Brabançonne: a national anthem?
by Aurore Engelen
- The first 100% Belgian (50% Flemish, 50% Walloon) musical comedy is being released with an impressive print run of around 50 copies in both the north and the south of the country
The team behind Brabançonne [+see also:
film profile] has pulled out all the stops to make the film a real event on both sides of the Belgian language divide, a gap that it is seldom possible to bridge in terms of culture in general, and in the area of cinema in particular. Indeed, for several weeks now, the cast and director have been travelling the length and breadth of the country, hopping from preview screening to preview screening, in order to get up close and personal with the influential audiences who could, perhaps, make this film into the big Belgian success of this year’s holiday season.
Indeed, with Brabançonne, director Vincent Bal, his producer Peter Bouckaert (Eyeworks) and the rest of their team (including screenwriter Pierre De Clercq and co-producer Diana Elbaum, of Entre Chien et Loup) have not done things by half. Dubbed the “first Belgian musical comedy” (and the movie certainly respects the conventions of the genre, incorporating song and dance numbers, a story of thwarted love and plenty of dramatic moments), Brabançonne also claims to be the first film that is “50% Flemish, 50% Walloon, and 100% Belgian”. And in order to reinforce this equation underpinning the project, Bal plays the regional cliché game, titillating both the sentimental and the collective memories of the Belgian population by infusing the movie with popular Belgian hit songs as the shots unfold, ranging from Lio to Louis Neefs, who took part in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1967. And what about the story? Brabançonne revolves around two brass bands, one Walloon and the other Flemish, who come face to face during the Belgian final of a European competition, squabbling over their talents and competing for each other’s hearts. The film, which is distributed by Kinepolis, is being released throughout the whole country, albeit with a few more copies screening in Flanders than in Wallonia. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the movie’s credits boast actors who are very well known to Flemish audiences, including the singer Amaryllis Uitterlinden and Tom Audenaert, while the main French-speaking role is entrusted to Arthur Dupont.
Also of note on this week’s release schedule, arriving just before Christmas, is Song of the Sea [+see also:
interview: Tomm Moore
film profile], the second animated feature by Irish director Tom Moore, which was co-produced in Belgium by The Big Farm, headed by Isabelle Truc (Iota Production), and is distributed by O’Brother.
(Translated from French)