Les États généraux du film documentaire 2010 The Heart and the Edge

The Heart and the Edge


Thursday, 26 at 10:00 am, Room 1

Over the past ten years, documentary has literally exploded - or imploded. In terms of numbers of hours, television audience, the diversity of format and style. After a period of renaissance, due to documentary commissioning policies at Arte around a handful of film-makers and producers, there is now on the market a wide variety of producers, film-makers to such an extent that documentary has contaminated other genres. And yet television, ever hungry for useful and inexpensive programming, has imposed an ever greater standardisation. France Télévisions (in spite of its signature on an agreement with producers promising "diversity" - a word fooling no-one) as well as Arte are moving in the same direction. It's fine if individual films resist, and some do, but the downhill slide is obvious.
If there have always been films produced at the edges of the system, self financed or not, we can fear today that what was once marginal will become a standard.
Working in the margins is healthy and in any case film-makers will always find a way to subvert the system for it is a necessity, a vital need for them but also extremely frustrating. The margin cannot become the rule and the trap would be for the economy of documentary to become definitively dual with comfortably financed television programmes on one side and underfunded personal films on the other.
Yet considerable amounts of inventiveness have been deployed in maintaining diversity: from the continued use of intermittent unemployment coverage to courageous and penniless distributors, from seed money bursaries (CNC development aid, the "Brouillon d'un rêve" fund of the SCAM) to regional and production assistance, which has sometimes been strengthened (subsidies from the Procirep Angoa and others).
All this exists. All this is necessary. But how can we produce a sufficient number of films whose writing form and audacity will almost automatically cause them to be refused by the major television broadcasters? Between the edges and the heart of the system (if we suppose that both are necessary), is there not now the risk of an abyss?

Michel David


Debate with Michel David (producer Zeugma Films), Serge Lalou (director and producer Les Films d'Ici), Gilles Padovani (Producer Mille et Une films), Xavier Villetard (director).