End clap for the Italian film festival in Annecy?

There is undoubtedly a better 40th birthday. Just a year ago, the Annecy Italian Cinema Festival celebrated its forty candles. Time will tell, but this edition may have been the last. In any case, if 41e edition ago, it won’t be this year. For the first time since 1983, the Haute-Savoie prefecture will not offer any screening of transalpine films nor will it award any prizes in this last week of September. See you next year, if the festival survives this “suspension”, as the city wants to believe, which writes, on its website, that it “the Italian film festival could return to Annecy in 2024”. Lots of conditionals which do not reassure moviegoers.

Certainly, it has been a long time since Italian stars deserted the “Venice of the Alps”. In the past, in Bonlieu, the building dedicated to culture located in the city center, on the edge of the lake, we came across Sergio Leone, Nanni Moretti, Ettore Scola, Ornella Muti… Those times are over. Spectators gradually deserted the theaters showing the selected films: there were more than twenty-five thousand in 2010 compared to barely ten thousand in 2022, including many schoolchildren. But, from there to imagining the disappearance of the festival, there was a step that many did not want to take.

So who is to blame ? Bonlieu Scène nationale, the structure responsible for the event, refuses to take responsibility for the cancellation. Pending the appointment of new management, Géraldine Garin, interim director, responds that the absence of a 2023 edition is in no way a surprise. “We’ve been saying for years that we can’t do it anymore. The Italian State, the National Cinema Center [CNC] have already withdrawn. The organization of the festival represents nearly 200,000 euros for us, it is no longer tenable. We said it last year and in previous years… Believe me, when we had to announce the suspension of the event, it was not with joy. But no one wanted to help us. » For almost ten years, the CNC has effectively withdrawn its subsidies. The Rhône-Alpes-Auvergne region, which sits on the board of directors, did not want to put its hand in the wallet. Only subsidies from the departmental council and the city remained (28,000 euros), which were largely insufficient to continue.

New quests for financing

However, there is no shortage of money in Haute-Savoie and Annecy, two prosperous local authorities. Was there no way to increase budgets? “Absolutely not, on the contrary we must tighten the screw everywhere”, replies the town hall’s deputy for culture, Fabien Géry. A petition is circulating on the Internet. Having collected one thousand eight hundred signatures (the town has more than 125,000 inhabitants), it was launched by the Plan large association and addressed to the mayor, François Astorg (an unlabelled ecologist), and to Fabien Géry.

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