93rd session: a renaissance, a prestige series, six features

  • 20.02.2019

After a record year in 2018 on all levels (number of files co-financed, overall amount invested …), Wallimage starts 2019 on a high note. At the end of a first high-level session, the fund’s board of directors decided to support EIGHT projects : six feature films, one animated series, one live-action series. In all, 1,410,000 euros have been invested, with meeting 100% of the demand of the selected producers.


The real good news of this 93rd session in the history of our fund is the second rebirth of Phoenix Digital Graphics. Led by a brand new team, the Alleur-based company has brought us a solid animation portfolio. The 52 episodes of eleven minutes of Toto’s Jokes, adapted from the successful comic strip, will be partly realized in the province of Liège with 22 artists at work, including 12 heads of posts. In total, production will be spread over 16 months, or more than 4500 man-days. The German voices will be recorded in Genval les Dames by actors from the redeemed cantons and a team of Belgian scriptwriters are currently working on 11 specific scenarios. This project is the first of a series of six initiated by the French of Superprod which should follow one another in the studios of Liège these next years. This is enough to put one of the historical jewels of Walloon broadcasting back on track, nominated four times for the Oscars in its former incarnation.


The other studio that came out on top in this funding session is Benuts which, thanks to Scope Pictureswins the largest contract in its history : the realization of all the special effects of the Norwegian prestige series, Atlantic Crossing. We are at the dawn of the Second World War and Princess Martha, heiress to the Norwegian throne (sister of our Queen Astrid), leaves for the United States with her three children. There, she will convince President Roosevelt to help her country and to oppose Hitler against the opinion of many Americans. With a global budget of more than 21 million euros, Atlantic Crossing aims to be broadcast internationally, especially since its cast includes Sofia Helin (Bron/Broen), Tobias Santelmann (Borderliner on Netflix) and the great Kyle McLachland (Twin Peaks).


Cosmogony(re)presented by Wrong Men is now a mostly Belgian film from a financial point of view. It is an ecological survival by the Frenchman Vincent Paronnaux, better known in the world of comics under his pseudonym Winshluss. He won the Fauve d’or for the best album at the Angoulême festival with Pinocchio. Note that this year he is nominated for the César for best animated short film with Death, Father and Son, which he co-directed with Denis Walgenwitz. No drawings here, but real actors who will evolve in the Walloon forests. As a little wink of history, the two main protagonists of the story have each just won the Magritte for best supporting actor : Lucie Debay for Nos Batailles and Arieh Worthalter for Girl. 38 Walloon technicians, including 11 post supervisors, will work on this film, which is also the 4th collaboration between Wrong Men and the Irish company Savage, who have just come out of the Sundance Festival where they presented together The Hole in the Ground… another thriller co-financed by Wallimage.


While Paris is underwater, a mermaid appears in the life of a sweet dreamer who immediately falls in love with her, without being aware of the risks he runs. Poetry, fantasy, a touch of Amélie Poulain, a zest of Boris Vian, Une Sirène à Paris promises a lot. Especially since it will be signed by Mathias Malzieu (Jack et la mécanique du cœur), also a writer and singer of Dyonisos. He will accompany his film with a novel and a CD. The shooting will take place between France and North Macedonia (studio) with a crisp cast : Reda Kateb, Clémence Poésy, Rossy De Palma, in the lead. Thanks to Entre Chien et Loup, 20 technicians, including 12 station managers, will be from Wallonia, including a top quality sound team (Mertens, Gauder, Bastien, Van Leer). Lighting and camera equipment will be rented from Eyelite, machinery from KGS, color grading and sound work from Genval les Dames, and VFX from l’Autre compagnie for more than one hundred thousand euros.


A young girl meets an elderly man who could be her grandfather. Both characters have in common that they are of Italian origin, that they spent their childhood and adolescence in Italy, but that they live in Luxembourg. Io Sto Bene is a story of immigration, based on two intertwining and interrelated eras. Tarantula Belgium (which has been successful for many months) has proposed a project from its Luxembourgian sister company, written and directed by Donato Rotunno, the boss of Tarantula Luxembourg. The project is however very Walloon with more than 15 days in the region and a large Walloon team (36 members, including 10 heads of posts). Like the canteen, the rental of sound and sets, the sound effects at Genval les Dames and the VFX at Mikros Liège.


We also find Joseph Roushop under the Gapbusters banner that he shares with Jean-Yves Roubin for another film that emerged during this session. A Journey in Winter, the second fiction film by documentary filmmaker Claus Drexel, tells the story of Christine, a homeless woman who organizes her solitude between food distributions and wanderings in the center of Paris. On a cold winter night, an 8-year-old Eritrean boy comes sobbing to the door of the technical room where she has taken refuge. Christine understands that he has been separated from his mother. Together, bound by their marginality, they will go in search of him in the streets of the capital. Masterfully documented and written, this scenario of public utility will allow seven Walloons, including five postmasters, to rub shoulders with Catherine Frot at the base of this project. Philippe Guilbert will be the chief operator of the adventure. More than one hundred thousand euros will be invested in the Walloon audiovisual industry with lighting and camera rental at Eyelite, sound equipment (WNM), sound work in Genval and two days of shooting at Liege airport.


On a similar production scheme, Umedia offered us The Good Wife, a new feature film by Martin Provost, known for never having disappointed the public with Marguerite, Sage Femme, Où va la Nuit or Séraphine. He brings together Juliette Binoche, Yolande Moreau, Noémie Lvovsky and Jean-François Balmer for a subject with very contemporary echoes. After her husband’s death, Juliette Binoche became the director of a school that trained perfect interior women as men liked to shape them at the time. But this is 1968 and a revolution is being born. Thirteen people, including ten job leaders, equipment rental at TSF.be, VFX at Benuts and sound work (mix, editing and sound effects) at Dame Blanche Genval make up an attractive little dossier with real commercial potential.


The Brussels-based company has also managed to pull off a nice double by offering us a second file for Netflix. After The Most Murdered Woman in the World, it’s Earth and Blood that Wallimage will co-finance. The new film by Julien Leclerc, with whom we previously collaborated on Lukas, was again co-written by Jeremy Guez, who will direct The Sound of Philadelphia, which we decided to co-finance in the last session of 2018. What a grand slam ! This uncompromising thriller will be shot in Belgium, mainly in the Namur region. The equipment rental will be done at TSF and AVLM, the canteen will be provided by Anne and Fred, Benuts will take care of the VFX while Piste rouge and the Wallonie team will take care of the sound work. It will be Olivier de Laveleye’s very last shoot and we can understand why he accepted to extend his career a little bit to take part in it : a huge budget has been allocated to the many spectacular SFX that he will have to manage on the set. Seven other Walloon technicians, including four station managers, will also be working on the film, which will be discovered in 2020 throughout the world on the digital platform n°1.