Benoit De Clerck’s The Importance of Sweet and Salt, Tom Van Avermaet’s Oscar nominated Death of a Shadow, Wouter Bouvijn’s Crossroads and Roman Klochkov’s Natasha were the winners in the Flemish competition at the 18th Leuven International Short Film festival (1 – 8 December). The Humo Award, a guest competition, went to Kiss Me Softly by Anthony Schatteman (pictured on the left).
The Importance of Sweet and Salt, a tragicomedy about a man's inner struggle to escape from an extremely dysfunctional relationship with his wife, grabbed the Jury Award. The Award, which comes with a cash prize of € 2,000, also ensures the short a spot on the 2014 Academy Awards longlist. Meanwhile Wouter Bouvijn’s short Crossroads received the Award for Best Debut. In Crossroads, Maxime faces an uncertain future when his father dies from a genetic disease. He and his brother must choose whether they take the test or rather take a leap into the unknown.
Death of a Shadow, which was recently shortlisted for the 2013 Academy Awards, won the Audience Award in Leuven. Van Avermaet’s fantasy-style short film pictures Nathan Rijckx, a deceased soldier stuck in a dark midpoint between life and death. To buy back a second chance at life, he collects the shadows of dying men and women. But a girl he met only moments before he died keeps haunting him. Starring alongside Bullhead star Matthias Schoenaerts are Laura Verlinden, Peter Van Den Eede and Benjamin Ramon. Ellen De Waele produced the short for Serendipity Films.
Finally, Roman Klochkov’s Natasha went home with the Audience Award in the Flemish Competition for Best Animated Short. Earlier that year, the animated short already won the SACD Award at ANIMA. Natasha is a 14’ animation clip telling the story of Nicolaï, a Russian bear who flees to Europe in order to prove to his loved-one Natasha that he is not a loser, but this proves to be even harder than it seems.
Besides the Flemish competition, Leuven short also saw six VAF Wildcard winners. Michel van Ostande and Emilie Verhamme were awarded a fiction Wildcard for Nigredo and Tsjernobyl Hearts respectively. Aad Verstraelen won the animation Wildcard with his short Little Ryan. Jeroen Broeckx and Bram Cartigni won a Wildcard for their documentaries 30m³ and Pater Famileas. Hans Galle scooped the first experimental wildcard for his Maturing as a Tree. Read more about the VAF Wildcard winners here.
International winners in Leuven were Gunhild Enger’s Premature (Norway) and Sylvia Borges’ Zu Dir? (Germany) with the Jury and Audience Award respectively in the European Competition.