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With the state of French cinema in seemingly endless turmoil since film star Gerard Depardieu‘s decision to leave the country to escape high taxes, another actor may be headed for the exit.
In an interview on French television, actor/director Mathieu Kassovitz (Amelie) announced that he too is making a move. “I’m out of this country,” he said. “Creatively speaking, I find it difficult to continue working in a country that has locked-down cinema in a sort of copy of the American model,” he explained. “I love movies. It has become an industry, but it is above all an art.”
He clarified that he’s not following in his fellow actor’s footsteps to flee for tax reasons, though he understands Depardieu’s motivations to do so and wished him luck. “I can’t judge his life. I totally understand the motivation of someone who earns more than a million,” said Kassovitz in reference to a planned 75 percent tax on income above $1.3 million (€1 million). “If I earned that much, good bye!” he joked. “But unfortunately I’m not as rich as him,” he said about Depardieu.
Kassovitz though added that Depardieu has not made his money exclusively from acting, as he owns restaurants, a vineyard and several other enterprises. However, he noted that even if Depardieu ends up residing elsewhere, he will still be as French as French cheese: “Depardieu can’t forget that he is as copyrighted as Camembert! Depardieu is France.”
Kassovitz’s displeasure with the French film industry isn’t new. He started a Twitter storm last year after posting an expletive-laden tirade on the social media platform after his film Order & Morality (Rebellion in the U.S.) failed to be nominated in any of the big categories at the country’s Cesar Awards.
“One Cesar nomination. F*** French cinema. F*** you and your sh*t movies,” he wrote. “I don’t care about the Cesars. I never did. I’m just shocked by the lack of interest. I should make films easier,” he said of the year dominated by audience favorites The Artist and The Intouchables.
In the end, he did attend the ceremony in honor of his Best Adapted Screenplay nod, though he did not win.
French film has been in an uproar over Depardieu’s departure and the accusations of powerful producer Vincent Maraval that French actors are paid too much. Shortly after Depardieu announced his plans to seek citizenship elsewhere to escape the higher tax rate, Wild Bunch co-founder Maraval published an essay lashing out at the French cinema subsidy system and the salaries it supports. Film critics and the culture minister have publicly weighed in and expressed support of the system; and actors and directors have felt personally obliged to explain their per-film pay in the newspapers here.
“I am also a director, so sometimes I have to suffer overpaid actors, and sometimes I benefit as an actor,” said Kassovitz.
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