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New distribution fund set to boost Flemish films

EXCLUSIVE: Flanders Image is preparing to launch a financial support scheme that will award funds to international distributors of Flemish films.

Provisionally titled Flanders Distribution Support, the pilot scheme is intended to help films from Belgian reach a wider audience.

It will award up to $33,000 (€25,000) per project from an overall budget of $500,000 (€380,000), sourced from the Flanders Audiovisual Fund.

Promotional body Flanders Image is set to launch the new fund at the Berlinale in February and its performance will be evaluated in October.

International distributors of Flemish films will be invited to submit a marketing strategy outlining how they plan to promote the titles in their territories. These will be considered by a jury, which will select who receives funds.

The money could be used to host press junkets, support a wider release of the film or dub into the local language.

Christian de Schutter, manager of promotional body Flanders Image, is to meet with Flemish minister of culture Joke Schauvliege tomorrow (Dec 18) in a bid to gain her support. She is understood to be in favour of the scheme.

Schutter spoke to ScreenDaily at the Les Arcs European Film Festival, which has a focus on Belgian Cinema this year.

“There have been discussions about launching a distribution support fund throughout the year following the release of a number of successful Flemish films such as Bullhead and Come As You Are (Hasta la Vista),” he said.

“We are hoping we can help such films reach more countries and a wider audience.”

Production boost

The distribution fund will follow the launch of Screen Flanders, an economic fund aimed at supporting production in the Belgian region.

The annual $6.6m (€5m) fund offers up to $526,000 (€400,000) to fiction, documentary or animation features running to at least 60 minutes, generating expenditure in the Flanders region.

Since the launch of the scheme has been delayed, the fund will total $13.2m (€10m) next year.

Projects that intend to invest a minimum of $327,000 (€250,000) in the Flemish region will be eligible. This could include spending on facilities, cast, crew and catering – but not hotel costs.

Those eligible are production companies officially based in Belgium at the time of receiving the payment.

All applications will be presented to a jury, comprising both economic and cultural experts who will assess and prioritise all projects.

Schutter said: “There is a similar scheme in the French-speaking part of Belgium [the Wallimage fund, created in February 2001] so this will create a balance across the country. “It can also be combined with tax shelter or other funds.”

The first deadline is Feb 28. More details are available at ScreenFlanders.com, which will be available in English from Thursday.

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