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U.S. Films in France

THE FRENCH-AMERICAN film dispute, though in the main a gentlemanly disagreement, has produced firmness in both camps.

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A year ago, when French producers protested against our flooding of their market, a quota was established whereby one French film was to be bought by an American distributor for every seven American films distributed in France. Now the French industry wants, not a seven-to-one, but a three-to-one quota. This, say American distributors, would make it no longer worth while to do business in the French field.

Protesting against arbitrary European restrictions on films, the United States Government has held that in the interest of good pictures international exchange should be as free as possible and that markets should be limited solely by the product's merit. The French industry responds that, without the boost provided in the three-to-one quota, it is in danger of failure.

Our Government rests its case partly on the half-truth that we make no corresponding restriction on the importation of foreign films. But it is hardly-ignorant of the fact that foreign films are not serious competitors over here. If they were—well, in time of need we are rarely diffident at employing tariff protection. It is only fair to recognize the quota system as the protective tariff's half-sister.

The French producers, on the other band, rest their case on the non sequitur that, if American films are more closely restricted, French films will be better patronized. They may or may not be. If the Frenchman finds his movie theatre consistently unentertaining he may form the habit of staying away.

At this time and distance neither side seems to have a monopoly on strong or weak arguments. The problem should yield to intelligent and friendly arbitration.

Source: Outlook & Independent for April 24, 1929