'Los delincuentes' by Rodrigo Moreno and music from 'Poor Things' grab top prizes at 50th edition Film Fest Gent
Grand Prix for Best Film
On Friday night, the Official Competition of the 50th anniversary edition of Film Fest Gent came to a close with an award ceremony followed by the festival's closing film, Hayao Miyazaki's The Boy and the Heron. An incredibly diverse line-up of twelve films, including five feature debuts, made for a lively competition. This year's International Jury members were Sébastien Lifshitz (Jury President), Lukas Dhont, Anne Dorval, Jessica Kiang, Jacqueline Lentzou, Juanita Onzaga and Colin Stetson.
The jury presented the Grand Prix for Best Film to Rodrigo Moreno's playful, meandering and atypical heist film Los delincuentes. In Moreno's twisty, mild crime comedy, an Argentine bank employee takes the risk of his life and decides to rob the bank where he works, resulting in a surprising journey across eclectic episodes. A self-reflexive three-hour delight, Los delincuentes is the first Argentine feature to win the Grand Prix at Film Fest Gent.
The jury: "It is the cause of a lot of misery in modern life that we are trained to want so much when actually we need so little. Our acutely political yet enormously entertaining winning film dreams of a revolution against this system. Like all dreams it is strange and surreal, full of mischief and melancholy and unexpected truths. Moving to a unique rhythm in which the banal and the everyday are heightened to a pitch of delicious absurdity, this is a very peculiar heist movie — one that makes the point with a crisp, playful sense of humour that it is not theft if you're stealing back what is already yours. From its smallest motif to its grandest gesture, this subversive, provocative, funny film reminds us what liberation looks like, because it too is free. Free from the old rules. Free to head into the hills of cinema's infinite possibilities. Free to reinvent its language just as its bumbling, stumbling characters reinvent themselves. A creatively inspired jury unanimously awards the Grand Prix for Best Film to Rodrigo Moreno's droll and dazzling Los delincuentes."
The Grand Prix comes with a €20,000 distribution grant to support the film's Belgian release by Imagine Film Distribution (release april 2024) and a media campaign worth €27,500, including €10,000 in newspaper De Morgen.
Georges Delerue Award for Best Original Music
Music is part of Film Fest Gent's DNA. Each year, the Official Competition has a focus on the impact of music & sound on film. Therefore, the Georges Delerue Award for Best Music or Sound Design is one of the top prizes at the festival. The jury, which included composer & saxophonist Colin Stetson, gave the Georges Delerue Award for Best Original Music to Jerskin Fendrix for his music for Poor Things by Yorgos Lanthimos. It's Fendrix first ever film score.
The jury: "It is rare in cinema to encounter a score that does not just support the storytelling but is itself a storyteller. This is music that is unafraid of adventure, that is proud and bold, tender and full of jokes. It nods to history, reminding us of silent film, which was anything but silent. And it comments on modernity, especially on how women and men — those poor, poor things — still today struggle with each other over control and release. Within this score there is black and white, alongside all the colors of the rainbow and a few that exist only in your wildest imagination. There are passages that make you laugh and cry in the same moment. And there are sequences that, like our brave heroine, dance like they've only just discovered the joy of having feet. Using the instruments of adulthood and the instincts of childhood, the score evolves from naiveté to wisdom while never losing its giddy pleasure at simply being alive. The Georges Delerue Prize for Best Music goes to Jerskin Fendrix for his score to Yorgos Lanthimos' fantastic Poor Things."
In addition to a €10,000 distribution grant for Belgian distributor Searchlight Pictures (release on 17 January), the prize also includes a €12,000 media campaign, including €5,000 in newspaper De Morgen.
Special Mention in Official Competition
A strong Official Competition with memorable performances by both newcomers and experienced actors made the jury hand out a Special Mention. The seven jury members were touched by the performances of Greta Lee, Yoo Teo and John Magaro in Past Lives, Celine Song's semi-autobiographical debut feature. Capturing the melancholy of "what ifs" and lost (or won) opportunities, Past Lives is already tipped as a contender for next year's Academy Awards.
The jury: "In an exceptionally strong competition, we have decided to highlight a trio of performances that moved us enormously. The actors create a perfectly balanced portrait not just of some silly old love triangle but of people trying, despite ambition and ego and cultural separation, to honour all the different kinds of love that one person can feel for another. In recognition of the delicate and difficult nature of embodying characters who are in orbit around one another while each exerting their own gravity, the jury awards a Special Mention to Greta Lee, Yoo Teo and John Magaro, the principal cast of Celine Song's achingly lovely Past Lives."
Past Lives is released in Belgium by The Searchers on 20 December.
Short Film Awards
On Sunday 15 October, the winners of the festival's short film competitions were announced. The Short Film Jury consisted of Savina Petkova, Fenne Kuppens and Lois Patiño. A Kind of Testament by Stephen Vuillemin received the Award for Best International Short (powered by Nationale Loterij). Beautiful Men by Nicolas Keppens got a Special Mention. In the Competition for Belgian Student Shorts, In attesa di una tempesta solare by Evi Cats won the Award for Best Belgian Student Short (powered by Amplo). The jury gave a Special Mention to Melantrope by Vibe Stalpaert. The Audience Award for Best Belgian Student Short (powered by THEPACK), as voted by the audience, went to Oiseau de passage by Victor Dupuis.
On Thursday, Slow by Marija Kavtaradze received the Explore Award from the Explore Zone Jury. Kavtaradze's sophomore feature is a romantic drama about the relationship between dancer Elena and sign language interpreter Dovydas. They're in love. But whereas Elena embodies sensuality physically and wants to experience it intensely, Dovydas confesses that he is asexual and feels no sexual attraction. Despite their differences, the two arrive at their own intimate language. The youth jury was deeply touched by the film: "Slow captures intimacy in a tender and disarming way and discusses asexuality as it rarely seen on television or film." Slow has not yet found a distributor in Belgium. The Belgian distributor releasing the film is granted a media campaign worth €27,000 in newspaper De Morgen, magazine Knack Focus and on MNM.
The Explore Zone Jury decided to give a Special Mention to The Sweet East, the directorial debut by American cinematographer Sean Price Williams (DoP of the Safdies). The film has everything to become a modern cult classic, including a star-making performance by Talia Ryder, a DIY punk attitude and bizarre plot twists.
The jury about their Special Mention: "The Sweet East feels a like a contemporary retelling of Alice in Wonderland, made for a generation in political limbo, a society torn apart by extremes in which today's youth want nothing but pure escapism."
On Monday 23 October, Film Fest Gent will announce the winner of the Audience Award (powered by North Sea Port).
- Grand Prix for Best Film
Los delincuentes van Rodrigo Moreno
- Georges Delerue Award for Best Original Music
Jerskin Fendrix for his music for Poor Things by Yorgos Lanthimos
- Special Mention
Greta Lee, Yoo Teo and John Magaro
for their roles in Past Lives by Celine Song
- Explore Award 2023
Slow by Marija Kavtaradze
- Special Mention
The Sweet East by Sean Price Williams
Joseph Plateau Honorary Awards
- Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, filmmaker
- Terence Davies (posthumous), filmmaker
International Short Film Competition
- Award for Best International Short - powered by Nationale Loterij
A Kind of Testament (Stephen Vuillemin)
- Special Mention
Beautiful Men (Nicolas Keppens)
Competition for Belgian Student Shorts
- Award for Best Belgian Student Short - powered by Amplo
In attesa di una tempesta solare (Evi Cats)
- Special Mention
Melantrope (Vibe Stalpaert)
- Audience Award for Best Belgian Student Short - powered by THEPACK
Oiseau de passage (Victor Dupuis)