'Leave No Traces' is the major winner of the 14th edition of the Ostend Film Festival

'Ninjababy', 'Rien à foutre', 'Nobody Has to Know' and 'Drive My Car' also take home prizes

The Ostend Film Festival annually awards various films in distinct competitions. Leave No Traces was crowned the winner in the international LOOK! competition. The film took home both Best Picture and Best Production Design. In the same competition, Frank van den Eeden's cinematography for Nobody Has to Know and the screenplay for Drive My Car were also lauded for their visual excellence. Rien à foutre triumphed in the new COOP! competition and Ninjababy was the jury’s favourite in the all-new SOON! competition.

Visually stunning gems in the LOOK! competition

The ​ LOOK! competition awards visually strong storytelling. The jury consisted of actress Monic Hendrickx, D.O.P. Robrecht Heyvaert, executive producer at CZAR Eurydice Gysel, director Sahim Omar Kalifa and artist Fleur Pierets. They handed out prizes for Best Cinematography, Best Screenplay, Best Production Design and Best Film. 

The Polish-Czech-French co-production Leave No Traces was awarded twice in this competition. The jury was very impressed with Pawel Jarzebski's Production Design:

“The production design is rich in detail and takes us effortlessly to the early 80’s in Poland. The apartments, the police office, the courtroom, the consistent decoration of the locations: everything we see in the film, exists for a reason.”

Leave No Traces wins the top prize for Best Film. Director Jan P. Matuszyński dissects a painful chapter of Polish history books in his film. On 12 May 1983, student Grzegorz Przemyk falls victim to police brutality. The 18 year old aspirant poet succumbed from his injuries. The jury was very moved: 

“The film appealed to our sense of justice. The story of the friends is told in a dazzling way and is emotionally riveting. The characters are never unambiguously bad, but are depicted as an element in a cruel system. The creators even succeed in flirting with humor, regardless of the film’s heavy story. Despite its title, the film definitely leaves its traces.”

The jury awarded Nobody Has To Know, by the Belgian director Bouli Lanners with the prize for Best Cinematography. The LOOK! competition is unique in Europe and does not hand over this award to the director, but to the director of photography. D.P. Frank van den Eeden’s impressive resume also includes Belgian successes such as Home, Girl and De Patrick. Bouli Lanners and lead actress Michelle Fairley attended this edition of the Ostend Film Festival and received a star on the Ostend Walk of Fame.

“Frank van den Eeden's camera work lifts up the screenplay and the film. It is simultaneously oppressive when it comes to social control and liberating when it comes to love. The camera is not objective, it remains very close to the skin. The spectator is intimately engaged with the two main characters. Wonderful.”

Finally, the screenplay of Drive My Car by the Japanese director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi was recognized by the jury in the Best Screenplay category:

“The screenplay of Drive My Car, by Haruki Murakami and Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, is intelligently and carefully written with beautiful dialogue, where the moments of silence speak volumes.”

First and second features SOON! competition

Many striking coming-of-age portraits made by a new generation of filmmakers were selected for the SOON! competition. Still, one film towered head and shoulders above the others. Jury members director Marc Lybaert, graphic designer Amira Daoudi and creative duo Gus & Stella declared the Norwegian film Ninjababy the winner of this competition.

“Hilarious and exciting. Strong, funny and engaged. A beautiful balance between the black humour and the heavy theme. You leave the theatre with a smile on your face. Actor Kristine Kujath Thorp delivers an entertaining, intriguing and captivating performance. The animations portray her thoughts and make the film unique.”

In Ninjababy, director Yngvild Sve Flikke explores the life of 23-year-old Rakel who suddenly discovers that she is six months pregnant. The young cartoonist suspects that a cunning ninja baby has been hiding in her belly. To portray Rakel's conflicting feelings, the Norwegian director opted for a delightful mix of live-action and animation, so the mischievous ninjababy literally jumps from Rakel's illustrations.

The jury also had two honourable mentions up for grabs, for Stop-Zemlia by Kateryna Gornostai and Murina by Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic.

Stop-Zemlia brings us back to the emotional state of our adolescence. The film is fictional, but the psychological profiles are documented very authentically.”
Murina's beautiful cinematography, styling, grading, poster and music let us dive into a highly tense and complex, yet very recognizable family situation, where the resilience and desires of each character come into their own. The film lingers in the mind for a long time like a wave that continues to stir the mind.”

The other nominees were Luzzu by Alex Camilleri, Mon Père, le Diable by Ellie Foumbi, Sisterhood by Dina Duma, You Resemble Me by Dina Amer and Yuni by Kamila Andini.


Successful collaborations in the COOP! competition

This selection was made with the idiom "Think globally, act locally" in mind. These Flemish and Dutch co-productions combine craftsmanship and creativity from the Low Countries. The jury, screenwriter Angelo Tijssens, frontwoman and actor Lara Chedraoui, director Sarah Kasmi, actor Noa Tambwe Kabati and filmmakers Kato De Boeck and Flo Van Deuren, chose the Belgian-French co-production Rien à foutre with great conviction.

“Cassandra (played wonderfully and treacherously light-heartedly by Adèle Exarchopoulos) takes us high above the clouds, and deep, deep into the pain of the people on the front lines of low-cost airlines. Rien à foutre by Julie Lecoustre and Emmanuel Marre is a deeply human comedy about the real value of things, about coming home, about saying goodbye and returning.”

In addition, the jury also gave an honourable mention to Jolein Laarman, the screenwriter of Do Not Hesitate.

“Her screenplay made us uncomfortable, because we couldn't find an easy way out, because the boundaries between good and bad were made more and more ambiguous, because she made us think about the horror of one-sided thinking, about the madness of war, about the stories that we tell ourselves.”

The other nominees in this selection were Ennio: The Maestro by Giuseppe Tornatore, Miss Marx by Susanna Nicchiarelli, Nr. 10 by Alex van Warmerdam, Samuel's Travels by Aik Karapetian, Speak No Evil by Christian Tafdrup and The Consequences by Claudia Pinto.

UFK Press Awards

The Flemish Union of Film Criticism (UFK) presented the UFK Press Awards during the festival. These connoisseurs, who watch films professionally and share their well-founded opinion, rate all films from the festival's international competitions: LOOK!, COOP! and SOON!. The jury included Linda Crivits (FILM), Chantal Moens (Humbug, PR UFK), Erik Stockman (HUMO) and Marc Bussens (Enola, Humbug, Snapshots, FILM and chairman UFK).

The jury chose Ryûsuke Hamaguchi's Drive My Car as the winner in the LOOK! competition, because it is "a poetically masterful Murakami film, full of flawless images with an exquisite ​ mise-en-scene".

In the COOP! competition, Nr. 10 by Alex van Warmerdam won because of "the beautiful image compositions, magnificent sets, morbid humour, the excellent acting and a scenario full of unpredictability".

Finally, Alex Camilleri's Luzzu became the big winner in the SOON! competition for "the subtle neo-realistic tenor and the striking capture of the authentic culture of Malta".

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