Country Focus: Belgium
The CCA’s balance sheet: time for implementation
by Aurore Engelen
- Like every year, when spring approaches, it is time for the Centre du Cinéma et de l’Audiovisuel de la Fédération Wallonie Bruxelles to present its balance sheet. The opportunity to assemble institutional representatives and members of the industry to discuss the year’s progress, unveiled projects, those to come, changes in legislation and the policies introduced to contribute to the development and structuring of the audiovisual sector.
2011 witnessed the introduction of a new way of functioning for the Film Selection Commission, the body that awards public and cultural funding to audiovisual projects. It had been decided to limit the amount of subsidies in order to assist more projects, reducing the maximum amount from nearly 600,000 € to fixed sums of 350,000 €, be it a first movie or not. All in all, 26 feature films received production subsidies in 2012, including eight minority productions, and four as part of the open budget with the VAF. Twenty feature films also received screenwriting subsidies.
Despite the financial crisis and budget cuts, the Commission benefits from a stable budget of 10.5 million euros. It's also worth noting that for the 11 majority feature films recognized as Belgian (francophone) in 2012, the CCA was the leading financial partner, with its contribution representing 36.1% of the Belgian share versus 20.9% from Tax Shelter, 17.9% from producer contributions, 7.94% from Wallimage and 5.34% from the VAF.
Finally, the CCA welcomed the figures recorded by Belgian productions in 2012. The screening of Belgian films in Belgium is one of the major battles fought by the CCA, yet scores in the Belgian box-office for local productions find it hard to impress. Frédéric Delcor, the CCA’s director, pointed out that for francophone Belgian films, the natural market is not solely limited to Belgium itself, but also extends to French-speaking territories in general, and France in particular.
Francophone Belgian productions thus brought in almost 1.6 million spectators in 2012 (911,000 for Ernest & Célestine [+see also:
interview: Benjamin Renner, Vincent Pa…
film profile], 287,000 for 38 Witnesses [+see also:
film profile], and 188,000 for Our Children [+see also:
interview: Joachim Lafosse
film profile]). These encouraging numbers allow for relativization of complex local results in an extremely competitive market. Out of the 123 French-language films released on Belgian screens in 2012, only 23 were Belgian, ie. a share of 18.7%. Inevitably slightly weary of the relentless comparison with the Flemish neighbour and compatriot, between “apples and pears”, to use his expression, Frédéric Delcor recalled that on the Dutch-speaking side, of the 28 Flemish films released in 2012, nearly half were Belgian. Other striking statistics exemplifying the cultural permeability of francophone Belgium are audience shares of Belgian television channels, which only represent 51.3% (audience share of 44.1% for French channels!) on the francophone side, while they account for 84% on the Flemish side. This closer look at the figures should allow for a more serene understanding of the progress observed in terms of cinema attendance.
While film distribution, as well as television production, remain crucial objectives for the CCA, the Minister has already announced the main projects and issues which will be put forward to members of the industry through the concertation committee, and which mostly concern funding for the production of feature films, and whether or not the solution of “sprinkling” (more modest funds for more projects) that was recently chosen is indeed the right one, or whether a return should be made to more massive support for fewer projects.