Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

HE&me

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

HE&me

Article excerpt

Nathalie Coste-Cerdan is a leading figure in the French film world. She held a number of senior positions at cable television channel Canal+ before being made head of cinema in 2013. In July, she was announced as the new executive director of the world-renowned French state film school La Fémis, part of PSL Research University

Where and when were you born?

Toulouse, 1960. My parents were teachers at a high school.

How has this shaped you?

I have been influenced by my parents' jobs. I was impressed by their involvement, and their love for [the] transmission [of knowledge]. If I'm in a higher education institution today, I owe it to them.

What do you hope to achieve in the role?

I would like to maintain the high quality of education of La Fémis, besides trying to widen access to new film professionals and [create] new disciplines. I aim to strengthen international relationships with foreign schools and welcome a higher proportion of foreign students. I would also like to make the school more open for students from poorer backgrounds.

You're moving from the film industry to higher education. What were the motivations for making this transition?

I didn't choose to leave my previous job. I was in charge of films and series acquisitions at Canal+, a key place for the film industry in France. In late 2015, Vincent Bolloré [chairman of Canal+ parent company Vivendi] decided to replace most of the executives of the previous team. I was part of that team, and left with regrets. But I took it as an opportunity to start a new story. To take up a leadership position at a higher education institution was a way to stay in cinema and transmit some of my knowledge about how to improve French films.

How important is cinema in society?

Cinema continues to reach many people, and to influence the way that they think, even if [television] series are challenging films in this area. In France, French films are tackling political issues more than in the past - the 2007 Clearstream banking scandal, for example - and revealing social changes on topics such as [sexuality in] Abdellatif Kechiche's Blue Is the Warmest Colour.

Film and specialist arts schools are sometimes seen as the preserve of the wealthy. How do you hope to ensure that the talents of less-privileged students are not lost to the cinematic world?

We spend a lot of time every year presenting our school to many high schools in underprivileged areas in France to make [students] envision film studies as a possible, not unreachable, dream. There are also special programmes such as the "Egalité des chances", which prepares 18 less wealthy students for the [entrance] exam every year. …

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