Robin Pront's feature debut The Ardennes is the opening attraction at the 42nd Film Fest Ghent (13-24 October). The film, receiving its European première, is just one of the many indigenous titles Belgium's oldest and largest festival has in its programme this year. There are in total five Flemish features, one TV series, a dozen shorts, and two co-productions with Flanders.

The ArdennesOpening the Fest is The Ardennes starring Veerle Baetens (The Broken Circle Breakdown), Kevin Janssens and Jeroen Perceval, with the latter also co-writing the script with director Robin Pront. The film has already attracted attention at this year's Toronto International Film Festival where it had its world premiere and was picked up by distributors in such key territories as France (Diaphana) and Italy (Satine). Producer is Bart van Langendonck for Savage Film, the company behind Oscar-nominated Bullhead. International sales are handled by Montreal-based Attraction Distribution.

Screening before The Ardennes is Flemish animation veteran and Golden Palm-winner Raoul Servais's new short, Tank, which is a creative interpretation of the first tank attack on September 15, 1916. Producer is Lunanime. Servais and his animation artwork are also the subject of an exhibition during the Fest.

Also showing in Ghent are Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah's modern-day Romeo & Juliet story Black (producer: Caviar/sales: Be For Films) which caused a stir in Toronto last month; the world première of Manu Riche's Problemski Hotel (producer: Cassette for Timescapes) telling the story of Bipul, a refugee in a Brussels assessment centre; the world première of Fallow by Laurent Van Lancker, a post-apocalyptic tale taking place after the collapse of Fortress Europe; and Bobbejaan (producer: Bobbejaan Records), a documentary by Benny Vandendriessche and Tom Schoepen about the late musician, theme-park builder and Flemish cowboy Bobbejaan Schoepen.

The 'Serial Madness' sidebar will show the final four episodes of Gilles Coulier's TV series The Natives (producer: De Wereldvrede) about a local stand-up comedian who flees to a picturesque village where the contrast between him and the grotesque residents could not be greater. The first two episodes broke all season records on the second public channel, Canvas, reaching live-viewing audience shares of 25%.

The Competition for Belgian Student Shorts contains titles such as Avondgedicht by Kenny Hoste (KASK); Bright Lights by Inès Eshun (RITS); Drôle d’oiseau by Anouk Fortunier (LUCA); Flor de mil colores by Karen Vazquez (KASK); I Only Know What I Know Now by Joke Van Den Hof (RITS); Småland by Joosje Hendrickx (KASK); Umpire by Leonardo Van Dijl (LUCA); and Vincent by Jacinta Agten (LUCA). The European Shorts Competition line-up includes Bülent Öztürk's Shadow () (producer: Minds Meet) and Kristof Hoornaert’s Empire (producer: Sireal Films).

Flemish shorts shown out of competition include Benny Vandendriessche's Front (producer: Museum aan de IJzer); Endurance (producer: Boss’Em) by Bernard De Rycke; and A Day My Future Will Be Your Past (producer: Untitled Production) by Sarah & Charles.

Finally, there are also two co-productions with Flanders: Les Cowboys by Thomas Bidegain, selected for Official Competition; and the animated feature Phantom Boy by Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli. Both were co-produced by Lunanime.

The Ardennes, Black, Fallow, Problemski Hotel, A Day Will Come My Future Will Be Your Past, Empire, Shadow, Tank and Phantom Boy all received support from the Flanders Audiovisual Fund/Film Fund of Flemish Cultural Affairs Minister Sven Gatz. The Natives received support from the VAF/Media Fund of Flemish Minister of Media Gatz, while The Ardennes, Phantom Boy and The Natives were additionally backed by the Screen Flanders economic fund, under the aegis of Flemish Economic Affairs Minister Philippe Muyters and Cultural Affairs Minister Gatz.

Published on Tuesday 13 October 2015

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