The Visitor, opening film of the 35th Ghent Film Festival
11 Sep 2008
The 35ste edition of the Ghent Film Festival opens on 7 October with The Visitor by Tom McCarthy. It is a very warm, humane and at times touching film that critically looks into the immigration politics in the United States. The full programme of the festival will be announced on 24 September.
The Visitor is only the second film by director Tom McCarthy, who is best known as the actor from The Wire. The film is about Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins), a professor of economics at the University of Connecticut, who after the death of his wife has no real goal in life anymore. When he visits New York to attend a conference on globalisation, he discovers that a young couple has moved into his apartment in Manhattan, which he rarely visits. Tarek (Haaz Sleiman), a Syrian, lives there with his Senegalese girlfriend Zainab (Danai Gurira). He plays the djembe in a jazz band, while she sells her self-made jewellery. At first, Walter wants to evict them from his apartment, but once he discovers that they are illegally in the country and do not know where to go, he allows them to stay until they have found another place to stay. The festival selected The Visitor because the film addresses and nuances the immigration problems in a comprehensive and insistent way. In addition, it is a true festival film, which gives attention to actors' direction, which has a powerful scenario, and which is touching in a sincere way. Also, the beautiful soundtrack by the Polish composer Jan A.P Kaczmarek is a perfect match for the festival's musical theme. The opening film of the 35th Ghent Film Festival will be screened at Kinepolis Ghent and will be attended by the actors Haaz Sleiman and Danai Gurira. At the same time of the opening in Kinepolis, the festival section Almost Cinema starts at Vooruit with the screening of Young@Heart. This documentary follows the Young@Heart choir from Northampton, Massachusetts, which has an average age of 80 years. Nothing special you might think, but their repertoire includes songs by Ramones, The Clash, Sonic Youth and Radiohead. With humour and tenderness, the British documentary filmmaker Stephen Walker makes a touching portrait of a generation that hardly ever makes it onto the film screen. The full programme of the 35th Ghent Film Festival will be announced on 24 September. Ticket sales start on 25 September via www.filmfestival.be and on 27 September via the festival ticket offices at Fnac Ghent and Vooruit.