BRUSSELS — Benoit Mariage’s “Cowboy” opens the International Festival of Francophone Film in Namur on Friday.
Four other Belgian features make their world premiere at the fest, the main event for the country’s French-speaking filmmakers.
“Cowboy” is much anticipated at home for reuniting Mariage with national acting idol Benoit Poelvoorde, successfully paired in helmer’s 1999 debut “The Carriers are Waiting.” Produced by K2/K-Star, the bitter-sweet comedy had its world premiere in Montreal in August.
There is also buzz for “Ou est la main de l’homme sans tete?,” a slick Lynchian thriller by Belgian residents Guillaume and Stephane Malandrin. Produced by La Parti Production, crowd-pleaser Cecile de France stars as a champion high-diver who emerges from a coma to find herself mixed up in a murderous conspiracy.
Other Belgian films bowing at Namur are “Control X” by Thomas Francois and Bernard Declercq, “Formidable” by Dominique Standaert, and “Sur le Mont Josaphat” by Jean-Marc Vervoort.
Running from Sept. 28 to Oct. 5, fest includes films in French and the other languages of the 53 countries that make up international organization La Francophonie. This includes former French colonies in Africa, the Middle and Far East, as well as countries with no historic link to France, such as Romania.
Fourteen films compete for the Golden Bayards, given for best film, actor and actress, scenario and photography.
Guest of honour this year is Kristin Scott Thomas, whose English- and French-speaking work is celebrated in a five-film retrospective.
The Francophone production forum will consider pitches for 11 feature projects, from Europe, Canada, North Africa, Iran, Burkina Faso and the Democratic Republic of Congo. One of the pitches from 2004, “Faro, la reine des eaux” by Malian Salif Traore, appears in the fest program.