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Young Critics

Photogénie en Film Fest Gent zijn verheugd om de eerste Young Critics Workshop voor te stellen. Enkele gemo- tiveerde jongeren krijgen van 11 tot 21 oktober de kans om korte recensies te schrijven over alle films van de officiele competitie en een diepgaand stuk over één andere film. Deze recensies en artikels worden op de website van Film Fest Gent en van Photogénie gepubliceerd.
Film Fest Gent -
Young Critics

Review: Les Cowboys - Nana Van de Poel

A little bit of everything can easily turn into a whole lot of nothing. Thomas Bidegain’s directorial debut ‘Les Cowboys’ hovers somewhere in between genres, never settling on whether it wants to be a western, a melodrama, a detective story or, judging by its abrupt exotic excursion to Afghanistan, the latest installment in The Adventures of Tintin: Tintin and the Jihadist.

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Young Critics

Review: A Few Cubic Meters of Love - Anuj Malhotra

In a revealing, central scene in Jamshed Mahmoudi’s ‘A Few Cubic Meters of Love’, a settlement of Afghani refugees on the Iranian side of the shared national border goes about its daily rituals: iron hits iron, wood is polished, a sparse meal is improvised, afternoon prayers are read – when suddenly, in the distance: sirens. A boy-Friday rushes down the mole-hill, screaming at his Iranian boss: ‘Police! The police is here!’ And then, shit goes down.

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Young Critics

Review: one floor below - tobias burms

The whodunnit genre usually offers little of a moral dilemma for its protagonist, often a superbly rational Poirot character whose only goal is putting the pieces together and flaunting his evidence in the film’s epilogue. In the Romanian anti-thriller ‘One Floor Below’ however, the tables are turned when unlikely hero Patrascu (Teodor Corban) –a good-natured, wisecracking slob – is confronted with his own conscience in the aftermath of a possible homicide in his apartment building. Patrascu seems highly incapable of solving this murder mystery, due to an almost religious commitment to established routines, such as morning walks accompanied by cherished pet Labrador and rooting for the Barcelona squad in Champions League games with his drinking buddies.

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Young Critics

Review: The High Sun - Irina Trocan

You don't need to know a lot about the wars in former Yugoslavia to watch Dalibor Matanic's ‘The High Sun’, and that might not really be a good thing. Its main attraction point lies in its artifice: it's a three-part film where the main two actors (Goran Markovic and Tihana Lazovic) play some sort of couple in three stories of consecutive moments of the recent past; the two characters change their name and the degree of their initial acquaintance, but preserve their age (they're seemingly in their late twenties) and their first-stated nationalities. 

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Young Critics

Review: 'El Club' - Maximilien Proctor

The latest offering from Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín, ‘El Club’ opens with a man on a beach swinging a piece of fur on a string on a pole in circles to train his dog in preparation for an upcoming race. Yet the man seems to take perverse pleasure in performance of the act of taunting, an act which makes multiple appearances throughout ‘El Club’ to re-emphasize the importance of hints which go unanswered.

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Review: 'Slow West' - Irina Trocan

Since the mid-sixties, in Westerns, the hero is not necessarily the best shot and sometimes the best shot in a given film is no hero. This holds true for John Maclean's ‘Slow West’ (a UK-New Zealand coproduction), where a Scottish teenager of aristocratic origins, Jay (Kodi Smit-McPhee) travelling West teams up with a more desert-savvy man, Silas (Michael Fassbender), who crosses his path and offers to protect him for a moderate fee. Although he is skeptical of the man's morality and of his established reflex arc of reaching for his gun when he senses danger, young Jay needs Silas's guidance through this 1870s no man's land if he is to accomplish his mission: finding the girl he loves, who has fled to North America with her father, and winning her back.

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Review: 'Son of Saul' - Anuj Malhotra

Lazslo Nemes’ box-ratio, third-person-sonderkommando, debut feature ‘Son of Saul’ continuously eschews traditional, classically staged, continuous action and prefers, instead, to construct a notion of the circumstances that prevail inside a Auschwitz immediately before the end of war. As a result, the film deals in minor, near-imperceptible sensorial charges: feet shuffle, a scream in the distance, the rat-a-tat of a machine gun, the thuds of bodies hitting the ground, the swoosh of a burning fire.  There are signs of life around the protagonist (Saul, a body-surveyor who must look for and bury his mythical son): flesh swarms, blood streams, general commotion, vehicular smoke, an atmosphere full of mud and grime – but Nemes and his cinematographer (Matyas Erdely, who he shares a credit card with at the end) render these abstract to the point of absence through elaborate choreography, depositing them in the off-screen and almost as a rule, dowsing Saul’s head in a tank of soft-focus.

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Young Critics

Review: 'Sleeping Giant' - Anuj Malhotra

At the heart of ‘Sleeping Giant’ is an ageing, decomposed piece of dirty-video footage stored on VHS, barely a few seconds long. In it: a skin-coloured body hurtles itself over the edge of a tall cliff to fall to a low-resolution render of a quiet ocean surface at the bottom of the frame. Its curator is a local hobo, weed-vendor, urban legend who, at the moment, is being visited in his mobile home by the three protagonists – Adam, Riley and Nate, curious teenagers, a perverse boyband - a pertinent sample of most of our hobo’s general clientele. 

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Review: 'The Lobster' - Nana Van de Poel

With his English-language debut The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos proves again to be an extremely original contributor to what’s been described as the Greek new wave. A new generation of willful Hellenic creatives, including among others Athina Rachel Tsangari and Panos H. Koutras, has been showing a particular fondness for weird premises and Lanthimos’ newest is no exception.

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Review 'Ixcanul' - Tobias Burms

Maria, Ixcanul’s protagonist, is quite the character. One might suspect to find an obvious victim role in this bashful 17-year-old who’s still bathed by her mom on a daily basis and is set to be engaged to a much older plantation overseer, bargained off as a piece of merchandise (“Of course she can use a plough, just look at those hands!” her father assures the groom).

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‘Suspiria’ - Andrew Lapin

Film Fest Gent’s Oct. 18 screening of ‘Suspiria’ didn’t boast an original print of Dario Argento’s 1977 horror classic, and offered no retrospective discussions, yet it was the best experience imaginable for the film. This was due to the presence of Italian prog-rock band Goblin, who crafted ‘Suspiria’s’ much-lauded score and performed it live in sync with the images. While Jessica Harper stumbled her way through a creepy dance academy and witches’ coven onscreen, the band power-blasted their keyboard and bass guitar, banged on the timpani and whispered raspy nonsense into the microphone.

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Young Critics

‘Turist’ - Vanity Celis

It's never easy to see a grown man cry, and if seen, best seen by as few eyes as possible. “Could you please – please – give us some privacy?” The command is directed to the unwanted onlooker who isn't supposed to stare at the walls of the bourgeois fortress crumbling. In 'Turist,' a hotel cleaner in an Alpine skiing resort witnesses the breakdown of a pater familias. It is only one of the many examples where director Ruben Östlund fools around with what should best be kept behind closed doors, but fails to remain hidden.

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Review: ‘White God’ - Andrew Lapin

Kornél Mundruczó’s animal fable ‘White God’ depicts the stray dogs of Budapest rising up against their human tormenters after putting up with one too many abuses. The film was clearly made by dog lovers: Mundruczó shoots often from his canine stars’ eye level and allows them to band together in a kind of squatters’ community on an abandoned lot. When they rebel, the language of Cinema Apocalyptica – empty streets, people falling over each other in their mad rush to escape, wind howling through hastily made barricades – emboldens their cause. Nevertheless, the film shows dogs being shot, drugged, and tortured for sport, making a mockery of DoesTheDogDie.com.

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Review: ‘Gente de Bien’ - Vanity Celis

Franco Lolli's debut feature is a contemporary exercise in Neorealism that concerns itself with the misfortunes of a slightly disheveled pair. Ten-year-old Erik seems nothing short of a hoodlum in the making. His father Gabriel is a lethargic layabout who means well but cannot get his finances straight.

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Review: An Educator’s Devotion and the Wrong Kind of Intimacy in ‘The Kindergarten Teacher’ - Fran Hoepfner

Educators are tasked with a great responsibility: inspiring a thirst for knowledge and a passion for art and science in each generation’s youth. Nadav Lapid’s new film ‘The Kindergarten Teacher’ takes this mission to a new extreme. The story itself is simple. The teacher Nira (Sarit Larry) discovers that one of her students Yoav (Avi Shnaidman) – a quiet, stoic child – will recite his own poems whose brilliance goes above and beyond her own abilities as a writer. In turn, she deems it her mission to nurture his ability at the risk of his and her wellbeing.

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Review: ‘Reality’ - Chris Frieswijk

'Reality' is like a graphic by M.C. Escher: a film that'll actively approach your viewing experience and its conventions. It might leave the viewer puzzling though, as every attempt to make sense of the story is countered with ever more complex layers of metafiction and internal references. Several layers of reality are presented without a clear coherency in space and time, leading the unsuspecting viewer into elusive paradox. The film's form ties ends together in an impossible way and thereby hints to the artificial and dream-like nature of cinema.

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Review: ‘Black Coal’ - Zack Miller

The only thing slicker than the ice that coats the ground in Diao Yi’nan’s ‘Black Coal’ is the heavy aestheticism that has dominated the neo-noir genre of late. Ablaze with colored lights in nearly every frame, Diao’s northern Chinese detective puzzler holds on to the stylish tendencies of American counterparts like Drive, but grounds them in a world that feels ultimately more livable.

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Young Critics

Review: 'Jauja' - Vanity Celis

What makes a life function and move forward? The quote is a question that is visually posed in 'Jauja', an existential parable that uses the outlines of a Western to treat us to a profusion of iconic shots, toned in deeply saturated colors to resemble vintage photographs, or painted stills from a 19th century novel.

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