Country Focus: Belgium
Vlaams Audiovisual Fund presents 2008 report
by Aurore Engelen
30/04/2009 - The Vlaams Audiovisual Fund has just presented its 2008 activities report.
The year 2008 was of course marked by the outstanding box office success enjoyed by Flemish films. Erik Van Looy’s Loft [trailer] smashed records by attracting 912,000 viewers (it then went on to exceed the 1m threshold, becoming the biggest Belgian hit of all time).
In 2008, Flemish films drew almost 2m cinemagoers (representing an increase of 70%) and accounted for 10% of total admissions in Belgium.
This popular success was accompanied by international recognition, with the selection of Moscow, Belgium [trailer] at Cannes, followed by its acquisition by numerous territories. Short films also made a splash on the international stage: Tanghi Argentini was nominated for an Oscar and Mumbler won the Jury Prize at Clermont-Ferrand.
The VAF’s 2008 budget stood at €13m, including €10,200,000 allocated for film creation. Narrative works claimed the lion’s share with €6.5m in funding, while documentaries and animated films each secured €1.75m. Eleven majority and seven minority features (including four co-produced with French-speaking Belgium) received production support.
The VAF’s 2009 budget will rise to €16.6m. This substantial increase will be necessary in order to deal with the sheer number of funding applications.
The VAF director also drew attention to the effects of the financial crisis, which has strongly impacted Tax Shelter investments. They dropped from over €9m in 2007 to €5m in 2008. This decrease isn’t reflected so much in the number of films supported as in the average amounts invested.
Overall, the report is thus positive, and 2009 promises to be a fruitful year, as shown by the Cannes selection of three majority Flemish films, marking a record. Moreover, waiting in the wings are several blockbusters set to pull audiences, including Dossier K (sequel to The Alzheimer Case [trailer]) and the animated film Suske en Wiske.