Interview with Boyd van Hoeij, independent cinema critic
A Hollywood journalist in Luxembourg

Boyd van Hoeij  is an independent cinema critic. His reviews are published in the United States (Variety, The Hollywood Reporter), he is the cinema editor for  Winq (NL), and he works for  Filmkrant (NL) and Indiewire (US). He published the book '10/10' about ten francophone Belgian film directors, has taught film criticism in a number of countries, and has been invited to be a jury member at numerous film festivals. He is the president of the Selection Committee of  Film Fund Luxembourg and this year, for the first time, he is the artistic consultant for the Luxembourg City Film Festival.

In this context, we asked him six burning questions: 

1. Mr van Hoeij - you have several links with Luxembourg. What do you like more particularly about the Grand Duchy?

I really like the calm – since I work in a fairly hectic industry – and its culture at the interface between the Latin area in southern Europe and the Germanic area in northern Europe yet with its own identity, which includes its own language. I also appreciate the size of the country, because it makes it is easy to get things moving.

2. You have already been a member of the artistic committee, and now for the first time you are the artistic consultant for the Luxembourg City Film Festival. What are the differences and similarities between the two jobs?

One thing that has not changed at all is that I still watch a lot of films. Only in January, before finalising our programme for 2020, I watched dozens and dozens of them. The new job was mainly to officialise the work I was already doing, because I do not only advise on films for the festival, that are then reviewed by our artistic committee for validation - I also suggest names for guests, journalists and jury members. I also present the 3'52'' MAX event, workshops on cinema critique, an evening of scene-by-scene analysis at the Cercle Cité and a master-class with the Franco-Greek film producer and director Costa Gavros during the closing weekend. 

3. This year, the Luxembourg City Film Festival is launching its first B2B, 3'52'' Max – Upcoming Titles event, with a dozen of Luxembourgish and international projects at different stages of production and no longer than 3 minutes, 52 seconds (a nod to the phone prefix of the Grand Duchy) being presented to a large number of representatives of festivals, international vendors and distributors. According to the festival organisers, this event is unique anywhere in the world. As the presenter of the event, could you tell us a bit more about what makes it special?

I am really proud to be able to present the 3'52'' MAX pitch session, at the invitation of the festival's artistic director, Alexis Juncosa; it will be an evening during which Luxembourgish producers and directors will be able to show their projects to people in the industry from all over the world. It is fairly unusual for production companies here to have access to so many people at the same time, particularly in the Grand Duchy itself. The idea is to show film vendors and distributors, directors of other festivals, and to journalists from other countries that things are moving in the Grand Duchy and that there are loads of great projects being worked on that might be of interest to them. It's like a showcase or a catalogue, but much sexier. 

4. The Luxembourg City Film Festival is one of the founders of Europa Film Festivals (EFF), a European organisation which is to be launched officially in July 2020 in Galway (Ireland), Capital of Culture. For several days during the festival, the association will be meeting the members of Europe International, the European organisation of international distributors, to draw up a charter of good practices for promoting the culture of European festivals, both collectively and individually at their particular level. How important is it to be a member of such an association?

In a way, it is the Benelux of the festival world, in that a number of medium-sized festivals have got together to defend their interests in a world where there are other events that carry much more weight. And it is really interesting and enriching to be able to share best practices; "unity makes strength", as the Belgians say. 

Boyd van Hoeij
© VDL, Patrick Muller

5. In general terms, what role does the Grand Duchy play in the international film world? And how does the Luxembourg City Film Festival contribute to that positioning?

I think the Grand Duchy is known above all for its international co-productions, but there is also a whole pool of film-makers here who are beginning to make a name for themselves: people like Laura Schroeder, Govinda Van Maele, Caroline Origer, Alexandre Espigares, and Jacques Molitor. The Grand Duchy, with its multilingual culture and really central location, is a hub in the world of European cinema – particularly, I think, for fiction, animation and virtual reality and also, to a lesser extent, in the field of documentaries. By promoting the 'Made in Luxembourg' section during the festival (with more than a dozen titles), the programming of video clips and short films, and with events such as 3'52'' MAX, it is possible to show local audiences and guests from abroad what the Luxembourgish cinema represents, which is pretty amazing.

6. Have you got a favourite Luxembourgish film? And if so, which one is it?

That is like asking you to choose between two of your own children – it is just not possible! Although I have to say that I have a particularly soft spot for our animated films, which are of a consistently high quality (and recognised as such in other countries). I am really proud that there are more and more Luxembourgish productions in this area too.

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