by Celestine Bohlen.
“The cultural exception is the best way to defend diversity in film-making,” said a famous cinéaste at the close of the Cannes Film Festival last month.
If that coded phrase sounds like the predictable claim of a French filmmaker rising up in defense of an embattled national asset, think again. In fact, the remark was made by Steven Spielberg, master of the Hollywood blockbuster, who was the president of the jury at Cannes this year.
And yet “l’exception culturelle” is widely viewed as an exclusively French issue, so much so that the expression itself is often lifted, without translation, into foreign-language news stories, to be dismissed as yet another example of Gallic vanity.
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