Independent cinema is everything that is not Hollywood, right? Not really. Daniel Anton, founding president of Boostyourfilm offers another vision of independent cinema.
“The definition is clear. A film is considered ‘independent’ when it is validated by the public and contains added value,” says Daniel Anton, co-founder of Boostyourfilm.
It must be said that many are having a hard time with this definition. The notion of independent cinema differs from one country to another, from one festival to another, from one media to another, or even from one person to another. In the early days, it was defined as primarily against and in opposition to the frenzy of Hollywood money that has governed cinema since 1910. Independent cinema (as defined in the 80s) aimed to emancipate the majors, the current Indie (1990s) is the most profitable fringe of independent cinema and Indiewood (second half of the 90s) is positioned at the crossroads between the independent system and Hollywood.
Janet Staiger, Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin, believes that independence is based on practice and not on economic and institutional criteria. She considers that this type of cinema “above all requires an emotional and intellectual investment of spectators with […] a moral conscience”.
Anton goes further: “The independence of the film stops from the moment when the interest of the creators is focused on money. If your story is written to interest the audience it’s independent of pure financial logic.
“I do not necessarily put majors in opposition to independent cinema. I just think that a director’s interest takes precedence. Why not go further by saying that a major can put money into a so-called independent film. From the moment the added value is the story, it tells the public, we can consider it independent. But there is no risk-taking. What kills independence is above all the excessive exploitation of franchises, the moment when work is corrupted by money.”
A locked system in France
The public structure of financing audiovisual creations in Europe leaves the expression “independent film” with little or no meaning. All projects are likely to be eligible for grants … in theory. In fact, that’s not true. What is currently a problem is the locking of the system. In France, for example, to make a film you have to be part of the network. A producer must have the approval of the CNC, France’s national centre of cinematography and moving image, and a broadcaster (TV channel) as a partner to qualify for the subsidies. Private supplementary financing comes into play once the subsidies are secured. This system no longer allows the emergence of new talent. It is necessary to know a personality established in the system (“the big family of the cinema”), to be co-opted, otherwise one stays in front of the door. This is the lead screed above the cinema.
In the United States, the majors limit the emergence of new talents by their lack of risk-taking, in Europe, it is the system of public subsidies.
If the audience had direct access to film projects or emerging talents, wouldn’t the creative pool be different?
Translation of original article by Quentin Duforeau
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