10 21 oct '23

'How to Save a Dead Friend' wins Explore Award 2022. Special Mention for Belgian docu 'Echo'

Explore Award How to Save a Dead Friend Marusya Syroechkovskaya copyright Arne Desmet6
News Review 20 Oct 2022

How to Save a Dead Friend, Marusya Syroechkovskaya's gut-punch of a documentary, wins the Explore Award at Film Fest Gent 2022, given by the festival's youth jury. A Special Mention goes to a documentary as well: Echo by Belgian filmmaker Ruben Desiere.

Every year, Film Fest Gent engages a number of avid cinephiles between 18 and 26 years old to delve into the films tagged 'Explore Zone'. Afterwards, they present the prestigious Explore Award. The youth jury - consisting of Lennert Verdoodt, Nwanda Okparaji, Clara Pollentier, Zita-Luna De Smaele, Margot Leyers and Korneel Snauwaert - carefully explored each film. In the end, they chose How to Save a Dead Friend as their winner of a competition with seventeen films, which also included Boy from Heaven (Tarik Saleh), Metronom (Alexandru Belc), Next Sohee (July Jung), Tengo sueños eléctricos (Valentina Maurel), among others.

How to Save a Dead Friend

A heartbreaking debut, How to Save a Dead Friend is a gut-punch of a documentary about the past years in Putin's Russia, a country that has seemingly given up on its youth. Marusya is 16 and, like many Russian teenagers, is determined to end her life. Then she meets her soulmate in another millennial, Kimi. They spend a decade filming the euphoria and anxiety, the happiness and misery of their youth, muzzled by a violent and autocratic regime in the midst of a “depressed Russia”. This film is a cry from the heart, a tribute to an entire silenced generation.

"As I was growing up, I was very depressed and I didn’t know how to communicate about it. I hope my film helps people who are depressed or dealing with issues to ask for help easier. I really hope it makes them feel like they are not alone."

Director Marusya Syroechkovskaya is touched by the recognition for her deeply personal film: "As I was growing up, I was very depressed and I didn’t know how to communicate about it. I hope my film helps people who are depressed or dealing with issues to ask for help easier. I really hope it makes them feel like they are not alone.” The 49th edition of Film Fest Gent is foregrounding resilience and mental health. How to Save a Dead Friend and the filmmaker's vision are a prime example of that.

Explore Award How to Save a Dead Friend Marusya Syroechkovskaya copyright Arne Desmet
© Arne Desmet
Marusya Syroechkovskaya wins Explore Award 2022

Thanks to the Explore Award, the Belgian distributor releasing How to Save a Dead Friend gets a media campaign worth € 27,000 in newspaper De Morgen, magazine Knack and on radiostation StuBru.

The Explore Zone Jury decided to also hand out a Special Mention to Ruben Desiere's documentary Echo, which offers a surprising glimpse into the training of Belgian soldiers. The films shows the young recruits of Platoon Echo under the tutelage of an amiable commander.

How to Save a Dead Friend does not have a Belgian release for now.
Avila will release Echo in Belgian theatres on 15 February 2023.

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