All fifteen staff members of Cahiers du Cinéma, the prominent French film magazine, have quit to protest its acquisition last month by twenty bankers, tech entrepreneurs, and movie producers—a deal the staff says would compromise their editorial independence.
“The new shareholders are composed notably of eight producers and this poses a problem of conflict of interest for a critical review,” reads a statement released today by the staff. “No matter what articles might be published on film by these producers, it would automatically be suspected.” The statement notes that its new publishers have already asked its writers and editors to “refocus” on French cinema, and that the inclusion of Julie Lethiphu—the chief executive of the Paris-based Société des Réalisateurs de Films (Society of Film Directors)—would mean a conflicting “influence from the French cinema community.” According to Variety, the resignees are all taking a buyout clause that protects the rights of journalists when the proprietorship of a publication changes.
Le Monde, which first reported the news, says the shareholders maintain that they have not called for a change of vision for the magazine, which the staffers claim would be made more “chic” and mass-market under the new management, and whose future is now uncertain. “The editorial staff must write what they want on cinema,” said Eric Lenoir, new owner of the company and CEO of furniture company Seri. “It is out of the question to guide your choices.”
Founded in 1951 by André Bazin, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Joseph-Marie Lo Duca, and Léonide Keigel, the journal’s early bylines included future Nouvelle Vague directors Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, among many other trailblazing filmmakers. Beginning in the late ’50s, the monthly magazine became something of a house organ for the French New Wave, and in the following decades experienced several relaunches and ownership changes. Since 2009, the journal’s coverage—which includes influential year-end top ten lists—has been led by editor-in-chief Stéphane Delorme and deputy editor Jean-Philippe Tessé.