While the applause for the winners of the 2023 ECFA Awards fades into the distance, new candidates are urging in the hallway. COMEDY QUEEN (ECFA Feature Award in the JEF Festival) is a familiar face, but with LA POULE NOIRE, EXTRAORDINARY MONA and ICE MERCHANTS (photo) a new year of nominations took an interesting start.
JEF festival (Antwerp)
The COMEDY QUEEN effect (by Sanna Lenken, Sweden) is not yet wearing off. The jury of the JEF Festival insisted on putting the film once again on the list of nominees. “The story keeps you mesmerised throughout the entire film. Through her strong performance, the main actress perfectly depicts an internal struggle. She is accompanied by sweet, warm characters that help you digest the sadness of her story. This film takes you on a journey through a spectrum of emotions, always unpredictable and never superficial.”
The prize for Best Documentary went to EXTRAORDINARY MONA (by Sarah Van Dale, Belgium), one of the new Ket & Doc titles, in which Mona is facing a major step in her life. She leaves special education behind and enrols in a regular secondary school. The film highlights her autism as a strength rather than a flaw. “An immersive piece of poetry, offering a glimpse into the lives of those who are labelled ‘extraordinary’. A respectful homage to the acceptance of being. This film turns ‘special’ into ‘special powers’ and ‘ordinary’ into ‘extraordinary’.
ICE MERCHANTS (by João Gonzalez, Portugal) considers itself lucky with not only an Oscar nomination but unbridled festival success. The film about a father and son who descend a high mountain to sell ice cream in the valley, now also has an ECFA Short nomination in its pocket. “This film feels like choreography, a last dance with a dance partner that is no longer there. Minimalistic and without words, but full of metaphors and meaningful details, it tells about so much love. Both emotionally and narratively, the film gets a phenomenal pay off that goes straight to the heart.”
In the ECFA Jury, international experts Lara Melegari (Ennessimo festival, Italy) and Elsa Lovat (Roadmovie, Switzerland) were joined by Belgian jury members Ilse Schooneknaep (features), Kato De Boeck (shorts) and Anthony Nti (documentaries).
In Lisbon, ‘home player’ ICE MERCHANTS was awarded the PLAY Festival Award. The ECFA Award went to LA POULE NOIRE (by Marion Clauzel, France), in which a toddler explores the yard of the rural house, collecting eggs from a black hen. Not yet able to properly control his affection for the chicken, guilt and innocence wage a fierce battle in the little boy’s conscience. “This film consequently shows the world through the eyes of a child, not only on the level of camera and visuals but even so on a mental perspective – the fact that this child protagonist is so young makes it even more remarkable. It shows the conflicting emotions of childhood, like cruelty versus love, darkness versus kindness, guilt versus forgiveness. The story is standing very close to the everyday reality of a child.”
In the ECFA Jury local professionals Leonor Noivo, Eduarda Lima and Afonso Pimentel, joined with Pantelis Panteloglou (Greece) and Gert Hermans (Belgium).