Race is on for Magritte Awards
by Aurore Engelen
It’s official: Belgian Francophone cinema will finally have its own awards. Since the Joseph Plateau Awards were discontinued in 2006, Belgian Francophone films have had to make do with taking a back seat at France’s Cesar Awards. This lack of national recognition for films that are nonetheless celebrated internationally seemed the height of insult.
By creating the Magritte awards, the André Delvaux Academy will put an end to this anomaly. These prizes will mainly be awarded to Belgian Francophone films. The Academy hasn’t ruled out a “nationalisation” of the ceremony, but the recent creation of the Flanders Film Awards (presented at Ostend in mid-September) casts strong doubt over this possibility.
The Academy, made up of professionals who have been called on to join, will award no fewer than 18 prizes! We may wonder, considering the relatively high number of categories (about as many as the number of “majority” Francophone films produced every year!), what the prize list will look like: tidal wave or thin sprinkling? However, it should be noted that “minority” films are eligible for all the awards, except Best Film. The audience will also contribute by picking a prize-winner.
The audience is indeed at the heart of this initiative. The creation of these awards is part of an overall drive to promote Belgian Francophone films among local audiences, who too often have a stereotyped image of them. While foreign viewers “savour” the diversity of Belgian cinema, Belgian audiences remain unconvinced. The Magritte awards will be a fine opportunity for a communications campaign, in order to draw attention to the creativity and talent of Belgian audiovisual professionals.
Culture and Audiovisual Minister Fadila Laanan commented: "I firmly believe that giving Belgian Francophones a taste for Belgian cinema inevitably involves strengthening ties between audiences and artists. This first ceremony will be a chance to stir the heart of Walloon and Brussels people with enthusiasm for artists and professionals in this sector".
The Magritte Awards will be presented on February 5, 2011 in Brussels, and the ceremony will be broadcast live on television.
(Translated from French)