Getting rid of European cinema’s elitist image
by Ivan Corbisier – Brussels Film Festival
21/06/2011 - Mainstream audiences often consider European cinema to be elitist and therefore inaccessible for it is too often limited to auteur films, whose favourite genre is still, depressingly, the social drama. Is this a reality or a generalisation based on films that have left their mark on these viewers?
The Brussels Film Festival rightly aims to show the diversity of European cinema, which is not unique, even if it is distinctive. For European cinema turns out to be well and truly multifaceted in its forms and genres. There are social dramas of course, but also gripping thrillers, offbeat and hilarious comedies, biopics, historical films, etc. All areas fertile for creativity are explored and exploited, in every imaginable way. A Spanish director or writer’s approach will indeed be very different from that of a Swede or a Hungarian. We should therefore continue to encourage and reveal this richness. Everything lies in this diversity and the artists’ individual approach.
The Brussels Film Festival is presented to film and audiovisual professionals as a platform for meetings that encourage collaborations, project developments and inspire creative ideas. Since 2010, the festival has been organising activities aimed in particular at professionals in the sector. This year, no fewer than six workshops and master-classes are lined up.
We didn’t want to impose the topics for these meetings, but to ensure they are interesting and above all useful, we’ve welcomed and developed initiatives suggested by professionals. These include the meeting on music and cinema, the debate on digital and the master-classes highlighting the work of screenwriters, with Laurence Coriat (Michael Winterbottom’s Wonderland) and Jean-François Halin (Michel Hazanavicious’s OSS 117) in attendance.
Musicians and filmmakers may not know each other, but end up needing to work together, so why not foster this collaboration? As for digital, this technology has really taken off in a very short space of time and the legislative and technical framework hasn’t kept up. We’ll try to get a clearer grasp of this in a debate. These questions affect all European artists. We’re situated in the capital of Europe, we therefore think it’s time that professionals had a festival worthy of this name here and we’re passionate about rising to this challenge.
Finally, while European cinema will be at the heart of the festival’s programme and debates, Belgium and its films will also be in the spotlight with several screenings, including the avant-premiere of Pierre Duculot’s film Au Cul du Loup [trailer, festival scope], and also at a debate with Frédéric Sojcher, who directed Hitler In Hollywood [trailer]. For one of the paradoxes of Belgian Francophone productions is that they sweep up many awards at international festivals but have great difficulty in attracting theatrical audiences at home, whence the creation of the Magritte Awards (whose results still need to be seriously analysed) and the importance of initiatives that aim to show these films (festivals, arthouse theatres, retrospectives, cinema lessons...).
In the north of the country, the situation seems to be different, for over 2m viewers flocked to see Flemish films. On the other hand, they are only just starting to gain international recognition. Does this two-speed Belgian film industry illustrate European production as a whole?