Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Holgut (Liesbeth De Ceulaer, 2021)

Siberian villager Roman and city boy Kymm venture into the vast Yakutian wilderness, hunting for a rare reindeer, while cloning-scientist Semyon hunts for mammoth remains. Their quests drive them far North and eventually down into the melting permafrost. Ancient bones rise up from the ground and wild animals seem to have disappeared. Three Yakutians venture into the vast wilderness on different quests. Villager Roman and city boy Kyym hunt for a rare reindeer while not so far away, scientist Semyon scourges the permafrost for a viable cell of the mammoth, which he needs to clone the extinct animal.

In the midst of an ongoing mass-extinction of fauna and flora, of a Siberian Ivory Rush, and at the dawn of de-extinction, a contemporary myth unfolds. While Roman, Kyym and Semyon close in on their goals, both the frozen earth that they walk on and reality itself melt into another state. Holgut boldly combines elements of fiction and documentary and manoeuvres effortlessly from captivating reality to visual poetry. Down the mammoth-hole, science fiction seems to become reality and reality seems to become myth.

Director's statement: 

Climate change and the 6th mass extinction are upon us: temperatures and water levels are rising, land is crumbling and species are going extinct at a rapid rate. Holgut stems from these tragic events and from the defining human influence lying within. How to survive and grasp this incredibly fast-changing world, one that often seems to be heading for doom? 

We are part of the natural world. When we lose parts of this world, we lose parts of our self. Our stories get punctured, they become incomplete and we can get lost. The mammoth’s tale of extinction reveals a fascinating narrative that unravels over millennia and has an ending still unknown. At the fortnight of the mammoth’s rebirth, I wonder how we will look back at this critical moment hundreds of years from now.

Source/images: Flanders Image

Thursday, 3 June 2021

La Civil (Teodora Ana Mihai, 2021)

It has just been announced that Belgian Flemish film La Civil by Teodora Ana Mihai has been chosen for the Official Selection of the Festival de Cannes 2021, in the ‘Un Certain Regard’ section. Following on from Hugo Claus’s The Sacrament in 1990 and Lukas Dhont’s Girl in 2018, this is only the third time in recent history that a Belgian Flemish production has been included in the prestigious official selection.

La Civil is the first fiction feature by Belgian-Romanian director, Teodora Ana Mihai (born 1981). The film tells the story of Cielo, a Mexican mother searching for her daughter who has been abducted by members of a drug cartel. As the authorities fail to help her, Cielo takes things into her own hands and gradually turns from housewife to avenging activist. The film was shot in November-December 2020 in Durango, Mexico, during the COVID-19 pandemic. La Civil is based on real events and is the result of several years of extensive research undertaken by the director in collaboration with Mexican writer Habacuc Antonio de Rosario.

The film was produced by Menuetto (Hans Everaert), an Antwerp-based production company in coproduction with high-profile partners, including the Dardenne brothers from Belgium (several Palmes d'Or), Cristian Mungiu from Romania (Palme d'Or) and Michel Franco from Mexico (Silver Lion, Venice). Cinéart will release the film in Belgium [and The Netherlands] in late 2021. “I am truly happy with this selection in Cannes. I’m incredibly grateful that it has been possible to tell this heart-breaking story of families who lost their children to drug cartels. La Civil is a film about a strong woman and mother who refuses to be a victim and defends herself. She is motivated by a primal force to find her daughter at whatever cost. It is a universal story that will touch everyone", says Teodora Ana Mihai.

La Civil was inspired by the terrifying stories of drug cartel victims and their families, such as the compelling and tragic life of Miriam Rodríguez, recently featured in The New York Times. The atmosphere of La Civil is reminiscent of the crime drama series Narcos, but is narrated from the victim’s point of view. Mexican writer Habacuc Antonio De Rosario co-wrote the screenplay with Teodora Mihai.

Source/images: The PR Factory