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LUXEMBOURG 2019 Awards

The Luxembourg City Film Festival ends on a high

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- With a 9th edition which proved both eclectic and resolutely forward-thinking, the festival has successfully showcased its many attractions

The Luxembourg City Film Festival ends on a high
An image from the VR Pavilion of the Luxembourg City Film Festival (© VDL, Patrick Muller)

Over a period of 11 days, the Luxembourg City Film Festival, the most significant cinematic event in Luxembourg, put forward a varied selection of some 200 works, including a number of débuts and an entire segment dedicated to new writing, as well as offering a trademark selection of Virtual Reality productions.

The immersive experiences programme was much enhanced by the collaboration between the Luxembourg Film Fund, Digital Luxembourg and the Phi Centre in Montreal. Professionals from the sector came together to analyse projects and their distribution patterns, giving rise to engaging debates. In parallel, two highly anticipated Luxembourg co-productions, Fan Club by Vincent Ravalec and Playmobil The Movie – VR adventures by Olivier Rakoto, were also presented, as were Kobold by Max Sacker (a genre not too far removed from a horror video game) and BattleScar by Nico Casavecchia and Martin Allais (which plunges us into the punk world of 1970s New York): the screening of these highly sophisticated works took place in the historic cellars of the Casino Luxembourg, an atypical setting which helped to further intensify the experience.

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Among the ten fiction feature films in the official competition, it was the British title Ray & Liz [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Richard Billingham
film profile
]
by Richard Billingham which scooped the Graal. This surprising immersion into the daily life of a disadvantaged family struck by alcoholism displays real skill and verve as it revisits the theme of those left behind by Thatcherism. The jury, notably featuring Belgian filmmaker Joachim Lafosse and Israeli director Lior Ashkenazi, chose to honour this work as one of the most humanist and original titles from among the 2019 vintage. Meanwhile, the French-Spanish co-production The Realm [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Rodrigo Sorogoyen, Isabel P…
film profile
]
by Rodrigo Sorogoyen, a powerful thriller which navigates the rough seas of Iberian politics, was crowned the winner by the Association Luxembourgeoise de la Presse Cinématographique.

In terms of documentaries, the award for best film went to the Italian film Selfie [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
by Agostino Ferrente. The filmmaker asked two adolescents living in the Traiano quarter of Naples, a bastion of the Camorra, to film their everyday life using smartphones over the course of the summer. Using a cinematic language which is both creative and honest, Ferrente allows the film to speak for itself, all the while providing the viewer with a moving tale on friendship.

More broadly, the documentary section proved brilliantly eclectic this year, examining current issues in the world of politics (such as the Syrian conflict in the much needed work Still Recording [+see also:
film review
film profile
]
by Saeed Al Batal and Ghiath Ayoub) and on the topic of the environment (Anthropocene: The Human Epoch by Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky).

Outside of the competition, audiences had the opportunity to discover a few other gems, such as Zero Impunity [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
by Nicolas Blies, Stéphane Hueber-Blies and Denis Lambert, which investigates sexual violence in times of war, and the unmissable film California Dreaming [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
by Fabrizio Maltese, which examines the crumbling of the "American dream". Standing out as one of the best moments of this 9th edition of the festival is the appearance made by director of photography, Darius Khondji (Se7en, Amour, Alien: Resurrection), who lent his expertise at a masterclass which proved very popular amongst attendees. Mauritanian filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako (Timbuktu [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
) was also present to answer questions put to him by critic Michel Ciment.

On the professional side, it seems the Luxembourg City Film Festival is consistently meeting its targets. For the first time, exporters and festival directors were brought together during work sessions led by artistic director Alexis Juncosa (in collaboration with Europa International and EAVE). These many promising initiatives, alongside the great artistic quality which was displayed this year, give good cause to believe a solid 10th anniversary of the event is on the cards next year.

The list of winners: 

Grand Prix - by Orange Luxembourg
Ray & Liz [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Richard Billingham
film profile
]
- Richard Billingham (UK)
Special Mention
The Man Who Surprised Everyone [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
- Natasha Merkulova, Aleksey Chupov (Russia/Estonia/France)

Documentary Award - by BGL BNP Paribas
Selfie [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
– Agostino Ferrente (France/Italy)

Audience Award - by Orange Luxembourg
Birds of Passage [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
- Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra (Colombia/Denmark/Mexico)

Critics Award
The Realm [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Rodrigo Sorogoyen, Isabel P…
film profile
]
- Rodrigo Sorogoyen (Spain/France)
Special Mention
Birds of Passage - Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra

Youth Jury Award - by Kinepolis
Styx [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Wolfgang Fischer
film profile
]
- Wolfgang Fischer
Special Mention
Firecrackers - Jasmin Mozaffari (Canada)

School Jury Award
The Silent Revolution [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
- Lars Kraume (Germany)

Kids Jury Award
Matti and Sami and the Three Biggest Mistakes in the Universe [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
- Stefan Westerwelle (Germany/Finland)

Children’s Coup de Cœur Award
My Giraffe [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
- Barbara Bredero (Netherlands/Belgium/Germany)

(Translated from French)

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