This September, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York will screen three short films from Flanders: Tom Van Avermaet’s Death of a Shadow; Tunnelrat, directed by Raf Reyntjens; and Peace, directed by Roman Klochkov. The films are part of ‘The Great War: A Cinematic Legacy’, a film exposition in commemoration of WWI curated by Charles Silver and Dave Kehr.
The Great War programme has just one short film section, with three out of the four entries coming from Flanders. Tom Van Avermaet’s Death of a Shadow stars Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust & Bone, Bullhead, Loft) as Nathan Rijckx, a deceased soldier trying to buy back a second chance at life.
Tunnelrat, directed by Raf Reyntjens (Paradise Trips) in 2008, also stars Schoenaerts. When two enemy soldiers get trapped in a tunnel below the front, they are confronted with their common enemy - war itself - and realise that they need each other to survive.
Finally, Roman Klochkov’s one-minute animated short Peace shows how war seems inevitable as rival factions bear down on each other, armed to the teeth and unwilling to negotiate. But a single shot precipitates peace. The film is part of the project 12 Minutes About Peace - an initiative launched by the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF), which consists of 12 ultra short animation films on the theme of peace, commemorating the centenary of the Great War.
MoMA’s ‘The Great War: A Cinematic Legacy’ opened on 4 August, the 100th anniversary of the day World War I began, and runs till 21 September, highlighting some 60 feature films and thematic programmes aimed at providing a comprehensive view of the war as portrayed in film. The various films focus on pre-war activities; espionage; the battlefields in the trenches, in the air and on and beneath the sea; and the various home fronts before, during and after the war. The schedule combines classics such as The Great Dictator (opening reels), A Farewell to Arms and Lawrence of Arabia together with more contemporary films including Spielberg’s War Horse.
Curator Charles Silver and adjunct-curator Dave Kehr of MoMA’s Department of Film organised the season. It was also Kehr who invited Flemish director Caroline Strubbe to New York where her films Lost Persons Area and I’m the same I’m an other screened on a daily basis throughout the first week of July.
Ellen De Waele produced Death of a Shadow for Serendipity Films (82 Days in April, Grande Hotel, Epilogue) with the support of a wildcard from the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF) won by Van Avermaet in 2006. Tunnelrat was produced by Potemkino’s Peter De Maegd (Cub), while Lunanime (The Team, Offline) produced Klochkov’s Peace. All three shorts received support from the Flanders Audiovisual Fund/Film Fund of Flemish Cultural Affairs Minister Sven Gatz.