In the International Short Film Competition, which featured films from 13 different countries, a lot of up-and-coming directorial talent emerged. In the end, the jury chose Neighbour Abdi by Douwe Dijkstra as the winner of the Award for Best International Short. In this strikingly playful film, Somali-born Abdi tells his painful life story - marked by war and crime - with the help of his neighbour, filmmaker Douwe Dijkstra. Through reconstructions in a special effects studio, they try to understand Abdi's violent past. Douwe Dijkstra and Abdiwahab Ali accepted the Award for Best International Short (worth €5.000) in person.
The jury was impressed with the high quality of the films selected this year and felt lucky and honoured to see them on the big screen in Ghent. About the winning film, the jury said: "We have decided to give the Award for Best International Short to a short that impressed us with its original formal approach, but which we immediately realised was much more than a gimmick. Both very loose and very intentional, very free and very detailed, this film demonstrates a generous and curious relation to cinema but also to the world at large, finding a way beyond binary oppositions between truth and fiction, comedy and drama, past and present, yourself and the other."
In the same competition, the jury decided to award a Special Mention to Cherries by Vytautas Katkus, a 16mm film in which the director and his father go cherry picking in the garden. "We also wanted to give a Special Mention to a beautiful film, from a filmmaker with a unique and confident voice and with something to say. We look forward to seeing more from this promising artist."
Each year, there's a lot of excitement for the Competition for Belgian Student Shorts, a competition that has awarded talents Anthony Nti, Kato De Boeck, Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah and Lukas Dhont in the past. All students from accredited film schools in Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels can enter the competition. Out of all submissions, the jury crowned Finn's Heel by Cato Kusters as the winner of the Award for Best Belgian Student Short, a prize worth €5.000 thanks to Amplo. Finn's Heel is the coming-of-age story of Arthur and Finn, two fifteen-year-old boys who meet when Arthur starts taking boxing lessons at the club where Finn's father is coach.
The jury about Finn's Heel: "The film reveals a filmmaker with a rare sensibility for the nuances of human relationships, beyond clichés and conventional social codes. It managed to surprise us not with big gestures, but with subtleties and details, small adjustments in character's behaviours and actors' performances, and a warm, patient, focused visual language that simply captivated us."
In the student short film competition there were two Special Mentions: one went to La chute (On its Way Down) by Sebastian Schaevers, a mysterious look at a village in the Swiss Alps. "A film with a striking visual language, from a filmmaker clearly unafraid to come to grips with their surroundings and show them in a new way", the jury stated. The other Special Mention was for Merci pour patience! (Thank you for your patience!) by Simon van der Zande, because "it found a deceptively simple way to address a difficult, even uncomfortable topic, without falling into easy didacticism or abandoning our complex, multifaceted reality".
Also the Film Fest Gent audience was able to vote for their favourite film in the student shorts selection and chose Merci pour votre patience! (Thank you for your patience!) by Simon van der Zanden as the recipient of the THE PACK Audience Award for Best Belgian Student Short, worth a post-production budget of €6.500.
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