanctioned administration (similar to the US' Chapter 11) for a renewable period of four months.
According to French press reports, Noe producer Frederique Dumas blamed: the lack of a comfort zone for independent producers'.. the current disorder within [pay channel] Canal Plus and the lack of visibility about its future'.. and reduced investment on the part of the free-TV broadcasters.
While the future of Noe and Dumas are unclear, Cedomir Kolar, the in-house producer directly responsible for No Man's Land, is now expected to set up a new outfit in partnership with Tanovic.
In the same week, Euripide Productions and sister company Euripide Distribution, recently responsible for Mercredi Folle Journee and Tosca, also filed for insolvency.
The two cases join a growing list of French independents in trouble. In recent weeks IMA Films and distributor Sagittaire have all filed with the courts. Most are not expected to recover.
The wave of insolvencies within the independent sector comes after a year when French production reached a 20 year high. But recent production statistics (see Screen International, weekly edition, Apr 12) show a growing polarisation between the big budget pictures and the smallest (costing less than $1m), with the middle ground becoming less and less viable.