Pieter-Jan De Pue’s The Land of the Enlightened premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this week, where it received strong reviews from international and local press. Up next for De Pue’s debut feature is the Rotterdam International Film Festival.
The Land of the Enlightened depicts a group of Kuchi children who wage their own mini-wars amid the daily madness of war-stricken Afghanistan. De Pue shot the film’s poetic images in various regions in Afghanistan, working for more than seven years on the project.
On March 21, shooting starts on The Prime Minister (working title), a new feature by Erik Van Looy, director of Loft. Koen De Bouw takes the main role as the Belgian Prime Minister who is forced against his will to carry out a possibly world-threatening assignment.
Erik Van Looy wrote the film with Carl Joos (The Broken Circle Breakdown, The Treatment, In Flanders Fields), having previously collaborated on the script of The Alzheimer Case (The Memory of a Killer). Koen De Bouw will play the Belgian Prime Minister who is kidnapped and released on one condition: he has to kill the person he is supposed to meet later that day. But that person happens to be the President of the United States.
Robin Pront’s debut feature The Ardennes is one of 10 contenders for the Audience Award at the Glasgow Film Festival (17-28 February). All the selected films are first and second features directed by “a range of exciting new talents”. In addition to The Ardennes, this year’s Glasgow line-up also contains five co-productions with Flanders.
Robin Pront’s grim tale about brotherly conflict is also part of the festival’s Pioneer programme, a collection of brand new films from directors who the Festival believes might just win an Oscar or a Palme d’Or one day. Alongside The Ardennes in the Pioneer programme are such top international films as France’s Oscar-nominated Mustang; and Josh Mond’s James White.
Lenny Van Wesemael’s Café Derby and Paradise Trips by Raf Reyntjens have been selected for the Features Competition at the International Film Festival in Aubagne, France (14-19 March). Both first-time directors are in the running to win one or more of the awards - for Best Film, Best Script, Best Director and Best Musical Score - annually handed out by the Festival, which focuses mainly on film music.
David Van der Heijden arranged the original score of Raf Reyntjens’ Paradise Trips, which follows a grumpy bus driver who makes some unexpected discoveries about himself and his life during his final trip. The soundtrack of Café Derby was written by Belgian singer Lady Linn.
Sam Louwyck, Wim Willaert and Sebastien Dewaele make up the main cast of Cargo, Gilles Coulier’s debut feature. The story revolves around three brothers desperately trying to save the family’s fishing business. But their passion for their loved ones and their determination to stay in business drive them to desperate measures.
The director teamed up with Tom Dupont to write the screenplay for Cargo, which they further developed during the Script&Pitch session organised by the Torino FilmLab. David Williamson returns as Coulier’s DOP after working with him on all three shorts as well as on The Natives.
Flemish actor Jan Bijvoet plays one of the main roles in Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent (El abrazo de la serpiente), which has been nominated for an Academy Award® in the category Best Foreign Film. The actor’s varied portfolio also includes roles in The Ardennes, The Broken Circle Breakdown and Alex van Warmerdam’s Borgman.
Robin Pront’s feature debut The Ardennes and Black, the second feature by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, are both heading north for the Göteborg Film Festival at the end of January. The programme contains another five co-productions with Flanders, while local talents Matthias Schoenaerts and Jan Bijvoet appear in foreign films at the Festival.
The Ardennes, Pront’s ‘Flemish thriller noir’ about two brothers on the wrong track, will be presented in the New Voices programme in Göteborg, a section of 30 films from up-and-coming international directors. El Arbi and Fallah’s contemporary Romeo & Juliet story Black is part of the Five Continents section.
Comedy drama series The Natives has been selected for Episodic/Epidemic, a new section at this year’s Rotterdam International Film Festival (IFFR, 27 January – 7 February) which explores the interface between film and television.
The Cronenbergian title of the programme refers to the idea that TV series have become such a cultural and economic force that they spread like a virus. A follow-up to the Changing Channels programme at IFFR, this new section showcases series that feel like cinema, investigating how thin the line between film and television has become.
New Flemish crime series Coppers, released on Flanders’ commercial channel VTM, is off to a good start. The first episode, which aired on January 4, reached an average market share of 30%.
The 13-part crime series is based on the best selling detective novels by Toni Coppers and follows Liese Meerhout, head of the homicide division. In an ideal world, when a criminal commits a crime he is punished and his victim compensated. But in real life justice can be blind.
Amigo’s, a brand-new fiction series about five former inmates who start a restaurant, is part of this year’s Series Competition at the International Festival of Audiovisual Programs (FIPA) in France. The Panorama line-up also includes Rudi Vranckx’s current affairs reportage My Jihad.
The 10-episode miniseries Amigo’s tells the tragi-comic story of five former inmates who start a restaurant in a one-time brothel, planning to earn a living in an honourable way. However, they soon discover that doing the right thing isn’t always easy and are forced to face demons from their past.