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INSTITUTIONS Belgium

Cannes-selected Belgian Francophone films aim to woo viewers

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While the international reputation of Belgian Francophone cinema is firmly established, it is still an ongoing priority for funding institutions to help these films gain recognition at home. Last Friday, Francophone professionals in the Belgian audiovisual industry invited the press to join them in celebrating the strong presence of Belgian Francophone films at Cannes. As Film and Audiovisual Centre director Frédéric Delcor pointed out, the selection of four majority productions, two minority co-productions and a short film in the different Cannes sections is far from insignificant taking into account that the Belgian French community only comprises 4 million people.

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The fact that this Cannes presence is both extraordinary and repeated yearly highlights the concurrence of two crucial elements: there is a remarkable breeding ground of talent, of course, but also a funding policy from the authorities which, despite budgetary restrictions, guarantees artists the financial conditions necessary for creation, a point much emphasised by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, who took part in the conference. They both insisted on the crucial role of support from the Film Selection Committee. Despite the introduction of financial incentives in recent years like the Tax Shelter or regional funds, they believe that nothing can replace the Committee’s support, the only one in Francophone Belgium to be based on qualitative and aesthetic criteria.

Patrick Quinet, president of the Francophone Film Producers Union and member of the André Delvaux Academy, also spoke about the initiative to woo audiences that began with the creation of the Magritte Film Awards. After the first edition, a qualitative and quantitative study into the ceremony’s recognition was commissioned. Not only do the Magritte Awards have a recognition level of 77%, which is an excellent result, but above all, in their wake, the level of positive opinion among Belgian Francophone audiences about home-grown films increased from 58% to 75%.

Therefore, the mission has been accomplished when it comes to increasing recognition of domestic films. With the second edition of the ceremony confirmed, the Academy intends to make the most of the Cannes Film Festival to build the international reputation of the Awards, the smaller sibling of the famous Césars and Oscars.

(Translated from French)

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