Manu Riche & Patrick Marnham’s Snake Dance and Bram Van Paesschen’s Empire of Dust have been invited to the Etat d’Esprit section of the Visions du Réel International Film Festival (20-27 April) in Nyon, Switzerland. Both documentaries will compete for the festival’s Audience Award, worth more than €8,000.
Both documentaries are set in the Democratic Republic of Congo but take entirely different approaches. In Snake Dance, which premieres internationally in Nyon, director Manu Riche and English writer Patrick Marnham embark on a cross-cultural journey that retraces the events leading up to the making of the H-bomb. Through the writings of art historian Aby Warburg, Snake Dance composes a filmic essay of a world that now more than ever is on the verge of complete destruction.
In Empire of Dust, director Bram Van Paesschen follows Lao Yang and Eddy. Lao Yang is Chinese, Eddy is Congolese and speaks fluent Mandarin. The pair work for a company commissioned to build a road between Kolwesi and Lubumbashi, capital of Katanga province. The festival praises how Van Paesschen manages ‘to capture with impish virtuosity the sometimes cruel comedy of relations between new colonisers and former colonised’. Visions du Réel will be Empire of Dust’s Swiss premiere. Late last year, the film was selected for IDFA in Amsterdam and the Kassel Documentary Film & Video Festival in Germany.
These past few years Flemish documentary has managed to steadily convince international audiences. Just last year, Visions du Réel invited three docs and awarded one of them, Epilogue, with a Special Mention of the Jury. At festivals such as IDFA, FIPA and Hot Docs, Flemish documentary has quickly become an established brand.
Snake Dance is a production of Manu Riche for production outfit Riche, Riche & Riche. Empire of Dust was produced by Bart Van Langendonck for Savage Film, who received an invite for Visions du Réel last year with Mike Figgis’s The Co(te)lette Film. Both documentaries were made with support from the Flanders Audiovisual Fund.
Read the interviews with directors Manu Riche and Bram Van Paesschen in Flanders (i) magazine.