Belgian debut feature ‘Zagros’ and ‘A Ciambra’ main winners at 44th Film Fest Gent

Report 20 Oct 2017
Zagros’, the debut feature by Belgian-Kurdish director Sahim Omar Kalifa, has been awarded the Grand Prix for Best Film at Film Fest Gent's Closing Night, while Jonas Carpignano’s coming-of-age drama ‘A Ciambra’, scooped the Georges Delerue Award for Best Music.

‘Croisé’ took home the National Lottery Award for Best Belgian Student Short, whereas the award for Best European Short went to ‘My Second Eye’. Actress and Film Fest Gent jury member Greta Scacchi was also presented the Joseph Plateau Honoray Award honouring extraordinary achievements in film.

‘Zagros’ sees a young Kurdish shepherd who follows his wife to Belgium after she’s being suspected of adultery. First-time helmer Sahim Omar Kalifa previously directed the Berlin-awarded short ‘Land of the Heroes’, as well as ‘Baghdad Messi’ and ‘Bad Hunter’ which were both shortlisted for the Academy Awards. The Grand Prix for Best Film comes with a distribution grant of €20,000 to support the film’s domestic theatrical release, and a national media campaign worth over €25,000.

In its report, the jury lauds the film’s “outstanding acting, sincere storytelling and compelling plot”. “The director managed to show us a real story in a naturalistic way, leaving its audience puzzled and deeply moved.”

The Georges Delerue Award for Best Music was awarded to ‘A Ciambra’ in which Italian-American filmmaker Jonas Carpignano sketches an obstinate portrait of the gypsy community in Southern Italy. The film’s soundtrack was created by American composer Dan Romer, who won the Discovery of the Year Award for ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ at the 2013 World Soundtrack Awards. The Georges Delerue award includes a €10,000 distribution grant and media coverage worth €12,000.

“The soundtrack and music takes us extremely close to the protagonist, his world and its problems, still we never feel trapped and travel along with the rhythmic energy of his film”, motivates the jury its decision. “A film that made us laugh and cry, touched us with its brutal beauty.”

The award for Best European Short went to ‘My Second Eye’, a German animation short by Ahmad Saleh, “for its poetic qualities, telling an animated tale of two brothers whose closeness and hope survived the brutalities of war”. Juraj Primorac’s ‘Mary’ received a Special Mention.

Elke Vanoost’s ‘Croisé, about an encounter between strangers in different stages in their lives, won the National Lottery Award for Best Belgian Student Film “because we could feel the vision of the director and could identify ourselves with the fragility of the characters”, explains the Belgian short film jury. A Special Mention was also presented to Michiel Dhont’s ‘Poor Kids’.

Earlier this week, Hans Vannetelbosch’s short ‘Sons of No One’ was already revealed as the winner of the ACE Image Factory + The Fridge Public Choice Award, while Film Fest Gent’s six-headed youth jury awarded the Explore Award to Luca Guadagnino’s coming-of-age story ‘Call Me by Your Name’.

Finally, Italian-Australian actress Greta Scacchi, known for her roles in such films as ‘White Mischief’, ‘Presumed Innocent’ and ‘La tenerezza’ was given a Joseph Plateau Honorary Award for extraordinary achievements in film. Scacchi was part of Film Fest Gent’s international jury this year, together with Eytan Fox, Juliane Lorenz, Arnaud Valois, Gust Van den Berghe and jury president Aurelio Grimaldi.

Following the Official Awards Ceremony, the 44th edition of Film Fest Gent came to a close with the world première of Bert Scholiers mumblecore comedy 'Charlie and Hannah's Grand Night Out', starring Daphne Wellens and Evelien Bosmans.

In 2018, Film Fest Gent celebrates its 45th anniversary and will take place from 9 til 19 October.