At the closing ceremony of this year’s International Documentary Festival DOCVILLE, Bram Van Paesschen’s Empire of Dust has been awarded the SCAM Award for Best Belgian Documentary. The young director’s third passage at the festival marks his third prize, as he already received a special mention at DOCVILLE in both 2005 and 2008. After Empire of Dust, Van Paesschen is currently working on Welcome to Chocolate City, the third instalment in a documentary triptych.

Bram Van Paesschen's Empire of DustIn Empire of Dust, two men representing two different cultures clash in the dust of the former Belgian colony, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Lao Yan and Eddy both work for the Chinese Railway Engineering Company (CREG) whose goal it is to reconstruct the 300 km long road connecting the town of Kolwezi with the capital of the province Lubumbashi.

As the company’s head of logistics and thus responsible for the delivery of the necessary equipment, building materials and food, Lao Yan is forced to deal with the local entrepreneurs when a promised delivery of goods by the Congolese Government fails. Together with his Congolese translator Eddy, who speaks Mandarin fluently, the two men end up in an endless and harsh but at the same time absurdly funny rollercoaster of negotiations and misunderstandings.

Van Paesschen’s World of Blue, Land of O (2005) and Pale Peko Bantu Mambo Ayikosake (2008) already earned him a special mention at previous editions of the DOCVILLE fest, the latter being part of a triptych. After Empire of Dust focussing on Chinese immigrants in Congo, Van Paesschen is currently developing Welcome to Chocolate City, the final part of a feature documentary trilogy that turns the tables by zooming in on Congolese settlers in China.

This year, Leuven’s DOCVILLE fest presented a comprehensive and vibrant program including a wide range of cinema made in Flanders. Sien Versteye’s Junior, Luc Vrydaghs’ F. Deneyer and Christophe Bohn’s The Boy is Gone received their world première at the documentary fest, the first being granted a special mention. Lieven Corthouts’ Little Heaven was presented with a special mention as well.

Empire of Dust was directed and scripted by Bram Van Paesschen and produced by Bart Van Langendonck for the Brussels-based production hub Savage Film (Bullhead, Anton Corbijn Inside Out). The film was made possible with the support of a.o. the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF). Scheduled for a 2014 release, Welcome to Chocolate City is also being developed under the wings of Savage Film.

Published on Wednesday 9 May 2012

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