Which main productions were shot recently in Luxembourg?
“The Luxembourg audiovisual sector was, despite the current health crisis, very prolific. With an untiring optimism, a great deal of caution and close monitoring against Covid-19, it was possible to shoot several films in 2020. Erik Stoneheart by Ilmar Raag, a Luxembourg co-production by Paul Thiltges Distributions with Finland, Lithuania and Latvia, notably shot in the Filmland studios. The production company Amour Fou Luxembourg co-produced two feature films, including Raspberries with Mustard by Ruth Olshan with Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, as well as Romed Wyder’s latest movie Une histoire provisoire co-produced with Switzerland.
Belgian director Joachim Lafosse directed a vast majority of his film Les Intranquilles in Luxembourg (Samsa Film). Nicolas Steil, director and producer at Iris Productions, filmed his latest project L’enfant caché also in Filmland studios in Kehlen. In times of safety distances, his project with more than 1,150 extras was a great challenge. Co-produced with Belgium and by the Luxembourg production company Les Films Fauves, the series Coyotes by the Belgian director Gary Seghers and the Luxembourg director Jacques Molitor also shot last September. Finally, the drama movie La vie dans les bois by François Pirot, co-produced by Tarantula Luxembourg with Belgium and Switzerland, made the camera rolling in autumn 2020 in Luxembourg.
“Erik Stoneheart” ©Paul Thiltges Distributions
The animation production sector, which occupies an important place in the national audiovisual sector, was less affected by the pandemic as they were able to continue their work remotely from home. Melusine Productions finished the project Wolfwalkers by Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart, a Luxembourg-Irish co-production, which is now nominated for an Academy Award. The animators of Doghouse Films have been working on a Luxembourg-French-Canadian project called Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Pierre Földes, based on short stories by Haruki Murakami. Luxembourg director Federico Milella from Fabrique d’Images was able to progress on the four seasons of his animation series Percy and His Friends, while Zeilt Productions worked on Deep in the Bowl by Julien Renault and Ghayth Chegaar (a co-production with China and France). Director Enzo d’Alò has been working for the past few months on A Greyhound of a Girl (Paul Thiltges Distributions) co-produced with Italy and the UK.
Several film shoots took place in Luxembourg at the beginning of the year, like two Amour Fou Luxembourg co-productions: The Forger directed by Maggie Peren and The Mucklas and How They Arrive at Pettson & Findus, a film by Ali Samadi Ahadi and Markus Dietrich (each co-produced with Germany). Some co-productions are currently shooting, such as the second season of the Luxembourg crime drama series Capitani (the first season was sold to Netflix) directed by Christophe Wagner and co-produced by Samsa Film with Belgium, which will have the Luxembourg central station area as backdrop, or Marie Kreutzer’s historical drama Corsage (co-production Samsa Film with Austria, Germany and France) starring Vicky Krieps in the lead role of Empress Sisi. Luxembourg director Laura Schroeder is currently shooting her second feature film Maret (co-produced with Germany). ”
“L’enfant caché” ©Iris Productions – Ricardo Vaz Palma
What’s the biggest production you have ever supported in Luxembourg?
“One of the biggest sets in Luxembourg was Ademir Kenovic’s The Secret Passage (starring John Turturro), coproduced with the UK. This shooting set, recreating canals and corners of Venice, was later adapted by Peter Webber in The Girl with the Pearl Earring (a Luxembourg-British co-production) with Scarlett Johansson, Colin Firth and Cillian Murphy. Finally, Michael Radford reused the set for The Merchant of Venice, which remains one of the most memorable films shot in the Grand Duchy due to the stellar cast (Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Joseph Fiennes) and to the impressive backdrop, a mini-copy of real Venice. Built in the South of Luxembourg, the set, unfortunately, no longer exists.
A more recent big project is White Fang, the first animated feature film by Luxembourg director Alexandre Espigares (Academy Award Winner in 2014 for Best Animated Short Film as co-director of Mr. Hublot). Co-produced in the Grand Duchy by Bidibul Productions with France and the United States, the animated film was shot in motion capture in the Filmland studios.
Two years ago, nearly half of the TV series Bad Banks (first season sold to Netflix) was shot in Luxembourg. This co-production between Luxembourg (Iris Productions) and Germany (Letterbox) shows a better-known aspect of Luxembourg, the financial sector, but also a more modern side of the country with notably the Freeport at Findel, the district of Kirchberg and Esch-Belval, a neighborhood in the South of Luxembourg.”
The set of “The Merchant of Venice” (2004) ©Film Fund Luxembourg
What do you think are the advantages of filming in Luxembourg?
“Luxembourg regularly works with audiovisual companies from France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Austria, Ireland and Canada. Due to its historical evolution, Luxembourg regularly doubles for cities such as Paris, Venice, Berlin, and more. In fact, 35 years ago, the audiovisual sector in Luxembourg was almost non-existent, so production companies participated in international co-productions to gain professional experience. This is how, over time, Luxembourg has established itself as a co-production country. The Grand Duchy offers film studios, high quality postproduction facilities, experienced technicians, and actors and actresses able to play in several languages.
If three keywords had to describe Luxembourg they would be creativity, diversity and sustainability. Luxembourg is full of breathtaking filming locations and offers a variety of different landscapes, such as the Luxembourg capital, which combines modern architecture with historical monuments (registered on the UNESCO world heritage list) or the city of Esch (European Capital of Culture 2022) with the old mining areas and its modern university. The north of the country, with forests and valleys offers an exceptional natural setting for outdoor filming. The Moselle valley covered with vineyards, on the east side of the country, has a picturesque charm. Not far from there is also the Mullerthal region which is above all a unique biotope characterized by rock formations that are as beguiling as they are surprising. It is the unique composition of the rock and soil erosion that have contributed to the creation of this landscape typical of Luxembourg’s so-called “Little Switzerland”. The best thing is that an average distance of about 45 kilometers separates all these locations, thus facilitates all logistical matters.”
Mullerthal Region © SIP Christof Weber
What main activities has the Film Fund Luxembourg been carrying on during this challenging time?
“The Film Fund quickly reacted to the health crisis by putting in place a financial aid to support production companies and by developing a catalogue of health measures with the Ministry of Health and the professionals’ associations to make it possible for the sector to start working in July 2020. These rules also apply for the current year.
The Film Fund’s team carries out its daily business of promoting and assisting our audiovisual sector by participating in national and international meetings, festivals and markets.
The Film Fund also advocates for flexibility and works to support the audiovisual sector by adapting certain measures on a national and international level so that the sector can continue to create audiovisual works despite the pandemic. For example, we are currently in the process of putting in place a bilateral agreement with our Dutch counterparts that will offer more flexibility in terms of territorial expenditure. In addition, and knowing that many people are trying to create and write new stories, the Fund is on the verge of launching a co-development and co-production agreement with Portugal, a country with whom we share loads of cultural and personal relations.”
Luxembourg City © SIP Christof Weber