In their closing statement, the Filem’on festival in Brussels described the feeling of welcoming the audience in the cinemas as “Ecstatic. We enjoyed every minute of it!” Among the three ECFA Awards handed out, the most striking one was the ECFA Doc Award for RAISE THE BAR.
RAISE THE BAR (by Gudjon Ragnarsson, Iceland) also won the Best Film Award of the Kids Jury, and offers us a glimpse into the minds of teenage girls in a basketball team. Their training programme is intense, led by a controversial coach who constantly raises the bar. The team achieves remarkable results and the girls are becoming strong, independent and ready to face the world… but is the world also ready for them? (Interview in the next ECFA Journal) “This film contains all the elements a documentary should have. It taught us a lot about willpower and about how gender roles are treated differently. We felt anger, love and dedication. With great flair, this documentary film combined beautiful cinematography, interesting sound design and smart storytelling.”
The ECFA Doc Jury were Boris Bakal (Shadow Casters, Croatia), Tijs Torfs (director, Belgium) and Liviana Lunetto (Mon Premier Festival, France).
The ECFA Award for Best Feature went to A BUTTERFLY’S HEART (by Inesa Kurklietyte, Lithuania), the story of 10 year old Juozapas, who’s heart is – literally – protected by thick armour. He often retreats to an abandoned old mansion where he is constructing an insect hotel. When he decides to share this secret with new classmate Rugile, a unique friendship awakens. “This film slowly and subtly unfolds the secret pains of two protagonists. Sharing their secrets and vulnerability makes them both stronger… The film has a slow and easy pace (sometimes a bit too slow), offering room to the audience to establish their own connection with the film. A BUTTERFLY’S HEART is a strong and beautiful film that opened our hearts!”
The ECFA Jury were Michael Harbauer (Schlingel, Germany), Tessa Van Grafhorst (De Taartrovers, the Netherlands), and Dorothée Van Den Berghe (director, Belgium)
Among the 26 shorts in competition, the ECFA Short Jury picked KIKO AND THE ANIMALS (by Yawen Zheng, France), about a true animal bully. Not even the tiniest mouse can escape from him. How can the animals convince this boy that they actually deserve his respect? “This touching story was told with humour and visual creativity. The story enlightens us about our arrogant mistake to think we are superior to every other species on earth. And by that, it touches one of the greatest issues of our time: our disturbed relationship with nature.”
The ECFA Short Jury were Marit Weerheijm (director, the Netherlands), Lina Paulsen (Mo & Friese, Germany) and Boris Bakal (Shadow Casters, Croatia).