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VENICE 2017 Cinema in the Garden

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Above the Law: The story of a perfect perpetrator

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- VENICE 2017: François Troukens and Jean-François Hensgens present a thrilling 100% Belgian film where the line between cops and thugs threatens to be dangerously blurred

Above the Law: The story of a perfect perpetrator
Bouli Lanners in Above the Law

Above the Law [+see also:
trailer
film focus
interview: François Troukens
film profile
]
, the first feature film by François Troukens and Jean-François Hensgens, was screened as an international premiere at the Venice Film Festival in the Cinema in the Garden section. The protagonist, Frank Valken, a high-flying robber, has just pulled off yet another masterful robbery without a hitch. At least that is what he thinks… The ideal suspects, Valken and his gang end up embroiled in a crime that is 30 years old. It looks like the crazy killers are back.

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Above the Law is deeply entrenched in Belgian contemporary history. Not only does the film, shot between Brussels and Charleroi, turn Belgium into the ideal cinematic landscape, it also includes one of Belgium’s most famous criminal incidents at the heart of its narrative – that of the Brabant Killers, which was much talked about in the 1980s. Perpetrators of some fifteen break-ins, the Brabant Killers, who had a preference for supermarkets, did not care about leaving bodies in their wake (almost thirty victims), mercilessly killing children and seniors. To this day, there are still doubts about the identity of the murderers, and some see it as more than a simple crime, but as a state affair. 

It is from this dark area – amazing material for the screen – that Above the Law draws part of its substance. By plunging an old-school gangster, who is a robber but not a murderer, into the heart of this political-criminal imbroglio, the story highlights the limits of power, and the weakness of its protagonist. Frank Valken believes himself non-violent, a man of principles, who serves without disservice. Even his convictions are called into question as the situation pushes him to become a murderer himself, to prove his (relative) innocence. If Valken fights to maintain and save his integrity at all costs, the price is often death. Very quickly, the line between good and bad becomes difficult to draw and you question the integrity of one and all. The title of the film in French – Tueurs [“killers”] – what does the plural hide? And isn’t Valken, suddenly public enemy number 1, the perfect suspect? Are we witness to machinations where there is more than what meets the eye? 

The film is headlined by Olivier Gourmet, who is fitter than ever and ever ready to save his skin and his honour. The cast around him is 100% Belgian, a gamble that beings with Bouli Lanners, in a dark role that is unusual for him, with the promise of a face-to-face that does not disappoint. You also have the stubborn Lubna Azabal (Lola Pater [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, La Marche [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Nabil Ben Yadir
film profile
]
, Incendies [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
) as an honest cop, Natacha Régnier (The Son of Joseph [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, 38 Witnesses (One Night) [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, soon on the posters of Le Petit Spirou [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
and Une part d’ombre) as a persistent judge, as well as the fiery Kevin Janssens (the discovery of The Ardennes [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Robin Pront
film profile
]
) and the tenacious Johan Leysen (Souvenir [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, The Assistant [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, Young and Beautiful [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: François Ozon
film profile
]
). Co-written by François Troukens (this is his first feature film) and Giordano Gederlini, Above the Law has been co-directed by the former and Jean-François Hensgens, the Belgian cinematographer well-known for his long-standing collaboration especially with Joachim Lafosse (After Love [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Joachim Lafosse
film profile
]
, The White Knights [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Joachim Lafosse
film profile
]
, Loving Without Reason [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Joachim Lafosse
film profile
]
) as well as his work on big-budget French police dramas like Go Fast [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, District 13: Ultimatum [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
and The Squad [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
.

Above the Law was produced by Versus Production in co-production with Capture the Flag Films and Savage Film, with the support of CCA, VAF, Wallimage and screen.brussels. The film will be distributed in Belgium by O’Brother (release date 06/12), in France by Rezo Films, and international sales will be managed by TF1 Studio.

(Translated from French)

See also

EFA
Bridging_the_dragon_Home
ArteKino
 

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