Wallonie-Bruxelles International presents a Spotlight on Belgian Cinema with the support of Wallonie-Bruxelles Image and Alliance Française Dubai.
You will have an entire week to discover 6 French-speaking Belgian films in Dubai.
Pick the film of your choice - evening & daytime screenings - and enter the wonderful world of Belgian cinema.
Enjoy the diverse programme, in line with the theme's of Expo 2020 Dubai, combining new releases and the best classics. After each screening, you will have the chance to meet the artists behind the scenes! Actors, film directors & producers will be present to talk about the film industry in Belgium and the fascinating world of film production.
All films are screened in French with English subtitles.
The Belgian film festival ends with a Round Table on Wednesday 12 January 2022 at our very own Belgian pavilion with Belgian & International representatives of the cinema industry.
Book your tickets here: https://linktr.ee/awexuae
We had the pleasure of interviewing Hélène Wéry and Hassan Nasser, the originators of the Spotlight on Belgian Cinema event.
How did you come up with the idea for this Spotlight on Belgian Cinema? What motivated you to familiarize the people of Dubai and Expo 2020 with Belgian Cinema?
Initially, the idea came about because Hassan organized movie nights in a private room last year. The concept really appealed to us and we realized that we didn’t have access to Belgian cinema here in Dubai. When a Belgian film (Une Vie Démente) was shown at the Akil cinema, it was a real success. Because of this, we said to ourselves that it would be a good idea to promote this cinema, in Dubai, on the sidelines of Expo 2020. We shared the idea with the head of AWEX, Anja Heinen, who gave her support and encouraged us to develop the idea with a member of her team, Anne Kinart who provided the necessary expertise for this project to see the light of day.
How did you make the selection of movies for the screening? What was the thought process behind this, and did you have to change any of the options you initially had in mind?
Once the idea was born, we made contact in Belgium. First, with a friend who works in cinema, Jérôme Tellin, and then he connected us with the Wallonie Bruxelles Image team, Hervé Le Phuez and Julien Beauvois. The selection of films was made as a team, taking into account several criteria. We had a list that was refined based on the availability of directors, distribution constraints, and audiences in Dubai. Some films were discarded because directors were not available, others to take into account certain sensitivities specific to UAE. In the end, we have a selection that combines first films, films by confirmed directors, and also children's classics.
What does film/cinema mean to you? What impact do you think it can have?
Hassan: For me, cinema is the meeting around a story. Cinema is a truly international art. All countries produce films, but each production is also marked by cultural contexts and the uniqueness of the directors. In a way, cinema, in addition to the stories that are told, offers a gateway to universality. So nothing like a universal expo to show it.
Helene: Cinema is an art that makes it possible to arouse various emotions or reflections depending on the films and the directors. When a film touches us, we come out of the experience a little transformed, either emotionally or intellectually. Cinema is like gastronomy. There are all styles and for all tastes!
What do you consider to be the biggest strength of Belgian Cinema? What sets us apart from other countries?
We are not experts or critics, but Belgian cinema has a particular tone and colour. A little something indefinable, between poetry, naivety and raw lucidity. He sometimes borrows from French, American and other cinemas, but he remains Belgian ...
Obviously, each director has his own style and Belgian cinema offers a wide variety of films, but in the spirit and the atmosphere, there is something special, the Belgian Touch in a way!
What will be happening at the Belgian pavilion during the closing event on the 12th of January in our BeBizz centre? What can people expect? Who will they be able to meet?
We really wanted to take advantage of the amazing facilities of the Belgian Pavilion, therefore, the closing event on the Belgian pavilion will take place there. There will be a Round table in the BeBizz centre. We will discuss the Production of the next feature film "LARGO WINCH III" by Olivier Masset-Depasse, with a special focus on what it takes today to make a feature film and what are the enablers which are available in Belgium to support this creation. The speakers will be Jacques-Henri Bronckart (Producer at Versus Production), Olivier Masset-Depasse (Director) and Jérôme Tellin (Tax shelter expert). After this event; we will have a VIP closing reception on the famous rooftop where our guests will have the opportunity to continue the conversation and really and understand the creation and the production process.
Do you have any cinematic projects planned for the near future? What would you like to undertake or show to the people of Dubai or the UAE?
Depending on the success of this year, we would like this festival to become annual and that we could offer the inhabitants of Dubai a week dedicated to Belgian cinema each year. Who knows, this could also give birth to collaborations between Belgium and the UAE in the cinematographic field. Of course, this project would have been impossible without the support of the WBI and particularly of Anne Kinart who supports the WBI projects within AWEX. So we hope she will trust us again in the future.
What are the biggest challenges we face regarding Belgian Cinema?
Once again, we are not experts, but it seems to us that Belgium still has a bit of difficulty in publicizing its successes abroad. Belgian cinema has succeeded in making a place for itself in Europe and it is now recognized there. At the international level, it begins ... Indeed, for example, the film by Laura Wandel Un Monde (Playground) is included in the first selection of 15 films that continue their race towards the Oscars 2022, in the category "Best international feature film".
It will also be one of the topics of discussion with Olivier Masset-Depasse who is preparing a remake of Duelles in the United States. For us, it was above all the idea of bringing him to the UAE where he is not necessarily known that really motivated us.
As the program is catered strongly towards children as well, what are the values and objectives that you believe (Belgian) cinema can bring to them?
Belgian cinema, aimed at a young audience, is a cinema that will combine softness and harshness, poetry and reality while instilling in it values and messages that speak to young people. It is certainly entertainment but which makes you think, ask questions, put into perspective ... We are impatient to see the reactions of young audiences, Belgian or not, who will discover pearls of Belgian cinema such as Ernest and Celestine, or Space Boy for the older ones.
Do you have any suggestions for cinephiles who wish to delve into Belgian cinema? Where should they start?
Clearly, the first place to start is to join us during the Spotlight on Belgian Cinema! From 8 to 12 January!
How was the cooperation between the two of you? Are your cinematic tastes alike? How personal was the choice of films for you?
We have different tastes and we had different film selections. But in the end, the idea is to show the diversity of the Belgian Cinema as well and to meet different people with different tastes. When it comes to the project itself, I was more focused on connecting the different partners and the budget planning, while Helene took care of the AWEX team of the marketing and communication. She realised the poster of the festival with an intern at the AWEX. Again, in Belgium, we know that Unity makes strength!