Press 27 MAY 2019

Cannes 2019: Dardenne brothers win Best Director, César Diaz takes the Caméra d’Or!

French-speaking Belgian films put on a strong showing at the Cannes International Film Festival Award Ceremony on Saturday 25 May, with the Dardenne brothers taking the Best Director award and César Diaz scooping the Caméra d’Or.

This year was the Dardenne brothers’ eighth appearance in the Official Selection, and their fifth award (plus Best Actor for Olivier Gourmet and Best Actress for Emilie Dequenne).

Young Ahmed tells the story of a Belgian teenager who hatches a plot to kill his teacher after embracing an extremist interpretation of the Quran.

Young Ahmed is produced by Les Films du Fleuve and co-produced by Archipel 35, France 2 Cinéma, Proximus and RTBF. Other partners include Canal+, Ciné+, France Télévisions, Wallimage and the Brussels-Capital Region. The film received production aid from the Wallonia-Brussels Federation’s Centre du Cinéma et de l’Audiovisuel and from Eurimages, with support from Belgian Federal Government’s Tax Shelter scheme, Casa Kafka Pictures and Casa Kafka Pictures Movie Tax Shelter empowered by Belfius, in association with Wild Bunch, Diaphana, Cinéart and BIM Distribuzione. The film is distributed worldwide by Wild Bunch.

Young Ahmed went on general release on 22 May in Belgium (Cinéart), France (Diaphana) and Switzerland (Xenix), and will be released on 4 July in the Netherlands (Cinéart).

Our Mothers is Belgian-Guatemalan director César Diaz’s debute. The film was screened as part of International Critics’ Week, a parallel section of the festival, where it scooped the Caméra d’Or – a prestigious award for the best debut feature across all sections, created in 1978 under then-festival director Gilles Jacob. Past winners have included Jim Jarmush, John Turturro, Pascale Ferran, Jafar Panahi, Naomi Kawase, Corneliu Porumboiu and Steve McQueen, plus two Belgian directors: Jaco Van Dormael for Toto the Hero (1991) and Lukas Dhont for Girl (2018).

César Diaz’s film won two accolades earlier in the week: the SACD Prize and the railway workers’ Grand Rail d’Or award.

Our Mothers, produced by Need Productions, is set in Guatemala, 2013. The country is riveted on the trial of the military officers who started the civil war. The victims’ testimonials keep pouring in. Ernesto, a young anthropologist at the Forensic Foundation, identifies people who have gone missing. One day, through an old lady’s story, Ernesto thinks he has found a lead that will allow him to find his father, a guerillero who disappeared during the war. Against his mother’s wishes, he flings himself body and soul into the case, looking for truth and resilience.

Our Mothers received development and production aid from the Wallonia-Brussels Federation’s Centre du Cinéma et de l’Audiovisuel, with support from Proximus, Eurimages, the Aide au cinémas du monde fund (managed by the French National Centre for Cinematography and the Institut Français), Inver Tax Shelter, the Belgian Federal Government’s Tax Shelter scheme and SACEM.

César Diaz was born in Guatemala in 1978. After studying in Mexico and Belgium, he joined the screenwriting course at La FEMIS in Paris. He has been editing fiction and documentaries for over ten years. He also directed the Semillas de Cenizas short documentaries, screened at two dozen international film festivals, as well as Territorio Liberado, which won the IMCINE award in Mexico. Our Mothers is his first narrative feature.

French-speaking Belgian co-productions also won awards at the festival.

Atlantic, Senegalese director Mati Diop’s first feature, took the Grand Prix award.

The film was co-produced in Belgium by Frakas Productions, with support from the Wallonia-Brussels Federation’s Centre du Cinéma et de l’Audiovisuel, the French National Centre for Cinematography, Arte, TV5 Monde, La Région Aquitaine, Visions Sud Est, Ad Vitam, MK2, Fopica, the Fonds Image de la Francophonie, Eurimages and Casa Kafka Pictures.

The action unfolds in a popular suburb of Dakar, where workers on the construction site of a futuristic tower, without pay for months, decide to leave the country by the ocean for a better future. Among them is Suleiman, the lover of Ada, promised to another. A few days after the departure of the boys, a fire devastates the wedding party of the young woman and mysterious fevers take the girls of the district. Ada is far from suspecting that Suleiman has returned...