Industry backs home-grown talent
by Anne Feuillère
- The much-awaited Cowboy receives the whole-hearted support of the industry
Distributed by Belga Films, Cowboy [+see also:
interview: Benoît Mariage
film profile] is being released in French-speaking Belgium, Brussels and Luxembourg on 21 screens, including three prints subtitled in Dutch for the capital. The film is being released on the same day in France by UGC Distribution, on 128 screens. This coincidence is a frequent occurrence in Belgium, where French promotional initiatives reinforce domestic ones, as French television is broadcast here too. There is no Flemish release planned for the time being, despite the interest of the Flemish press.
Best known by the general public for having made numerous episodes of "Striptease", a cult series of televised documentaries, Benoît Mariage enjoyed passing success among audiences with his debut film, The Carriers Are Waiting (1999), a jarring comedy starring Benoît Poelvoorde. Whereas audiences shunned The Missing Half (2003), a more intimist and complex film, Cowboy, for which shooting began in 2005, has been eagerly awaited for some time as it marks the return of the collaboration between Mariage and Poelvoorde. And it heralds a new collaboration: that between Poelvoorde and François Damiens (OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies, Taxi 4 [+see also:
film profile] [+see also:
film profile] and Dikkenek), a very popular Belgian comedian. Finally Cowboy touches on Belgium’s collective history: it is overtly inspired by a real-life event that left its mark on people in 1980. All these elements combine to make Cowboy a real home-grown production, a Belgian film that exhibitors and press alike seem eager to support.
Having already attracted a lot of press attention during the filming stage (see news) which seemed to arouse a great deal of curiosity, the promotion of Cowboy really began at the Namur International Festival of Francophone Film (see news). The film opened the festival where it sold out and was screened in three cinemas at the same time. Moreover, media coverage of the Festival boosted the film. The cast and the rest of the team were on hand to give several press and television interviews.
Interest in the film, which had already begun, has continued to grow. Following its international avant-première screening in Montreal (see news) and after Namur, another prestigious avant-première was organised last week at the Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels and it was a sell-out. In the meantime, Cowboy was being launched at other festivals such as Virton European Film Festival in Belgium and the Arras and Auxerre Film Festivals in France. In French-speaking Belgium, where three cities organised avant-première screenings, tickets sold out. In Charleroi, a large advertising campaign was put in place on JC Decaux billboards. For its part, Belga Films also launched advertising campaigns in the cinemas and underground stations, arranged the publication of advertising slots in the press one week ahead of the film’s release and a television and radio campaign lasting ten or so days, just ahead of theatrical release. Numerous television programmes and other personalities have devoted airtime to the two Benoîts and their film, whether on the public television network RTBF, or private television network RTL, partner of Belga Films. The two television channels are co-producers of the film, something which is quite unusual.
Produced by Dominique Janne for K2 Productions with RTBF, RTL-TVI, in co-production with K-Star, (a French subsidiary of K2) and sold internationally by UGC Images, Cowboy was backed by the Centre du Cinéma de la Communauté française de Belgique, Wallimage, CNC and Canal + and received tax shelter funding through Scope Invest.
(Translated from French)