1985 student protest.webp

January 01, 2023

1985: VRT and RTBF join forces in fiction series on the Brabant killers in the turbulent 1980s

For the first time, two Belgian public broadcasters are collaborating on a fiction project for TV channels Eén/La une, about a dark chapter in our joint history. 1985 is based on true events and is set in the turbulent 1980s, when the Brabant killers were spreading terror in abundance. The series follows three young adults who find themselves in the eye of the storm that rocked Belgium at the time, when the Brabant killers commit brutal robberies and create tensions between investigators, preventing them from solving the case. 

1985 is made with a Flemish and French-speaking team. The cast also consists of actors from both Flanders and Wallonia. The story of the Brabant killers, the tensions within the gendarmerie and the numerous events that disrupted our country in the 1980s are burned in the collective memory of both language communities. The project is therefore an organic and authentic co-production between the two public broadcasters VRT and RTBF. 

RTBF and VRT had been talking to each other for a long time already, but were waiting for the right content project. With 1985, we have a great opportunity to combine our talents and enthusiasm, while also telling a strong and important story like no one else could. Every new Belgian fiction project is an adventure, a gamble, something that requires courage. It can only succeed with creativity, guts and ambition - and that is exactly what characterises this 1985 project.

- Sandrine Graulich, network manager La Une

The series is written by Willem Wallyn (De 16, All of Us), directed by Wouter Bouvijn (De twaalf) and produced by Gunter Schmid and Peter Bouckaert for Eyeworks (Cordon, De twaalf). Stijn Coninx (Don't Shoot) is involved as creative advisor. More than two years of research and writing preceded the series, during which the makers could count on the development support of the VAF/Mediafonds from Flemish Media Minister Benjamin Dalle. Recently, the VAF/Mediafonds also granted production support. 1985 is distributed internationally by STUDIOCANAL.

Three friends unintentionally end up in the eye of the storm

1985 follows friends Marc, Franky, and his sister Vicky in the turbulent 1980s. Marc and Franky move from the countryside to Brussels for a career in the gendarmerie, Belgium's elite law enforcement corps. With great ambitions and enthusiasm, they start their training. But the gendarmerie faces a crisis when the country is plagued by a series of brutal robberies. Meanwhile, Vicky is studying law at VUB in Brussels, across the street from the gendarmerie barracks. Her wild character and progressive ideals clash with everything Franky and Marc stand for. When the influential gendarme commander François is convicted of drug trafficking and an assassination attempt is made on Major Vernaillen who uncovered the case, the three youngsters are drawn into a spiral of events and crimes attributed to the Brabant killers.  

1985 brings the story of loss of innocence: not only of the three young people, but also of Belgian democracy, when the population's trust in the police force and politics is severely tested by the events surrounding the gang. A loss that continues to resonate in our society to this day. 

Our ambition with '1985' is to make (TV) history, literally and figuratively. A series that gives a truthful insight into one of the most troubled periods of Belgian recent history: the 1980s.
Gunter Schmid and Peter Bouckaert, producers of 1985

With its stylish and high-quality production, its compelling music score, featuring hits from the 1980s, and its authentic throwback aesthetic, the series excellently captures the atmosphere of the time. 

Willem Wallyn knows the Nijvel Gang dossier very well. At the time, he worked as a trainee lawyer on the preparation of the first killers Committee in Parliament. 

I wanted to capture the spirit of the time in such a way that a public born later, or that knew nothing at all about the facts, would understand perfectly what exactly happened then. This was best achieved by telling the story from the point of view of the young characters Marc, Franky, and Vicky. They are the ideal protagonists to explore the dramatic developments with the viewer. Their coming-of-age story against the backdrop of historical events also provides instant recognition.

- Willem Wallyn, screenwriter

1985 is a production by Eyeworks, VRT/Eén and RTBF, with the support of the Flemish government's Flemish Audiovisual Fund (VAF), Screen Flanders, the Brussels Capital Region (Screen.Brussels), and the Belgian tax shelter i.s.m. Casa Kafka Pictures, with the participation of Wallimage (La Wallonie). The production came about with the support of the Flemish government's corona emergency fund and the Guarantee Fund for the Flemish independent audiovisual production sector. 1985 is distributed internationally by STUDIOCANAL.