Joe Vanhoutteghem’s short film Rivers Return has been confirmed for the line-up of both the Abu Dhabi International Film Festival (11-20 October) and the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma in Montreal (10-21 October). Since its international premiere at Locarno, Rivers Return has generated quite a lot of interest abroad.

Still from Joe Vanhoutteghem's Rivers ReturnThe Festival du Nouveau Cinéma also selected Sofie Benoot’s Blue Meridian (Panorama International), Herman Asselberghs’s Speech Act (FNC Lab) and minority co-production Our Children by Joachim Lafosse (Special Presentation). At Abu Dhabi, Rivers Return (pictured left) is accompanied in the festival line-up by minority co-production Pinocchio by Enzo d’Alo, which screens in the Showcase section.

At the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, Rivers Return is screening in the ‘Décadrage’ section for films that ‘break the frame’ as part of the International Competition. In Abu Dhabi’s International Short Film Competition, the short could win the Best Narrative Award which comes with a grant of $25,000 or nearly €20,000.

After Montreal and Abu Dhabi, Rivers Return already has appearances lined up at fests in New York and Paris, bringing its total number of confirmed festival invitations into double figures. Later this year the film will also have its German premiere at the Braunschweig International Film Festival (6-11 November). At Braunschweig, Vanhoutteghem’s short will feature in the Leo Short Film Music Competition for films that combine music and images most successfully.

Rivers Return is an accidental film, say the filmmakers. One scene led to another. A kind of story occurred: Are we struggling to fit in, to go with the flow? Or are we fighting to stand out? Who wants to be in the rat race to end up in a place where there’s no room for personality? Fact is: we will never get any younger although we all believe in the illusion. In the end it’s only a painful cycle of disappointment. Rivers Return is a production of Epidemic (22nd of May), CCCP’s fiction division. DOP was Nicolas Karakatsanis, who also worked on Bullhead, The Loft and Small Gods. The film screened at the International Short Film Festival in Leuven and ran in competition at the Brussels Film Festival and the recent Ostend Film Festival.

At the very first edition of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival in 2007, Nic Balthazar’s Ben X managed to grab the main prize, the Black Pearl Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature Film. Two years later it was Johan Grimonprez’s turn when he won the Black Pearl Best New Documentary Director for his film Double Take. The Festival du Nouveau Cinéma is also no stranger to Flemish directors. In the past, the festival has programmed films by Nicolas Provost and Gust Van den Berghe. Last year, Van den berghe received a Special Mention for his film, Blue Bird.

Rivers Return, Pinocchio and A perdre la raison were made with the support of The Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF). Sofie Benoot won a VAF Wildcard in 2007 for her film Fronterismo and went on to make Blue Meridian. The VAF Wildcard programme is aimed at giving recently graduated filmmaking talent the chance to embark on a first professional project.

Published on Friday 28 September 2012

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