You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Government Mandated Tax Shelter Boosts Belgian Film Industry

Belgium’s 2003 tax shelter had an immediate, galvanizing effect on the local industry. Though the country became one of Europe’s most popular shooting destinations and co-production partners, many in the local industry did not find the program equal for all.

“Where before investors could raise a lot of money, in the end not all of that money went into the films,” says Jeanne Brunfaut, associate director of Centre du Cinéma et de l’Audiovisuel. More than that, the 2003 law required local outfits to seek up to 50% of funding from outside investors, vesting outsized power in those investors’ hands. They could effectively decide what could get made via the local industry.

“Under the previous law, the tax shelter required negotiating with an investor who could choose their project based on its perceived profitability and potential,” says Jean-Yves Roubin, who heads up Frakas Prods., an outfit with a focus on young directors and hard-hitting films. “So if we were to come with a film like ‘Raw’ — which, despite its artistry, is above all a genre film about a young cannibal girl — it would have been harder to compete against the giant French productions also looking for funding via the tax shelter. So it wasn’t easy to produce and develop genre films in Belgium.”

That’s why many of the country’s independent producers viewed the 2014 overhaul as a breath of fresh air. Mandating greater financial transparency, capping the amount outside investors could recoup, and opening the door to further international cooperation beyond the European Union, the reforms broke up what many saw as a creative monopoly, leveling the playing field for all.

“It’s become a different system that, in fact, offers less risk for investors,” says Brunfaut. “There’s more money in general now … [and] because there is more money, more chances taken.”

Case in point: “Raw.” The project might have had greater difficulty getting off the ground under the previous system went into production in 2015. It then premiered at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Fipresci prize, sold to Focus Features and began a yearlong world-tour that continues to this day. The gamble paid off in full for producer Roubin, and it wasn’t the only one.

“Things really changed in 2015,” he notes. “While before we produced one or two films a year, we’re now producing six to seven. And it’s due in part to the new tax shelter law.”
Roubin is also taking significant advantage of the expanded playing field. Frakas just wrapped production on “Third Marriage,” a broad comedy budgeted at €4 million ($4.4. million).

“It’s a French-language co-production with Luxembourg and Canada. It’s getting complicated to co-produce with France. Canada has become a partner for Belgian producers.”

More Film

  • Mindy Kaling photographed by Victoria Stevens

    Mindy Kaling Created Her Own Opportunities (and Doesn't Plan on Stopping)

    Over the course of two hit sitcoms, a couple of best-selling books and some scene-stealing turns in Hollywood blockbusters such as “Ocean’s 8” and “Inside Out,” Mindy Kaling has cultivated an image as a kinder, gentler and more relatable star than most. On Instagram or Twitter, where she routinely shares parenting anecdotes and restaurant recommendations, [...]

  • Jimi Hendrix sound check Monterey Pop

    Film Constellation Adds ‘Show Me the Picture’ to Berlin Market Slate (EXCLUSIVE)

    London-based sales and financing house Film Constellation has added Alfred George Bailey’s feature documentary “Show Me the Picture: The Story of Jim Marshall” to its Berlin market slate, ahead of the film’s SXSW premiere. Submarine Entertainment is handling distribution in North America. The film charts the life of American photographer James Joseph Marshall, whose work [...]

  • 'Sink or Swim,' 'Custody' Lead Race

    'Sink or Swim,' 'Custody' Lead Race for France's Cesar Awards

    French actor-turned-director Gilles Lellouche’s “Sink or Swim” and Xavier Legrand’s feature debut “Custody” lead the race for this year’s Cesar Awards, France’s equivalent of the Oscars, with 10 nominations each, including best picture and best director. “Sink or Swim” (“Le Grand Bain” in France), a star-driven dramedy about a men’s synchronized swimming team, world-premiered at [...]

  • Face to Face with German Films

    Face to Face with German Films Unveils the Six ‘Faces’ of 2019 (EXCLUSIVE)

    Teutonic promotional organization German Films has announced that its annual initiative supporting German filmmaking internationally, Face to Face With German Films, will focus on actors and actresses as the campaign enters its fourth year. Six of Germany’s leading thesps – Maria Dragus, Christian Friedel, Luise Heyer, Jonas Nay, Jördis Triebel and Fahri Yardim – will [...]

  • (L to R) VIGGO MORTENSEN and

    'Green Book' Lands Post-Oscars Theatrical Release in China

    Fresh off of Tuesday’s news that it had picked up five Academy Award nominations, best-picture nominee “Green Book” is set for more good luck. The film will hit Chinese theaters on March 1, the first weekend after the Oscars, which fall on Feb 24, Alibaba Pictures announced on its official social media account. The film [...]

  • Fan Bingbing

    Chinese Stars, Entertainment Companies Pay $1.7 Billion in Back Taxes

    Chinese film and TV stars and entertainment companies have forked over an additional $1.7 billion (RMB11.7 billion) in taxes in the wake of last summer’s scandal surrounding actress Fan Bingbing and a subsequent government crackdown. The figure was announced late Tuesday by China’s State Tax Administration. Chinese authorities launched a probe into the tax affairs [...]

  • Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, Marco Graf

    Film News Roundup: AMC, Regal to Leave 'Roma' Out of Best Picture Showcases

    In today’s film news roundup, “Roma” will not be in the best picture showcases at AMC and Regal, “Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church” gets a release and SAG-AFTRA’s David White has a new appointment. ‘ROMA’ SPURNED AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas are leaving Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” out of their upcoming annual showings of the contenders for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content