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Bertrand Tavernier : " And so culture would become a commodity"

Translated Wednesday 10 July 2013, by L.O.S

(Published in l’Humanité on 15 May 2013

As the Cannes Film Festival opens, filmmakers from all over Europe are mobilizing to defend cultural exception from the transatlantic free-trade agreement. The standpoints of filmmakers Bertrand Tavernier and Radu Mihaileanu.

Radu Mihaileanu, filmmaker: "We must never back down from this mortal danger"

"We have been fighting for 20 years to preserve cultural exception. We thought the page had been turned and then these negotiations between Europe and the United States emerged. This comes at a time of serious crisis and great economic confusion. The emergence of Asia and Brazil on the competitive markets may explain this new U.S. offensive in the face of a Europe that may fear not being up to the mark. Some countries are on the verge of bankruptcy, and the old question comes back: what is culture? What is it for? Some leaders, like Barroso, consider it a commodity. Which it could never be, such is the influence it has at the very base of our identities, the global wealth of the diversity of standpoints. To attack it is to strike blows at democracy, which constructs itself through culture and education. I think globalization is another source of confusion. One we are suffering from, despite being something that can be very beautiful so long as it is thought and regulated in such a way as to preserve the specificity of every human being. Cultural exception is not negotiable in the same way as human rights. Backing down from this mortal danger would be absurd. Europe must construct itself with the resources of the mind"

Bertrand Tavernier, filmmaker: "A real betrayal from Barroso"

It’s a dirty move on the part of the Commission, instigated by one of its commissioners, Karl De Gucht, who besides this is accused of tax fraud. He is not necessarily guilty, but is still threatened with prosecution and can, despite this, continue to issue decrees. From Barroso it really is a betrayal. Contrary to previous American offensives against cultural exception, this time it’s not at the request of Hollywood but that of internet powers. They want to eliminate obstacles to their domination, do what they can to get rid of national laws. And so culture would become a commodity, allowing them to disseminate their products and imitations. The French political response, from right to left, is one of consensus, but the government should show more offensiveness, particularly as support is there. We are dealing with the kind of ultra-free-market rigidity that is dangerous to culture, life, the mind... It also raises many questions as to the construction of Europe. Commissioners and technocrats are developing all sorts of negative measures. That there is a dirty stab in the back. To them I would apply a phrase from Hannah Arendt: "They are guilty of not thinking." Or of only thinking in one direction."

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