(Above, L-R) Daniel Eischen, BCC; Paul Lesch, CNA; Geoff Thompson, BIFFL; (below, L-R) Siun Ni Raghallaigh, former studio CEO; Bernard Michaux, film producer; Credit: Ali Sahib

Midweek during the 13th annual British & Irish Film Festival Luxembourg (BIFFL), which ran from 16 to 24 September 2022, two events were held at the Cinémathèque in Luxembourg City's Place du Théâtre in conjunction with chambers of commerce.

First up on the evening of Tuesday 20 September 2022 was the screening of the second Irish-language film of this year's festival, Foscadh, which was followed by a mini-seminar on the topic of "The Business of... Film Production".

The Vice-Chair of the Ireland Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce (ILCC), Ailbhe Jennings, addressed the event and referenced the long-standing collaboration the chamber has with the festival, and also talked about ILCC's 10th anniversary this year.

Siun Ni Raghallaigh, former CEO at Ardmore Studios in Bray, Co Wicklow, in Ireland, and former Finance Manager, Managing Director and Chair at TG4, the Irish-language broadcaster, was joined by Bernard Michaux, producer of the Ireland-Luxembourg co-production The Runway.

Moderated by festival organiser, Geoff Thompson, they discussed first the concern people have over the "death of cinema", from the days of VHS videos available for rent from Blockbuster and others, the growth of online streaming services such as Disney+ and Netflix, particularly during the pandemic, and the emergence of alternative content such as screening broadcasts of NT Live, the New York Met Gala, the Bolshoi Ballet, live sport and more. Both panellists agreed that "content is king" and film projects with a good script, etc., will win out in the long term.

They discussed funding models, both points-based and tax breaks, as well as ceilings / caps and co-productions, with the future European Digital Market presenting exciting opportunities. They both agreed that co-productions will continue to be the way forward. The discussion then touched on film studios, with Bernard Michaux talking about Filmland in Kehlen in Luxembourg and Siun Ni Raghallaigh talking about Ardmore Studios in Ireland, as well as the large Troy Studios in Limerick which are located in a former DELL computer factory and which attract larger film projects, partly due to the increased height of the stages, from American and other film production companies; she also cited other new projects which have been mentioned lately in the media, including one in Mullingar, but cautioned that these are normally at the planning stage and do not necessarily have the finance together at this early stage.

On Wednesday 21 September 2022, it was the turn of the British Chamber of Commerce in Luxembourg (BCC); Chairman Daniel Eischen talked about its 30th anniversary and explained that the chamber had been working with the festival to find the right event.

Geoff Thompson introduced Paul Lesch, the Director of Luxembourg's national audiovisual centre (Centre national de l'audiovisuel - CNA) in Dudelange, mentioning that he had a large private collection of Hitchcock memorabilia, part of which formed an exhibition that was held at the Ratskeller of the Cercle Cité earlier in the year and which was also followed by the publication of his book entitled Hitchcock. Actor and Performer.

Paul Lesch then held the audience enthralled as he explained how Alfred Hitchcock used himself in his films, in non-speaking parts that had no bearing on the plot. He showed a series of clips illustrating this, as well as in trailers of his films, many of which did not even contain any clips from the film, but instead carried Alfred Hitchcock himself talking to the camera, creating the desire for audiences to want to see his forthcoming film...

Both events were followed by receptions / walking dinners during which the conversations continued.

This year's BIFFL came to a close on Saturday 24 September 2022, with the film awards and the closing screening of Emer Reynolds' comedy drama Joyride.