UPDATE, writetrhu with Barack Obama video: Three days before France heads to the polls to determine the country’s next president — and the morning after a scathing debate between candidates Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron — the Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma has thrown its support firmly behind the latter. Also today, former U.S. President Barack Obama weighed in with a video posted to Macron’s Twitter feed, saying, “The success of France matters to the entire world” and offering his endorsement (see the full video below).
Earlier, the Académie that hands out France’s César Awards said it is backing the independent centrist, “without reserve.”
Its statement continued, “Together, we affirm and defend the freedom of expression, creativity and the sustainability of our cultural exception, reflections of openness to the world and the influence of our society,” the group said. “Culture and its defense will nourish our common ambition and our confidence in the future for future generations. We want an open, fertile and plural environment for creation!”
Although French filmmakers and celebrities have been less vocal than their American counterparts when it comes to taking sides in a presidential election, momentum has grown in the past week. Today’s public declaration follows that of writers/directors/producers association l’ARP which on Tuesday urged the industry to preserve freedom of expression with a vote for Macron. Last week, Luc Besson posted a screed on Facebook denouncing the far right National Front candidate Le Pen.
Last night’s debate was watched by 16.5M viewers in France, a score lower than the previous one-on-one standoffs from 2007 and 2012. There were 3.1M tweets logged during and after what at times was a down-and-dirty fight which, polling shows, Macron won.
A smirking, sarcastically laughing Le Pen — who has run on a populist, anti-immigration, anti-Europe platform — often sifted through a pile of notes in brightly-colored folders without ever really offering up policy proposals. On the attack, she made consistent references to her opponent’s former job as Minster of the Economy under outgoing President François Hollande, attempting to paint him with the brush of the current socialist government’s poor tenure.
Macron kept his cool, as the New York Times and others have noted, presenting his program point-by-point. Although he did offer up such zingers as “The high priestess of fear is sitting in front of me.”
In Obama’s video message below, he takes care to say that Macron “appeals to people’s hopes, and not their fears”: