EN - A young Russian travels to Belgium to achieve his boyhood dream of becoming a professional cyclist. But his coach forces him to use performance-enhancing drugs and, slowly but surely, he loses his grip on reality and is drawn to the dark side of the sport.

NL - Een jonge Rus komt naar België om er zijn jongensdroom te realiseren; profwielrenner worden. Onder druk van zijn ploegleider gaat hij dopingproducten gebruiken. Langzaam maar zeker verliest hij zijn greep op de realiteit, en raakt steeds meer vertrouwd met de donkere zijde van de wielersport.

FR - Un jeune Russe se rend en Belgique pour réaliser son rêve d’enfance de devenir un cycliste professionnel. Son entraîneur le pousse à consommer des produits dopants. Peu à peu, il perd le contrôle de la réalité et est entraîné dans le côté sombre du monde sportif.


Title The Letter
Original title письмо
Status Completed
Production Majority Flemish
Category Shorts
Genre Autobiography
Year 2011


Cast Alexander Lyapin, Aristhar Venes, Georgi Ivanov, Sam Louwyck, Ryszek Turbiasz
Photography Thomas Caselli
Editing Roel Goyens
Sound Antoine Vandendriessche
Art director Simon Van Laar
Costume Olya Tsoraeva
Makeup Elodie Liénard
Music none

Technical specs

Running time film 15'
Release format Quicktime Apple Prores HD, DCP
Other available formats Digital Betacam
Aspect ratio 1.85
Sound format stereo
Colour Colour
Available in 2D


Supported by JINT, Café Merlo, Toerisme Oostende, Cinequanon
Production partners Erasmushogeschool Rits


2012: International Student Film Festival, Israël; Encouters Short Film Festival, United Kingdom; Munich International Film Festivals for Film Schools, Germany; Interfilm Bike Shorts, Germany; Montreal World Film Festival, Canada;  Filmfestival Oostende, Belgium; Internationales Festival der Filmhochschulen München, Fresh Wave Hong Kong International Short Film Festival, Hong Kong; 2013: Ciné Privé, Belgium The International Festival of Sport Movies Moscow, Russia


2011:Winner, Fiction Category, The Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF) Wildcards 2011;  VAF Wildcard @ International Short Film Festival Leuven, Belgium;

2012: Special Mention @ International Student Film Festival in Tel Aviv, Israël

Welcome Home and Little Black Spiders Flemish eye-catchers in Montreal

Tom Heene’s Welcome Home, which only recently received an invitation to Venice, and Patrice Toye’s Little Black Spiders are the Flemish eye-catchers at the 36th World Film Festival in Montreal (23 August-3 September). Heene’s debut feature will be screening in the First Films World Competition, while Toye’s film will be celebrating its world premiere in the prestigious Focus on World Cinema section. In total, no less than 10 Flemish (co)productions were confirmed for the Canadian fest’s line-up.

tom heene welcome homeWith selections for both Montreal and the International Critics’ Week in Venice, filmmaker Tom Heene has pulled off an impressive feat. In Montreal’s First Films World CompetitionWelcome Home is in the running for one of three Zenith Awards. Producer of Welcome Home is Tomas Leyers for Minds Meet. The Brussels-based production company even has a second film screening in Montreal: minority co-production The World Belongs to Us by director Stephan Streker was confirmed for the Focus on World Cinema programme.

Published on Wednesday 8 August 2012

Special mention for The Letter at Tel Aviv

Kenneth Mercken’s short film The Letter received a Special Mention of the jury at the International Student Film Festival in Tel Aviv (2-9 June). The jury lauded the director’s courage to ‘stray from the […] path of a traditional narrative.’

The jury’s encouraging statement continued: ‘The film delivers an intimate look at memories, feelings and reflections of the young protagonist consumed by ambitions, fears and need for acceptance.’ The Israeli festival is one of the largest in the world for student films.

Published on Thursday 5 July 2012

Brothers and The Letter in line for Student Academy Awards

Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah’s short film Brothers and Kenneth Mercken’s The Letter will represent Flanders at this year’s 39th Student Academy Awards. On 9 June the winners of the Student Awards, aka the Oscars for best student films, will be announced during an awards ceremony at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

BrothersIn total, 51 entries from 29 different countries are competing in the Best Foreign Student Film category. 518 entries from students representing 105 US colleges and universities are challenging each other in the categories Alternative, Animation, Documentary and Narrative.

Published on Wednesday 18 April 2012

VAF Wildcards 2011 announced

The Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF) has once again awarded five promising graduation filmmakers with a VAF Wildcard. This year’s winners are Kenneth Mercken’s The Letter and Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah’s Brothers in the fiction category, Kenneth Michiels’s Twenty-One + Seven and Jeremy De Ryckere’s The Heir for Documentary and Boris Sverlow’sShattered Past for Animation.

The VAF Wildcard winners of 2011The VAF Wildcards are aimed at giving young filmmaking talent a chance to embark on a first professional project by providing a (starting) budget of €40,000 or €60,000, plus a professional coach. Now in its seventh edition, the VAF Wildcards have quickly become the most important awards in Flanders.

Published on Thursday 8 December 2011

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Last edited on 17 December 2015

Short info

Director Kenneth Mercken
Producers Ben Vandendaele
Writers Kenneth Mercken

Blondynka Films
Vandendaele Ben
Voorlopige Bewindstraat 3 Bus 8
1000 Brussels
T +32 477 63 27 46


Ben Vandendaele
Handelskaai 17 bus 11
1000 Brussels
T +32 477 63 27 46

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