The history of Luxembourg film goes back a long way. The first film, a tape by the Lumière brothers, was shot in Luxembourg in 1899. Before the First World War and from the 1920s onwards, various filmmakers and film enthusiasts made small films or documentaries that did not really gain much notoriety.
While the Luxembourg series Capitani continues its conquest on Netflix, Luxembourg cinema has reason to celebrate. Indeed, the film Deux by Italian director Filippo Meneghetti, co-produced by Donato Rotunno and Elise André of Tarantula Luxembourg, was awarded Best First Film at the 46th César ceremony in Paris.
Good news for the Luxembourg film came a week earlier, when Romanian director Radu Jude's feature film won the Golden Bear for Best Film at the 71st Berlin Film Festival, honouring Luxembourg's Paul Thiltges Distributions, which co-produced Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn with Romania, the Czech Republic and Croatia.
The good news is that two Luxembourg co-productions have been nominated for Oscars. Indeed, Wolfwalkers and Collective will try to win at least one statuette in the categories of Best Documentary Film and Best International Film as well as Best Animated Film.
The 93rd Academy Awards, one of the world's best-known and most prestigious film awards ceremonies, watched by millions of viewers each year, will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on 25 April.
The Luxembourg film industry has a long history. The first film shot in the country was made by the Lumière brothers in 1899. Before the First World War and from the 1920s onwards, various filmmakers and cinema enthusiasts made short films or documentaries, but none of them really captured the public's attention.
In the early 20th century and until it gained professional status, the film industry in Luxembourg operated on a relatively small scale. In 1927, a first specialist film magazine entitled Le film luxembourgeois was launched by journalist and film critic Evy Friedrich. Friedrich also shot a number of short documentary films, the most notable of which was Les Danseurs d'Echternach, presented at the Cannes Film Festival in 1947. Another pioneer of the Luxembourg film industry was René Leclère (Un clown dans la rue, 1930). From 1937 to 1953, he made nine documentary films. Pierre Bertogne also made a name for himself in the Luxembourg cinema landscape. From 1930 to 1940, as an amateur, he produced several films that reflected the major historical events of the time, including Lëtzebuerg ass fräi.
Filmmaker Philippe Schneider then took up the baton for the next three decades, with around thirty films to his name by 1979 (documentaries and promotional, industrial and tourism films).
In the 1980s, the Luxembourg film industry was beginning to gather pace when the young director Andy Bausch arrived as a fresh face on the cinema scene. Over time he soon assembled a core group of young actors like Thierry Van Werveke and Myriam Muller. In 1987, he directed the film Troublemaker, a police comedy that was an instant hit with younger audiences.
1989 was a pivotal year for the Luxembourg film industry. Driven by the country's producers, and following considerable government investment, Luxembourg's production structures became more professional.
Over the following decade, Luxembourg cinema underwent rapid development. In 1992, Hochzäitsnuecht (Wedding Night) by Pol Cruchten was the first feature-length film to be screened at the Cannes Festival, and eight months later the same film won the Max Ophüls Prize in Saarbrücken.
In the wake of this surprising growth, production companies began focusing their attention on co-productions with foreign partners. This development also benefited the animation sector, which has gained huge momentum in Luxembourg, to such an extent that a two-year higher education diploma (BTS) in animation drawing has been launched in the country. There are currently around 20 production companies in Luxembourg, and audiovisual production is on the rise. Nearly 200 feature films and 130 short films have been produced or co-produced in Luxembourg since the early 1970s.
Since then, a constant stream of films from Luxembourg have left their mark on the global industry. So we thought it was high time we compiled our pick of the country's top cinematic achievements.
Five days after its launch on the global Netflix network, the Capitani series has already made it into the top 10 in 46 countries. The thriller tells the story of Inspector Capitani who investigates the murder of a young girl found dead at the foot of a cliff near the Luxembourg village of Manscheid. Little by little the secrets of the small village are revealed until a terrible truth emerges.
Year of release: 2019
Actors: Luc Schiltz, Sophie Mousel
Director: Christophe Wagner
Length: 12 seasons / 26 min.
Now regarded as THE cult Luxembourgish film, Troublemaker tells the story of Jacques, a loudmouthed prison inmate who likes to call himself Johnny Chicago. In prison, he comes up against a fellow inmate named Chuck. They get into a fight, then become friends. Together they dream of going to America. No one, not even Jenny, Johnny's girlfriend, manages to stop the two buddies. Andy Bausch directed two sequels to the film (Back in Trouble and Trouble No More).
Year of release: 1988
Actors: Thierry Van Werveke, Ender Frings, Nicole Max
Director: Andy Bausch
Length: 98 mins
De falschen Hond
Luxembourg, October 1830. The fallout from the Belgian Revolution is felt throughout the region. Tired of Dutch domination, most people want to become Belgian. Only a handful call for an independent Luxembourg. One of them is a municipal clerk who stubbornly refuses to accept Belgian nationality. Seen as a traitor, he is forced to go into exile.
Year of release: 1989
Actors: André Jung, Denise Gregoire, Raoul Biltgen, Pol Greisch, Marc Olinger, Marie-Christine Faber, Henri Losch, Marie-Paule Von Roesgen
Directors: Menn Bodson, Gast Rollinger, Marc Olinger
Length: 114 mins
A Wopbopaloobop A Lopbamboom
The date is 31 December 1962. Rocco has just been released from prison. He heads for Dudelange to see his girlfriend Véro and at the same time get his hands on some cash. Because Rocco has a dream: he wants to travel to America. But New Year's Eve takes a dramatic turn. Rocco's carefully laid plans are upset by a fatal stabbing, and his American dream goes up in smoke. Early in the morning, he leaves Dudelange.
Year of release: 1989
Actors: Thierry Van Werveke, Désirée Nosbusch, Konrad Scheel, Jochen Senf, Birol Uenel, Serge Wolf, Sabine Berg, Géraldine Karier
Director: Andy Bausch
Length: 86 mins
A high society wedding. Catherine is from a rich family, Christian from a poor family. They have just got married. The newlyweds have one thing in common: drugs, and more specifically heroin. After the wedding celebrations, Catherine leaves their apartment in search of drugs. But she does not come back.
Year of release: 1991
Actors: Myriam Muller, Thierry Van Werveke, Ender Frings, Paul Scheuer, Marja-Leena Junker
Director: Pol Cruchten
Length: 108 mins
Le club des chômeurs
In southern Luxembourg, the steel industry is increasingly on the decline. One by one the workers lose their jobs. Five of them decide to create the "club des chômeurs", the unemployed club, where the main rule is not to go back to work even if the possibility arises. Geronimo, Théid, Frunnes, Sonny Boy, Abbes and Petz all agree to abide by the club's strict rules.
Year of release: 2001
Actors: Thierry Van Werveke, Myriam Muller, André Jung, Marco Lorenzini, Luc Feit, Fernand Fox, Christian Kmiotek, Marja-Leena Junker
Director: Andy Bausch
Length: 97 mins
Philippe, known as Flëpp, lives on his own with his strict, depressive mother Sophie in a little town in Luxembourg. His father drowned himself when Flëpp was little, but the young man never fully came to terms with the trauma, largely because of his obsessive, incestuous relationship with his mother. But suddenly a young Bosnian girl, Leena, enters his life, and things start to change.
Year of release: 2015
Actors: Myriam Muller, Jules Werner, Max Thommes, Christiane Rausch, Maja Juric
Director: Jacques Molitor
Length: 80 mins
Fed up with being treated like children, four elderly men (Fons, Lull, Nuckes and Jängi) decide to share a house together rather than going to a retirement home. They find a house that is currently unoccupied and seems to suit their plan. The only problem is coming up with the money. But they have no intention of giving up.
Year of release: 2017
Actors: André Jung, Marco Lorenzini, Fernand Fox, Pol Greisch, Josiane Peiffer, Monique Reuter, Valérie Bodson, Myriam Muller
Director: Andy Bausch
Length: 107 mins
The fictional country of Luxusbuerg is preparing for the coronation of the young duke after the death of his father. But a terrorist organisation is planning to destroy the entire country. To save "little" Luxembourg, the country calls on Superjhemp, who has been missing for years. Working as a civil servant since retiring from life as a superhero, he needs to figure out how to get back his lost superpowers to help his country.
Year of release: 2018
Actors: André Jung, Désirée Nosbusch, Etienne Halsdorf, Jules Werner, Luc Feit, Jules Waringo, Henri Losch, Jean-Paul Maes, Julie Kieffer, Tommy Schlesser
Director: Félix Koch
Length: 100 mins