Sarah Vanagt’s The Corridor, Bram Van Paesschen’s Empire of Dust and Tim De Keersmaecker’s Aperture were recently selected for the Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival (8-13 Nov). All three films are travelling the festival circuit extensively and again testify to the vibrancy of documentaries and video art from Flanders.

Loa Yan in Bram Van Paesschens' documentary Empire of DustBram Van Paesschen’s Empire of Dust kicked of its festival tour with selections at DOK Leipzig and Kassel but more recently the film was also confirmed for IDFA’s Panorama section. Empire of Dust is produced by Bart Van Langendonck for Savage Film (Bullhead, The Co(te)lette Film). In the documentary wo men representing two different cultures clash in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The result is an endless, harsh but absurdly funny rollercoaster of misunderstandings, as Yang is introduced to the Congolese way of dealmaking.

Tim De Keersmaecker’s Aperture premièred internationally at last year’s edition of IDFA. In 2007 De Keersmaecker won a VAF Wildcard for his graduation film My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, with the grant he made his new film Aperture. In this film, a man stands in the middle of the road at night. He paints the white markings black. His mind gradually slips back into a faraway realm created by his illness. Sometime later, at the mental institution, as he tries to retain a fragile grip on reality, the delusional account of his past begins to unravel. Losing his sense of reality disturbed his life, but at the same time creates an opening for a possible recovery and new hope.

Earlier this year Sarah Vanagt won Best Film in the Belgian competition of the Courtisane Film Festival. The screening at Kassel is also the film’s German première. The Corridor is a Balthasar production, which also worked on Vanagt’s earlier films such as Silent Elections, Boulevard d’Ypres and First Elections. In The Corridor, Sarah Vanagt and cinematographer Annemarie Lean-Vercoe followed a donkey for five days during its weekly visits to old people in nursing homes in England. From home to home, from room to room. Time and again the donkey was welcomed with open arms, with songs, gentle strokes, childhood stories, poems, and laughter. It was only when the donkey entered the room of Norbert, a man who had lost his ability to speak, that an altogether different encounter took place.

Even though Vanagt initially followed the donkey‘s steps in search of reminiscences brought about by the animal’s mute presence, she came home with an altogether different film. While editing, the film became shorter and shorter, as if the words that had accompanied the donkey’s visits became a distraction. What is left is perhaps a bas-relief disguised as a painting, disguised as a film.

The Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival annually takes place on six days in mid November to show the diversity and current tendencies of documentary work. It is organized by the Filmladen Kassel e.V., an arthouse cinema that has been an important part of the culture and media scene of the city of Kassel since 1980 due to its manifold and committed activities.

All three films were made with the support of the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF).

Published on Friday 11 November 2011

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