Celebrating its 14th edition, Helsinki’s DocPoint Documentary Film Festival (January 27 – February 1) this year boasted a programme packed with films from Flanders. In addition to Waiting for August, 9999 and Desert Haze, the festival also featured Elephant’s Dream, State of Play and Nathan, Free as a Bird. Three docs co-produced with Flanders - See No Evil, Ming of Harlem and Ne me quitte pas - also made an appearance in Helsinki.

Waiting for August TrailerAfter successful outings at Hot Docs, Karlovy Vary and Visions du Réel, Teodora Ana Mihai was in Helsinki to present Waiting for August. Produced by Clin d’Oeil Films, the film follows a 15-year-old Romanian girl as she takes care of her six brothers and sisters while their mother is away earning a living in Italy.

Ellen Vermeulen’s documentary 9999, produced by Associate Directors, interweaves the stories of five mentally ill criminals living in Merksplas prison as they wait in vain for proper treatment, or even a release date. From the same producer also comes Elephant’s Dream, Kristof Bilsen’s poetic portrait of three declining Congolese government institutions and their staff.

Sofie Benoot, meanwhile, was in Helsinki for the Americana section with Desert Haze, in which various stories about astronauts, archaeologists, country singers and John Wayne come together against the mythical backdrop of the American West. Flemish producer is Off World.

State of Play, written, directed and produced by Steven Dhoedt of Visualantics, follows three South Korean youngsters who aspire to careers as professional gamers. Becoming a pro could be a turning point in their lives, but life at the top can be tough.

Previously selected for Amsterdam’s International Documentary Festival, Nathan, Free as a Bird also joined the Flemish line-up in Helsinki. For three years, filmmaker Roel Nollet followed Nathan, born Nancy, who demanded and received euthanasia after several failed gender-change operations and a lifetime filled with rejection and incest.

Finally, three documentaries co-produced with Flanders were also on show in Helsinki. Ne me quitte pas, a tale of two men living on the edges of society, was co-produced by Storyhouse. Cobra films co-produced Jos De Putter’s See No Evil, told from the perspective and memories of three ageing chimpanzees. And Ming of Harlem, a co-production with Michigan Films, is based on the true story of a New Yorker who shared his apartment with a tiger and an alligator for five years.

All of the above documentaries, with the exception of Nathan, Free as a Bird, received support from the Flanders Audiovisual Fund/Film Fund of Flemish Cultural Affairs Minister Sven Gatz.

Published on Wednesday 28 January 2015

Preferential partners