There are three main reasons why Flanders International Film Festival - Ghent has selected Merry Christmas as its opening film, explains Managing Director Jacques Dubrulle. "Firstly, the film emphasises the futility of war in a tragicomic manner. This fits in perfectly with the theme of the 32nd Flanders International Film Festival - Ghent: activism in cinema. Secondly, music plays an important part in the film: when a bagpipe melody is played on Christmas Eve, the combatants put down their arms and jointly celebrate a white Christmas. Thirdly, this film is a European co-production between Belgium, France, Germany, the UK and Romania. And then on top of all that, there is the beautiful photography by Belgian cinematographer Walther Vanden Ende."
The film starts in the summer of 1914, the start of World War I. On Christmas Eve the soldiers open the presents they have received. The big surprise, however, does not come from the presents in the French, Scottish and German trenches. When a priest starts to play the bagpipes, the unexpected happens: the shooting stops and soldiers emerge from the trenches in order to wish each other "Merry Christmas" and to share a cigarette or a piece of chocolate...
Merry Christmas (Joyeux Noël) is based on a true story that took place on Christmas Eve 1914 at several locations at the front. Director Christian Carion, who himself comes from the North of France, discovered the story of this incredible Christmas in a book in 1993, but he did not start filming it until after his first feature film Une Hirondelle A Fait Le Printemps (2001). The film was one of the discoveries of the Cannes Film Festival 2005.
On Tuesday 11 October, the opening evening of the 32nd Flanders International Film Festival - Ghent, Merry Christmas will be shown at the Kinepolis cinema in Ghent. Both Christian Carion, the director, the actrice Diane Krüger (Troy) and Christophe Rossignon, the producer, will be attending the event. The film opens in general release in Belgium on 30 November 2005. The cast consists of Diane Krüger, Benno Fürmann, Guillaume Canet, Gary Lewis, Dany Boon, Daniel Brühl, Steven Robertson