The audiovisual production sector has attracted crowds to cinema theatres for decades. Co-produced Luxembourgish and international productions even managed to convince audiences outside the Grand Duchy.
This success story is mainly owed to the Luxembourg Film Fund's unfailing commitment. The aim of this public organisation that falls under the supervision of the Minister of Culture and the Minister in charge of the audiovisual sector, is to develop audiovisual production in Luxembourg. It plays different roles: promoting cinema and audiovisual productions as well as encouraging the production, co-production and distribution of cinematographic works.
An expanding sector
Through its presence in international festivals, the Film Fund supports the audiovisual production sector. It also promotes Luxembourg as a production site.
This strategy appears to be working as people are taking more and more notice of the Grand Duchy on the world's red carpets. Take the triumph of Mr Hublot, which won an Oscar in 2014, for example. Other productions could follow suit, as a large number of films are getting selected in the most renowned festivals. The following films represented Luxembourg at the Palm Springs International Film Festival in January this year: Tel Aviv on Fire (Samsa Films), Zero Impunity (a_BAHN, co-prod. Melusines Productions), The Swallows of Kabul (Melusines Productions), The Orphanage (Samsa Films) and Two of Us (Tarantula).
The comedy 'Tel Aviv on Fire' represented Luxembourg for the 92nd edition of the Oscars in the International Feature Film category. 'Tel Aviv on Fire' is a co-production that is mainly Luxembourgish - over 70% was filmed in Luxembourg.
The Luxembourgish animated film 'Mr Hublot' that was Oscar-nominated in the Best Animated Short Film category won a prize for the best international short film in Los Angeles. 'Mr Hublot' was entirely produced and made in the Grand Duchy.
Poster of the film 'Eng Nei Zäit' (Tomorrow After the War). A Luxembourgish film produced by Samsa Film, winner of the Francophone production trophy ('Trophée francophone de la réalisation') (Christophe Wagner) at the 4th ceremony of francophone cinema trophies in Beirut (Lebanon).
But Luxembourgish films were also in the limelight of the prestigious Sundance Festival that took place from 23rd January to 2nd February 2020. Jumbo (Les Films Fauves), Collective (Samsa Film) and Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness (Amour Fou Luxembourg) competed in the main American film festival of independent cinema this year.
What's more, Jumbo (Les Films Fauves) and Yalda, A Night Of Forgiveness (Amour Fou Luxembourg) were also nominated in the official selection of the 70th edition of the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) that will take place from 20th February to 1st March in the German capital.
A profitable investment
The greatest Luxembourgish cinematic success yet known was undeniably that of Mr Hublot's triumph, an animated film that won an Oscar for the best international short film in March 2014. This short film was entirely produced and made in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg by producer Laurent Witz (Zeilt Productions) in co-production with Alexander Espigares, a former 'BTS' (vocational training certificate) student at the secondary school Lycée Technique des Arts et Métiers de la ville de Luxembourg. Before winning the Oscar in Los Angeles, the film won many prestigious awards, in particular at international festivals (International 3D Society, Irvine International Film Festival, Kerry Film Festival, 3D Stero Media, Les Nuits Magiques, Animage, etc.).
In 2019, two Luxembourgish films won prizes at the Tessaloniki International Film Festival. Fire Will Come by Oliver Laxe, co-produced by Tarantula Luxembourg, won the Golden Alexander for the best film. As for The Swallows of Kabul by Zabou Breitman and Éléa Gobbé-Mévellec, an animated film co-produced by Melusine Productions, it was awarded the Open Horizons prize.
The film production company a_BAHN stood out at the prestigious VR Days Europe in Amsterdam as it won the Halo Award for 7 Lives by Jan Kounen and the Creative Accomplishment Halo Award for Cosmos Within Us by Tupac Martir.
Christelle Leblanc, played by Désirée Nosbusch, is back for a second season in the series Bad Banks. Bad Banks was nominated in the Best Drama Series category at the 2019 International Emmy Awards.
The film production company a_BAHN stood out at the prestigious VR Days Europe in Amsterdam as it won the Halo Award for 7 Lives by Jan Kounen.
A financial boost bearing fruit
In 2020, 19 audiovisual projects out of 32 benefited from financial aid, for a total cost of almost 10 million euros. It's an investment that is well worth the effort as this financial support can increasingly be felt on red carpets across the world: the awards include trophies at the Academy Awards, contests in Cannes, Angoulême, Toronto, Busan as well as Cinema 'Magritte' in Belgium.
From 1990 to this day, over 600 audiovisual works were produced thanks to the aid programme. Luxembourgish productions such as 'Superjhemp retörns', 'Grand H', 'Histoire de femmes' or famous series such as Bad Banks benefited from this financing system. As for TV productions, 24 episodes of the documentary series 'routwäissgro' (red, white, grey) produced by independent Luxembourgish writers and directors grouped under the name Kollektiv 13, also benefit from the Film Fund's support.
Film co-productions between Luxembourgish companies and international partners also benefit from such aid, such as for the following films: Sawah (2019), Tel Aviv on Fire (2019) and Colonia Dignidad (2016).
Luxembourg Film Awards
Since 2003, every two years, the red carpet welcomes the very best of Luxembourgish cinema for the Luxembourg Film Awards ceremony. This award ceremony, which recognizes the best Luxembourgish productions is organised by the Film Fund in close collaboration with the Luxembourg Film Academy (d'Filmakademie). The Academy was created in 2012 on the initiative of the associations of film technicians (ALTA), directors and screenwriters (LARS), actors (ACTORS.LU) and producers (ULPA).
But the Lëtzebuerger Filmpräis (Luxembourgish Film Prize) is not only an award ceremony or a quest to recognize its winners. The idea is to showcase high-quality works, encourage cinematographic creation, promote the development of the film industry in the Grand Duchy, and draw public attention to Luxembourgish productions.
As the most prestigious Luxembourgish film awards are a biannual event, it is worth mentioning that glitter and tuxedoes will be out and about for the 9th edition of the Lëtzebuerger Filmpräis in September this year.
Nine prizes were awarded in 2018:
- the Prize for the best Luxembourgish film (Luxembourgish fiction or animated film),
- the Prize for the Best co-production in fiction,
- the Prize for the Best animated co-production,
- the Prize for the Best short fiction film,
- the Prize for the best short animated film,
- the Prize for the Best documentary,
- the Prize for the best artistic contribution (actor, scenario and music),
- the Prize for the Best technical contribution (sound, editing, image, set, costumes, make-up).
The awards are small statues that were created by Luxembourgish artist Patricia Lippert in 2003.