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Ghent opens in a week with focus on Russia and Activism

This year's Flanders International Film Festival - Ghent is proud to announce David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen (History of Violence), François Ozon and Jeanne Moreau (Time To Leave), and Mike Leigh, one of contemporary Britain's most renowned directors, as expected guests. Leigh makes remarkable films, known for their levelheaded, unsensational portrayals of topics that would become four-hankie "message" melodramas in the hands of mainstream directors. This "slice-of-life" realism of Leigh fits perfectly in this year's focus on cinema and activism. On October 14th, Mike Leigh will be presented a Joseph Plateau Lifetime Achievement Award by Vera Drake actress Imelda Staunton.

For the 21st edition of the official competition 'The Impact of Music on Film', the Film Festival Ghent's expected guests are Russian director Alexei Fedorchenko for his debut feature First People on the Moon (Russia, 2005), Godar Vladimir, composer of the film The City of the Sun (Czech Republic/Slovakia 2005) by Martin Sulik, Igor Sterk for Tuning (Slovenia, 2005), Malgosia Szumowska for her film Stranger (Poland/Germany/France, 2004), Constantine Giannaris for Hostage (Greece, 2004), Robert Adrian Pejo for Dallas Pashamende (Hungary/Germany/Austria 2004) and Belgian director Fien Troch for her debut Someone Else's Happiness (Belgium, 2005).

A programme section which is bound to cause a stir, is the world premiere of FUSEBOX by Jem Cohen. FUSEBOX, a programme about political activism and art, is a collaboration between Art Center De Vooruit and the Flanders Film Fest. FUSEBOX consists of three parts: Cinema in The Fuse you see, music in The Fuse you hear, and literature in The Fuse you are. Guests expected to attend Cohen's programme are punk rock icon Patti Smith, former front man of Television Tom Verlaine, Ian Mackaye of Fugazi, and the members of Silver Mt. Zion and Hanged Up in a brand project called Thee Silver Mountain Elegies Plays War Radio.

More world premieres at this year's festival are Verlengd Weekend (Belgium, 2005) by Hans Herbots. Cast and crew will attend Verlengd Weekend, the pre-opening film with Belgian veteran Jan Decleir. Breaking The Rules (Germany, 2005), a cineastic journey through time across the history of American counter-culture, will be attended by director Marco Miller. The third world premiere is Music by. Gabriel Yared (France, 2005) from director Rani Khanna. The documentary is an intriguing portrait of Gabriel Yared both as a person and as a brilliant artist. Both documentaries feature in the section World Cinema - Documentaries.

Mater Natura (Italy 2004), winner of the Audience Gan Award and the Isvema Award at the 62nd Venice Film Festival, tells the true and intense love story about a young transsexual, Desiderio, and the owner of a car-washing station, Andrea. Director Massimo Andrei, producer Umberto Massa and actress Maria Pia Calzone will attend this international premiere. Pop (Popsa, Russia, 2005), one of the audience favourites at the recent Moscow International Film Festival, is the second international premiere. Director Elena Nikolaeva and producer Mikhail Babakhanov will present their film, which tells the story of 18-year-old Slavka leaves a little north town for Moscow to become a singer. Both films are presented in the section World Cinema.

2 Girls (Iki Genc Kiz, Turkey, 2005) from Kutlug Ataman is the first of seven European premieres. A film sure to challenge any stereotypical ideas about Turkish society or the behaviour and dress codes of young Muslim women, 2 Girls is a delight from the moment the girls hit the screen. Day Break (Dame Sobh, Iran, 2005) from director Hamid Rahmanian (Iran 2005) is a compilation of true stories and shot inside a century-old Tehran prison. In Joy by Julie Shles (Israel 2005), Joy Levine, oversized but with an enormous sense of happiness, is chosen by a reality-TV-show to throw a surprise party for her parents. The problem is that she is forced to let the viewers into her private life. The Joy Of Live (USA 2005) is Jenni Olson's debut feature. It's a masterful work of art, blending cinematic landscapes of San Francisco with a lyrical, captivating voiceover to tell a moving, sometimes humorous, story about sex, love and suicide. Campbell Walker's digital feature Little Bits Of Light (New Zealand, 2005) bears witness to a young couple's struggle to survive one partner's crushing bouts of depression. Tokyo Magic Hour by Amir Muhammad (Malaysia, 2005) is a poetic and experimental film, in which the love story about two men in Tokyo is narrated against digitally manipulated imagery of the city. The Prison and the Street (O Cárcere e a rua, Brazil, 2004) by Liliana Sulzbach depicts the daily lives of female inmates at a correction house in Brazil run by nuns, as they struggle with loss of freedom and autonomy and reintegration into society. The Prison and the Street is another moving film within this year's focus on cinema and activism.

All these films and most other films of this year's programme will also be accessible at the new Press & Industry Office of the Flanders International Film Festival. Activities of the industry office aim to better accommodate both local and foreign buyers, programmers and sales agents during their stay at the festival. Furthermore, the festival will provide filmmakers the service of pro-actively familiarizing Belgian distributors and international production and sales companies with the selected films.

Premieres at the 32nd Flanders International Film Festival - Ghent

Verlengd Weekend - Hans Herbots - Belgium 2005 Official Selection - Specials - pre-opening
Breaking The Rules - Marco Miller - Germany 2005 World Cinema-Documentary
Music by. Gabriel Yared - Rani Khanna - France 2005 World Cinema-Documentary

Mater natura - Massimo Andrei - Italy 2004 World Cinema
Pop (Popsa) - Elena Nikolaeva - Russia 2005 World Cinema

2 Girls (Iki Genc Kiz) - Kutlug Ataman - Turkey 2005 World Cinema
Day Break (Dame Sobh) - Hamid Rahmanian - Iran 2005 World Cinema
Joy - Julie Shles - Israel 2005 World Cinema
The Joy Of Live - Jenny Olsen - USA 2005 World Cinema-A Look Apart
Little Bits Of Light - Campbell Walker - New Zealand 2005 World Cinema-A Look Apart
Tokyo Magic Hour - Amir Muhammad - Malaysia 2005 World Cinema-A Look Apart
The Prison and the Street - Liliana Sulzbach - Brasil 2004 World Cinema-Documentary

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