Session 117 - Pays de Charleroi, I like you best

It’s not every day that the small world of cinema gets to sing this hymn, which is usually reserved for supporters of local footballers when they play at the Stade du Pays de Charleroi. Three major projects selected by Wallimage’s Decentralized Co-Production Council, which met on Monday December 18 for the 117th funding session, will keep the Pays Noir alive for months to come, boosting the local and regional economy.

  • 24.01.2024

Starting with Pays Noir, an eight-episode series for La Une in which a young rapper teams up with a very independent lawyer to save a Carolo nightclub. This project grew out of the Belgian R/O experiment, supported by Wallimage, which consisted in developing IPs that could be adapted to a wide range of formats. After several years’ work, a first series is finally about to see the light of day. It is produced by François Touwaide, who set up Sequel Prod after leaving Entre Chien et Loup. The eight episodes of Pays Noir will be shot entirely in Charleroi and the surrounding region, over 72 days, divided into two blocks starting in May. Benjamin Viré will produce the first and Maxime Pistorio the second. Expenses in the Walloon Region will be considerable, with a large team of technicians on set, actors, logistics, sound and image post-production and equipment rental.


Before swinging to the sounds of pop and hip-hop, Charleroi will have been electrified by another amazing shoot: Stronger than the devil by Graham Guit is the first project we are co-financing with Rockstone films which has already produced Music Hole and distributed Le cours de la vie and Les Gentils in Belgium. The script of this crisp comedy-drama that flirts with the genre is rather unusual in French-speaking cinema, and contrasts with a cast that would have been expected in an auteur film. Joining Harpo Guit (son of the director and actor in Fils de Plouc) are Marina Vacth (Jeune et jolie), Melvil Poupaud (L’amour et les forêts), Nahuel Pérez Biscayart (120 battements par seconde) and Riccardo Scarmacio, Michele Placido’s Caravaggio, who recently played Modigliani in Modi, directed by Johnny Depp and produced by Al Pacino. The fifty days of filming will be all carolos, with a solid crew and expenses localized in Wallonia for rental, VFX and all post-production.

When you think of audiovisual work in the Charleroi region, you naturally think of Dreamwall, one of Belgium’s most active animation studios. Belvision ‘s new project is potentially very promising internationally, since the 26 24-minute episodes aimed at 7-12 year-olds, which will be partly produced in Marcinelle, are an adaptation of the excellent Louca comic series, which uses soccer as a vehicle for friendship and personal development. Dreamwall will manage the lay-out of 7 episodes and the 3D animation of 18 of the 26 episodes. This will provide 21 full-time equivalent jobs, including 5 management positions, over a one-year period. Major self-description projects are also planned in Wallonia.


The other major theme of this 117th session is that of motherhood, through two works with very different atmospheres.

Teona Strugar Mitevska’s Mother will be filmed almost entirely in Wallonia, even though it is supposed to take place in… Calcutta. It has to be said that the plot is mostly confined within the walls of a convent. The shoot will be split between the Aulne Abbey in Thuin (Charleroi region, again) and the Saulchoir Abbey in Kain. This is already the 5th film that Sébastien Delloye has co-produced with the director-producer, but it’s the first to be mainly supported by Entre chien et loup, with backing from Macedonia, Denmark and Sweden. More than half of Wallonia’s expenditure is on labor, including 22 technicians, a production administrator and a post-production manager, as well as sound effects, equipment rental (KGS and Eyelite) and logistics (sets, catering, dressing rooms, trucks). Over ten crucial days, the film follows the destiny of Mother Teresa as she prepares to leave the convent in her care. A heartbreak made even more complicated when she learned that the nun she had in mind to succeed her had broken certain rules of monastic life. This emblematic character will be played by international star Noomi Rapace, who has appeared in the three Scandinavian adaptations of the Millenium literary series, Alien Promotheus, Seven Sisters (already co-financed by Wallimage) and Lamb, a wonderful film set in Iceland. Just like Ring Road, the fifth addition to our line-up.


Brought to you by Wrong Men, this psychological thriller reminiscent of Speak no evil and Midsommar will star Papaa Essiedu (The Lazarus Project) and Elizabeth Debicki, The Crown’s Diana. These two Englishmen travel the circular route around the country to photograph the melting glaciers. Along the way, they pick up a hitchhiker and her baby. But the mother disappears, leaving her offspring in their care, and the duo soon realize that they are being tracked not only by some nasty characters, but also by the police. Helen Jones (Silver Salt), who runs Ring Road in England, met us a few years ago at a Frontières forum. When she was looking for partners for this film, she remembered that Wallonia was a welcoming land for genre films, and Wallimage its best ambassador in the field. A few calls later, the collaboration with Benoit Roland was confirmed. The project will enable our region to send a handful of technicians to the shoot, produce special effects, and manage image and sound post-production on a feature film that is so enthusiastically received by professionals that international seller Protagonist has put an impressive GM (guaranteed minimum) of over 3.5 million euros on the table.


Another project destined for international success, Les Goûteuses was brought to us by Tarantula. This Italian-Swiss feature film is adapted from the famous novel Hitler’s Taster, which has sold over a million copies in 46 countries, but has never been released in Germany. The story (true, but fictionalized) is quite disturbing. We are in the midst of the Second World War, and Germany’s situation is becoming critical. In a small, isolated village, seven women are recruited for a perilous mission: to taste the Führer’s food every day to make sure it’s not poisoned. Twelve days of the seven-week shoot will take place in Wallonia, in Havelange and Treignes. 21 on-set technicians, sets, furniture and costumes, and sound post-production by Mute&Solo make up the bulk of Walloon expenditure on this fine project directed by Silvio Soldini, a regular at major festivals and winning awards across Europe.


Early 20th-century Germany is also the setting forOktober Fest 1905, season 2, brought to us by Velvet Film. Four 45-minute episodes trace the struggle of a small traditional brewery in a working-class district of Munich against the forces of big business. This second season takes place five years after the first, which was filmed in Hungary. It will be partly filmed in Wallonia (17 days out of the 42 scheduled), with 31 technicians on the set, a few minor roles, sets, catering, costumes, color grading, VFX and rushes processing.


And so the 23rd year of Wallimage came to a close, marked by a sharp increase in the number of applications received, particularly in the animation field, and an avalanche of highly ambitious projects. Of course, we’ll be taking a closer look at this trend and all the others that have marked these five sessions in our annual review, scheduled to take place at the Plaza montois on March 13 at 2pm as part of the Love International Film Festival Mons.