The Grand Duchy has certainly found its place in the world of audiovisual production, judging by the many awards received at major international festivals by Luxembourgish film-makers, and other evidence of its considerable evolution. For a long time Luxembourgish cinema was limited to a host of short documentaries and very few full-length films.
It was not until the end of the 1980s that an actual film production environment, recognised abroad, started to develop in the Grand Duchy, with the support of the Luxembourg State.
The 1980s saw a few interesting attempts at feature films, which were a great success with the public, including 'Déi zwee vum Bierg' (1984) about the German occupation during the Second World War, and 'De falschen Hond' (1989). In 1987, Andy Bausch produced 'Troublemaker', a police comedy that was an instant hit and turned young actor Thierry van Werveke (1958-2009) into a national star.
1989 was a key year for the Luxembourg cinema scene. The Government decided for the first time to invest in the production of a film, 'Schacko Klak', produced by Paul Kieffer and Frank Hoffmann, based on a novel by Luxembourger Roger Manderscheid. Both, the government and the producers came to the conclusion that it was time for more professional production structures and further development of the audiovisual sector. A number of mechanisms and financial schemes aimed at attracting international productions to the Grand Duchy were set up. One immediate consequence has been the local establishment of young Luxembourgish producers and directors, as well as a gradual professionalisation of the jobs involved.
The Luxembourg cinema scene developed extremely quickly during the 1990s. With a relatively limited national market, most companies began to concentrate on co-productions with foreign partners.
Since 1988, more than 250 films (in all genres) have been made in the Grand Duchy by Luxembourgish producers, thanks to the various possibilities for financial support. About fifteen feature films are currently being shot each year in the Grand Duchy, nearly all as co-productions with foreign companies.
Co-productions with foreign companies have been regularly attracting leading film stars to the Grand Duchy since the 1990s. John Malkovich, Nathalie Baye, Nicolas Cage, Gérard Depardieu, Catherine Deneuve, Philippe Noiret, Patrick Swayze, Joseph Fiennes, Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino, Marianne Faithfull, Scarlett Johansson, Demi Moore, Michael Caine, Emmanuelle Devos, Isabelle Huppert and Colin Firth have all worked on films in the Grand Duchy. Peter Greenaway shot a number of his films in Luxembourg, including 'The Pillow Book' and '8½ Women'.
And these days?
Luxembourgish co-productions are regularly presented at international festivals. They include Frédéric Fonteyne's 'Une liaison pornographique' in 1997, Geneviève Mersch's 'J'ai toujours voulu être une sainte' in 2003, Peter Webber's 'Girl with a Pearl Earring' also in 2003, Sam Gabarski's 'Irina Palm' in 2007, and Margarethe von Trotta's 'Hannah Arendt' in 2012. Some of these co-productions have won prestigious awards. In 2013, the film 'Ernest et Célestine' won the César for the best animated film. This movie was also nominated in the category 'Animated Feature Films' for the 2014 Academy Awards.
But it is before all the animated short film Mr. Hublot, a mostly Luxembourgish co-production, which wins the young Luxembourgish cinema's first Academy Award in the category Best Short Film (Animated) in 2014.
The national audiovisual production industry employs some 600 people as professionals, of which about 20 are directors, as well as producers, artists, technicians ... . Today, there are about 20 production companies in Luxembourg, of which about half a dozen regularly produces feature films, as well as animation studios and about thirty companies offering specialised services.