CCA: first review for Joëlle Milquet
by Aurore Engelen
- The Minister for Culture defines her mandate with an increased effort to ensure improved promotion and broadcasting of French-language Belgian cinema in Belgium
Joëlle Milquet, Minister for Culture for the Brussels-Wallonia Federation since last summer, yesterday attended her first review of the Brussels-Wallonia Federation Film and Audiovisual Centre. While she was happy with the large number of films supported, the diversification of international co-productions and the impressive circulation of French-language Belgian films in festivals, she nonetheless noted, in the industry, that despite efforts in recent years to improve the distribution of French-language Belgian cinema in Belgium, this still remains limited, and this will therefore be at the heart of her action plan during her mandate.
The Film Centre, which remains the main partner for French-language Belgian cinema (its contribution representing 24.64 % of Belgian shares versus 23.32 % for the Tax Shelter), had in 2014 a budget of 28.26 million euro. With an envelope of 9.83 million euro, the Film Selection Committee, for its part, supported 140 projects, including 16 fiction features in writing and 23 in production, among which are the long-awaited The Brand New Testament by Jaco Van Dormael, The Teilacher by Sam Garbarski, Wedding [+see also:
film profile] by Stephan Streker and also En Amont du Fleuve [+see also:
film profile] (lit. Up the River) by Marion Hänsel.
In 2014 moreover, Belgian French-language films won over 120 awards in international festivals. In total, 31 Belgian initiative French-language films were released in 2014 in Belgian cinemas and 18 in French theatres, totalling 1,321,259 viewers (16,194,473 viewers if you add to that minority co-productions). The leading film of 2014 is Two Days, One Night [+see also:
interview: Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne
film profile] by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (570,000 admissions), followed by Not My Type [+see also:
interview: Lucas Belvaux
film profile] by Lucas Belvaux (375,000 admissions) and Scouting for Zebras [+see also:
film profile] by Benoît Mariage (130,000 admissions).
While production aid appears to be bearing fruit (even if it will have to be safeguarded in the future, particularly following the withdrawal of a private partner that was partly financing the Film Selection Committee), the distribution of Belgian cinema in Belgium remains one of the major concerns today. The quasi absence of a star system on the French-speaking side of the country (unlike what might occur in Flanders), seems to be one of the problems. Moreover, it’s one of the drivers for creating events like the Magritte Awards, or production plans for Belgian series launched by the RTBF and the Film Centre. The Minister insisted at length on establishing a new dynamic for promoting and distributing Belgian films. The promotion support set up 16 months ago will be assessed and increased. The goal is to ensure that Belgian French-language cinema is present everywhere and always, that it’s part of Belgian peoples' daily life and not just reserved for a specialised audience. So, an ambitious programme, which for the Minister, requires greater involvement of the Film Centre in globally promoting Belgian French-language cinema, potentially by creating a label, and by a specific focus on providing access for distribution professionals to films, well in advance of their release. It will also be necessary to work on a more active media presence, and envisage creating a more robust alternative distribution network. Finally, the Minister also highlighted the crucial importance of working in schools to ensure better education for audio-visuals and cinema in particular, and to provide better visibility to Belgian French-language productions, for both fiction and documentaries.
(Translated from French)