May promises to be a busy month for Flemish docs and shorts. Both the Docville International Documentary Festival in Leuven (29 April-7 May) and the Brussels Short Film Festival (28 April-8 May) are scheduling a strong selection of Flemish titles. With attention for Flemish productions on the rise internationally, indigenous fests are following course.
The seventh edition of documentary fest Docville is showcasing an ambitious programme, with yet to be released films, previews and one-off screenings. Among the 70 selected docs are a number of Flemish highlights such as Grande Hotel by Lotte Stoops and Waidmannsheil by Klaas Boelen, which were both selected for Hot Docs this year, as well as Peter Krüger’s creative documentary, Antwerp Central, which recently won the Grand Prix at the International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA).
The festival programme also features Because We Are Visual by Olivia Rochette and Gerard-Jan Claes, and Children of the Sea by Annabel Verbeke. Both films were awarded a VAF Wildcard at the end of last year by the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF). The Wildcard programme aims to give recently graduated filmmaking talent a chance to embark on a first professional project. Steve Thielemans, who was awarded a Wildcard in 2006 for The Substitute, is presenting his new film, Desert Island, at the doc fest.
Lastly, Sofie Benoot’s Blue Meridian and Lost Down Memory Lane by Klara Van Es will be screening in the festival’s national selection. The remarkable Lost Down Memory Lane managed to attract a record number of cinemagoers for documentary in Belgium through independent distribution. The film homes in on an apartment house with eight ageing ladies with dementia, although Alzheimer’s hasn’t quite robbed them of all their mental abilities yet, as flurries of lucidity, oblivion and absence take alternate turns. Docville, which focuses on cinema with a strong authorial voice, has made a colourful selection of both young documentary talent and strong festival titles.
Meanwhile the Brussels Short Film Festival has selected award-winning Flemish titles such as Wannes Destoop’s Swimsuit 46, which was recently confirmed for the official short competition of the Cannes International Film Festival. Brussels is also screening Land of the Heroes by Sahim Omar Kalifa, which won the Generation Kplus Jury Award at this year’s Berlinale. Finally, Stardust by festival favourite Nicolas Provost, Paroles by Cannes selected Gilles Coulier (Iceland) and Children of the Sea by Annabel Verbeke, complete the list.
Flemish cinema is also in demand at local festivals such as Film Fest Open Doek, which also programmed the Hot Doc selected documentary Grande Hotel by Lotte Stoops.