Wildcards make film talent dream

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The wildcards awarded by the Flemish Audiovisual Fund VAF to winners of a talent contest is a welcome boost for filmmaking talent. A handsome prize of 600,000 euros for two fiction films and one animated cartoon or 40,000 for two documentaries gives winners the opportunity to start a new film as soon as they complete their studies. Adil El Arbi yesterday won one of the two wildcards for fiction with fellow student Bilall Fallah. In September the two set off to the Brussels film school Sint-Lukas with ‘Broeders’ Brothers and only a few weeks later their collaborative work walked off with the prize for best Belgian short film at the Ghent Film Festival. In addition to their parables on two Moroccan brothers who go their separate ways, both share a penchant for visual flair and a desire to entertain. “We are big fans of American film and hope to create a real cinema film, not something that is more suited to TV or the Internet.” The two are already hard at work on a feature film, with which they hope to present the merging of two worlds: the world of Moroccans in Brussels or Antwerp and the world of the white Flemish people. “During the past ten years Flemish filmmaking has evolved to a global level. Now it is time to take it one step further. Belgium is no longer only white even though that is hardly reflected on screen,” says El Arbi. The other laureates were equally courageous and ambitious. Kenneth Mercken filmed the wreck of a young Russian who agreed to be doped in the professional cycle racing circuit. Boris Sverlow narrates the story about his grandfather who suffered a brain haemorrhage just as he was about to write down his experiences during the Russian revolution. Among the winning documentaries Jeremy De Ryckere produced a film about a 65-year-old jockey and his son who was supposed to succeed him, but ended up in a wheelchair after a serious accident on the track. Kenneth Michiels produced a sensitive documentary about a depressive mother and her estranged daughter who establish contact again throughout the film. The participating short films can be seen at the Louvain International Short Film Festival. Some of their predecessors used the 60,000 euros of their prize to make a feature film. Gust Vanden Berghe went to Togo and came back with 'Blue Bird', which was selected afterwards for the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs in Cannes. 60,000 euros is a small sum to make a feature film, but it doesn't discourage El Arbi:'Even if it will be difficult, we will take our chance. There's nothing like feature film to influence a director's carreer'.

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