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Tuesday, 9 February 2021
Eve Duchemin ©Cinergie et Alex Helfrecht

Thirteen mainly Belgian projects selected for the 15th screen.brussels fund session

Like many other sectors, the audiovisual sector is still being affected by the health crisis. More than ever, investing in content actively boosts employment and businesses’ orders.

For its 15th investment session, the screen.brussels fund will inject €1.1 million into the production of 13 mainly Belgian projects that use digital technology in an innovative manner. Here are the details of this new selection:

Four feature-length fiction films, including one virtual production

Chiennes de vie

A feature-length (‘light production’) film produced by Hélicotronc (Saint-Gilles) and written and directed by Xavier Seron (Brussels). ‘Light productions’ are fiction film projects initiated thanks to €100,000 in support from the Cinema and Audiovisual Centre of the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, to make a film with a simple synopsis which needs to be delivered within 24 months. “Chiennes de vie” are three stories of dogs that interweave and humorously depict humans, their doubts, dreams, loneliness, and search for love. It is a project that will take 20 days of shooting and have its entire post-production done in Brussels, which amounts to 87 days. It will also include a team of 42 Brussels-based technicians.

Temps mort

Produced by Kwassa Films (Brussels), this feature-length film was written and directed by Ève Duchemin (Brussels), her first feature-length fiction film after the success of En Bataille, the portrait of a female prison director, a documentary that inspired this fiction project and won the Magritte Award for Best Documentary in 2017. Duchemin was able to develop a feature-length film thanks to Boostcamp 2017, a workshop for women directors, of which screen.brussels has been a loyal and active partner. It is the story of a prison that has given three prisoners furlough. For the first time in a long time, they will be on the outside for the weekend. Forty-eight hours to land. Forty-eight to renew family ties. Forty-eight hours to make up for lost time. This film was mainly shot in well-known Brussels neighbourhoods (20/37 days), where it was also post-produced (80/160 days). In total, almost 67 Brussels-based technicians will work on this film, which represents five full-time equivalents.

The Chapel

Produced by Savage Film (Zaventem), this feature-length film was written and directed by Dominique Deruddere (Los Angeles). The Chapel is the story of  Jennifer Rogiers , a young piano virtuoso who participates in the famous Queen Elisabeth Competition. During this real event, the 12 finalists are isolated in the chapel for seven days. Any contact with the outside world is forbidden. Lia is stressed from the competition and the isolation. Bad memories from the past start to resurface. This film is essentially shot in Brussels (32 days) where the post-production also takes place (60 days). Some 25 Brussels technicians are employed on this project.

Wintereisse

This very particular feature-length film, between animation and live action, was produced by Wrong Men (Brussels). Written and directed by Alex Helfrecht (London), this musical film without dialogue was inspired by Schubert’s classic 24-song cycle entitled ‘Winterreise’. It is the story of a young man rejected by the woman he loves, banned from society and forced to wander through mountains, snow and ice: a journey that will be about either death or new life.

One of the interesting parts of this project is its virtual production that combines several techniques, including rotoscoping. The preview and planning of scenes will be done using the Sony Dreams creative suite, which runs entirely on the PlayStation, allowing users to create the film’s magical universe (fortified city, old-fashioned hedges, fields, rivers, valleys, mountains, etc.) without ever having to film outdoors. The artistic and technical teams will be able to create all the film environments in real time, by determining the lighting, choreography and camera positions before shooting. They will be able to walk around on the film sets using a VR headset. This highly technical project will take 2000 days of post-production in Brussels (VFX, mixing, sound editing and Foley).

 

Two series

Des gens bien (Good People)

Produced by Hélicotronc (Brussels), this television series (RTBF, Arte, etc.) is written and directed by Matthieu Donck, Benjamin d’Aoust and Stéphane Bergmans, the three Brussels-based authors of La Trêve (The Break). This new series is the story of Tom and Laura Leroy, a thirtysomething couple in debt who decide to set up a life insurance scam to collect money and start a life in the sun. This is the story of Philippe, a cop who could have stopped everything, but who dies accidentally. This is the story of Cathy, an insurance broker who starts investigating against all odds. This is the story of a small border community that the modern world forgot, refusing to accept its incessant problems. This is the story of falling dominoes that nobody can stop. This is the story of good people who never wanted to hurt anybody. The series will shoot for 25 days in Brussels and have 150 days of post-production there as well. The team on the series, including the directors and crew heads, amounts to 59 Brussels-based technicians, which is 13 full-time equivalents.

Frangines

Produced by Beluga Tree and Girafeo (Brussels), this web series of 10 episodes of 10 minutes each commissioned by Auvio is wirtten and directed by Laurent Dryon and co-written by Stefan Hougaerts and Anouchka Walewyk, all three from Brussels. While searching for an inheritance owed to them, two young sisters find something even more precious: the love of a father and a family reunited. The web series is being mainly shot in Brussels (16/19 days), where most of the post-production also takes place (20 days). The entire Brussels team boasts 50 technicians.

 

Two animation projects

Ante Chris

Produced by Squarefish (Brussels), Ante Chris is a short animation web series (15 x 2 minutes) directed by Bruno Chaix and Christopher Cittadini (Brussels) and written by Gihef (Brussels). Adapted from an existing web comic universe created by Gihef, author of Belgian comics (Enchaînés, L’envers des contes, Greenwich Village, etc.), this series features Chris, an eight-year-old boy with satanic leanings, a fact conveyed to viewers in the lightest way possible: with a certain distance, Chris’ antics seem absurd and without any consequences, making it a fun family comedy with quite a lot of horror film references. Entirely created in Brussels, this project will employ six Brussels-based technicians.

Elli

This feature-length animation film is produced by Belga Productions (Braine-l'Alleud) and is written and directed by Jesper Møller  (Denmark) and Piet De Rycker (Antwerp). When Elli, a small ghost with no family goes looking for new friends and knocks at the door of a ghost train inhabited by some very unusual residents, she unintentionally draws the attention of the outside world to them. Not only does she have to team up with these monsters to save the future of the Ghost Train, but it’s also her only chance at having a family of her own. This co-production between Belgium, Canada and Germany means 390 production days in Brussels and work for 21 Brussels-based technicians at MacGuff (Ixelles).

 

Four documentaries

Détruire rajeunit

This feature-length film documentary is produced by YC Aligator Film (Brussels) and was written and directed by Benjamin Hennot. ‘Détruire rajeunit’ (‘Destroying rejuvenates’), or the strike of the century from those who lived through it.. The documentary will shoot 30 of the 35 days in Brussels, where the entire post production (120 days) will take place. The project relies on 10 Brussels-based technicians.

Nenets vs Gas

This feature-length film documentary is produced by Domino Production (Ixelles), directed and written by Sergio Ghizzardi. At the heart of the Arctic, the Yamal Peninsula is the symbol of superpower Russia’s energy. In 2020, it will be the biggest gas reserve in the world. In Yamal, the Nenets have been practicing transhumance from the North to the South of the peninsula for more than 200 generations. Will they survive all this greed and overindustrialisation? A polar and environmental Western, this documentary confronts us with the emergence of the Northern maritime route and the disappearance of the ultimate Siberian transhumance route. Success of one could bring about the extinction of the other. The project will be doing almost all of its post-production in Brussels, (108/115), while eight Brussels-based technicians will work on this feature film.

Paola

Produced by Alizé Production (Brussels), this documentary is directed by Nicolas Delvaulx (Brussels). It is the first-ever documentary retracing the entire intimate journey of Queen Paola, as told by the Queen herself. Never has a Belgian Queen told her life story, let alone on television. Today, Queen Paola accepts to do so freely and uncensored in the name of history. The life of Queen Paola is 60 years of public and private history unknown until now. This documentary is mainly shot in Brussels (15/20 days), where it is also post-produced (50/50 days), employing five Brussels-based technicians.

Rising Up at Night

Produced by Twenty Nine Studio & Production (Brussels), this feature-length film documentary is directed by Nelson Makengo (Congo) whose previous documentary Up at Night was selected for Sundance in 2019. While Congo launches the construction of the biggest power plant in Africa on the Congo River, Kinshasa lives in darkness as the population fights for access to light. The post-production will be in 80 days and take place entirely in Brussels, with six Brussels-based technicians working on the documentary.

 

One VR project

The Werewolf Experience

Produced by Stacka (Koekelberg), this VR project is directed by Christopher Morrison (Brussels) and written by Iona Matei (Brussels), Jef Dehouse (Scharbeek) and Christopher Morrison. The Werewolf Experience is an interactive cinematic story where the audience gets to feel what it’s like to be a werewolf. You hunt the sacred white deer supposed to cure all diseases in an attempt to bring your reign as a werewolf to an end. The project is mainly shot in Brussels (170/290 days), with the entire post-production done there as well, employing 12 Brussels-based technicians, which is six full-time equivalents.

 

Mainly Belgian projects

Out of the 13 projects retained, 11 are mostly financed by Belgian production companies: Chiennes de vie, Temps morts, The Chapel, Good People, Frangines, Ante Chris, Détruire rajeunit, Nenets vs Gas, Paola, le droit de la révolte, Rising up at Night, and The Werewolf Experience. This selection is a direct consequence of the difficulty in starting up international co-production projects due to the health crisis, which often means turning to national productions.

Digital formats

Among the projects, a variety of formats favouring digital have been selected: Frangines (live action) and Ante Chris (animation), which are two web series, The Werewolf Experience, a VR production, and feature-length hybrid film Winterreise, shot with much VR.

ROI of €10 million

investing €1,121,500 in producing content, the Brussels-Capital Region via screen.brussels fund can expect an ROI of almost €10.5 million in structuring audiovisual expenditures, which amounts to an ROI of €8.40 for every euro invested.

 

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