39th Flanders International Film Festival

It’s october. That means that once again it’s time for the film festival here in Ghent. This is the selection for this year:

Wednesday 10 October

Cesare Deve Morire (Caesar Must Die)

The performance of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” comes to an end and the performers are rewarded with rapturous applause. The lights go out; the actors leave the stage and return to their cells. They are all inmates of the Roman maximum security prison Rebibbia. One of them comments: ‘Ever since I discovered art this cell has truly become a prison’. Filmmakers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani spent six months following rehearsals for this stage production; their film demonstrates how the universality of Shakespeare’s language helps the actors to understand their roles and immerse themselves in the bard’s interplay of friendship and betrayal, power, dishonesty and violence. This documentary does not dwell on the crimes these men have committed in their ‘real’ lives; rather, it draws parallels between this classical drama and the world of today, describes the commitment displayed by all those involved and shows how their personal hopes and fears also flow into the performance. After the premiere the cell doors slam shut behind Caesar, Brutus and the others. These men all feel proud and strangely touched, as if the play has somehow revealed to them the depths of their own personal history.

Thursday 11 October

Ve Stinu (In the Shadow of the Horse)

Set in 1950s Prague, the film follows Hakl (4-time Czech Lion winner, Ivan Trojan), a member of the Communist police force and his investigation of a seemingly mundane robbery at a goldsmith’s shop. His desire for the truth, though, leads him to new evidence indicating that the case is far more complicated than it seems. State Security takes over the investigation, replacing him with a German specialist in Zionist crime, Zenke (Sebastian Koch, the Academy Award-winning “The Lives of Others”), whose ominous arrival feels more than coincidental. Hakl defiantly continues his investigation on his own, sending both men on a collision course with governmental powers beyond anything they could have suspected.

Friday 12 October

Amour (Love)

Georges and Anne are in their eighties. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, who is also a musician, lives abroad with her family. One day, Anne has an attack. The couple’s bond of love is severely tested.

Saturday 13 October

Ernest et Célestine (Ernest & Celestine)

In normal bear life, it is frowned upon to make friends with a mouse. But Ernest, a big bear, a clown and musician who lives on the fringes of bear society, nonetheless welcomes little Celestine into his home. She is an orphan and has fled the mouse world down below. These two solitary characters find support and comfort in one another, but in the process, fly in the face of convention, upsetting the established order.

Τοπίο στην ομίχλη (Landscape in the Mist)

Produced, directed and written in his traditionally episodic fashion by Greek filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos, the internationally produced Landscape in the Mist concentrates on a pair of runaway children, played by Tania Palaiogou and Michalis Zeke. The kids are en route to Germany, where they believe their father is dwelling. The adventures during their trek range from heartwarming (the kids are briefly “adopted” by a group of itinerant actors and by affable cyclist Stratos Tzortzoglou) and harrowing (Palaiogou is raped by a callous truck driver). The film’s title refers to the kids’ perception of the “promised land” of Germany. ‘Landscape in the Mist’ was the recipient of numerous festival awards, including the 1988 Venice Film Festival Silver Lion.

Sunday 14 October

Belgium Student Short Film Competition

A selection of new Belgian Student shorts: Corps Perdu (by Lukas Dhont, KASK, fiction), Dit is Ronald (by Jules Comes, Sint-Lukas, fiction), Kus me zachtjes (by Anthony Schatteman, KASK, fiction), De Lucht in mijn keel (by Ann-Julie Vervaeke, KASK, fiction), De naam van de vader (by Timothy Josha Wennekes, Sint-Lukas, fiction), Rae (by Emmanuelle Nicot, IAD, fiction), Tristesse Animal Sauvage (by Florian Berutti, INSAS, fiction) and Tsjernobyl Hearts (by Emilie Verhamme, Sint-Lukas, fiction)

Lore

At the close of the war in Germany 1945, a group of children set out to cross a devastated country to reach their Grandmother some 900 km to the north. The eldest, Lore, is left in charge of her four younger siblings when their SS Nazi parents are taken into Allied custody. The children must make a journey that exposes them to the reality and consequences of their parents’ actions. In meeting the charismatic and intriguing Thomas, a young Jewish refugee, Lore soon finds her world shattered by feelings of both hatred and desire. She is transfixed by her fear of the young man, but must trust the one person whom she has always been taught is the enemy in order to survive.

Monday 15 October

Dupa Dealuri (Beyond the Hills)

In an isolated Orthodox convent in Romania, Alina has just been reunited with Voichita after spending several years in Germany. The two young women have supported and loved each other since meeting as children in an orphanage. Alina wants Voichita to leave and return with her to Germany, but Voichita has found refuge in faith and a family in the nuns and their priest, and refuses. Alina cannot understand her friend’s choice. In her attempt to win back Voichita’s affection, she challenges the priest. She is taken to hospital and the people of the monastery start to suspect that she is possessed.

Tuesday 16 October

Beast of the Southern Wild

In a forgotten but defiant bayou community cut off from the rest of the world by a sprawling levee, six-year old Hushpuppy exists on the brink of orphanhood. Her mother long gone, and her beloved father Wink a wildman on a perpetual spree, Hushpuppy is left to her own devices on an isolated compound filled with semi-feral animals. She perceives the natural world to be a fragile web of living, breathing, squirting things, in which the entire universe depends on everything fitting together just right. So when a hundred year storm raises the waters around her town, her daddy is suddenly stricken with illness, and fierce pre-historic creatures awaken from their frozen graves to come charging across the planet, Hushpuppy sees the natural order of everything she holds dear collapsing around her. Desperate to repair the structure of her world in order to save her ailing father and sinking home, this tiny hero must learn to survive an unstoppable catastrophe of epic proportions.

Wednesday 17 October

Paradies: Liebe (Paradise: Love)

On Kenya’s beaches they are known as “sugar mamas”: European women who seek out African boys selling love to earn a living. Teresa, a 50-year-old Austrian woman, travels to this vacation paradise. ‘Paradies: Liebe’ tells of older women and young men, of Europe and Africa, and of the exploited, who end up exploiting others. Ulrich Seidl’s film is the first in his Paradies-Trilogy about three women, three vacations and three stories of the longing to find happiness today.

Thursday 18 October

Double Bill: Static Movement

A screening of two films that shows one of the few parallels between the movies of Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Mekong Hotel) and Chris Marker (La Jetée): static movement.

La Jetée

Mekong Hotel

Saturday 20 October

Final Cut – Hölgyeim Es Uraim (Final Cut – Ladies & Gentlemen)

For his fourth feature film after “Hukkle” (European discovery of the year at the European Film Awards and a Special Mention for the Best Young Director in San Sebastian 2002), “Taxidermia” (selected at Cannes’ Certain Regard in 2006) and “I Am Not Your Friend” (in competition at Karlovy Vary in 2009), the talented and unpredictable Hungarian filmmaker, confronted with the Hungarian film industry’s recent serious financial crisis, decided to tell a love story using (without permission) images from 450 emblematic films from world cinema, from “Metropolis” to “Indiana Jones”, via “The Godfather”, “Avatar”, “Scenes from a Marriage”, “Psycho” or even “Modern Times”, with a few television series thrown in as well.

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