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Halfway, Waste Land, Labyrinthus and Violet have all been selected for the Cleveland International Film Festival (18-29 March). Also in the line-up are short film Wien for Life, together with Alleluia, Ne me quitte pas and Above Us All, three co-productions with Flanders.
Halfway, the sixth feature of Come As You Are director Geoffrey Enthoven and scripted by Pierre De Clercq, will be presented in Cleveland’s After Hours programme. In Halfway, Stephen moves into the luxury home he managed to buy at a rock-bottom price. But his peace is soon disturbed by Theo, who claims to be the rightful owner. But Theo, it turns out, died two years ago.
Waste Land and Alleluia are part of the same section. Previously presented in Toronto, Les Arcs and Austin, Pieter Van Hees’s Waste Land is about taciturn homicide detective Leo Woeste, whose very last homicide case slowly drags him deeper into the grim underbelly of Brussels. Eurydice Gysel and Koen Mortier produced the film for Epidemic (Borgman, Rivers Return).
Home, the new film from arthouse auteur Fien Troch, is among five Flemish features to receive support in the 2.85 million euro winter funding round announced by the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF). Also receiving production funding is Zagros, the feature debut of acclaimed short filmmaker Sahim Omar Kalifa.T
Troch, a fiercely personal filmmaker noted for such titles as Someone Else’s Happiness, Unspoken and Kid, breaks with tradition by sharing the writing credit on Home with her husband, acclaimed film editor Nico Leunen, whose cutting credits include Oscar nominee The Broken Circle Breakdown and Ryan Gosling’s 2014 Cannes entry, Lost River. The film, whose screenplay last autumn won the Arte International Award at the TorinoFilmLab, tells the story of a 16-year-old boy trying to find his place in the world against a background of intergenerational conflict. Producer is Antonino Lombardo of Prime Time.
Geoffrey Enthoven’s Halfway, Plan Bart, directed by Roel Mondelaers and Marry Me, the new feature by Kadir Balci, are all to have their North American premieres at the Cinequest Film Festival in Silicon Valley (24 February – 9 March). Piss & Vinegar and Wien for Life, two Flemish shorts, also receive their international premieres at the festival. In the Heart, a co-production with Flanders starring Koen De Graeve, completes the Flemish line-up.
Marry Me, Kadir Balci’s second feature after Turquaze, tells the story of Sibel and Jurgen who get engaged following a brief affair. The couple looks forward to what ought to be the most beautiful day of their lives, but reckon without the pressure, expectations and doubts of their families.
Baghdad Messi, the short film by Kurdish-Flemish director Sahim Omar Kalifa, has won the prize for Best Short Film at the Irvine International Film Festival in the US. This award marks the 50th international acknowledgment for Baghdad Messi since the filmstarted its awards career in 2013.
Baghdad Messi tells the story of10-year-old Hamoudi, who is obsessed with football andworships Lionel Messi, as do all his friends. But on the eve of the long-awaited Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United, Hamoudi’s television set breaks down. Afraid of being shunned by his mates, the boy urges his father to make the dangerous trip to Baghdad to have the TV repaired.
Sahim Omar Kalifa’s latest short film Bad Hunter has won the Special Jury Award for Best International Short at the Flickerfest International Short Film Festival in Sydney, Australia (9-18 January). Since its international premiere, Bad Hunter has screened at five international festivals and won awards at four of them.
The film tells the story of 19-year-old Bahoz, who regularly goes into the mountains to hunt but catches very little. Today, however, will change his life for ever.
Several films and co-productions from Flanders were programmed at this year’s Rotterdam International Film Festival (IFFR, 21 January – 1 February). Isabelle Tollenaere’s Battles, Sarah Vanagt’s In Waking Hours and Thierry Knauff’s Vita Brevis, a co-production with Flanders, premiered at the festival. Black, Sequenza and Kosmos were also part of the programme, while student shorts The Visitor, The Second of August and Hotel Red Shoes were shown in the Signals: 24/7 section. Finally, the Screen Flanders-supported feature Between 10 and 12 was part of the line-up in the Limelight section.
Isabelle Tollenaere presented her latest documentary Battles, Sarah Vanagt presented In Waking Hours, and also Thierry Knauff's Vita Brevis premiered at the festival. Black Sequenza, Kosmos were also part of the programme, while student shorts The Visitor, The Second of August and Hotel Red Shoes were shown in the Signals: 24/7 section. Finally, Between 10 and 12 was part of the line-up in the Limelight section.
Sahim Omar Kalifa’s short film Bad Hunter has won the Jury Prize in the Muhr Short Film Competition at this year’s Dubai International Film Festival (10-17 December). It’s the third international award for Kalifa’s newest film, while his previous short Baghdad Messi continues its awards spree.
The Jury Prize comes with a sum of 25,000 AED (about $7,000) and is number three in the film’s awards tally. Bad Hunter previously won a Jury Award at the Montreal World Film Festival, where it premiered last summer; and picked up a Silver at Spike Valladolid. In January, the film is confirmed to screen at Australia’s Oscar-qualifying Flickerfest.
Pieter Van Hees’s Waste Land has been selected for Official Competition at the European Film Festival in Les Arcs, France (13-20 December). Bas Devos’s feature debut Violet and Benoit De Clerck’s short film The Hunger are also part of the official line-up. Flemish projects to be discovered in the professional programme are Kenneth Mercken’s Coureur and Galloping Mind by Wim Vandekeybus. Finally, three new feature films from Flanders - Black, Belgian Rhapsody and again Waste Land - will be pitched to an audience of distributors and cinema owners from France.
Waste Land, Black and Belgian Rhapsody will be presented during the Les Arcs Summit, a yearly programme that reunites independent distributors and industry professionals focusing on the exhibition of European films in France and made up of a number of films scheduled for a 2015 release.
The Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF) has announced this year’s Wildcard winners: six promising young filmmakers who will each receive a grant of between €25,000 and €60,000 to develop their first professional film. Raphaël Crombez and Miwako Van Weyenberg were winners in the fiction section, with Ruben Desiere and Kwinten Gernay each receiving a documentary Wildcard. The animation grant went to Laura Vandewynckel, with Christina Stuhlberger getting the Wildcard in the filmlab section.
Since it was introduced in 2005, the Fund’s competition has established itself as Belgium’s prime awards programme when it comes to launching new talent. Six grants are handed out: three worth €60,000 go to one animation project and two fiction shorts; the two documentary winners each get €40,000; and the Wildcard in the filmlab section comes with a prize of €25,000.
Sahim Omar Kalifa’s award-winning Baghdad Messi has been shortlisted for the upcoming Oscars in the category of Best Live-Action Short. In total, 10 shorts are left in the voting process, with the nominees due to be announced on January 15.
Out of 141 qualifying short films, members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences selected 10 live-action shorts, Kalifa’s Baghdad Messi among them. In the next couple of weeks, Short Films and Feature Animation Branch members will narrow the list down to between three and five nominees, who will be announced on January 15. The Oscar ceremony will be held on February 22 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.