A film by Lukas Dhont (director of Girl which won the Caméra d’Or at Cannes in 2018), has won the top prize at the prestigious Hamptons Film Festival in the US. Close will be Belgium’s entry for the international section of next year’s Oscars.
In the words of the director, Close is “a film about the pressure of masculinity on young men growing up”. As such, it could be seen as a companion piece to Girl, in which 15-year-old Lara (played by Victor Polster) wants to become a ballerina, despite being born in the body of a boy.
Close was premiered at the Ghent Film Festival last week, and will be on general release from 2 November.
The film’s success at the festival is likely to have wider implications than the award itself. The award committee is chaired by Rajendra Roy, head curator of film at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and a member of the international executive committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the body that organises the Oscars.
“Our team is incredibly honoured to receive this year's Hamptons Film Festival top prize,” said Dhont in an initial response from the film festival.
The category of Best International Feature Film at the Oscars was introduced in 1956. Unlike previous awards for foreign films, it has been awarded every year since then.
The Hamptons prize is only the latest to be picked up by Close. It has already won awards at the Cinefest Mikolc in Hungary, the European Film Festival in Palic in Serbia, the Sydney Film Festival with the Best Film Award, Film Fest Hamburg with the Art Cinema Award, and the Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund.
In addition, Dhont's film has been nominated for the European University Film Award and is on the shortlist for the European Film Awards.