Tag Archives: Film policy

Report on Film policy symposium

In June 2017, I was invited by John Hill (Royal Holloway, University of London), Nobuko Kawashima (Doshisha University and Tokyo University, Japan) and Paul McDonald (King’s College London) to attend the symposium ‘Film Policies in Transition: Globalization, Digitization, Protectionism’ at King’s College in London. I wrote a report on this symposium, which is now published in Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media. You can download the report here.


After the publication of the edited book Reconceptualising Film Policies, this symposium, which was related to a special issue of the International Journal of Cultural Policy on film policy, is further evidence for the fact that the long neglected field of film policy studies is currently burgeoning …

Publication on film policy and media convergence

For the first time since Albert Moran’s 1996 volume Film policy, a new edited volume focusing on film policy has been published. Reconceptualising film policies (Routledge) is edited by French scholars Nolwenn Mingant (Université de Nantes) and Cecilia Tirtaine (Université Paris III – Sorbonne Nouvelle) and features a chapter that I wrote together with my PhD and postdoc supervisors Daniël Biltereyst, Philippe Meers and Roel Vande Winkel. The chapter is titled From film policy to creative screen policies and focuses on media convergence and film policy trends in Flanders. You can read the full chapter here.

Book cover reconceptualising film policies

The article starts from the observation that in recent years, digitization processes and media convergence trends have changed the film industry in various ways. Scholars have indicated various alterations in the aesthetics, production, distribution, exhibition and reception of films, thereby pointing at new technological possibilities and challenges, an increasing participatory cinema culture, changes in the broader creative and economic strategies of film and media companies and an overall convergence between film and other media. The expansion of film industry activities from film to various other media has a long history. Media convergence trends, however, have recently intensified this expansion. In a European context, the role of film policy is particularly relevant in this respect, as film policy forms a crucial cornerstone for the organization of European film industries.

By focusing on recent developments in Flanders (the northern, Dutch-language region in Belgium), this case study examines how, in tune with digitization and media convergence processes, government film policy in Europe has increasingly expanded its scope. More specifically, we analyse how film policy has evolved from a focus on the production of films into a more complex set of policy measures towards ‘creative screen media’ production. With this case study, we argue that contemporary film policy should be seen within the broader media environment and media policies, which are characterized by the growth of a conceptual and practical convergence between various (old and new) media, information and communication technologies and creative arts. This transition process is not ‘new’ as such, but has remarkably intensified since the turn of the millennium. Indeed, the evolution from film policy to broader creative screens policies runs parallel with and is connected to a more general shift in government policy (in Flanders and elsewhere), from a ‘cultural’ to a ‘creative’ industries policy paradigm.

New article: Film policy & Flemish identity

The latest issue of Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research features my article The role of film production policy in stimulating a Flemish identity (1964–2002). This article is more or less a 10-page summary of my 430-pages PhD thesis. You can read the full text article here.

The article examines the period that starts in 1964, when a selective and culturally inspired support mechanism for feature films was introduced in Flanders, Subsequently, the support system ran until 2002, when it was structurally renewed. The research shows that throughout the course of the second half of the 20th century, there was an evolution in Flemish film policy towards more pluralistic and less essentialist and explicit national discourses, in which national elements, nevertheless, retained an important place.

Cinema, the government and the popular

The latest issue of the Journal of Popular Film and Television features my article Cinema, the Government, and the Popular: Popular and Commercial Aspects of Cultural Film Support in Flanders (Belgium). You can download it here.


The article examines the evolution of both the popular and the commercial aspects within the official film production support in Flanders between 1964 and 2002. The article sheds light on the policy motivations underlying the cultural-commercial tension, which was a permanent issue of conflict for the Flemish film policy actors. As such, it provides a broader historical context to my publication on Flemish popular comedies in the 1980s.

From culturally respectable to pleasant films

The latest issue of Volkskunde features an article I wrote on the revival of popular comedies in the 1980s. You can read the full article here.

The article shows that the official film production policy in Flanders played an important role in the revival of the genre of Flemish popular comedies in the eighties. When a film support system was installed in 1964, the cultural dimension of films, in the sense of their artistic and intellectual qualities, was dominating the policy discourse and practices (cf. this previous publication). In 1981, after years of Christian Democratic domination, the Ministry of Culture, and thus the film policy, was taken over by the Liberals. After a dispute between the new minister and the old film commission (which advised the minister on the allocation of government grants to film projects), the latter was fired and replaced. The replacements of important policy actors marked a shift in the development of Flemish film policy. Audience-oriented and commercial-economic motivations became more important, which was manifested in the support for popular comedies, such as films with the comic duo Gaston and Leo, or with the comedian Urbanus.

hector-lowPoster for Hector (1987), with Urbanus. Source: Ronnie Pede; Copyright: Multimedia, Eyeworks, Linden Film

While the Liberal ministers were outright supporters of popular comedies, the film commission was more nuanced toward such projects. For the most part, the commission found the quality standards of the popular comedies insufficient. On the other hand, these film projects raised economic arguments on the continuity of film production and attracting private investments, important elements in creating a stronger Flemish film industry. Moreover, attracting a large audience was a decisive argument. Connected to this argument, there was a broadening of the vision on what is culturally valuable and thus deserves government support. In addition to artistic and qualitative elements, the entertainment value of the films and the viewing pleasure of the audience were also taken into consideration, which weakened the earlier aversion to popular culture. The popular comedies show that from the eighties on, not only culturally respectable films, but also amusement films without much artistic or intellectual ambitions were deemed worthy to be supported by the government.

From movies to games

Following upon the European Screens conference, MeCETES invited me to write this blog post for their website. Based on my conference presentation (together with Daniel Biltereyst, Philippe Meers and Roel Vande Winkel), I describe how film policy in Flanders is responding to intensified media convergence trends in the film industry. I conclude by arguing that although there is a definite and irreversible expansion of film policy to broader creative screens policies, the film policy component, and more specifically the fiction film production policy component, retains its central place within the policy framework, around which new media policies are organized.

You can read the blog post at full length here.

European Screens conference

I’m currently attending the ‘European Screens Conference’ at the University of York. It feels kind of pleasantly weird to be back at this ‘young but big’ UK university (it was established in 1963). As a PhD student, I lived at the university campus (a few miles outside of York, which has nature and quietness as advantages, but a feeling of being-detached-from-real-life as a disadvantage) for a few months in the spring of 2013. I worked here on my PhD under the supervision of Andrew Higson, a leading scholar in British, heritage and national cinema.


Part of the MeCETES team presenting their research results. From left: Rasmus Helles, Signe Sophus Lai, Huw D Jones, Andrew Higson, Tim Raats, Ilse Schooneknaep

Andrew is also the organizer of the ‘European Screens conference’, which focuses on various aspects of film and television industries in Europe. It is the end conference of the extremely interesting MeCETES (Mediating Cultural Encounters Through European Screens) research project. This big European-funded collaborative research project examined contemporary European film and television drama from a variety of angles. The University of York team focused mainly on cinema, the University of Copenhagen team on television drama, and the Free University of Brussels team on governmental policy aspects.

My own presentation, tomorrow morning, will also focus on the policy side of the film industry; together with Daniel Biltereyst, Philippe Meers and Roel Vande Winkel, I will focus on how ‘film policy’ in Flanders has evolved to ‘creative screens policies’ in recent years, with special attention to media convergence trends and the continuing centrality of (feature) film (production).