John Shank: the farmer who dies

16 Oct 2011
With Blue Bird by Gust Van den Berghe and L'Hiver Dernier by John Shank, the first weekend of the Ghent Film Festival is entirely dedicated to local films. Both directors are incredibly talented; they are masters at using original and innovating imagery. Their scripts are characterised by a unique, pure density. Almost timeless.
In L'Hiver Dernier the boundaries of time and space are vague, but they weigh on Johann, who took over his father's farm. He needs to fight a double battle: with nature of course, but mainly with the downfall of agriculture, a set of skills which was passed from generation to generation. Johann is an idealist and a fighter, but when one of his barns is destroyed by a fire, his world threatens to crash down on him. L'Hiver dernier is a film about the power of respecting rituals in a world that is slowly collapsing. While watching the film you cannot help but think of 'De boer die sterft' ('The farmer who dies'), a story by Karel van de Woestijne. Shank, who was born in the United States and has dual citizenship, is obsessed with nature and agricultural life. In nature, he feels more at home than in the city, and he expresses this through images of astonishing beauty. The story is short, calm, even slow. You have the impression that the director wants us to cherish the images he presents to us. Enjoy! Screening: 16 October, 8 p.m. and 19 October, 5.30 p.m. at Kinepolis.