The Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF) has been awarded the International Shorts Visionary Award at the ShortsHD Shorts Awards in Los Angeles. The annual award recognises the role of institutions in promoting and establishing short filmmaking. ShortsHD bestowed the prize on the Fund for its continuing efforts towards short films in Flanders. This vigour, coupled with the Oscar nomination of Death of a Shadow, is a large step in the growing European short film industry.
The recognition couldn’t have come at a better moment. Only last year, the Flanders Audiovisual Fund celebrated its tenth anniversary, while 2013 launched with the prestigious Oscar nomination of Death of a Shadow. It didn’t go unnoticed among the ShortsHD jury members that over the last ten years, all four Belgian shorts that were nominated for the Oscars were also supported by the VAF: Fait d’hiver by Dirk Beliën, Tanghi Argentini by Guido Thys, Na Wewe by Ivan Goldschmidt (a co-production) and Tom Van Avermaet’s Death of a Shadow.
The jury report mentions ‘Belgium’s long history of storytelling and its excellence in craftsmanship’ which have created an important foundation for distinction in filmmaking. The Fund also receives praise for its exceptional efforts to encourage and grow Flemish short filmmaking: ‘For over 10 years, the Flanders Audiovisual Fund has funded and promoted exceptional Flemish short films, bringing them to the forefront of the international market. It has brought unprecedented attention to Flemish cinema, evident by its funding of the 2013 Oscar-nominated live action short Death of a Shadow. Despite the ongoing cuts to film funding across Europe, in a region of only 6 million people, the organisation is laying critical tracks for the future security of Flemish filmmaking.’
Pierre Drouot, CEO of the Flanders Audiovisual Fund, said: ‘This award acknowledges the quality of the educational programmes offered at film schools in Flanders, but also the talent of the new generation of filmmakers, initiatives such as the Leuven International Short Film Festival, and the support measures of the Fund itself, but… you ain’t seen nothing yet.’
In addition to VAF's award, Belgian cable provider Telenet also received the Liberty Global Award for supporting the local short film industry through the broadcast of shorts on the platform, in addition to their partnership with Fonk vzw and the injection of €30 million in the Flemish audiovisual sector.
The ShortsHD Shorts Awards is an annual event held in Los Angeles during the week of the Academy Awards. All Oscar-nominated short films are screened and prizes are awarded. Picking up awards this year were animator Joan Gratz, actor Martin Freeman (Love Actually), actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld, 30 Rock) – who didn’t attend but had prepared a video message – director/actor Matthew Modine (The Dark Knight Rises) and Nik Powell (director National Film and Television School, producer A Crying Game, Calendar Girls). Death of a Shadow director Tom Van Avermaet attended the awards ceremony as well and was, together with all other Oscar-nominated short filmmakers, presented with a commemorative ‘clapper’ as a prize.