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INDUSTRY / MARKET Belgium

2023 proves a record year in terms of resources for the audiovisual world in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation

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- The Film and Audiovisual Centre has presented its report on last year at a time when Culture Minister Bénédicte Linard is nearing the end of her mandate

2023 proves a record year in terms of resources for the audiovisual world in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation
The Jolly Forgers by Yolande Moreau, the Belgian movie which recorded the highest number of cumulated admissions in Belgium last year

The film and audiovisual sector in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation had access to an overall budget of 43.15 million euros in 2023 - a record sum - versus 41.65 million in 2022. It’s an increase which is notably due to the introduction of a new decree aimed at maximising financial contributions to audiovisual production on the part of broadcasters and service distributors (such as private Belgian networks along the lines of RTL, but also external operators like Netflix, Disney, Amazon and Google), either by way of a "fee" or through co-productions. This marathon initiative, which will reach its full potential in 2027, is already bearing fruit, given that broadcasters have invested 17 million euros, even though they were only obliged to invest 11, which speaks of a genuine desire to contribute to the local ecosystem.

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2023 also marked the 10-year anniversary of the Series Fund created by the Wallonia-Brussels Federation Film and Audiovisual Centre and RTBF - Radio Télévision Belge Francophone, which has helped 11 series see the light of day (for a total of 18 seasons). This fund is now being replaced by a commission dedicated to series, which will be open to other operators as well as RTBF and whose first session will be held in the spring.

It’s also worth noting that the budget wielded by the Film Commission - the selection body which decides on writing, development and production subsidies - rose by 20%, which is a ten-year first. In fact, the budget has never been so high, with 13.26 million euros allocated by way of aid pledges in 2023. Project numbers have also reached record levels: 688 applications  were submitted and 196 - in other words 28.5% of - projects were selected, which is a relatively high selection rate in European terms. 31 fiction feature films were assisted in the writing phase, 19 in development and 33 in production. The number of projects completed in 2023 is equally record-breaking: 106 movies, of which 26 feature films, 7 light productions, 28 shorts, 36 documentaries and 9 experimental films. The Film Centre’s contribution to the financing of fiction feature films which are recognised as Belgian French-language films currently sits at 12%. Meanwhile, Tax Shelter - the Belgian tax incentive created 20 years ago, which has helped to attract a number of co-productions to the country – was responsible for 53.8% of funding in 2023. The average cost of majority Belgian films in 2023 was 2.5 million euros.

In terms of broadcasting, 2023 was chiefly distinguished by a considerable presence in Cannes, with 9 productions and co-productions featuring in the selection –the New Voice Prize awarded to Baloji’s Omen [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Baloji
film profile
]
in the Un Certain Regard section, and the French Touch Prize won by Paloma Sermon-Daï’s It’s Raining in the House [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Paloma Sermon-Daï
film profile
]
in Critics’ Week proving particularly memorable. When it came to admissions, however, there was a clear fall in numbers compared to 2022 (an exceptional year, carried by the success of Bouli LannersNobody Has to Know [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Bouli Lanners
film profile
]
and the animation Yuku and the Himalayan Flower [+see also:
film review
interview: Rémi Durin and Arnaud Demuy…
film profile
]
). In 2023, French-language Belgian initiative films attracted 540,000 viewers in Belgium and France (with France constituting a “natural” market for these movies), while Yolande Moreau’s The Jolly Forgers [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Yolande Moreau
film profile
]
scored the greatest number of cumulated admissions (270,834) and Baloji’s Omen the highest number of admissions in Belgium (14,270).

Following the presentation of the Federation’s report, the floor was opened to the audience, and the various professional associations came together to commend the quality of the collaborative work carried out by the Culture Minister - who might be on her way out following the general election in June - and the sector, both supported by the government, whilst also taking stock of the significant hurdles which the industry and the institutions are likely to face over the coming years.

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(Translated from French)

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