Flemish government ratifies the creation of Screen Flanders
by Aurore Engelen
24/04/2012 - Last February, after Bullhead [trailer, film focus] caused an international sensation by being selected for an Oscar, Flemish minister-president Kris Peeters (photo) announced the launch of discussions to set up a Flemish regional investment fund for the audiovisual sector.
The news whet quite some appetites, especially as, in the ten years since its creation, a similar fund for Wallonia (then Brussels), Wallimage/Bruxellimage, has invested €30 million in 136 productions and caused €90 million to be spent in Wallonia and Brussels.
At the urgent demand of its professionals, the Flemish government has therefore just ratified the creation of Screen Flanders. With an annual budget of €5 million, the fund with hand out advances on receipts of up to €400,000 per project. This financial aid mechanism for fiction, documentary, and animation feature films aims to attract prestigious international co-productions to Flanders. The fund will be managed in collaboration with the VAF and Location Flanders. It still needs several approvals, including one from the European Commission. The first applications should be processed in the second half of 2012.
While Flemish cinema has proven its worth at home (with over 2 million admissions in a year for a population of 6.3 million Flemish speakers), as well as abroad with an increasing number of its films selected for big film festivals worldwide, Flanders is however still lagging behind compared to Brussells and Wallonia when it comes to attracting international film sets. The Tax Shelter has contributed to changing this, but it is clear that an additional regional investment fund should further help to develop the film sector. In a few years’ time, who knows, Flemish producers could be doing as well as their Walloon counterparts, such as the Dardenne brothers whose production company Films du Fleuve this year took three co-productions to the official competition in Cannes!
(Translated from French)