Wallonia-Brussels Federation Film Centre presents its 2015 annual review
by Aurore Engelen
- The announcement of the results for 2015 was a chance to meet the new Minister for Culture and to celebrate the Belgian French-language films selected at Cannes
Following Joëlle Milquet’s resignation last week, industry professionals were able to meet their new minister, Alda Greoli, as the Film and Audiovisual Centre (CCA) announced its annual review of 2015. Greoli is committed to continuing the work that her predecessor started, in particular the work regarding promotion. For a few years now, it has been said that Belgian film production has been going (reasonably) well, and that several complementary funds have allowed for a certain level of stability in terms of quantity of production. In 2015, the CCA’s funds supported 16 fiction feature films at the writing stage, eight in development and 27 in production, which included, among others, new films by Olivier Masset-Depasse (Irremplaçable), Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne (The Unknown Girl [+see also:
Q&A: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
film profile]), Tran Anh Hung (Eternity [+see also:
film profile]) and Sarah Hirtt (Make It Better). Thirty feature films supported by the CCA were released in 2015: nine majority Belgian films and 21 Belgian co-productions (15 of which were with France). Last year, Belgian films, regardless of their genre, combined for a total of 1,100 festival selections and earned 200 awards. And 2016 appears to be getting off to just as auspicious a start, with the recent announcement of some attractive selections at Cannes.
In spite of every effort made, Belgian cinema is still struggling to reach its “natural” audience. The exceptional success of Jaco Van Dormael’s The Brand New Testament [+see also:
interview: Jaco van Dormael
film profile] is but a drop in the ocean, and the promising results of releases from the start of the year (notably those of movies by Joachim Lafosse and Bouli Lanners) aren’t a reason to smile just yet. (Majority) Belgian French-language films may have attracted an overall viewership of 1.3 million in Belgium and France, but 1.1 million of that was for The Brand New Testament, which, with 300,000 admissions, attracted the largest domestic audience for a Belgian French-language film for the past 20 years. There is reason to celebrate this film, of course, but not really for it representing 84% of overall admissions.
In fact, the CCA stressed the need to ramp up the work for a new promotion strategy that has been under way since October last year. Until now, the actions that have been taken have made films more accessible (notably with better exposure in cinemas), but unfortunately, they have not increased the numbers of viewers. The CCA’s main objective is to allow Belgian films to reach the largest possible domestic audience, by ensuring wider-reaching and permanent visibility for the Belgian French-language film industry, which should become part of daily Belgian life, and not be exclusive to an enlightened few. It’s a rather ambitious programme, which notably includes the organisation of exceptional events (exclusive screenings for opinion leaders, preview screenings in nearby provinces, partnerships with the press, capitalising on the reputation of the Magritte Awards, etc). The CCA is also counting on the positive effect generated by new 100% Belgian television series co-produced as part of the joint CCA/RTBF fund, the first of which, La Trêve, was broadcast a few weeks ago, being met with critical and public success.
On an international level, the CCA claimed that co-productions with France are becoming increasingly difficult to organise, and wish to offer producers other possible co-production opportunities. An agreement with the Netherlands has recently been signed, and discussions are currently under way with Mexico, Brazil and Chile.
(Translated from French)