Interview with Guy Daleiden, Director of the Film Fund Luxembourg A person you must know in the in the audiovisual production sector in Luxembourg

The year 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the Film Fund Luxembourg and the 10th edition of the Luxembourg City Film Festival. To celebrate these events, we had a conversation with Guy Daleiden, the Director of the National Fund supporting audiovisual production, on the film industry in Luxembourg and the Fund's impact on this booming sector in Luxembourg.

The establishment of the Film Fund dates back to 1990. Its purpose is to encourage and promote the development of audiovisual production in Luxembourg. As a public organisation that falls under the supervision of the Minister of Culture and the Minister in charge of the audiovisual sector, the Fund implements the government's support policy.

On the eve of the festival, what are the highlights on which people should not miss out?

First of all, in terms of work, the virtual reality pavilion means a lot to us of course, given that we are in charge of it. But the festival in general, as a highlight for Luxembourg, should be the focus of the discussion. It is an international film festival offering two major advantages: the audience can watch a wide range of films from the whole world and simultaneously follow up on Luxembourgish production. The exchange between national and international professionals is just as significant during the festival. It has actually become a unique meeting platform offering various professional and specialised days! The festival flourishes year after year and professionals working in the film sector take the development of the programme and the growing reputation of the festival as an opportunity to create and strenghten contacts at an international level. 

All film genres are presented as part of the Luxembourg City Film Festival: world cinema, documentaries, virtual reality, animations, etc. What are the key sectors of audiovisual production in Luxembourg?

Luxembourg is too small to specialise in a single sector. People must be given every opportunity to find their speciality and be supported in their choices. The budget is not broken down in terms of sectors, but it varies from year to year and according to trends. From the time aid was given to the film sector, 30 years ago, we bet on all the sectors. So from the very start, we supported live animated films. In the beginning, the animation sector mainly produced series. Meanwhile, films became more popular, because the interest for animated films for adults has grown in recent years. The animation sector represents around 35% of Luxembourg's audiovisual production, in terms of production, aid and employment.

 

© SIP / Yves Welter

"The quality of work in the (animation) sector was rewarded and honoured with the Oscar-winning short film Mr Hublot in 2014." 

A promotional video on the animation sector can be found on the website of the Film Fund Luxembourg. Could you tell us more about this particular field that has already won many awards for Luxembourg?

From 3rd to 5th March 2020, Luxembourg takes part in the 22nd edition of the Cartoon Movie in Bordeaux, an international forum of co-productions and pitches for European animated films. This year, the Grand Duchy is even put in the limelight of the stage for European animated films with several productions and the presence of national production companies and studios. It is a great opportunity to represent Luxembourg abroad, especially before professionals of the sector. I think that Luxembourg, besides France and Belgium, is the most important representative of the animation sector in Europe, which is why we face a high demand for the (co-)production of animated films. I estimate that, in recent years, 7 out of 10 of the major international animated films were (co-)produced in Luxembourg. The quality of work in the sector was rewarded and honoured with the Oscar-winning short filmMr Hublotin 2014

© Ville de Luxembourg / Patrick Müller

For the 3rd time, as part of the LuxFilmFest, the Film Fund organises the pavilion dedicated to virtual reality in neimënster , in collaboration with the cultural and multidisciplinary centre PHI Montreal as well as with the support of Digital Luxembourg and Cargolux. The Film Fund actively supports the production of such content. Is this the future of the film industry? And what are the challenges and new developments in the industry that need to be faced?

Virtual reality is not an end in itself. New technologies are part of the development of the film industry. It is important to follow this development. Luxembourg was absent when cinema was invented, and only started professionalising in this sector 30 years ago. However, we are highly recognised internationally when it comes to the virtual reality sector, thanks to the pavilion of the Luxembourg City Film Festival and to the support of quality works. 

Luxembourg wants to be in the frontline with respect to new technologies and digitalisation. As a result, a few years ago, I started researching and getting informed on the developments of virtual reality and making study trips to Quebec in Canada or New York in the United States, for example. We support the works of new technologies that form an integral part of audiovisual production. But the challenge is to show them as well, not only to support them, as it is still a struggle to get them to be viewed by a broader audience. You can, for example, have a film experience at the Casino-Luxembourg – Forum d’art contemporain all year round, or at the virtual reality pavilion as part of the Luxembourg City Film Festival. We want the general public to have the opportunity to discover virtual reality works at the pavilion in neimënster, to inform them and educate them on the developments in the sector. It is a place of exchange and mediation on new technologies. And it is met with success: the number of visitors is getting higher every year. For the 3rd edition, we are offering 17 active and passive experiences, including four Luxembourgish productions and one on artificial intelligence as well! The professional day is open to everyone in order to create an exchange between the Luxembourgish public and professionals of the international sector. Entry to the pavilion is free of charge. It is not necessary to make reservations.

I do not think that it is necessary to create a specific virtual reality sector in Luxembourg, but that it is important for all the audiovisual production sector to be interested in the developments of new technologies. Producers, technicians and directors need to be open-minded towards and curious of virtual reality. It is a way to the future, but not the only future.

"It is important for all the audiovisual production sector to be interested in the developments of new technologies. Producers, technicians and directors need to be open-minded towards and curious of virtual reality. It is a way to the future, but not the only future."

How does Luxembourg's film production industry contribute to the country's image? And, how does it represent the Grand Duchy's three values: reliability, dynamism and open-mindedness?

Image means a lot to me. We don't create films for the country's image. That is not the goal. The strength and dynamic nature of the audiovisual sector improve the country's image organically. We have highly competent professionals, which is why we face a high demand for the development of co-productions, but also in terms of professional information. I have personally been invited to Quebec on several occasions to present Luxembourg's virtual reality productions. Luxembourg was also in the limelight for the festival du film francophone d’Angoulême (Angoulême Festival of the Francophone Film) in 2019. It was sensational to see how popular Luxembourg was for professionals, political representatives, but especially for the public! All the work we do is not based on the country's image, but the image gets created through the sector's quality. International collaborations (Canada, France, Portugal, Belgium, etc.) bear witness of the sector's success and consequently of Luxembourg as a reference in the world of film. 

You have been at the head of the Film Fund Luxembourg for 30 years. What has been your best experience or what memory do you cherish the most?

Each time a Luxembourgish film is a success nationally or internationally, is a highlight and gives a sense of satisfaction to the sector. It acknowledges the quality of the work that audiovisual production professionals in Luxembourg perform on a daily basis. And of course, the moment when I sat in the reception hall of the Oscars and that the names of the producers of Mr Hublot were proclaimed for the award – I will never forget that. This event was the most pivotal for me and is representative of all of Luxembourg's other awards and nominations. 

We would like to thank Guy Daleiden for this interview and we would like to let our readers know that for formatting reasons, some passages of the interview have been summarised.