Waiting for August, the documentary feature by Romanian-Flemish director Teodora Ana Mihai, has won the Best International Feature Award at Hot Docs, Toronto’s world-renowned documentary film festival (24 April – 4 May). Meanwhile, the film was also given a Special Mention at the Visions du Réel festival in Switzerland, as was Ellen Vermeulen’s documentary 9999. Finally, Before The Last Curtain Falls, a co-production with Flanders, was also awarded at Hot Docs.
Teodora Ana Mihai’s documentary debut Waiting for August screened in Hot Docs’ international competition, alongside 12 other documentary features including Jos De Putter’s See No Evil among others. The feature film judges, Anna Eborn, Gordon Quinn and Tom Quinn decided unanimously to present the film with the main prize of the festival, the Best International Feature Documentary Award, worth 10,000 Canadian Dollar. Together with Amsterdam’s IDFA, Hot Docs is one of the world-leading documentary film festivals.
In an uncensored, fly-on-the-wall style, Waiting for August shows its viewers a look into the life of Georgiana Halmac, a 15-year-old girl living with her six siblings in a social housing condo on the outskirts of Bacau, Romania. While their mother’s away, earning a living in Italy, Georgiana is catapulted to the role of new head of the family. Having become the main responsible for her younger brothers and sisters, her puberty is brutally cut short.
Photography on Waiting for August was done by Joachim Philippe, while Michèle Hubinon took care of editing. Karim Baggili and Ada Milea wrote the soundtrack of the film. Producers are Hanne Phlypo and Antoine Vermeesch of Clin d’Oeil Films (Houses With Small Windows, The Art of Becoming, Silent Stories), in co-production with A Private View (Marry Me, Brasserie Romantique). International sales agent is Stefan Kloos of Berlin-based Rise & Shine, already known for representing Flemish documentaries such as Rêve Kakudji and The Brussels Business.
Besides Waiting for August, Ellen Vermeulen’s documentary feature 9999 equally received a Special Mention at Visions du Réel in Switzerland, while Leni Huyghe’s short PS Sao Paulo received the Award of the Young Public. Vermeulen’s 9999 tells the story of five mentally ill prisoners living in Merksplas prison without treatment or a release date. It’s a world where time stands still and all that remains is confrontation and closed doors. Principal photography was done by Jonathan Wannyn; editor was Dieter Diependaele. Mark Daems and Bram Crols of Associate Directors (Lost Down Memory Lane, The King of the Mont Ventoux) produced the film.
PS Sao Paulo is an experimental shorts that sees two men walking in the big city at night. They are having the kind of conversation that only lost souls can have.
Finally, Before The Last Curtain Falls was laureled at Toronto’s Hot Docs as well. The film by Canadian-German filmmaker Thomas Wallner was awarded the Special Jury Prize for Canadian Feature. Coproduced for Flanders by Bart Van Langendonck’s production outfit Savage Film (Labyrinthus, Bullhead) the film zooms in on a group of ageing drag queens and transsexuals who set out on one final stage tour. Time has left its marks, but when the spotlights go on, all is forgotten. The script of Before The Last Curtain Falls was co-written by Flemish filmmaker Eva Küpper (What’s in a Name), while the film was shot with a mainly Flemish crew.
Both Waiting for August, 9999 and Before The Last Curtain Falls could count on the support of the Flanders Audiovisual Fund/Film Fund of Flemish Cultural Affairs Minister Joke Schauvliege.