Flanders funds

Flanders funds

Pierre Drouot and Christian De Schutter of the Flanders Audiovisual Fund/Flanders Image will use this year’s IFFR to launch their Belgian Cinema, Made in Flanders initiative, designed to promote the ‘new generation’ of filmmakers from the region.

‘These filmmakers, such as Koen Mortier [Ex-Drummer, Tiger Award competition 2007] and Fien Troch [Someone Else’s Happiness, 2005] have the potential to become auteurs and are currently developing their own signature,’ commented Flanders Image manager De Schutter yesterday. ‘They are far more headstrong, they come with other subjects and [the result] is slightly less mainstream, but more arthouse-oriented, cinema than what Flanders has produced in the past. We think it is time now for the international community to discover these young directors and their films. We want to support and promote this new wave of auteurs. Some of them have already had projects at the CineMart, like Troch for instance, who is currently shooting her CineMart project The Unspoken. This year, Koen Mortier is pitching 22nd of May.’

Flemish films that have been selected for IFFR 2008 are Felix Van Groeningen’s With Friends Like These and Dimitri Karakatsanis’ Small Gods, both of which will screen in the Sturm und Drang section. ‘These are two good examples of the generation of emerging filmmaking talent,’ De Schutter observes.

Initiatives introduced by The Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF) to discover and nurture this new film talent include a wildcard scheme that funds the first professional projects of five rookie graduates to the tune of €40,000 for documentary or €60,000 for fiction. Graduates with more experimental projects can apply to the Fund-backed Film Lab for support.

‘On top of this, there is now for the first time a cultural-affairs minister in Flanders with a genuine interest in cinema, who is willing to support the further development of the audiovisual sector, and who promised to gradually increase the budget of the Fund by a minimum of €500,000 annually during the years ahead,’ De Schutter adds.

De Schutter is hopeful that 2008 will see the launch of a Flanders Film Office, created to present Flanders as a prime location for audiovisual production. The office will be an initiative of the film offices of Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent and Ostend, together with Flanders Image. While the budget has not yet been finalized, it is hoped that financing will be sourced from the Ministries of Cultural Affairs, Tourism and Economic Affairs, as well as the participating cities. ‘They [the ministries] seem to be fond of the idea, quite positive, and we hope to get a final confirmation soon,’ claims De Schutter. NC