Wallimage session 119 marks the fund's history

Since the end of Covid, the number of files submitted to Wallimage has risen steadily, and this trend has intensified in recent months. If there’s one session that’s emblematic of this phenomenon, it’s the one we’ve just experienced (119e of the fund’s history) with an impressive number of excellent submissions and a somewhat bitter consequence for Wallimage: the budget we have available no longer allows us to meet all the fantastic proposals we receive from producers. Even if any selective fund leaves some attractive projects by the wayside, it’s obviously always frustrating to overlook projects that promise very substantial expenditure in the Walloon Region.
The upside of this unexpected avalanche is that the selection made by Wallimage’s Decentralized Co-Production Council, which met on Monday April 22, is probably the best in Wallimage’s history, with very substantial expected expenditure, rates of spin-off exceeding our expectations and very attractive revenue-generating proposals, particularly for films with the potential for major public success.

The major trend of this session was the return in force of feature films, especially of French origin, since only one animated series was presented. One of the leitmotifs of the recent Séries Mania event in Lille was that 2024 would certainly not be a good year for series, with fewer requests from platforms and budgets in sharp decline…

This year’s winners include five French projects, three feature films from Belgium, a German TV movie and a highly original Canadian genre film.


The Belgian axis

For the ninth time, Wallimage has joined forces with Les Films du Fleuve to co-finance a film by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (©Copyright photo : Christine Plenus). This is only to be expected, since the brothers have always shot their feature films in Wallonia, employing many local technicians and young actors. La Maison maternelle took 52 days to complete (not including lengthy rehearsals), with 26 technicians involved, including 8 shift supervisors. Substantial staffing, plus actors not yet cast, and rentals from Eyelite and TSF, plus a canteen, of course. Departing from the recurring pattern of their last three films, the Brothers offer us here a choral work revolving around the maternity of several young women, with an artistic approach that seems close to documentary.


Documentaries are the specialty of another Liège-based production company, Les Films de la Passerelle, which returns with L’acier a coulé dans nos veines. Thierry Michel’s feature film looks at the impact of the final demise of Liège’s steel industry in 2013, an industry that had made Wallonia prosper, a closure that left thousands of workers out in the cold. 30 days of shooting in Wallonia, three authors, a composer for the soundtrack, a production team, a sound editor, a chief editor, a colorist, a digital VFX supervisor, all Walloon, would be enough to win you over. But to these must be added maximum use of Walloon technical resources: equipment rental at Cetemi, sound editing and mixing at Stand Up, editing at Cetemi, color grading at Genval-les-Dames and mastering at Planète Hollywood. A grand schelem for a film that will be broadcast on RTBF and Canvas, but also offered in cinemas by Les Grignoux, from January 2025.


The third Belgian project to join the Wallimage line-up is a feature-length animated film aimed at the general public, from NWave, which is going back to basics with Chickenhare 2, in which Hopper and his two best friends, Meg and Archie, have become well-known adventurers. Their new adventures are reminiscent of genre classics such as Indiana Jones, and should do justice to the first installment, released in theaters in over 60 countries and on Netflix in the rest of the world with staggering viewing figures. The lion’s share of the expenditure is accounted for by twenty experienced Walloon operators, who spend two long years working in the Brussels studio.


France in Olympic form.

We suspected it, but it’s true: the approach of the Paris Olympic Games is causing a massive shift in filming to Belgium. This is a godsend for local producers, who are forging or consolidating partnerships with talented French counterparts, partnerships that are likely to last since, as everyone knows, once you’ve tasted Walloon hospitality, it’s hard to go without.

Le Million marks Grégoire Vigneron’s return to the camera after a successful career as a screenwriter (Le Petit Nicolas, Un homme idéal, Un homme à la hauteur…). Fourteen years after Sans laisser de traces, he dives back into the world of straightforward comedy, based on the irresistible principle of a duo of antagonistic characters forced to stand together. The effective script will be the perfect backdrop for Christian Clavier and Rayane Bensetti, who will have to battle together to… put back in place a million euros that Bensetti stole on a whim. Can you smell the theatrical success? Although Umedia’ s film will be shot mainly in the Brussels region (33 days from April to June 2024), 10 Walloon technicians will be on the set. Pascal Degrune’s storyboard (increasingly in demand), camera, electro and dressing room rentals, post-production at Cob and Équipe Wallonie, Magic Loom and VFX at UFX Wallonie in Genval round out the expenses, boosted by an excellent ratio.

There’s also plenty of (acid) humor in the dialogue of Madame, a scathing human comedy by Thierry Klifa brought to us by Versus. Although no names are explicitly mentioned, it’s easy to see that the screenplay is inspired by the tumultuous relationship between Liliane Bettencourt and photographer François-Marie Banier, but far from being purely illustrative, the excellent script develops a profound reflection on the value of money versus the value of happiness. With its sparkling cast, we think the film would make a great impression on the Cannes Red Carpet for a special screening. The project is based on 10 shooting days out of a total of 35 located in Wallonia, in a breathtaking mansion near La Hulpe. 34 technicians will take part in the entire shoot, using equipment rented from TSF, while sound post-production will be handled by Bardaf (one of the session’s big winners), image post-production by Équipe Wallonie and some VFX by L’Autre Compagnie.

Each in its own way, from radically different angles, all the films in this session question the meaning of life. This is also the case for Dalloway, the new feature film by stakhanovist Yann Gozlan (Un homme idéal, Boîte noire, Visions…), who has long been supported by Panache Production and La Compagnie Cinématographique, whose importance grows from one co-production to the next. The director, known for his sense of polished imagery and his taste for paranoid suspense, here tackles head-on the impact of artificial intelligence on artistic creation with a clever script that devours like a novel. Adapted from Tatiana de Rosnay’s Les Fleurs de l’ombre, the text obviously takes into account recent dazzling developments in AI to develop a (not so) dystopian universe in which a tormented writer (Cécile de France) will be confronted by an immaterial, but very invasive virtual assistant, Dalloway. 7 days of filming were located in Wallonia, with 27 technicians, including 5 post supervisors and three minor roles. On the technical side, TSF, Eyelite, Macadamcar and Ciné rental, Genval-les-Dames and Bardaf postproduction, and digital special effects complete a formidable picture.


Fantastic Wallonia

Under the aegis of our famous “Fantastic Wallonia” label, now internationally recognized, we stay in the genre with Moso , which departs from SF to plunge us into a harrowing “rape and revenge”. The screenplay is striking for the immoral darkness of its treatment, inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, but also for the originality of its weapon of vengeance, which we’ll let you discover when the film hits theaters (spoiler: the title is a clue). Following in the footsteps of the Black Swan Tales series and Schlitter (all supported by Wallimage), here’s a snarling, low-budget feature with young actors, a Walloon shoot, a director on the verge of confirmation and a simple, straightforward script aimed at fans. Scope Pictures brought the entire shoot back to Wallonia, for a total of 18 days for 34 technicians (13 foremen). Rental equipment from TSF and AdHoc, a canteen, post-production from Cob and Bardaf, on-set SFX and digital effects round off an excellent, peppy proposition.

The meaning of life can also be found beyond death: this is the message of Place of Ghostsa very strange trip initiated and shot in Canada (English-speaking) and spotted by Beluga Tree which locates its imposing post-production facilities here: sound effects at Genval-les-Dames, sound editing and mixing at Bardaf, color grading and mastering at Équipe Wallonie, and above all VFX, which will occupy 25 graphic artists for 60 days at Benuts. Under the guise of a horrific thriller, Place of Ghost is above all a family drama with a unique grounding in First Nations culture, their relationship with time, nature and the notion of two-spiritedness. The result is a world far removed from our own. But fascinating.


Second passages

When a project is presented to the Wallimage analysis group for a second time, it often needs a serious boost compared to a first draft that didn’t have what it takes to be among the winners. The least we can say is that Beside and Umedia have learned their lesson perfectly, with dossiers that are now so well-profiled for our region that they can’t be ignored.

On September 15, 1958, General de Gaulle and German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer met at Colombey-les-Deux-Églises. A first since the end of the war, and a milestone in modern European history. What did they say to each other? This is the story of A Day in September, a German TV film to be broadcast on ZDF and Arte, filmed entirely in Florenville and Tubize (22 days). 25 technicians on set, a little casting, audiovisual expenses on set (catering, costumes, etc.), post-production at Karaboutcha, Bardaf and Cob, some VFX at Benuts and equipment rental (all served up by an exceptional ratio) enabled the project to qualify in a session that was nonetheless hyper-competitive.

Moods is an animated series for the very young, written and developed on the basis of current research in neuroscience and child psychology. Twelve little characters who embody an emotion evolve in a shimmering universe under the gaze of a benevolent female narrator. Waooh ! will animate 26 of the 52 episodes with 10 artists (plus a supervisor), 8 of whom will be Walloon, for an estimated total of 1,829 D/H between June 2024 and April 2025, equivalent to 8 full-time equivalents over 1 year.


Alongside these winners, a number of excellent projects unfortunately fell by the wayside. The June session should see them return with a real chance of qualifying, even though we’re obviously also expecting the first projects negotiated in Cannes by Belgian producers, who are always very present on the Croisette.

Be careful! The next drop-off is exceptionally scheduled for a MONDAY, June 3.

  • 15.05.2024