Sien Versteyhe’s JUNIOR and Bram Conjaert’s VAF Wildcard film The Circle have been selected for the 20th edition of Hot Docs, the Canadian International Documentary Festival (25 April-5 May). Both medium-length films are screening in the fest’s International Spectrum category, making them eligible for the Award for Best Mid-Length Documentary, as well as the Audience Award. The Only Son, a minor co-production with Flanders, is selected for the World Showcase section. Along with IDFA, Hot Docs is one of the world’s foremost documentary film festivals.

Sien Versteyhe's JUNIORJUNIOR is premiering internationally at Hot Docs after a work-in-progress of the film had screened at the Belgian Docville fest, receiving a Special Mention from the International Jury.

The film’s title refers to boxer Jean-Pierre Bauwens Junior, a 23-year-old Belgian Youth World Champion, and the oldest of seven siblings, four of whom suffer from autism. Junior doesn’t fight for glory or pride; he fights for a better future for his family. But tragedy strikes when Junior’s younger autistic brother accidently kills their father.

Bram Conjaerts’ The Circle was also added to the fest’s Official Selection and is to receive its world premiere in Toronto. A medium-length documentary, The Circle is about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a gigantic scientific instrument installed just outside Geneva some 100 meters underground. While physicists use the particle accelerator to study the origin of everything, The Circle sets aside the scientific aspect of the experiment and makes a journey above ground. Following the 27 km long circle, it is an existential search for local people with an opinion about what’s happening below.

Finally, The Only Son, a minor co-production with Flanders, directed by Simonka de Jong, was also added to the World Showcase section of Hot Docs. The documentary feature portrays the disturbed balance within a Tibetan family spread over several continents due to the forced marriage between son Pema and a girl from his native village. Last November, the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) added The Only Son to its schedule.

One of Canada’s prime film events, Hot Docs combines festival, conference and market, and for the 20th year in a row showcases some 180 documentaries from around the world. For the last couple of years, Flanders has been well represented at Hot Docs. In 2012, Nathalie Borgers’ Greetings from the Colony was selected; in 2011 Klaas Boelen’s Waidmannsheil. That same year, Lotte Stoops’ Grande Hotel also received a Special Mention from the International Jury, while Eva Küpper’s What’s in a Name screened there in 2010.

The Circle is produced by Hendrik Verthé and Kobe Van Steenberghe for a team productions (Baghdad Messi, Land of the Heroes) and was funded through a VAF Wildcard, which Conjaerts was awarded for his graduation project Henri and the Islands in 2008. Wouter Sap produced JUNIOR for Lionheart Productions (Femme de la rue). The Only Son is co-produced by Off World, the Brussels production office of Eric Goossens (The Boy is Gone, Little Heaven). All films in this article were made possible with the support of the Flanders Audiovisual Fund of Flemish Cultural Affairs Minister Joke Schauvliege.

Published on Wednesday 20 March 2013

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