Deben Van Dam’s short film The Way of All Flesh has won the prize for best picture at the Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival (31 May – 7 June), while Houses With Small Windows nabbed the first prize in the Mediterranean and Arab countries competition of the festival.

The Way of All FleshAs part of the international competition, The Way of All Flesh competed against 65 other short films from promising young directors coming from 30 countries worldwide. A professional jury of eight, including Dutch sales agent Sydney Neter of SND Films, In Treatment-producer Hagai Levi and producer and production consultant Rick Senat (The Casual Vacancy), presented The Way of All Flesh with the first prize.

Deben Van Dam also boarded the festival’s Filmbus project, a road trip during which selected filmmakers from international film schools present their films en route. Besides screenings and adjoining Q&A’s, local youngsters can also participate in workshops. In the past, Flemish filmmakers like Wouter Bouvijn (Crossroads) and Kenneth Mercken (The Letter) already participated.

Winning the festival’s main prize is not a first for Van Dam. Premiering at the Film Fest Ghent end of 2013, the film immediately nabbed the audience award. It also won the jury prize for best Flemish short and the Humo award in Leuven and was awarded a VAF Wildcard, a 60,000€ grant to develop a new professional project.

The Way of All Flesh deals with the unusual subject of euthanasia, though presented with a twist. Tibo works as a nurse on a palliative care ward and has a serious condition: boredom. But one day, his colleague asks for a favour; would Tibo share racist Frans Claeskens’s last day?

Similarly, Houses With Small Windows doesn’t treat an average-day theme. With his own very personal take, Belgian-Kurdish director Bülent Öztürk addresses the fact that honour killings still take place around the world. 22-year-old Dilan has shamed the family because of a forbidden love and therefore must die at the hands of her own brothers. As tradition will have it, the killing must be compensated and yet another victim must suffer.

The film screened in the Mediterranean and Arab countries competition in Tel Aviv, a contest presenting innovative and diverse cinematographic works from this region. This year’s competition counted 19 films originating from Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Greece, Italy, …

Students from the Tel Aviv University created the Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival as a bi-annual event in 1986. Since then, it has evolved into a yearly film happening. This year the festival presented about 250 short films. Special guests such as filmmakers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (Two days, one night), Leos Carax (Holy Motors) and editor Molly Malene Stensgaard (Dancer in the Dark, Melancholia, Nymphomaniac) were invited to give master classes.

Deben Van Dam wrote and directed The Way of All Flesh; DOP was Wim Vanswijgenhoven. Ben Vandendaele produced for Bekke Films. Bülent Öztürk and Mizgin Mujde Arslan scripted Houses With Small Windows, Hadewych Cocquyt was responsible for the principal photography. Hanne Phlypo and Antoine Vermeesch produced the film for Clin d’Oeil Films (Waiting for August) and received support from the Flanders Audiovisual Fund/Film Fund of Flemish Cultural Affairs Minister Joke Schauvliege.

Published on Tuesday 10 June 2014