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    Belgian film Jumbo wins prize at Berlin

    Dirextor Zoé wittock on the set of Jumbo,her first feature

    The Belgian film Jumbo has won first prize at the Berlin Film Festival in the category Generation 14Plus for films aimed at young people.

    Jumbo is the first feature-length film by Zoé Wittock as director after a career as actor, writer, assistant director and maker of short films. 

    The film stars the young French actress Noémie Merlant as Jeanne, a shy young girl who works in an amusement park, who one day comes across the new attraction, the flashy carousel named Jumbo. She then goes on to fall in love with the machine, alienating in the process her colleagues, her manager and her mother, who throws her out of the house.

    The storyline deals with the subject of object sexuality, or objectophilia.

    Objectophiles, explains Dr Mark Griffiths in the magazine Psychology Today, “express a loving and/or sexual preference and commitment to particular items or structures. Such individuals rarely (if ever) have sex with humans and they develop strong emotional fixations to the object or structure.”

    The most famous case is that of the American archery champion Erika LaBrie, who first fell in love with the Eiffel Tower in 2004 and carried out a “marriage” ceremony in 2007. She now refers to herself as Erika Eiffel.

    Speaking at the festival, Wittock explained that there is a tendency to regard object sexuality as a disorder, “like she’s the freak and we’re the curious people looking at it”.

    But, she goes on, “When you’re treating it as a love story and trying to get the audience to engage with that person and get them to understand, ten it becomes probably more challenging for the audience, but as the same time so much more rewarding.”

    The film is on release in Belgium from 18 March. The trailer can be seen here.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times