A Look Apart kicks things off with rough, edgy West of Pluto (2008) by Canadian writer/director team Henry Bernadet and Myriam Vereault. Shot mockumentary style, the film follows a group of wayward French-Canadian teens over the course of 24 hours, from a raging house party to the misadventures that follow. On the way, we even find out why Brussels waffles are so popular in suburban Montreal. With Obama now firmly at the helm, it was the ideal opportunity to celebrate the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement and African-American consciousness-raising, in film form. In The Bus (1963), award-winning cameraman and activist Haskell Wexler observes and converses candidly with passengers on their way to Washington, DC for a massive demonstration, while Italian director Antonello Branca presents his unique vision of African-American repression in Seize the Time (1970), a bizarre blend of fiction and documentary. Canadian Richard Brouillette plots the trajectory of neo-liberal thought and the erosion of democracy in Encirclement - Neoliberalism Ensnares Democracy (2008), a labour of love which took him 12 years to complete, while fellow countryman Peter Mettler takes audiences on an eye-opening tour of Alberta's tar sands, an eco-disaster in the making, in Petropolis, Arial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands. The works of Chinese filmmakers Zhao Ye and Xiaolu Guo are no less visually poetic, with anxiety and wistfulness seeping through beautifully composed frames. Ye's Jalainur takes us to Inner Mongolia, where we experience the former glory of a monumental socialist industry, while Guo's Once Upon a Time Proletarian reveals the dreams and truths of post-Maoist China in twelve chapters. And after seeing Robert Kenner's provocative documentary Food Inc., you might want to reconsider your chicken eating habits. A Look Apart is also the opportunity to shine the spotlight on home-grown talent (from Ghent). The festival proudly presents the Belgian premiere of Johan Grimonprez's Double Take (2009), an ingenious media and Hitchcock analysis, as well as the international premiere of Not Waving But Drowning, a visual/reflective documentary about time, the passage of time and illegal refugees by newcomer Elias Grootaers.
A different view with A Look Apart
The festival's A Look Apart series showcases a selection of films curated by Cis Bierinckx, director of the Beurschouwburg theatre in Brussels. Bierinckx has a keen eye for films that raise questions about culture, people and society while casting a critical glance on film as an art form. Is film the reflection of our collective subconscious? Can film capture the truth, in all its ambiguity? A Look Apart's quirky selection gets to the heart of these issues, challenging viewers to engage with the work and draw their own conclusions.