Burundi-set short heads to Hollywood
by Aurore Engelen
28/01/2011 - While expectations were high that Olivier Masset-Depasse’s Illegal [trailer, film focus] (European Parliament LUX Prize 2010 competition) would make it onto the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar shortlist, there is good news instead in the short film category.
Ivan Goldschmidt was overjoyed to see his film Na Wewe selected. Although it isn’t the first time a Belgian film has been nominated in the category (Guido Thys’s Flemish film Tanghi Argentini was nominated in 2008), it is nonetheless a surprise to see Belgium once again take a nomination in a minor category at this prestigious ceremony.
Na Wewe sets itself the daring challenge of combining humour, suspense and emotion whilst looking at the genocide in the African Great Lakes region, a challenge the Oscars Academy seems to think it pulls off. In 1994, a Belgian government attaché is driven away in a taxi which is stopped by armed militia. They’re looking for the “bad” Tutsis among the passengers: there follow endless discussions which are, by turns, moving and pathetic, before the eyes of the cowardly and taken-aback Belgian employee.
Helmed by Goldschmit, the film is inspired by true stories recounted by Jean-Luc Pening, an agricultural engineer who experienced this period first-hand. Although it verges on sentimentalism, the quality acting and bold use of humour to defuse the tension enable the film to avoid this pitfall and balance the tone.
Goldschmit also produced the film, through his company Cut!, in association with A Private View and RTBF. Na Wewe received backing from the Belgian French Community Film Centre and Vlaams Audiovisual Fund, from the Belgian Foreign Affairs Ministry, and the Bunrundi Culture Ministry. It will screen in competition at the upcoming Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival.
(Translated from French)