Palme d'Or winners bring reality to Cologne

Dardennes talk about hardship, morality

COLOGNE, Germany -- Two-time Palme d'Or winners Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne brought a stiff dose of reality to this year's Cologne Conference, talking social hardship, cultural integrity and universal morality in a wide-ranging interview with THR editor Elizabeth Guider.

The Belgian brothers, whose latest, the immigrant crime drama "The Silence of Lorna," opened in Germany this weekend, provided a refreshing change from the Conference's usual program of media and business analysis. The words monetization, multi-platform or long tail never left their lips.

Instead, Luc Dardenne defended their focus on the losers in global world economy.

"Economics is a moral science and, especially now, we need more morality in the economic system," Luc Dardenne said.

But the Dardennes were also willing to talk business, detailing the difficulty in finding funding for their films, despite their impressive awards pedigree. Luc Dardenne joked that the performance of his films was "more important than sex" but his brother acknowledged they are realistic about their box office potential.

"We have, worldwide maybe an audience of 2-3 million, plus another 10 million later on TV," said Jean-Pierre Dardenne. "That's fine. We understand the way we make our films means they are not going to be big mainstream movies."

But the Dardenne brothers got a little help towards their next project when they received the Film Prize of the City of Cologne, a 25,000 euros ($34,000) bursary presented as part of the Cologne Conference  prizes on Friday night.