Film Fest Gent returns to its essence for its 49th edition (11-22 October 2022): film as the driving force for ten days of reunions and conversations. The opening night, with a packed red carpet, immediately offered a cathartic shared experience thanks to Lukas Dhont’s moving, delicate opening film Close. It is the second time in his career that the filmmaker from Ghent was invited to open the festival. For the occasion, the red carpet was transformed into a colourful field of flowers.
Over the next ten days, 118 feature films, 40 short films and 3 television series will be shown on the big screen. As always at Film Fest Gent, you can also indulge yourself musically at the dreamy VIDEODROOM concerts, the Korean Composers concert and the annual closing event: the World Soundtrack Awards on Saturday 22 October.
With Close, Film Fest Gent not only selected a Belgian opening film, but also a director who, even at his still youthful age, already has a rich history with the festival. Lukas Dhont’s short films have won awards at Film Fest Gent and his feature debut, the critically acclaimed Girl, was selected as the festival’s opening film in 2018. With his own strong visual language, supported by a touching score by Valentin Hadjadj, Dhont manages to portray lifelike characters, played by a young promising cast. Among others, director Lukas Dhont, screenwriter Angelo Tijssens, leads Eden Dambrine and Gustav De Waele and actors Émilie Dequenne, Kevin Janssens, Marc Weiss, Léon Bataille, Igor Van Dessel, Robin Keyaert and Serine Ayari were present on the opening night.
Over the next few days, many more national and international guests will walk the Film Fest Gent red carpet, including directors Céline Sciamma, Albert Serra, Cristian Mungiu, Mia Hansen-Løve, David Lowery, Flo Van Deuren, Kato De Boeck, Léonor Serraille and Ruben Desiere. Some of them will engage in an in-depth conversation about their working process during various Director’s Talks and Creative Partnership talks at Kinepolis or during the Talkies at the Film Fest Café.
For this year’s solidarity action, Film Fest Gent is collaborating with the OverKop house in Ghent, a place where young people can find a sympathetic ear or professional psychological help. Film Fest Gent also brings together a number of films with the tag ‘Veerkracht’ (resilience), from the poignant How to Save a Dead Friend to the über-cynical Sick of Myself.
Film Fest Gent announced last week that it has added an extra film to the official competition: Luca Guadagnino’s reunion with Timothée Chalamet, Bones and All. Mia Hansen-Løve will personally present Un beau matin at the festival, her slice-of-life film about a young widow (Léa Seydoux) who reunites and begins an affair with a childhood friend. The delightfully ironic and surreal Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Pierre Földes is an animated film inspired by the work of Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. Not only the war in Ukraine but also the shoot-down of flight MH17 is covered in Maryna Er Gorbach’s Klondike, which has since been appointed as the Ukrainian Oscar entry. The filmmaker paints an excellent picture of the state of affairs and human relations in the now self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic. Among the more “challenging” competition films are Pacifiction by Albert Serra and Trenque Lauquen by Laura Citarella, in which two friends search for Laura, who has disappeared. The intriguing search continues in two parts which will be screened one after the other at the festival. The Chinese crime thriller and film noir Are You Lonesome Tonight, about the perpetrator of a hit-and-run piecing together the consequences of his rendezvous with fate, is a promising debut with intoxicating cinematography about guilt, penance and white noise interfering with our memories.
Swedish political thriller Boy From Heaven, about an esteemed Islamic institute in Cairo where a young student quickly loses his innocence, is the third Oscar entry in this competition. You will also be on the edge of your seat with To The North, a haunting thriller about stowaways hoping to find heaven in the United States but ending up in hell along the way. Director Valentina Maurel already won many prizes at the Locarno film festival with her feature debut, the feverish Belgian co-production Tengo sueños eléctricos. Will she convince the Film Fest Gent jury as well? France selected Saint-Omer by Léonor Serraille, who will also be present at the festival, as its Oscar entry and Switzerland sends Drii Winter by Mihai Mincan, bringing the total of Oscar entries in this competition to five. Marie Kreutzer frees Elisabeth in Bavaria literally and figuratively from her historical corset in Corsage, which shows the restrictive life of the Austrian empress. The films in our Official Competition are competing for the Grand Prix for Best Film and the Georges Delerue Award for Best Music/Sound Design, which will be presented on 21 October, before the screening of the closing film She Said.
Joseph Plateau Honorary Award
Two Joseph Plateau Honorary Awards will be presented during the 49th Film Fest Gent. On Wednesday 12 October, the honour falls to French director Céline Sciamma, who lit our hearts on fire in 2019 with the lush costume drama Portrait de la jeune fille en feu. Before her Director’s Talk with Lukas Dhont, FFG2022 will screen her latest film, Petite maman. Belgian filmmaker Raoul Servais, whose new film Der Lange Kerl, as well as a selection of his previous masterpieces (Atraksion, Chromophobia, The False Note and Sirène) will be screened at the 49th edition, will also receive a Joseph Plateau Honorary Award for his oeuvre, on Saturday 15 October.
22nd World Soundtrack Awards
Film Fest Gent is once again bringing together the crème de la crème of the international film music scene in Ghent for the 22nd World Soundtrack Awards. The festival is delighted to welcome Mark Isham as guest of honour. Brussels Philharmonic, conducted by Maestro Dirk Brossé, will play a selection from the oeuvres of Mark Isham, Bruno Coulais (winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award) and of Nainita Desai (winner of the Discovery of the Year Award 2021) during the film music awards ceremony. Mark Isham himself will perform on trumpet and, in addition, his music for Judas and the Black Messiah and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent will be performed as a world premiere.