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Previous editions: 2021

Bruges International Film Festival 2021 trailer

Bruges International Film Festival Announces Award Winners For First Edition


The Bruges International Film Festival launched its very first edition last week, with four screenings at Kinepolis Brugge featuring a total of 21 short and feature films. The new Bruges International Film Festival showcases innovative independent cinema by emerging artists from around the world. The festival provides a platform for films with a unique voice and message, regardless of how low the budget might be. Aiming to inspire, motivate and award new talent. Focusing on the art of filmmaking rather than on the box office, the festival aims to introduce quality, non-mainstream films from global filmmakers as well as local talent. By recognizing the important role independent films have in the history of filmmaking, storytelling, and culture, the Bruges International Film Festival wants to help empower the next generation of artists.


“This first edition was an instant hit,” felt Festival Director Kris De Meester. “A beautiful film selection at a top notch location, hosted by the super funny Piet De Praitere and rounded off by a well-attended Filmmakers Network Party”, which was co-hosted by festival sponsor Casting Studio. “Piet De Praitere was genius as a host. His soberingly absurd style matched perfectly with the sometimes weighty themes of the films” De Meester adds. “The closing film and also winner of the Best Underground Film award 'Obscure Desire' provided a beautiful moment. The credits already ended, the theatre light was on, but everyone remained seated in silence… they were moved. I can't imagine a better ending.”


The Bruges International Film Festival is pleased to share with you today the award winners of the 2021 edition:


Best Narrative Feature Film: Yellow Cat (Kazakhstan) By Adilkhan Yerzhanov. “Ex-con Kermek and his beloved Eva want to leave their crime-infested lives on the Kazakh steppes behind. He has a dream: building a movie theater in the mountains.”


Best Narrative Short film: Ala Kachuu - Take and Run (Switzerland) by Maria Brendle. “A young Kyrgyz woman is kidnapped and forced to marry. A drama about the desire for freedom in the clutches of a tradition.”


Best Documentary Film: Lumen (Canada) by Sarah Seené. “Lumen (meaning light in latin) is a sensorial film shot in super 8 that paints a portrait of an adolescent with albinism. The hypersensitivity that this genetic condition engenders and the lack of pigmentation in her skin and eyes lend her an extraordinary aura. This film echoes a series of photographs entitled fovea, which takes as its subject visually impaired young people.”


Best Experimental Documentary Film: Letter to my mother (Iran) by Amina Maher. “A heartfelt letter to tell a mother the most painful of secrets. Amina, who in 2002 was the young protagonist of Ten by Kiarostami, is now a transgender director who tries to make her voice heard, understood, and be understood.”


Best Underground Film: Obscure Desire (U.S.) by Kunlin Wang. “A coming-of-age story of a teenage boy who sexually awakens after discovering the dark sexual relationship between his father and sister. The sibling love and companionship, which once served to counterbalance familial strangeness, is now disturbed and gradually develops into a sexual attraction and desire.”


Best Animated Film: Helfer (Hungary) by Anna Szöllősi. “Helfer is about a young woman who is struggling with anxiety and recurring nightmares that she wants to end. She is seeking a helper, who offers an alternative solution, but in the process she must confront her biggest fears.”


Best Dance Film: Fragile Machines (U.S.) by Derek Johnson and Luke Smithers. “Fragile Machines is an independent art film which tells the story of a married couple and the affairs that make their relationship irreparable. The film follows a non-linear, gestural narrative—shifting between seasons, homes, oceans and embraces fluidly and rapidly. The movement direction follows a form of contemporary dance: contact improvisation.”


Best Music Video: Atlas (France) by Jim Vieille. “Dark and poetic, this music video depicts a rite of passage : the liberation of an inhibited personality. First, the night, rough, wild and frenetic, to let out all the accumulated frustrations. Then the next day, appeased, like a rebirth, a return to life.”


Best Connecting Cultures Film: Syncope (Iran) by Toraj Heybati. “A 19-year-old boy is married to a 12-year-old girl. At the wedding night the young girl suffers a seizure. The boy does not know how to solve this problem and asks his older brother for help.”


Best Belgian Film: Queen Crocodile by Charles Habib-Drouot. “Rayna is a Bulgarian prostitute, working in Brussels’ Red Light District. One night, she shares a mystical and sexual moment with an African client, who dies shortly after. That night will haunt her.”

The inaugural edition of the Bruges International Film Festival marks the start of a promising new story. Its second edition will be taking place in October 2022. A Call for Entries has been launched on FilmFreeway, submit your film now here.

Festival host (and actor, stand-up comedian and writer) Piet De Praitere entertained the audience with his own special brand of absurdist humor.

Official selection 2021

Helfer (Hungary) by Anna Szöllősi

Da-Dzma (A Sister And A Brother) (Belgium) by Jaro Minne

Letter to my mother (Iran) by Amin Maher

Atlas (France) by Jim Vieille

Queen Crocodile (Belgium) by Charles Habib-Drouot

Prestige (Iran) by Zahra Ahooei

The Cut (Canada) by Chloé Cinq-Mars

I N T E R S T I C E (Sweden) by Oskar Willers

Exhibition (Germany) by Sylvia Borges

Gum (United States) by Jacob Reed

Snake Dick (United States) by David Mahmoudieh

Ala Kachuu - Take and Run (Switzerland) by Maria Brendle

Lumen (Canada) by Sarah Seené

Yellow Cat (Kazakhstan) by Adilkhan Yerzhanov

On (Australia) by Jelena Sinik

Doublespeak (United States) by Hazel Mckibbin

Fragile Machines (U.S.) by Derek Johnson, Luke Smithers

Poise (Portugal) by Luís Soares

Syncope (Iran) by Toraj Heybati

Birth Of A Poet (U.S.) by James Franco, Pedro Gómez Millán, Zachary Kerschberg

Obscure Desire (U.S.) by Kunlin Wang

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