Jeunet livid as latest film branded 'American'

1st December 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 1 (AFP) - Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the French director of the smash-hit film "Amelie", has expressed his fury and exasperation at a court's decision to brand his latest movie a Hollywood production despite its French character.

PARIS, Dec 1 (AFP) - Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the French director of the smash-hit film "Amelie", has expressed his fury and exasperation at a court's decision to brand his latest movie a Hollywood production despite its French character.

"What is there American about 'A Very Long Engagement', based on a French script, created by a French director, with French actors who were filmed in France speaking in French and with a budget of which 99 percent was spent in France?" he asked in a letter published in Thursday's edition of Le Monde newspaper.

The angry missive, co-signed by Francis Boespflug, the head of the French production company 2003 Productions involved in the movie, stressed that the film's legal nationality had very real consequences because the November 25 ruling effectively barred it from accessing French film subsidies.

Only French or European productions can tap those funds, which are partly meant to protect France's film industry from Hollywood's deep-pocketed offerings.

The court decided that Jeunet's film could not call itself French because 2003 Productions was essentially a front company for US studio Warner Bros., which held the rights to the book upon which the movie is based.

2003 Productions is one-third owned by the US studio. The rest of its capital is held by staff and executives of Warner Bros. France.

The movie itself cost EUR 45 million (USD 60 million) to make, an extremely large sum by French film production standards. Jeunet and 2003 Productions had been counting on the subsidies to pay a part of those costs.

"How can we say we are defending the French cinema industry tooth-and-claw in the name of cultural diversity, and at the same time say that a film as eminently French as 'A Very Long Engagement' is suddenly not...?" Jeunet and Boespflug asked.

They noted that the verdict against them - which they have asked to be appealed - could lead to French co-productions losing their French flavour.

The original plans for "A Very Long Engagement" had called for it to be shot in English with American actors in another country, even though it recounted a tale set in France's World War I trenches, they said.

In the movie, a young Frenchwoman (played by "Amelie" star Audrey Tautou) desperately and determinedly searches for her missing fiance, a soldier, amid the horrors of war.

Jeunet and Boespflug pointed out that "Alexander the Great" had been classified French - largely because director Oliver Stone has dual US-French citizenship - but it starred Angelina Jolie, Colin Farrell and Val Kilmer and was filmed in Morocco, Thailand and Britain.

Will other French co-productions from the past now be classed non-French? the two asked.

"The films of Francois Truffaut, of Louis Malle, of which some were made with the help of major US studio funding, are they American?"

© AFP

Subject: French News

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