Paulo Branco: "French cinema has become a self-destructive monster"

While part of the French film industry called for a "General Assembly" in early October to discuss how the public authorities support the sector, Paulo Branco is also very disappointed. "What, in a way, revolts me is that France, which should be the country where audacity should be rewarded, is in fact the one where it is least allowed," he says, sitting at the office of his production company, Leopardo Filmes, in the heart of old Lisbon.

"The French model has reached its limit," says this man with tousled hair, a bald forehead and a thick mustache, who points to "the quantity of films and the lack of quality in 99.9% of them" as proof. According to the man whom the Cannes Festival director, Thierry Frémaux, once described as "the king of independent producers, the number one buccaneer in the business", French cinema is withering away "under the influence of bureaucracy" and "the dictatorship of the script".

Beyond the issues related to French cinema, Paulo Branco is not particularly concerned about the decline in cinema attendance, whose death has been announced "for the last 40 years". "You need directors and, to have them, you need festivals and for the films to be released in theaters so that the critics talk about them, good or bad," he says. "I think there is still room for some great new filmmakers to emerge, the new Godard and the new Orson Welles, even if everything is done to prevent it."

Paulo Branco notes in particular that "the role of the producer has practically disappeared" to become a simple "executor" of projects chosen by TV channels and streaming platforms. According to him, cinema remains "an industry of prototypes" that should not place as much importance on commercial success. "Coppola's first films were not seen by anyone, and it's the same for all great directors," he argues.

The next Paulo Branco production to be released in French cinemas will be Tiago Guedes' Traces, presented in Special Sessions at the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival and expected on February 8, 2023 in theaters.

Sources : AFP

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