Trouble is brewing once again at Unifrance. Following a report last March that said that the organisation needed to improve its strategy and governance, the export body is now faced with a mutiny of sorts coming from its internal commissions.
The brouhaha follows a general assembly meeting where the results of a vote did not go down well.
In March, Unifrance president Margaret Menegoz - who is due to leave the organization in the Autumn - told ScreenDaily.com that because the president of Unifrance has to be a producer, 'you can't ask someone to totally devote themselves forever,' to the job. 'All of my colleagues are in the same boat,' she said. 'The president really needs to either be someone who has slowed down their own producing activities or someone who's just not really producing. At the moment, no one is really that enthusiastic.'
An attempt was made to change that historic rule when the motion was put to a vote last Friday. The motion did not pass.
Following the vote, two of the four commissions that make up the body of Unifrance - the artistic and economic commissions - refused to elect their representatives while the short-films commission only elected temporary members. The fourth commission - made up of feature producers - was the only one to vote in new members.
With only one out of four commissions functioning, Unifrance is currently blocked because only the Unifrance board has the power to call a new general assembly in order to deal with the situation. The problem, however, is that the Unifrance board is made up of members of the four commissions and thus can not be called in the while there is a standstill.
In a press release the writers, directors and producers association (ARP) and the directors union (SRF) came out in support of Unifrance saying they wanted to single out a certain number of fundamental facts. 'This association does not belong to any union nor to any of the sectors that make up the promotion of French film abroad: auteurs, actors, producers and exporters and also short film directors and producers. It is, rather, a tool to be used for debate, a place for reflection and actions that bring together all these groups for the common good.
'A move to appropriate it by one of its member groups is unthinkable for an association made up almost entirely of public funds and whose vocation it is to ensure the promotion of all of French cinema.'
On Tuesday, the French producers union (UPF) added its two cents in a strong show of support for the producers' commission in a press release titled: 'Unifrance: We Don't Play With Democracy!'
The UPF insisted on the validity of a general assembly vote and took issue with certain misplaced remarks that it termed 'bitter, unconstructive and without merit. We don't play with democracy and everyone must respect the sovereign assembly's vote.'
The group said it hopes that the economic and artistic commissions will quickly elect their representatives so that they can move onto the nomination of Unifrance's future president. The UPF concluded by reaffirming its friendship with Menegoz and saluted her work as president.
Unifrance's annual budget is $15m (Euros 9.5m)with $1.3m (Euros 850,000) of that coming from the foreign affairs ministry.