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BLACK NIGHTS 2017 First Features Competition

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Resurrection: A contemplative story of killing and loss


- Belgian filmmaker Kristof Hoornaert's first feature is not a religious film, but it tackles themes close to Christianity

Resurrection: A contemplative story of killing and loss
Gilles De Schryver in Resurrection

Belgian writer-director Kristof Hoornaert's Resurrection [+see also:
film profile
, which has just had its international premiere in the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival's First Feature Competition, is not a religious story, although it may be interpreted as such. Actually, the whole film is very much open to interpretation, as it only features two characters, one setting and very little dialogue. 

The first shot of the movie shows black smoke rising from a bus that has exploded on a street. The very next one takes us straight into a fistfight between two young men in a forest, which ends with one killing the other with a rock. The killer then tries to wash his clothes, and himself, in a river. He is clearly out of his mind in the wake of what he has done and starts running across a field… Until he collapses.

He is found by an old man, who takes him into his unassuming house on the edge of the forest. The old man lives with his dog and a couple of cows in the barn. He gives the youngster clothes to change into, saying they belonged to his son. The young man refuses to speak, but his host is kind to him, feeds him and lets him stay. After a day or two, the police knock on the door, looking for the young man. They explain that he killed his brother. The old man does not betray him, instead asking him about what happened. But the youngster remains silent.

And this, basically, is the plot, except for the very ambiguous, even mysterious, ending that finally takes us out of the house by the forest and into a city. It is a contemplative film, in which very little seems to happen. We often just watch the characters' faces; sometimes we see their reactions, but not what they are reacting to. The two men eat very simple food from the garden and drink milk straight from the cows, and there are only a few instances when the youngster starts screaming uncontrollably, holding his head in disgust at what he has done. 

The two actors are very different: the old man is played by the seasoned Johan Leysen (who can boast more than 150 credits, most recently in Past Imperfect [+see also:
interview: Nathalie Teirlinck
film profile
), whose heavily lined face tells a story on its own, and the youngster is a newcomer to the feature-film world, Gilles De Schryver, with blond hair and an almost angelic face, contrasted with intense, blue eyes – certainly a good choice for this character. 

The film was shot by Lithuanian cinematographer Rimvydas Leipus (Khadak [+see also:
film review
film focus
interview: Jessica Woodworth
interview: Jessica Woodworth
film profile
, plus several titles by Sharunas Bartas), and the CinemaScope format gives ample room to the predominantly green surroundings and the interiors of the ascetic house, but also to characters walking slowly from one end of the screen to the other, much like in some of Bruno Dumont's films. It is indeed a movie that gives the viewer a lot of opportunity to think… Perhaps even too much for its own good.

Resurrection was produced by Belgian company Fobic Films

See also

Basque Cannes
Ex Oriente Film
Jihlava Film Fund

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