1968-02-09 - “The Langlois Case”

“The Langlois Case”
L’affaire Langlois 09_02_1968

On February 9, 1968, the representatives of the State on the board of directors of the Cinémathèque, an association created in 1936 by Henri Langlois and Georges Franju but whose budget is mainly funded by the State, withdrew its artistic direction from Langlois, to which they reproach a risky management and collections poorly maintained and poorly preserved. The filmmakers on the board, including François Truffaut, refused to sit for longer and formed a defence committee that brought together actors and intellectuals from around the world around the father of the Cinémathèque and criticized the interference of the state, with the support of Combat, Le Monde and Cahiers du cinéma and soon the opposition relay, including François Mitterrand and Pierre Mendès-France. Producers, including American majors, who owned the films deposited at the Cinémathèque (except those belonging to Langlois himself), banned screenings and threatened to withdraw their deposits. Clashes took place in front of the palace of Chaillot, with Truffaut, Godard and Michel Simon, and Daniel Cohn-Bendit who made his political debut there. On 22 April, the Cinémathèque reinstated Langlois. The episode accelerated the establishment of a film archives service within the CNC (1969) and the legal deposit for films (acquired in 1977). Combined with the events of May, it also trains a sling of French filmmakers during the Cannes Film Festival, led by Truffaut, Godard and Claude Berri. Several members of the jury resign while directors ask for the withdrawal of their films in competition. On 19 May, the festival closes early, with no awards.