Flemish cinema passed the 2 million-admission mark in Belgium for the first time ever last year. Top of the charts in 2010 were Crazy About Ya (Zot van A), Sammy’s Adventures: The Secret Passage and Frits & Freddy, all of which contributed to an estimated national market share for Flemish films in Belgium of 10.25%.
Meanwhile in Flanders, Flemish films made up 20% of the box office for the first time. And there was even more good news: last year Belgian cinema made in Flanders received 975 international film fest selections and an impressive 110 awards.
In 2010, Flemish films accounted for 2,099,472 admissions in Belgium – a 10% increase in admissions compared to the previous year. The best Flemish performer at the box office was Jan Verheyen’s rom-com Crazy About Ya (Zot van A) with 420,744 admissions, followed by Ben Stassen’s 3D-animated Sammy’s Adventures: The Secret Passage (243,793), Guy Goossens’ Frits & Freddy (200,000*), Hans Herbots’ Bo (198,819) and Mega Mindy and the Black Crystal (135,625*). A number of festival favourites including Hans Van Nuffel’s Montreal World Film Fest Grand Prize winner Oxygen, Kadir Balci’s Turquaze and Hilde van Mieghem’s Madly in Love also managed to reach the top ten Flemish titles.
Also notable was the success of two titles that were released by their producers in both the commercial and cultural circuits: the documentary Lost Down Memory Lane with 15,490 admissions, and Cannes Directors’ Fortnight entry Little Baby Jesus of Flandr with 11,483 admissions in 2010. Admissions for these films now stand at 23,740 and 12,133 admission respectively.
According to VAF, it is the combination of mainstream films and auteur-driven cinema that has led to the current success and appreciation of Flemish films both at the local box office and with international festivals.
2011 has also got off to a strong start. In the first quarter, Flemish films registered close to 775,000 admissions, in no small part thanks to the success of Berlinale entry Bullhead (Rundskop) by Michaël R Roskam (386,152 admissions as of 31 March) and Frits & Freddy, which sold 245,000 tickets. At the time of writing, Bullhead is approaching the 450,000 mark.
While the first half of the year was fairly calm in terms of new indigenous releases, the second half is set for a flood of new titles, including Swooni by Kaat Beels, Hasta la vista by Geoffrey Enthoven, Quixote’s Island by Didier Volckaert, Code 37 by Jakob Verbruggen, Madonna’s Pig by Frank Van Passel, Mixed Kebab by Guy Lee Thys, and Germaine by Frank Van Mechelen.
In Cannes, both Bullhead (represented by Celluloid Dreams) and Oxygen (Premium Films) are to receive market screenings. Blue Bird, the second feature by Little Baby Jesus of Flandr director Gust Van den Berghe, is presented in the Directors’ Fortnight and Studio Canal plans to screen a promo reel of Escape From Paradise, the sequel to Sammy’s Adventures.
* Approximate figures