|Recently, Embassy of Belgium with Wallonie-Bruxelles International (WBI), Goethe institute Max Mueller Bhavan, Italian Embassy Cultural Centre, Camões-Portuguese Embassy Cultural Centre & Embassy of Switzerland in India, in association with Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute, & Culture Monks presented the 1st edition of the ‘ Festivals from Europe” in Kolkata, from September 30, 2016 to October 2, 2016, at the Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute, Kolkata partner. This film festival brought together a selection of 11 short films, 4 documentaries, 5 long feature films from the following film festivals in Europe – Berlinale (Germany , Festival Du Film D’amour De Mons (Belgium) , Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival (Portugal) , Festival del Film Locarno (Switzerland) & Rome Independent Film Festival (Italy).|
|Arnaud Gaspart , First Secretary, Embassy of the kingdom of Belgium in India and Andre Ceuterick,executive director of FIFA at SRFTI. ((pic courtesy -SRFTI)|
Mr. André Ceuterick, Executive Officer of the ‘Festival du Film d’Amour de Mons’ (aka FIFA) was present at the event and shared his views.
How would you characterize the current state of the film industry in Belgium?
The Belgian film industry is doing quite well in comparison with neighbouring countries, but our tax system has a lot to do with this: our “Tax shelter” not only supports Belgian cinema, but also attracts foreign directors, whose films are then credited to Belgium.
The Flemish audience is more responsive than the Walloons (French-speaking Belgians). About 50 Belgian films are released each year. It is less than Germany, France or Spain, but it’s not so bad for a small country with only 11 million inhabitants.
How does the government support the industry and what kinds of films does it support?
The Centre for Cinema and Audiovisual Media aims primarily at supporting and promoting audiovisual works. It is therefore competent at helping to produce, co-produce, promote and distribute films in cinemas. It also helps audiovisual operators, festivals, distributors, cinema managers as well as digital broadcasting facilities. This concerns feature, short as well as documentary films.
|Master class with (from the right) Arnaud Gaspart , First Secretary, Embassy of the kingdom of Belgium in India
and Andre Ceuterick, executive director of FIFA held at SRFTI (pic courtesy -SRFTI)
What kinds of stories do Belgian filmmakers want to tell?
Belgian cinema is basically an art-house cinema, which generally tackles human and social subjects, which may also be dealt with in a light-hearted and humorous way. Most of the time, Belgian cinema does not take itself seriously. There is no “star system”. We cultivate a historical taste for surrealism as well. Since the nineties our films have regularly been given awards in international festivals. Our directors are famous everywhere. We are therefore really proud of the world-wide reputation of our cinema.
What is the role of film festivals? Do you believe that the festival could also act as a bridge to define international relations on the basis of political power and geographical spaces?
Cinema festivals play a key role concurrently with distribution networks: they promote films before their official release, and also allow films – more and more numerous – which will sometimes never be released in our country’s cinemas to be shown. Within this framework bilateral exchanges and the strengthening of north-south relations make it possible to broaden horizons, to allow audiences to discover works from different cultures and cinema works to circulate.
How was your experience in India?
It was an intense and fascinating experience with rewarding exchanges, nice meetings and the discovery of a complex and fascinating cultural world. I really hope that I will have the opportunity to extend and broaden this first experience.
(Interview conducted by Abhijit Ganguly and published earlier on his website http://kolkatakonnector.blogspot.in/)