After much anticipation, the 46th Film Fest Gent was officially opened this evening. The directorial debut of French director Ladj Ly, ‘Les Misérables’, recipient of the jury prize at Cannes earlier this year, was screened as the festival’s opening film. Prominent actors -Alexis Manenti, Al-Hassan Ly, Almamy Kanouté en Issa Perica- from this powerful Parisian piece broke in our red carpet in style. Between now and the 18th of October, Ghent will screen 135 feature films, 35 shorts and host a total of 11 concerts.
Film Fest Gent chose ‘Les Miserables’ as its opening picture for its bold and unflinching storytelling. The film, which refers to Victor Hugo’s classic novel by the same name, is a daring portrait of the tense and violent relationship between police forces and the local youth in the Parisian suburb, Monfermeil. The film puts the viewer face to face with a marginalized group of children, demanding to be heard. Ladj allows them a voice and in neutral tones makes discourse possible despite racial and ideological tensions.
The topics touched upon in ‘Les Misérables’ allow it to fit perfectly into Film Fest Gent’s latest trail. ‘The radicals’ trail consists of a selection of films centered around or subtly referring to the impossible-to-avoid subject of radicalization – from Fascist youth militant groups in ‘Monos’ to fanatical Christian cults in Brazil in ‘Divino Amor’. Marko Skop ponders over the important question of how we can raise our children in a society where hate rules in ‘Let There Be Light’. In Jessica Woodworth and Peter Brosens’ ‘The Barefoot Emperor’, Peter Van den Begin is put in charge of a type of Nova Europe. In ‘Luce’, directed by Julius Onah, the radicalization of the film’s title character is left ambiguous after a bomb is found in his locker at school.
On Wednesday, ‘Tench’ by Patrice Toye, will open the International Competition. Bas Devos’ ‘Ghost Tropic’ – the positive response to ‘Hellhole’ – is featured as a part of the competition as well. For the first time in the history of Film Fest Gent, an animated feature film – J’ai perdu mon Corps, by Jérémy Clapin– has gained a spot on the competition list.
Besides an impressive programme, this year’s jury is made up of status figures of the film world. Belgian director-screenwriter Joachim Lafosse, is joined by American professor in sound editing Midge Costin, the Romanian director and screenwriter Radu Jude, Variety’s own film critic –Guy Lodge– who has frequently contributed to The Observer and The Guardian, the Peruvian producer Fiorella Moretti and the Tunisian producer Dora Bouchoucha Fourati. This group will declare the winners of the Grand Prix for Best Film and Georges Delerue Award for Best Soundtrack/Sound Design on Wednesday, October 16.
Screen Talent in the Flesh
Ghent will welcome a multitude of international guests in the coming days. Rian Johnson (‘Knives Out’), Geraldine Chaplin (‘The Barefoot Emperor’ and ‘Ana and the Wolves’), Carice van Houten (‘Instinct’), Mark Jenkin (‘Bait’) and Jessica Hausner (‘Little Joe’) are just some of the many international stars who will grace us with their presence. We are also pleased to roll out the red carpet for Belgian celebrities, including Matthias Schoenaerts (‘The Mustang’), Maaike Neuville (‘All of Us’, ‘De Twaalf and ‘Ghost Tropic’) and directors Bas Devos (‘Ghost Tropic’), Willem Wallyn (‘All of Us’) and Kristof Bilsen (‘MOTHER’).
Film Fest Gent chose to highlight Spanish cinema during its 46th year by offering a stage to upcoming Spanish cinematic talent and a special tribute to Spain’s best kept secret: the cultfilm director Agustí Villaronga. Villaronga, alongside Geraldine Chaplin, will accept a Joseph Plateau Honorary Award for his noteworthy contribution to the art of cinema. Villaronga has never been scared to portray the taboo and terrifying in his films. Trauma, conflict and confrontational imagery are packed into his oeuvre. Furthermore, as Villaronga’s films have never before been shown on the big screen in Belgium, Film Fest Gent offers a unique opportunity to the Belgian cinephile.
A Haven for the Soundtrack Enthousiast
Once again Ghent proves itself to be the place to be when it comes to the celebration and appreciation of film music. During the 19th World Soundtrack Awards on the 18th of October, the Capitole will be transformed into a house of horrors: Marco Beltrami, composer of ‘Scream’, is this year’s guest of honour, while Krzysztof Penderecki and Frédéric Devreese will be awarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award for their oeuvre filled with bone-chilling pieces.
Last but not least: Film Fest Gent has collaborated with Vooruit once more to create a unique programme that fuses film, music and visuals, called VIDEODROOM. A varied line-up of artists – Le Motel, Jozef Van Wissem, Moon Duo, CURL, Moor Mother & The London Contemporary Orchestra – introduce the audience to special cross-over productions.
Film Fest Gent will take place until the 18th of October in Kinepolis Ghent, Studio Skoop, Sphinx Cinema, Vooruit, KASKcinema and Capitole. Our complete programma can be viewed on www.filmfestival.be