Six promising young filmmakers have been awarded a wildcard, handed out by the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF) through its annual VAF wildcard competition. Maaike Neuville’s Sonnet 81 and Deben Van Dam’s The Way of All Flesh were laureled among the fiction shorts; Juliette Joffé received a documentary wildcard for Maybe Darkness, as did Hannes Verhoustraete for 28 Rue Brichaut. This year’s animation wildcard went to Nienke Deutz for One, Two, Three, Piano! while Miki Ambrózy’s Fabric of Time earned him a wildcard in the filmlab section of the competition.
Director-actress Maaike Neuville (Sint-Lukas), also known for her roles in Clan and The Intruder, received one of this year’s fiction wildcards for her short, Sonnet 81. A subtle and poetical portrait about the immortality of our loved ones, the film pictures one of the annual gatherings of Ellen’s closest friends. It’s been ten years since she passed away, and everyone has coped with the loss in their own way. Where is the grief now, and where is someone who died so long ago?
This year’s second fiction laureate, Deben Van Dam (RITS), examines similar themes in The Way of All Flesh, although from another point of view. Tibo, a nurse on a palliative care floor, has a serious condition: boredom. One day however, his colleague Anouk asks him a favour: whether Tibo would like to spend the day with Frans Claeskens, the only patient without any friends or family, because today the man will undergo euthanasia. A big favour for everyone who knows the racist and perverted Claeskens.
In the documentary section, Julliette Joffé (Sint-Lukas) and Hannes Verhoustraete (KASK) were chosen as laureates. Joffé’s Maybe Darkness is a contemplative and intimate exploration of one’s relationship to familial past and cherished places. She portrays an old family flat left at a standstill for 150 years as if stuck in time. Years pass by as generations come back every summer for the holidays.
In 28 Rue Brichaut, Hannes Verhoustraete investigates different ways of looking back at the past, trying to discern the history of his own home in Brussels. But a history is not only a narrative of things past, it is also a mode of belonging together, a way of sharing individual and collective experiences, as well as the forms and signs that give them shape.
This year’s animation wildcard was offered to Nienke Deutz (KASK) for her five-minute short One, Two, Three, Piano! It pictures six children playing a game of statues between the remains of an abandoned industrial site. Miki Ambrózy (Sint-Lukas) received a wildcard for his cinematographic experiment Fabric of Time, taking its viewers to 1980s Hungary through sound recordings, photographs and re-enactments of childhood.
In organising the wildcard competition, the Flanders Audiovisual Fund is focussing on discovering and nurturing budding audiovisual talent. Each laureate receives a grant to realise a first professional project, ranging from €25,000 for experimental films to €40,000 for documentary projects. Fiction and animation laureates receive a €60,000 grant.
The wildcard competition organised by the Flanders Audiovisual Fund has already proven its value over the last few years. Its history includes previous winners such as Tom Van Avermaet (Death of a Shadow), Sahim Omar Kalifa (Land of the Heroes, Baghdad Messi), Gust Van den Berghe (Little Baby Jesus of Flandr, Blue Bird), Gilles Coulier (Iceland, Mont Blanc) and Hans Van Nuffel (FAL, Oxygen) in the category fiction. Eva Küpper (What’s in a Name), Elias Grootaers (Not Waving But Drowning), Bram Conjaerts (The Circle) and Sofie Benoot (Fronterismo, Blue Meridian) were previously awarded in the documentary section of the competition, while Wouter Bongaerts (Mouse for Sale, Mia) was the first laureate to win an animation wildcard in 2010.