A Paris court has ruled that an acclaimed new film by the director of Amelie is not French enough to vie for French prizes.
Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet with Audrey Tautou, star of his new film
Jean-Pierre Jeunet's A Very Long Engagement, a French story filmed in French, has drawn rave reviews.
But a court judged it was too American to compete in French film festivals.
The administrative court film found the problem was the film's partial backing by US studio Warner Bros.
Two associations of French producers had challenged Jeunet's right to French government subsidies, because Warner Bros was among the film's backers.
The court noted in its judgment that 2003 Productions, a French company acting as the delegated producer for the film, was created solely "to allow the company Warner Bros France ... to benefit from financial help even though (the fund) is reserved for the European cinematographic industry".
Jeunet argued A Very Long Engagement was filmed in France and used French actors and technicians.
One of France's biggest stars Audrey Tautou also takes a leading role in the film.
France's National Center for Cinematography (CNC) makes state funds available for film projects it has approved.
The CNC approved Jeunet's latest film in October 2003.
However, producers associations immediately began questioning the film's nationality and filed a complaint.
The court cancelled the previously accorded CNC approval.
Set during World War I, A Very Long Engagement is one of France's most expensive films, costing about 45 million euros (£31.5m) to produce.
French subsidies could be as high as millions of euros depending how well the film does at the box office.
"It's just a question of commercial competition," Jeunet said ahead of the court battle.
"The producers are obsessed because there's a new studio and they don't want to share the cake. It's very cynical, very hypocritical."
Jeunet had pointed out that director Oliver Stone's Alexander the Great received funding from the French government despite not being filmed in France or in French.
"Oliver Stone's movie Alexander is French - his mother is French and he did the post-production in Paris so it's French, no problem. And this one is not French, can you believe it?" said Jeunet.
A Very Long Engagement cannot even become a candidate for the prestigious Cannes Film Festival awards because its US debut on 26 November means it will have been screened outside its country of origin, France.
Films shown at Cannes must not have been screened outside the country where they originate ahead of the festival.
France is staunchly protective of its cinema and goes to great lengths to avoid the influence of Hollywood.