The Margaret Mead Film Festival (10-13 Nov) in New York has confirmed three Flemish documentaries for its line-up. Both Lotte Stoops’ Grande Hotel, which has the honour of opening the Fest, and Sofie Benoot’s Blue Meridian are selected for the ‘Filmmaker in Person’ programme. Kristof Bilsen’s White Elephant is screening in the shorts programme.
Earlier this year Grande Hotel had its international debut at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. From there it went on to be selected for the prestigious Hot Docs competition in Canada where it received an Honourable Mention. Months later, the film is still popular on the festival circuit as evidenced by the prestigious opening of the Margaret Mead Festival and selections for Silver Docs. The documentary takes viewers on a trip to Beira, a town in Mozambique, where the hotel of the same name is emblematic of the turbulent history of the country. Built in 1955, the luxurious hotel was the pride of the former Portuguese colony. Nowadays, the monumental building is a shadow of its former glory and accommodates over 3,500 permanent occupants. They reside in miserable conditions, often surrounded by danger and violence.
Blue Meridian is a journey following the Mississippi river from Cairo, Illinois to New Orleans, Louisiana. A river floating through the Deep South and the imagination of America. A documentary road movie through a mythic place and an encounter with people living between traces from natural disasters, economic decline and a turbulent American history. Later on this month, Benoot's doc will also be presented at IDFA's Docs For Sale market. This after recently receiving a Special Mention at the Camden International Film Festival in Maine, an selections for such fests as Doclisboa, documenta Madrid and the It’s all true international doc film festival in Brazil, a.o.
White Elephant received good news earlier this month with its confirmation for the IDFA Best Student Documentary line-up. Its NY screening at Margaret Mead also marks the film’s US premiere. White Elephant is a documentary about the Central Post Office and its employees in Kinshasa, DR Congo. This grandiose relic of a colonial past has trapped its employees in a frozen timewarp from which they are planning their escape.
The 35th edition of the Margaret Mead Film Fest will showcase more than 30 films, selected from over 1,000 submissions. The NY fest is the longest-running showcase for international documentaries in the US. Head of this year’s Award jury is Academy Award nominated director Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, the Wrestler).
Blue Meridian is produced by Auguste Orts, while Grande Hotel is a production of Ellen De Waele for Serendipity Films. White Elephant is Kristof Bilsen’s graduation project doc for the National Film and Television school in London.