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INDUSTRY / MARKET Belgium

The Wallonia-Brussels Federation Film and Audiovisual Centre presents positive 2020 results despite the pandemic

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- Boasting greater funds for the sector, reactive management of the health crisis and an exceptional film slate in Cannes, the Belgian Film Centre rejoices at having made it through the crisis

The Wallonia-Brussels Federation Film and Audiovisual Centre presents positive 2020 results despite the pandemic
The Restless by Joachim Lafosse, one of the first films to have benefited from the Guarantee Fund for the resumption of filming last summer

As movie theatres re-opened their doors yesterday after over 7 months of closure, the Wallonia-Brussels Federation Film and Audiovisual Centre unveiled the results of a year that was unlike any other. Having initially got off to a roaring start, with wonderful film releases and promises of great things to come, 2020 soon found itself hurtling against the wall of the health crisis, which saw the film sector grind to a sudden halt, in terms of production as well as distribution.

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Confronted with such an unprecedented situation, the Wallonia-Brussels Federation had to react, and fast. Aside from the emergency funds released to support the sector, this year has been marked by the deployment of the Film Centre’s recovery plan, launched by Media and Culture Minister Bénédicte Linard.

Vested with a budget of €4.52 million, this recovery plan revolves around measures which benefit authors (an increase in writing and development grants, calls for innovative projects), producers (coverage of excess costs linked to compulsory sanitary measures on film sets, a 20% increase in production aid), and broadcasters (support for distributer and exploiters, and promotion campaigns).

Another crucial achievement was the government’s determination to set up a Guarantee Fund in record time, so that film sets could resume activities as of June 2020.

Meanwhile, the Film Commission – a body composed of sector professionals who decide upon the allocation of aid, which was caught up in a controversy a few weeks ago with regard to the functioning of support systems - was fully reviewed in 2020, resulting in the replacement of 80% of its members and equal numbers of male and female participants.

2020 also saw 25 fiction feature films enter into production. The Film Commission allocated €11.69 million in aid, against €9.49m in 2019. Out of the 644 projects examined (578 in 2019), 165 pledges of support were awarded (141 in 2019); in other words, a selection rate of 25.62% across all requests.

These funds chiefly shored up 24 fiction feature films in the writing phase, 8 in development and 25 in production, including new films by Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne (Tori et Lokita), by Dominique Abel & Fiona Gordon (L'étoile filante) and by Vanja D'Alcantara (Vancouver).

We’ll swiftly pass over the cinema results of Belgian films in 2020, given that so many of them saw their careers cut drastically short by the crisis, although the positive numbers garnered by two films which were released at the height of summer are well worth a mention, namely those achieved by Ben Stassen’s Bigfoot Family [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ben Stassen
film profile
]
(125,000 admissions in Belgium) and by Solange Cicurel’s Isn’t She Lovely? [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Solange Cicurel
film profile
]
(18,000 admissions).

We’ll also remember that 2020 saw €4.51 million (€3.61m in 2019) invested in Belgian series by the WBF and the RTBF (Belgian French-Speaking Radio and Television). Moreover, the Series Fund, which was launched in 2016, is now hitting its stride, and film shoots and broadcasts are coming thick and fast.

In conclusion, the Film Centre’s director Jeanne Brunfaut and the Minister Bénédicte Linard have been able to rejoice in the fact that the efforts made by the Film Centre have translated into an exceptional Belgian line-up in Cannes, with a majority Belgian film featuring in each of the festival’s sections this year (The Restless [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Joachim Lafosse
film profile
]
by Joachim Lafosse is in competition, Un monde by Laura Wandel is screening in the Un Certain Regard line-up, Our Men by Rachel Lang in the Directors’ Fortnight, Zero Fucks Given by Julie Lecoustre and Emmanuel Marre in Critics’ Week and Aya [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Simon Coulibaly Gillard
film profile
]
by Simon Coulibaly Gillard in the ACID selection) and 5 prestigious co-productions also set for the showcase.

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(Translated from French)

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