Belgian film 'La Civil' to open 48th Film Fest Ghent
La Civil, the fiction debut of the Belgian-Romanian filmmaker Teodora Ana Mihai, is the official opening film of the 48th edition of Film Fest Ghent! The gripping drama about a Mexican mother whose daughter is abducted by a drug cartel had its world premiere at the Cannes film festival, where it won the Prix du Courage. The film is a compelling, fictionalised portrait of an everyday reality in Mexico, and gives a voice to the countless parents who experienced these hardships.
Do you want to attend the opening night of Film Fest Ghent?
On 12 October 2021, the 48th Film Fest Ghent opens with La Civil, in company of the director Teodora Ana Mihai and leading actress Arcelia Ramírez. The thriller had its world premiere in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes film festival. Afterwards, the film received a minute-long standing ovation.
For filmmaker Teodora Ana Mihai - who lives in Ghent - it’s a return to Film Fest Ghent. In 2014, she came to the festival to present Waiting for August, a documentary about a Romanian girl who takes care of her siblings. In October, she will open the festival with her intense fiction debut, La Civil, which has already attracted a lot of attention internationally. The fact that the film is able to have its Belgian premiere at all is no small feat for the director, who has been on a creative journey for seven years and shot the film during the pandemic. The cast and crew had to live and work with strict social distancing rules and corona measures.
The Belgian-Romanian-Mexican co-production tells the story of Cielo, a strong Mexican mother who refuses to be a victim when her daughter is abducted by a drug cartel. The local authorities have no control over the drug war and offer little help. Cielo takes matters into her own hands and strikes back, determined to find her daughter. It causes her to fall into a vicious circle of violence, corruption and even more violence. The film is an emotional call for understanding and help that will move every parent.
For the screenplay of her second film, Teodora Ana Mihai took inspiration from the true story of a Mexican woman who underwent similar events. The woman told her: “Every time I wake up, I want to kill or die.” The statement hit hard for Mihai, especially since it came from a seemingly ordinary housewife who in no way would be associated with violence. But the circumstances drove her to do so. Together with the acclaimed Mexican author Habacuc Antonio De Rosario, Teodora Ana Mihai documented her life, but soon it became clear that - because of the sensitive information - the film would have to be a fictional story. For two and a half years, the duo did intensive research on site, after which a long production process followed. La Civil is dedicated to Miriam Rodriguez, the housewife in question, who was shot dead in front of her home on Mexican Mother’s Day in 2017.
Filmmaker Teodora Ana Mihai was born in Bucharest during the Ceausescu regime. In 1989, she followed her parents to Belgium, who had fled the country the year before. She went to study in San Francisco, where she had many friends who were originally from Mexico, and in New York. Her debut film Waiting for August earned her much international recognition. Her second feature film, La Civil, proves that the director is a new, diverse voice in the Belgian (and international) film landscape.
La Civil is a production by Hans Everaert for the production company Menuetto in Antwerp, in co-production with Les Films du Fleuve of the Dardenne brothers, the Romanian Mobra Films of Golden Palm winner Cristian Mungiu and the Mexican Teorema of filmmaker Michel Franco.
Cinéart releases the film in the Belgian cinemas after Film Fest Ghent on 27 October.