Art is the highest form of hope
Brussels mag N°18
TEXT FRANÇOISE BOUZIN
This could easily be the motto of Belgian Francophone cinema. Recognised internationally, feted at several festivals, it does not yet attract its home audiences enough, in contrast with Flemish cinema which has found an enthusiastic audience in the northern part of the country.
Although for several years, Belgian cinema has been typified as being a social cinema, grey and miserable; it is now daring to diversify and is offering totally different themes. With regard to Belgian actors – François Damiens, Virginie Efira, Stéphane De Groodt, Emilie Dequenne, Marie Gillain, Matthias Schoenaerts, Bouli Lanners, Olivier Gourmet, Deborah François, Yolande Moreau, Lubna Azabal, Cécile de France, Jérémie Renier and Benoît Poelvoorde – are all leading figures in several foreign films. Without counting the Magritte awards which were created to enhance the value of Francophone cinema in the eyes of the general public by highlighting its richness and diversity. However, this is not reflected in the audience figures – at least in the French-speaking area of Belgium. For example, “Nos Batailles” by Guillaume Senez with Romain Duris, big winner of Magritte awards in 2019, only had audience figures of 17,000 viewers in Belgium compared with 250,000 viewers in France. “Films are like books, not everything can be explained”, according to Isabelle Truc, producer of “Nos Batailles”. “Nevertheless, the film did find its international public given that it was distributed in more than 20 countries worldwide including Japan. Moreover, our society and the way that we watch films have evolved. We now have instant consumption at home on platforms such as Netflix, this is positive for the future because they have opened up the game. Faced with competition, producing high quality work allows us to differentiate ourselves. And this is where we stand out”. On the Belgian side, TV series also have the wind in their sails and the success of La Trève, Ennemi Public and Unité 42 is opening up new possibilities. The members of BEL are also contacted regularly to collaborate on different occasions: several scenes in a Jaco Van Dormael film were shot in the Métropole Hotel, and Maison Degand provided the clothing for Pascal Duquenne, the president, and Kody (photo at the left), the master of ceremonies, at the Magritte Awards 2020.