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Ghent Film Festival announces full October programme

The 47th edition of Ghent’s Film Festival is scheduled to take place on 13 – 24 October.

The programme for the 2020 festival is more diverse and adventurous than ever, and based on a few unconventional choices, with several high profile international guests coming to attend, including Viggo Mortensen and French actress Maïwenn.

The agenda includes a revelatory focus on German film, pays continued attention to short film and gender issues, and introduces a new section: ‘Official Selection: Masters & New Voices’.

For the very first time, people will be able to watch a large selection of festival films on a digital platform during the festival, in addition to the physical presence in the festival.

The fear that there wouldn’t be enough new “film material” turned out to be unfounded. In addition to this year’s Golden Bear winner ‘There Is No Evil’ by Mohammad Rasoulof, Film Fest Ghent will screen ‘Nomadland’ by Chloé Zhao – straight from Venice and winner of the Golden Lion Award – ‘Ghosts’ by Azra Deniz Okyay, and ‘I Am Greta’ by Nathan Grossman.

‘Gagarine’ by Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh is the flagship of the films shown this year, which received the Cannes 2020 quality label.

In total 110 full-length films, thirty short films, and two television series will be screened.

Safety measures

Coronavirus health and safety regulations are being applied, with the organisers asking festival goers to respect them. “Film Fest Ghent won’t exceed the maximum of two hundred spectators per venue at the moment,” says managing director Marijke Vandebuerie. “Safety comes first, for everyone – our guests, our visitors and our employees and volunteers. If you can’t get a cinema ticket, you can watch a unique selection from our programme on a digital platform, including Q&As with the makers.”

International Competition

With ‘L’ennemi’ by Stephan Streker, the international competition will once again open with a Belgian film. The film is inspired by a true story. Is the Louis Durieux in the film guilty or innocent? Nobody knows, says Stephan Streker. L’ennemi, starring an excellent Jérémie Renier and Sam Louwyck in an impressive supporting role, is one of the best national productions of the year.

This competition is very varied. From the in-depth, insanely beautiful ‘Vitalina’ Varela by Pedro Costa to the fresh narrative style of ‘Stories’ from the Chestnut Woods by Gregor Božič to the very relevant Turkish ‘Ghosts’ by Azra Deniz Okyay, the discovery of the recent Critic’s Week in Venice.

Continued focus on shorts

There will be a second edition of the International Short Film Competition with three different programmes, each containing a Flemish short film. Such as ‘Howling’ by Laura Van Haecke, ‘Mosaic’ by Imge Özbilge and Sine Özbilge, and ‘Mia’ by Christina Vandekerckhove, who switched to fiction after making several award-winning documentaries that were shown at the festival, such as Rabot.

The rest of the selection, according to short film programmer Michiel Philippaerts, comes mainly from Europe but there were also entries from China and Taiwan. “The subject matters in the short films aren’t exactly cheerful,” says Philippaerts, “because besides the inevitable comedy there is a lot of anger and/or sadness in the short films. Younger filmmakers also seem to get lost in the world. But is that new?”

Focus on Germany

Nowhere do past and present meet as strongly as in the Focus on Germany. For film lovers the names Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, Margaretha von Trotta, Wim Wenders, Volker Schlöndorff are music to their ears. They were obsessed by the medium of film and used it more than once to criticise German society. Think of Deutschland bleiche Mutter, Deutschland im Herbst, Die bleierne Zeit, Die Blechtrommel and others. These are naturally included under the heading “Classics” in the programme.

A counter-reaction to these Autoren was inevitable. The fall of the Berlin Wall turned everything around and for many, the German past had to stay in the past. Everyone was occupied with the new social changes. The Neuer Deutsche Film saw the light of day and around the Berlin Film Academy, graduates stuck together. The Berliner Schule was born. Among them, Christian Petzold, whose youngest film Undine will be screened at the festival, got an international breakthrough. The festival also makes room for Ich war zuhause, aber… by Angela Schanelec.

They will be joined by short film juror Eliza Petkova, who will present her Ein Fisch, der auf dem Rücken Schwimmt. In Enfant Terrible Oskar Roehler doesn’t bring Robbe De Hert’s life to the screen but that of Werner Rainer Fassbinder. And Julia Von Heinz will present Und morgen die ganze Welt, which graced the competition in Venice. This category is definitely also future-oriented.

Masters and new voices

In the new Masters and New Voices categories, it’s roughly speaking all about established values versus interesting innovators. The former include big guns like Sergei Loznitza with ‘State Funeral’, a documentary about Stalin’s funeral. Rithy Panh breaks his Cambodian borders in ‘Irradiés’ and Abel Ferrara is his unique self in ‘Siberia’, starring Willem Dafoe. There is also room for Julie Taymor’s ‘The Glorias’. The latest films of Tsai Ming-Liang and Hong Sang-soo are wines that need no bush. Cristi Puiu asks a lot from the viewer in ‘Malmkrog’ but his static report of a meeting of citizens discussing war and morality eventually becomes very fascinating.

The tone of New Voices is less stern, sometimes even light, as in Nir Bergman’s ‘Here We Are’. But that doesn’t mean it’s less serious; just look at the mother-daughter relationship in Ruthy Pribar’s Asia.

‘Welcome to Chechnya: Inside the Russian Republic’s Deadly War on Gays’ by David France is baffling. A not-to-be-missed documentary about an organization that tries to smuggle threatened members of the gay community – and all of them are being threatened – out of the country. Another film you don’t want to miss is ‘Walden’ by Bojena Horackova, about young people in Lithuania who dreamed of studying abroad in the eighties. A lot is left unsaid in this film, but the style is eloquent.

Film Fest Gent x Arts Centre Vooruit

Film Fest Gent and Kunstencentrum Vooruit join forces for the third time for VIDEODROOM, which stands for an original and experimental cross-pollination between music and image. This year, classics such as ‘Solaris’ and ‘Koyaanisqatsi’ will be given a musical makeover.

‘The Shining’ will get an even more spectacular makeover, since for Stanley Kubrick’s film another Ghost trail will be mapped out. As a visitor, you’ll wander alone through the building, which is transformed into the Overlook Hotel and you’ll discover hidden parts of the Vooruit.

To view the full programme and participating venues visit: www.filmfestival.be

The Brussels Times