Aurélie Losseau • Coordinator, Brussels Mediterranean Film Festival
“If the festival is growing, it also has something to do with the healthy state of Mediterranean production”
- Cinergie met with Aurélie Losseau, the coordinator of the Brussels Mediterranean Film Festival, to discuss its 19th edition
With its typical ambience, its rich programme, its many guests and its editorial line which stands out in the surrounding Belgian landscape, the Brussels Mediterranean Film Festival - welcoming 10,000 viewers each and every year - is proving its raison d'être in a European capital reputed for its multiculturalism. It’s an event, moreover, which has now taken up quarters in the very heart of the city, in the venues known as the Palace (the central location of the event), the Bozar and, last but not least, the Aventure, which is where Cinergie crossed paths with festival coordinator Aurélie Losseau.
Cinergie: This could prove to be quite a special edition for you, given the festival’s relocation…
Aurélie Losseau: Without a doubt, we can’t wait to see the audience’s reaction to our new location right in the very heart of Brussels. And just ahead of our twentieth edition next year, which will also be very special! It feels like the festival is growing year on year, but this also has a lot to do with the very healthy state of Mediterranean production, which confirms our decision to make this a yearly festival back in 2013 was a wise move. There’s been a continual rise in attendee numbers for some years now, with more and more partners coming on board, such as TV5 MONDE as of last year, and with ever greater numbers of professionals attending too.
What stands out in this year’s programme?
Having reviewed our sixty-something films, the "quest for freedom" seems to dominate, because a huge number of films feature protagonists looking to emancipate themselves or offer themes along these lines. Whether we’re talking about women contending with their husbands, or people coming up against the political machine, which can at times prove oppressive in certain Mediterranean countries, etc.
You insist upon showcasing women’s films...
We’ve always tried to improve our representation of women and female directors, but we wouldn’t select women’s films if the quality wasn’t there. What’s interesting is the significant number of films which explore the female condition, including those directed by men. It proves there’s still a lot to be done and changes still need to take place in this epic struggle. In fact, looking at a film like Noura’s Dream [+see also:
film profile] by Hinde Boujemaa - which speaks of an adulterous relationship in a country where such behaviour is punishable by a prison sentence and where domestic violence is tolerated - we could easily have organised another female focus, along the lines of the one we put in place two years ago...
As regards the large volume of Belgian films, how would you explain this?
When we look at the ten or so co-productions put forward by our country, we could easily say that Belgium, too, is bathed in the Mediterranean. I’m often asked this question, but the fact of the matter is, you just need to step outside or simply live in Brussels in order to realise that Mediterranean culture, which has a significant presence in the city, has fed into and helped forge Brussels’ culture. One feeds into the other, and our capital is the end result of this, with all its togetherness and cohesion...
Despite the strong identity of the festival, not to mention its good performance, you told us three years ago that you had to fight to keep it going. What’s the situation today?
We’re still fighting the same battle and contending with the same uncertainties (she smiles). Each and every year, we have to request subsidies, wait for grants to come through, etc. We’re lucky enough to be a French Community Commission (COCOF) initiative; we wouldn’t exist without them. But each and every edition – and I believe this is true for all festivals – is a real battle, where finance sometimes appears and sometimes disappears. When we look at what’s happening at the moment for Flemish culture, it’s obviously very worrying. So, even if our festival is successful each and every year, it’s difficult - impossible even - to think in the long term. But I think that this is the case for the whole of the cultural sector which, sadly, isn’t a priority. Also, there are increasing numbers of us, and our budgets aren’t getting any bigger; they’re often diminishing. But it’s fine, we’re doing well, and I think this has a lot to do with the strong themes we follow and our identity.
(Read the full interview in French here.)
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(Translated from French)
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