Country Focus: Belgium
Decisive step forward for new film decree
by Aurore Engelen
- The European Commission has finally greenlighted the draft bill of the Film Decree drawn up by the Belgian French-Community Minister of Culture and Audiovisual Policy, Fadila Laanan. Since the bill’s submission in December 2008, professionals had been wondering when it would actually be introduced, especially as the European Commission seemed circumspect about certain points.
The politico-legislative marathon is not over yet, for the Decree still has to be approved by the State Council, the French Community government, and finally Parliament, but the European Commission’s agreement is a decisive step forward. This Decree should make it possible to continue and improve the film funding system.
The Decree, which has been the subject of consultation and consensus with professionals in the sector, has several aims. Firstly, its objective is to maintain and improve the film funding system over the long term by finally giving a legislative foundation to film support.
The Decree will also guarantee the system’s European legitimacy in the context of European control of State funding. It aims to strengthen the system by expanding funding for screenwriting and pre-production; modernising promotion funding by taking into account new distribution media; and putting the emphasis on cultural diversity at different levels of the funding system.
Finally, the Decree plans to open up the system to new forms of distribution, to take into account the constant changes on the audiovisual scene, with the rapid development of new distribution methods (DVD, VOD…) and advances in digital technology. While theatrical release remains essential, we need to open the door to new media in order to reach audiences.
A new type of funding will be introduced for audiovisual operators who want to develop a cultural project aiming to distribute and promote audiovisual works digitally. There will also be a relaxing of the rules for promotional grants for feature films, with greater numbers now eligible for digital distribution funding (DVD, VOD, etc.).