Two years ago, French actress Bérénice Bejo starred in the Oscar-winning film ‘The Artist’.
Now she wants European cinema to be protected from Hollywood dominance.
France is leading the charge to keep its subsidies for movies, TV and music ahead of trade talks with the US.
Bejo told euronews: “I grew up with American films and culture. It’s very good that it exists and I totally support this culture. I don’t reject it at all, but I think for both of us it is important to have choice and counter-balance.”
France wants its entire audiovisual sector excluded from negotiations.
Director Costa Gavras said a free trade deal with the United States would put the industry, and those who work in it, at risk.
“They are several thousand people who work in the audiovisual sector in Europe. If this cultural exception is scrapped, many films simply won’t get made; cinemas will close; directors and actors will find themselves out of work,” he said in an interview with euronews.
Paris has threatened to use its veto. One analyst said it would be wrong if this issue scuppered a deal that could boost jobs and growth.
Frederik Erixon, of the European Center for International Political Economy, said that “economically speaking, this is really a non-issue for Europe, and a non-issue for France”.
“So, I think the Commissioner has been taking the right position with France and other member states in Europe which is that we don’t start negotiations by telling the other side what we are not going to negotiate about. We need to have an open mandate which gives us the chance to negotiate a good agreement in substance,” he added
The European Commission has warned the US could start taking key sectors off the table in response.
It also said the cultural exception is already protected by EU law and treaties.