Ready. Set. Design.
Le décor de cinéma au Luxembourg
Exhibition from February 12 to April 11 2021 at Cercle Cité
If cinema is "the supreme art of illusion" as people say, then the use of decors is a perfect illustration of this. The set - or "scenography" - of a film locates the narrative and action in a specific space and thus contributes to the creation of a homogenous cinematographic universe that allows filmmakers to tell their story. More than just an environment, the set is a protagonist in its own right.
Whilst the Lumière brothers, pioneers of the Seventh Art, filmed in natural settings, the illusionist George Méliès filmed in front of a canvas or a studio set. The decor can be discreet and decisive at the same time; the scenography adds to the illusion and is often even more remarkable when it passes unnoticed by the audiences. In addition to anchoring the action in a specific location, another crucial function of the film decor is to express the inner life of one or more characters symbolically. Thus, it contributes to the creation of a cinematographic reality through the interaction between interiors and exteriors, real places and studio sets, movie props, and special effects.
The exhibition Ready. Set. Design. Le décor de cinéma au Luxembourg (from February 12th to April 11th 2021 at the Cercle Cité) pays tribute to the decors and sets in Luxembourgish productions and co-productions made between 1980 and 2020.
This exhibition seeks to analyse the significance of the decor through various perspectives and outlines the different steps necessary for the creation of a set. The director, the production designer and the director of photography establish an artistic and visual concept by the use of location scouting, set constructions, as well as the use of props and special effects. The exhibition gives a voice to the representatives of the different professions in the Luxembourgish film industry and highlights their creative and artistic work through their testimonials.
Through the analysis of the setting, the exhibition aims to tell a ‘different’ story of Luxembourgish cinema since the 1980s.
The special tax regime for investments in the audiovisual sector introduced in 1988 by the Government of Luxembourg, as part of an effort to diversify the economy, began to attract, through a system of financial incentives, many foreign movie productions to Luxembourg. Therefore, national companies such as Carousel Pictures, Delux Productions, Samsa Film, Iris Productions, Red Lion, Tarantula Luxembourg and Amour Fou Luxembourg, started to co-produce films mostly set abroad, whilst – at least partially – filming them on location in Luxembourg.
It is fascinating, how iconic and ‘typically Luxembourgish’ locations have been integrated into stories taking place in the most distinct regions and cities (e.g. Paris, London, Tel Aviv or New York), with particularly urbanistic and architectural characteristics that are often very different from those of Luxembourg. The immense Venice set, located in Esch-sur-Alzette, has remained in the annals of Luxembourgish cinema. In 2001, over the span of a few months, more than 300 craftsmen and artisans transformed the industrial wasteland ‘Terres rouges’ in Esch into 14th century Venice, which later also served as the setting for a film that was set in ... Delft.
Finally, the exhibition aims to analyse how Luxembourgish filmmakers view their own country. What kind of stories are set in what region, milieu or landscape of the Grand Duchy? Which images and cinematographic representations are linked to which places, and the communities who live there?
Cinema is magic! And the exhibition Ready. Set. Design. Le décor de cinéma au Luxembourg created by curators Paul Lesch, Director of the Centre national de l'audiovisuel (CNA), Yves Steichen (CNA) and Chiara Lentz (CNA), in collaboration with the Cercle Cité, with the support of Luxembourg City Film Festival, will be punctuated by numerous illustrations - sketches, plans, mood books, scenarios, photos, posters, film clips and interviews - to enable visitors to immerse themselves into the decors and the cinematic illusion ‘made in Luxembourg’.