Country Focus: Belgium
UPFF: ten points which require attention and action
by Aurore Engelen
- At the Annual Report Meeting of the Film and Audiovisual Centre, the first major meeting between the new Minister for Culture of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, Joëlle Milquet, and representatives of the profession, a great deal of whom had been brought together for the event, the UPFF (Union of Francophone Film Producers), took the opportunity to put forward 10 points which the association would like to concentrate on fully in the years to come. After putting a lot of time and energy into fighting for the reform of the Tax Shelter, the UPFF wants to focus on certain battles which it deems to be crucial in preserving Belgium audiovisual production. While the Belgian film industry represents a highly dynamic sector, it is threatened on a number of fronts.
Some the issues that will be brought to the table in months to come require urgent action. The UPFF therefore insists on the necessity of providing a framework for the new Tax Shelter regime by creating a coordination body. Another burning issue is the refinancing of the Film Selection Committee, which, due to the unfortunate withdrawal of a private investor, has seen its budget slashed by 2 million euros. The Union will support the Film and Audiovisual Centre to ensure that the loss in cultural funds has the smallest possible impact on aid given to the most precarious productions, notably first films, documentaries and short films.
The Union will seek financial reinforcement from Brussels-based investment fund Bruxellimage. It will also have to work in coordination with RTBF, the public television broadcasting network, for stronger support for local productions, both in terms of funding and promotion. Promotion is just one key factor, which will raise the awareness of both professionals and institutions involved in production. They need to acquaint themselves and get up to speed on new modes of production, broadcasting and consumption, whether this is newly-emerged stakeholders such as Netflix or Apple TV, or the issue of piracy and the improvement of the legal offer of Belgian films on line. Finally, issues relating to artistic status and the copyright management will also be at the core of the UPFF’s reflections.