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Belgium

Fabrice du Welz • Director

"It’s high time for us to get back to work and to carry on with our lives"

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- In light of the lack of commitment over any possible resumption of film activities in Belgium, director Fabrice du Welz reflects on a situation which he sees as toxic

Fabrice du Welz  • Director
(© Claure Geerts/Be TV)

While numerous European countries are announcing support plans and dates for re-opening cinemas, if not the revival of film shoots, the near silence of the Belgian federal authorities is fast becoming deafening for industry professionals. Measures may have been announced by support bodies on a regional or community level, and discussions to relax procedures for accessing the Tax Shelter scheme might seem to have proven successful, but, this notwithstanding, over the past few days, a succession of comments and statements have been made on both an individual and a collective level, not least by the recent #noculturenofuture campaign, launched by a dozen or so professional associations.

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Today, the situation in Belgium is hazy to say the least, and whilst here and there, behind the scenes, we hear whisperings of dates for a return to business, no official announcements capable of alleviating the legitimate concerns of the sector have yet been made. Belgium filmmaker Fabrice du Welz (Adoration [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Fabrice du Welz
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]
, Alleluia [+see also:
film review
trailer
making of
interview: Fabrice Du Welz
film profile
]
, Vinyan [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, The Ordeal [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
) was preparing to shoot his latest feature film, Inexorable, when everything came to a sudden halt mid-march. After a two-month-plus hiatus and the absence of any kind of commitment to, or prospect of, a possible return to activities, confusion and anger are gaining the upper hand. At our request, he reflected on this situation which he sees as toxic and called for a return to work.

Cineuropa: How are you dealing with this ever less temporary halt in activities?
Fabrice du Welz:
I’ve been making films for 15 years. Cinema is my greatest passion and my only obsession. I’ve been at a standstill since 13 March when I was just 3 weeks away from shooting my next film, Inexorable.

Today, I feel as if I’m living in a film which I really love but which isn’t that well known: The Castle of Purity by Arturo Ripstein (1972), where a man decides to protect his wife and three children from the perversions of the world by locking them indoors for 18 years. Everywhere and at all times, I have to listen to people telling me what to do, where I can sit, where I can go for a stroll, where I can walk and what I have to wear. Under the guise of the unassailable “by protecting myself I’m protecting others” slogan, I’m forced to submit to doing the “right” thing, blindness and incoherence.

Fear is also an important factor in this paradigm shift.
The world wasn’t entirely delightful before the crisis. Now, and since the very first day of lockdown, the principle of precaution seems to have become a new model for society. To the point that, for the first time in my life, I feel as if my personal freedom has diminished. In some insidious way, I’m finding myself being treated like a child: dependent, and anxiously waiting for a clear path to follow.

Belgian industry professionals are demanding action or, at the very least, announcements. What can be done in the face of this silence?
I’m waiting. I’m not working any more. It’s been two months plus that I’ve been waiting, like so many others. I’m waiting for elected officials – the very same people who’ve fumbled their way through this crisis, shown the true extent of their incompetence and knowingly lied to the public – to finally tell me when and how I can pick up where I started.

I’ve always avoided politicians, sermonisers and grandstanders, and if I’m allowing myself to speak out on this subject today, it’s mainly because I feel alienated by a precaution-obsessed system which thinks and acts on my behalf. I’m a 47-year-old man and I cherish freedom above all else. Under the guise of the principle of precaution our freedoms are decreasing, and this is accentuating injustices and the imbalances between all of us.

I demand the freedom to live and to work. This is a fundamental right. The idea of living under a guarantee of safety is an idiotism. There are no guarantees with life. To live is to do things, and then to die, in the end. And personally, I want to live. As I see fit.

Yes, people are dying – I’ve lost friends of my own to this crisis. But we now know that we’re not dealing with the Black Death here, or Ebola, or cholera.

What should we expect from tomorrow’s world, in that case?
I want no part in a world obsessed with precautions, a digital world to submit to; I refuse to be dependent on people who tell me what to do, what to think, when to work and when to stay indoors. I want no part in a world of digi-working, Zoom meetings and journalists/experts who endlessly spread their toxic poison on TV. Fear is contagious, it poisons us and, inevitably, leads towards the abyss.

Freedom is our most precious asset and it’s high time for us to get back to work and to carry on with our lives; for us to no longer submit to the guesswork of our leaders or, most importantly, compromise our future and our freedom, or that of our children.

I want to live without fear: responsible, aware of the dangers and paying attention to the environment around me, but living my life, doing things, and being free.

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(Translated from French)

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