As of 2018, the Brussels documentary festival ‘Filmer à tout prix’ will likely no longer take place. After 33 years, the festival’s financial support from the ministry of culture will be completely cut off, dealing a major blow to the Belgian documentary scene and auteur cinema in general. The news broke following the latest edition of the biannual festival in December 2017, not long after learning Brussels’ Cinéma Nova similarly faces €20.000 in budget cuts, and the news of the creation of a new international film festival in the capital.
During its 17 editions, Filmer à tout prix welcomed many of the greatest filmmakers in contemporary documentary: Raymond Depardon, Chantal Akerman, Agnès Varda, Johan van der Keuken, Denis Gheerbrant, Mario Brenta, Richard Dindo, Kazuo Hara, Ross McElwee, Anand Patwardhan, José Luis Guerin,...
In a communiqué on the festival’s website, the organisation states that “this decision is part of a larger framework, a policy of progressively dismanteling the aid to all of the auteur documentary sector.” In the French speaking part of Belgium, a lot of (young) documentary makers collaborate with ‘ateliers de production’ or production workshops, which offer not only the facilities to produce films, but also a much needed space for professional encounters and reflection on documentary cinema. It’s not only the venues and festivals programming these films that are facing cuts, but also this specific way of producing films in Brussels and Wallonia that is unnecessarily being put in danger of dissapearing. What goal exactly is being served by cutting back on the foundational albeit small scale work these organisations are doing?
Filmer à tout prix is a stage for many films produced within these structures and for many other young filmmakers struggling to get their films financed, produced and shown. Many of Sabzian’s own members were happy to have had their films included in the festival’s latest editions.
Let’s say ‘latest’, and not ‘last’ just yet.