Flemish Cultural Affairs Minister Joke Schauvliege has greenlit the Flanders Distribution Grant, a new initiative aimed at boosting Flemish productions which are being released theatrically abroad. The selective system, which will run as a pilot project throughout 2013. The initiative is run by Flanders Image, the Flanders Audiovisual Fund’s (VAF) audiovisual export and promotion agency. The budget for the first year is €389,000 ($526,000).
Belgian cinema from Flanders has been doing increasingly well in recent years: the number of films being invited to festivals, and winning awards at those festivals, has been growing, while local hits such as Bullhead, Come As You Are and North Sea Texas also enjoyed healthy international sales. But while filmmakers were able to apply for financial support to travel to festivals, or to increase the visibility of their films at these festivals, until now there has been no comparable initiative to support the releases of Flemish films overseas.
‘This is another step forward towards the better and wider introduction of Flemish cinema abroad,’ says Flemish Cultural Affairs Minister Joke Schauvliege, who greenlit the scheme. 'We are no longer just supporting films at festivals, but are now also supporting distribution, so that Flemish productions can be seen in even more cinemas around the world.’
A Flanders Distribution Grant can only be obtained by a foreign distributor after they have acquired the rights to the film for their territory. They can then apply for support if they can demonstrate that the grant will make a significant difference to the theatrical release of the film. The money might, for example, be used for organising press junkets, for widening the campaign, or for dubbing the film into the local language. The plan also needs to be approved by the film’s Flemish producer. Only majority-produced Flemish creations are eligible for a Flanders Distribution Grant, and films that have already received distribution support from MEDIA or any other public body are excluded from the scheme. Full regulations can be obtained from Flanders Image.
The selective system, which will have a €389,000 budget in its pilot year, will only be looking to support the most convincing and the strongest applications. ‘We expect distributors to present us with something that is more than just a basic release,’ says Christian De Schutter of Flanders Image. ‘With the Flanders Distribution Grant, we want to make the release of a Flemish film stand out from a regular opening in that territory.’ A jury is to select the best proposals.
On show from Flanders at the European Film Market (EFM) this year are Felix van Groeningen's The Broken Circle Breakdown (int'l sales: The Match Factory), which is invited to the Panorama Special programme where Bullhead premiered two years ago; Allez, Eddy! by Gert Embrechts (Global Screen); Offline by Peter Monsaert (Lumière Publishing); and The Fifth Season by Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth (Films Boutique).