The French cinema industry has some of the world’s highest-paid stars and largest film budgets, but is losing money hand over fist. The paradox is explained by a system of public subsidies paid to make films whatever their box office appeal. Even for those which prove a popular success, the enormous production costs are hardly ever recovered. The subsidies paid to the French film industry are part of a complex system that its supporters say has allowed it, over many decades, to maintain a rich production while other national cinema industries in Europe have faded. Its critics argue it is a perverse and outdated economic model. In this interview with Joseph Confavreux, the sociologist Olivier Alexandre, a specialist in the history of modern French cinema, analyses how the system works and weighs up the arguments for and against.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a very special storage bank, wedged smack inside the frozen heart of an Arctic archipelago near the North Pole, designed to hold and preserve seed samples of every food crop in the world. In this second article in a two-part report, Mathilde Goanec reports from Spitsbergen on the controversy over the vault's financing; for among private sector sponsors is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has links with multinational biotech giant Monsanto, a proponent of genetically modified produce.