Belgium has always been a welcoming land for fantasy. From Jean Ray to René Magritte, through André Delvaux, several of our great artists have given the genre some of its finest credentials. In the cinema, there have been fewer attempts and sometimes less striking, but, ironically, the largest European festival of genre films is Belgian. Since 1982, the BIFFF has delighted thousands of festival-goers each year by offering a wild audience the best of what has been filmed in the world in recent months.
A few years ago, however, a young dynamic Walloon producer (who will recognize himself), a great lover of genre films (that’s a clue), told us of his regret at not being able to produce or co-produce in Belgium works on the bangs, related to horror, science fiction or fantasy. The remark seemed strange to us : if this impression was anchored in many professionals because of a global French-speaking Belgian context turned towards auteur films, it was in fact not based on any objective reality.
Technically, there was no reason why producers should not invest in this sector. On the contrary !
For the Tax Shelter it doesn’t matter what kind of film it is as long as the expenses are territorialized. For Wallimage, co-financing works on the bangs, fond of special effects, looked more like a golden opportunity. In the past, the Walloon fund had already supported films such as Where is the Hand of the Headless Man? or Trouble or Daedalus , which ventured into obscure areas.
This awareness, quickly coupled with the emergence of the international Frontiers market that Wallimage was quick to sponsor, triggered a spectacular chain reaction. In a few years, several dozens of genre films were proposed to Wallimage with, it must be said, an astonishing success rate. Clearly, the financial structure for the development of these fringe works fits our business model perfectly.
One of the most emblematic films of this success is certainly Mandy. Shot in Belgium with Nicolas Cage, it has the smell of an American (or Canadian) film, the tone, the atmosphere… but look at its credits : the number of Belgian actors will stun you. The Most Murdered Woman in the World is another striking example : made for Netflix with a French artistic team, it was shot and post-produced in Wallonia. Since then, his director has been full of praise for Walloon professionalism and efficiency. But the most decisive film of all is probably Grave (Raw for the international market), an auteur film as much as a genre film, revealed to the frontier market, co-financed in Wallonia by Jean-Yves Roubin for Frakas, with special effects realized by Mikros-Liège and a shooting in Liège. A critical success, a festival favorite, Grave has imposed a style and the name of Wallimage in the minds of international producers, eager for thrills.
Mandy + Netflix + Grave : the equation is unstoppable. Wallimage is now identified as an enthusiastic partner in genre films. At the last Cannes Film Festival, Todd Brown, Director of International Acquisitions at XYZ, one of the major players in the genre film industry, was amazed to hear that to make a successful film of this style in Europe, the two countries that were needed were Ireland and… Wallonia ?
What filled us with joy, do we have to say it ?
To celebrate this outstanding recognition which makes Wallimage THE European fund specialized in genre films, we have gathered on a website all the genre feature films co-financed in Wallonia since the creation of the fund. There are already more than thirty of them. And it’s not over, of course !
To explore it, click here : www.fantasticwallonia.be