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BRIFF 2021 Brussels Co-Production Forum

Mathilde Pâques • Co-ordinator, Brussels Co-Production Forum

"The basic idea is to promote co-production know-how in Belgium"

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- The 5th edition of this professional gathering unspooled in Brussels on 7 and 8 September under the umbrella of the Brussels International Film Festival

Mathilde Pâques  • Co-ordinator, Brussels Co-Production Forum

We met with Mathilde Pâques, the co-ordinator of the Brussels Co-Production Forum, who, in league with Romane Pangrazzi and Circé Lethem, is responsible for organising the meetings which take place between professionals - film project bearers on the one hand and potential co-producers on the other – at this event which unfolded in Brussels on 7 and 8 September within the wider framework of the Brussels International Film Festival.

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Cineuropa: How is the selection of films due to be showcased in the forum looking?
Mathilde Pâques:
This year, we’ve selected 19 projects hailing from 12 different countries. Spain, France, Portugal, Poland, Montenegro, the Ukraine, Serbia, Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands, Malta and Belgium, obviously. We want to assert ourselves as an international gathering. 

Given the wider context of the pandemic, I imagine it was harder to organise?
Yes, of course, we had to show creativity and it was a real logistical challenge, but it also led to opportunities for certain people who can’t travel but who are now able to take part in the forum by way of Zoom, for example. It means that we have contact and meetings with professionals who are currently at the Venice Film Festival or in Toronto. It’s a new way of working, we have to adapt.

Who will take part in the forum, other than the project bearers?
We have over thirty or so producers and sales agents who are travelling to meet our project bearers in person. It’s brand new for this year, we’ve contacted various sales agents from Indie Sales to Charades, to name just two. We’ve set up over a hundred meetings between professionals, somewhere between 125 and 150 face-to face meetings. We hope it will bear fruit.

Can you tell me a bit more about what will happen during these 2 days?
It’s quite a simple set-up: every project is entitled to a public pitching session on stage at the Galeries cinema. It’s mostly the producer and the director who present each film. A special pitching workshop has been organised in order to better prepare project bearers for this task. It should result in more inventive and creative visual presentations. The second day is a day of 30-minute meetings between project bearers and the co-producers who are interested in their works. It’s an opportunity to get into the nitty gritty of it and to put out feelers.

What’s the most important aspect of the forum which you feel should be highlighted?
The basic idea is to promote co-production know-how in Belgium and to highlight the various financing options available, notably the tax shelter initiative, which is highly sought after among producers from other countries. Despite a difficult year, we received a hundred or so projects from all over the world, from which we selected our final 19. It’s a selection focusing on fiction, but we’ve also chosen a Swedish documentary and a French animated film. Souls on Tape, the Swedish doc by Carl Javér, is a very ambitious project endowed with a huge budget (somewhere in the region of 3 million euros) and requiring lots of technology, which will use artificial intelligence and radio recordings of black American artists such as Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and Tupac Shakur, to name just a few. It’s an exciting project which will bring these recordings made by a Swedish journalist back to life. It shows just how varied we try to be with our selection, in terms of style, genre, budget, but also the potential of these films which will be opened up to as wide an audience as possible. What’s essential to us is following up on the development of these projects, and the projects we’ve showcased in previous years, to find out whether they’ve signed agreements or if deals have been made. And we also try to find out how the meetings went, whether there were any leads, because, obviously, what we love is to see these projects actually being made. And seeing them being selected for festivals or released in cinemas and distributed commercially, at least in the countries which co-produced the film.

The festival team also wants to shine a light on young talent…
There is a section called Up: Up-and-coming Producers to help new industry talent. It’s a section which is close to our hearts because the team wants to support young talent, and the ultimate aim is for it to be a section that goes beyond mere co-production meetings, also helping them to create a network and to develop a creative dimension, so that they offer real added value. This section represents our longer-term goal.

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(Translated from French)

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