The Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF) has announced this year’s Wildcard winners: six promising young filmmakers who will each receive a grant of between €25,000 and €60,000 to develop their first professional film. Raphaël Crombez and Miwako Van Weyenberg were winners in the fiction section, with Ruben Desiere and Kwinten Gernay each receiving a documentary Wildcard. The animation grant went to Laura Vandewynckel, with Christina Stuhlberger getting the Wildcard in the filmlab section.

KosmosSince it was introduced in 2005, the Fund’s Wildcard competition has established itself as Belgium’s prime awards programme when it comes to launching new talent. Six grants are handed out: three worth €60,000 go to one animation project and two fiction shorts; the two documentary winners each get €40,000; and the Wildcard in the filmlab section comes with a prize of €25,000.

Raphaël Crombez receives a fiction grant for his 25-minute film Perdition County, an atmospheric story about a foot soldier deserting his band of scalp-collecting pilgrims. The second fiction Wildcard goes to Miwako Van Weyenberg’s Only Child (Hitorikko), in which young Ryusei discovers his father’s new family.

For his film Kosmos, loosely based on the book of the same name by Polish author Witold Gombrowicz, documentary winner Ruben Desiere joined some of the inhabitants of the Gésu convent in Brussels as they waited to be evicted. In Manhattan BXL, Kwinten Gernay tells of the dreams, victories and defeats of a young boxer in a changing city.

Paradise by Laura Vandewynckel, this year’s animation winner, shows people heading for a better place on either side of the ocean: although their paths cross, they never really seem to meet. Finally, in On Difference As Such, filmmakers Christina Stuhlberger and Chloë Delanghe attempt to portray each other. Meanwhile, a letter is read out describing the experience of creating the images that the viewers see.

The Wildcard competition organised by the Flanders Audiovisual Fund has already proven its value over the last few years. Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (Brothers, 2011) turned their Wildcard grant into a first feature film, Image, which was recently released in Belgian cinemas. The directing duo already have a second feature underway, Black. Emilie Verhamme (Cockaigne, 2012) also decided to make the leap into feature-length filmmaking: at the end of November, her feature debut Eau Zoo received its international premiere at the Turin Film Festival.

In 2010 Wouter Bongaerts (Mouse for Sale) took home the first animation Wildcard and turned it into Mia, winner of the Canal+ Family Coup de Coeur Award in Clermont-Ferrand this year. And Boris Sverlow (Shattered Past, 2011) entered the project ‘12 Minutes about Peace’ with his ultra-short film Bring Us The Key.

Another former Wildcard winner is Gust Van den Berghe (Little Baby Jesus of Flandr, 2009) whose Blue Bird made it to Cannes. Van den Berghe recently finished his trilogy with Lucifer, which won the Grand Prix in Tallinn last week. Gilles Coulier (Iceland, 2009) was also invited to Cannes with his Wildcard-funded short Mont Blanc and recently directed new Flemish TV series Beaverville.

The Wildcards have also proved their value when it comes to documentaries. Desert Haze, the latest doc from Sofie Benoot (Fronterismo, 2007), received invitations from Visions du Réel and DOKLeipzig, while The Circle directed by Bram Conjaerts (Henri and the Islands, 2008) was a prize-winner at Hot Docs. And Rain, a film by Olivia Rochette and Gerard-Jan Claes (Because We Are Visual, 2010), was selected for IDFA.

Published on Thursday 4 December 2014

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