Despite the challenges, Dominique Boutonnat was reappointed, Wednesday, July 20, at the head of the National Center for Cinema and the Moving Image (CNC). A decision taken during the Council of Ministers, despite a record decried by some filmmakers and his indictment for sexual assault.
On April 25, the Nanterre prosecution had requested the referral to the criminal court of Mr. Boutonnat for sexual assault on his godson, with whom he has no family ties. In October 2020, a complaint was filed by this young man in his twenties, for facts dating from August 2020, during a vacation in Greece. An indictment followed in February 2021. According to his lawyer, Dominique Boutonnat, 52, known as a film producer, “firmly disputes all the facts”.
During an interview at Parisian in June, the Minister of Culture, Rima Abdul Malak, campaigned for its renewal: “He is indicted, not convicted. The presumption of innocence prevails. » No case law requires the withdrawal or resignation of a civil servant under investigation. But these accusations weigh on Dominique Boutonnat, in an already tense context after the non-renewal, in the post-legislative reshuffle, of the Minister of Solidarity Damien Abad, targeted by an investigation following a complaint for attempted rape.
An “openly liberal” policy criticized
In addition, several directors, including Jacques Audiard and Pierre Salvadori, united within the Society of Film Directors (SRF), have recently criticized the policy “openly liberal and too often short-termist” of the president of the CNC.
The appointment, three years ago, of this donor to Emmanuel Macron’s electoral campaign had already gone badly in an environment worried about seeing the imposition of a logic based on profitability, endangering auteur cinema. The Minister of Culture stepped up to defend her record: “He is the boss of a CNC which has faced the crisis and which, moreover, has been a pioneer in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence. »
After the #metoo wave, the CNC launched training in October 2020 to prevent sexual violence, aimed at film, audiovisual and video game employers (producers, international sellers, distributors and exhibitors). Since 1er January 2021, the allocation and payment of all CNC aid is subject to compliance by the beneficiaries with the obligations to prevent sexual harassment, such as the follow-up of this training or the appointment of a mandatory harassment referent for the structures of more than 250 employees.
Faced with a drop in attendance
Dominique Boutonnat, who began his career in insurance, had to fight hard for a sector very hard hit by the restrictions put in place during the pandemic, in particular the closing of cinemas and gauges in cinemas. In addition to the government aid granted to all French companies (for partial unemployment, for example), cinema operators have benefited since the start of the health crisis from a windfall of 221 million euros, producers, from 38 million euros. euros and distributors, 53 million euros.
Many challenges await Dominique Boutonnat. First of all, to recover cinema attendance in a context of declining purchasing power, while the number of spectators has not fully returned to pre-pandemic levels. According to the latest figures from the CNC, French cinemas, one of the densest networks in the world, sold 72.95 million tickets in the first six months of the year, a drop in attendance of 30.6%. compared to the first half of 2019, a record year.
A glimmer of hope: in June, thanks to the Film Festival and its tickets at 4 euros for all, dark rooms achieved 10.86 million admissions, a decrease of 13% compared to the same month of 2019 The seventh art must also find its feet in the face of ever fiercer competition from American platforms, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+.