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FESTIVALS Belgium

Lehericey's daring and successful debut

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After its selection in the Locarno Filmmakers of the Present section, Delphine Lehericey’s Comme à Ostende this weekend featured out of competition at the 22nd Namur Francophone Film Festival (September 28-October 5).

The Belgian-made feature debut by a former cinema actress who has a few documentaries and shorts to her name, the original approach of Comme à Ostende seduces viewers with its accuracy and its depth.

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Influenced by John Cassavetes, the Nouvelle Vague and Dogma, Lehericey chose to improvise with commanding actors (Belgians Jan Hammenecker and Simon André and Greek-born Swiss actress Myrto Procopiou) on a simple yet overpowering plot.

The film’s two narrative threads follow the suffering and day-to-day life of Léo and Maria, a separated couple, before they meet up again when Léo finally decides to bring his father, a fragile and tender character with sparkling eyes who is suffering from Alzheimers, to a hospice in Ostende.

Lehericey does not explain her characters but follows them closely, filming their bodies and emotions as tightly as possible. As events push the story to its denouement, the narration holds firm, especially in dilated, at times insignificant moments. Bursts of laughter or insinuations depict the intimacy between the characters.

Lacking depth of field, the digital images, as dissolved as they are moving, are also fragile. The sometimes slightly coarse improvisations add friction to the long and minimally edited sequences that keep the characters, who falter under the burden of their hesitation, within the frame.

Ultimately, Comme à Ostende is a very moving film. Like its characters, it walks unwaveringly down a thin and fragile line, like a tightrope walker, from which it gets its strength.

Produced by Sébastien Delloye for Entre Chien et Loup, Comme à Ostende was co-produced by director Frédéric Fonteyne together with Patrick Quinet for Artémis Productions.

The film is slated for a spring 2008 release through Entre Chien et Loup’s distribution outfit Dreamtouch (see news).

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(Translated from French)

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