Belgian films bookend Quinzaine
by Aurore Engelen
20/04/2011 - Over the past three years, the Directors' Fortnight seems to have fallen in love with Belgian cinema. A rich crop of titles has been selected at recent editions, including Joachim Lafosse’s Private Lessons [trailer, film focus] and Bouli Lanners’s Eldorado [trailer] in 2008, Felix Van Groeningen’s The Misfortunates [trailer, film focus] in 2009, and Olivier Masset-Depasse’s Illegal [trailer, film focus] (European Parliament LUX Prize 2010 competition) and Gust Van den Berghe’s Little Baby Jesus of Flanders [trailer] in 2010. The same goes for 2011, as three Belgian features are in the line-up.
The surprise selection is from Van den Berghe, who is back already just one year after his debut film, with a project that is just as unusual as Little Baby Jesus. Blue Bird [trailer] is loosely based on the novel The Blue Bird (1908) by Maurice Maeterlinck, Belgium’s only Nobel Prize winner for literature.
The adaptation follows the spirit rather than the letter of the book. Van den Berghe aims to tell a tale about the end of innocence, whereas Maeterlinck focused on the quest for happiness. To reinforce the universal aspect of the story, Van den Berghe and his small team went filming in Togo, which was an opportunity to delve into animist culture and its close relationship with nature.
Blue Bird is the third feature produced by Tomas Leyers in the last three years, and his third film selected at Cannes, which is encouraging for Minds Meet as it backs unconventional films. Blue Bird will be sold internationally by The Coproduction Office.
As predicted on the Francophone side, new films by Lanners and directorial trio Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy (photo) have been selected. Frédéric Boyer has, moreover, given them prime slots. Abel, Gordon and Romy’s gently eccentric burlesque tale The Fairy [trailer, film focus] will open the Directors’ Fortnight, three years after Rumba [trailer, film focus]. It is produced by France’s MK2 (who are also handling international sales) and the directors’ Belgian company Courage Mon Amour.
Meanwhile, Lanners will close the Quinzaine with his latest feature, The Giants [trailer, film focus], which chronicles the summer adventures of a group of teenagers. Sold by Memento Films, the film is produced by Versus, who return to the Cannes sidebar after Private Lessons, Eldorado and Illegal.
(Translated from French)