Film Fest Ghent unveils some of what the 47th edition in October has to offer. Adapted to the circumstances and safety regulations, this corona-proof edition will offer a platform to cinema from all over the world, including this year's Golden Bear winner There Is No Evil by Mohammad Rasoulof. In addition, this year's programme takes a fascinating look at cinematographic developments in neighbouring Germany, including Undine by Christian Petzold. Roméo Elvis' acting debut in Mandibules and the adaptation of the novel Kom hier dat ik u kus stand out as proof of local talent.
The first titles of Film Fest Ghent 2020
In The Singing Club we see director Peter Cattaneo get back into shape with a feel-good comedy that is loosely based on the BBC documentary series The Choir: Military Wives (2011), about the British 'Military Wives Choir' that has since grown into a real network with more than 75 choirs worldwide, including one based in Brussels. In this film, Kristin Scott Thomas stars as the stoic British military wife, Kate, who mourns the loss of her beloved son Jamie, who had followed his father in the army. When Kate's husband leaves for Afghanistan for a military mission, she tries to fill the gap by starting a choir with the other wives left behind at the base. There, Kate collides with the more free-thinking newcomer Lisa. What will it mean if the group is allowed to perform at the iconic Royal Albert Hall in London? Cattaneo casts the pros and cons of this sympathetic choir in a heart-warming and musical crowd pleaser about solidarity in times of crisis.
Golden Bear winner There Is No Evil is also in the programme. In the film, Iranian poète maudit Mohammad Rasoulof confronts us with the scars of a harsh system, about which we otherwise know very little, based on four different stories. 'Propaganda against the government' was once the hard verdict the filmmaker received after he presented his film A Man of Integrity at Cannes in 2017. A critical drama about an honest man in an unfair society that promptly earned him a film ban and a one-year prison sentence in his home country. However, that did not stop Rasoulof from making the omnibus film There Is No Evil, a particularly sharp portrait of the Iranian regime, and especially of how lax it is with the death penalty.
The story of the world's most famous climate activist Greta Thunberg, whose individual school strike turned into a worldwide protest, is no secret to anyone. Nevertheless, Nathan Grossman in I Am Greta manages to sketch an intimate portrait of the still only seventeen-year-old environmental activist with never-before-seen material. The film crew was there from the start, at the steps of the Swedish parliament, and for the finish, in the European committees and UN meetings. Grossman's feature debut is currently being screened in world premiere in Venice. In Belgium, Anuna De Wever and Kyra Gantois followed in Greta's footsteps, coordinating ecological protests which were among the largest in the world. So be sure to attend Film Fest Ghent for this undeniably relevant story that apparently cannot be told and heard enough.
Twenty years ago Quentin Dupieux scored an absolute hit with Flat Beat as Mr. Oizo, but in the meantime his name is mainly synonymous with the most bizarre filmmaker on the festival circuit. This is mainly due to his second feature film, Rubber (2010), a horror homage in which a murderous car tire sows death and destruction in the American desert. Since then, Dupieux's cult status has grown even further with absurd mindfucks about a telepathic relationship with a dog (Wrong) and a twisted love for a leather jacket (Le daim). Yet, it can be even crazier. The frivolous Frenchman now proves this with the Franco-Belgian co-production Mandibules, a surreal and grotesque buddy comedy, with Adèle Exarchopoulos and Roméo Elvis, in which two simple boys find a gigantic fly in their car and train this monstrosity to make money with it. Welcome to Dupieux's strange universe!
With a focus on contemporary German cinema, an interesting film author like Christian Petzold cannot be missed. Time after time, and through trauma, identity changes and impossible loves, the stylist manages to make the German past remarkably topical. But while those war memories constantly haunt his mysterious dramas Barbara, Phoenix and Transit, in Undine, Petzold really gets to work with supernatural elements for the first time. This romantic drama is an adaptation of the myth of Undine, the water nymph who has previously appeared in literary works, and now arrives in modern-day Berlin where she earns a living as a tour guide and has to kill the man who broke her heart. As the chemistry between actors Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski was clear and powerful after Transit, Petzold brought the duo back together in this special portrait about a sad mermaid on dry land.
In addition to fantasy, the program also focuses on jarring realities with the Oscar-nominated For Sama, a documentary in which director Waad al-Kateab tries to answer the question for herself and for her daughter: 'Why does someone stay behind in a dangerous conflict area?' As a 20-year-old student, she started working as a journalist in 2011 and documented the escalating civil war in Syria. While everything around her was being destroyed, she continued to film everything with determination, and married a doctor with whom she had her first child in 2016: Sama. With gruesome war images and intimate family fragments, al-Kateab tries to explain to her daughter why they stayed in Aleppo's nightmare. "I want you to understand why your father and I made some choices". As a result, this heartbreaking war diary, which al-Kateab made together with co-director and producer Edward Watts, is not only brimming with journalistic ambitions, but above all you can feel the beating heart of a brave mother who dreams of a better future for her child. This film was planned as the opening film of MOOOV Festival, which - for known reasons - had to be suspended. Film Fest Ghent now programs the film, besides other titles within the programme section Global Cinema - Selected by MOOOV.
Music fans can rejoice with the Sound & Vison section which includes a.o. Everything - The Real Thing Story by Simon Sheridan about four working-class boys who were dubbed 'The Black Beatles'. In a summer of scorching heat The Real Thing scored their only number-one hit with You to Me Are Everything, the first time ever an all-black Britsh band had a number-one single in the UK. They became Britain's most enduring soul and funk act. The Real Thing's meteoric succes was tempered with personal tragedies, drug addiction and racial prejudice. Sheridan's documentary excavates the history of this incredible soul band with a mixture of archive footage and newly recorded interviews.
Finally, the dazzling abundance of talent in Flanders and the surrounding area will also be highlighted at Film Fest Ghent. Thus, Kom hier dat ik u kus by Sabine Lubbe Bakker and Niels Van Koevoorden is featured on the programme. After their internationally acclaimed documentary Ne me quitte pas (2013), this time, the Dutch-Belgian directing duo collected a Flemish top cast starring Tanya Zabarylo as Mona, Tijmen Govaerts (Trench), Valentijn Dhaenens (The Misfortunes), Tom Vermeir (Belgica) and Wine Dierickx (Smoorverliefd). With Kom hier dat ik u kus, Griet Op de Beeck's homonymous novel has been successfully translated to the silver screen. It is a tragicomic family drama that follows Mona as she tries - often at her own expense - to mend the strained bonds in her family after the unfortunate death of her dear mother. When her father Vincent brings a new lady to the picture, Mona feels responsible not to let the family collapse again. Like the novel, the film is a haunting and pure character study.
More than ever, the FFG team has the ambition to have the largest annual film festival in Belgium take place in all its glory - taking into account the safety regulations and the health of its visitors and guests - and to be able to answer all our visitors' cinephile calls.
Are you a film buff who wants to watch as many of these films as possible at Film Fest Ghent? Then get yourself a 5- or 10- ticket pack here to enjoy the festival at a reduced price!