The Dead Don't Hurt

Source: Marcel Zyskind

The Dead Don’t Hurt

Luxembourg City Film Festival is gearing up for its 14th edition with a programme of world cinema for Luxembourg’s multi-lingual audiences and an environment of relaxed meet-and-greets for industry and talent. 

The festival, jointly supported by the ministry of culture and the City of Luxembourg, offers a film selection informed by two major factors: Titles that have not been theatrically released in the landlocked country’s neighbouring markets of Belgium, France and Germany, and titles that reflect Luxembourg’s uniquely diverse audience.

The official languages of Luxembourg are French, German and Luxembourgish with English and Portuguese also widely spoken by the country’s population of 640,000.

 “Luxembourg is composed of 75% foreigners, made up of 170 nationalities, so we are wide open to the world,” explains artistic director Alexis Juncosa, the French national living in Luxembourg who has been at the helm of the festival since the beginning.

Two English-language titles bookend the festival: Nora Fingscheidt’s The Outrun, starring Saoirse Ronan as a young woman struggling with addiction in Scotland’s Orkney Islands, opens; Rose Glass’ Love Lies Bleeding, starring Kristen Stewart, is the closing night gala on March 10,

Among the eight titles vying for the Competition section’s grand prix worth €10,000, is Andrei Tanase’s drama Day Of The Tiger, Filipino filmmaker Lav Diaz’s Essential Truths Of The Lake, US-set travelogue Gasoline Rainbow, from veteran directors Bill Ross and Turner Ross, and the Iran-Luxembourg co-production Terrestrial Verses from filmmaker by Ali Asgari and Alireza Khatami.

US filmmaker Ira Sachs is president of the international jury which also includes Luxembourg actor Vicky Krieps, who wowed international audiences in films including Phantom Thread and Corsage, German actor Sebastian Koch, renowned for The Lives of Others, French screenwriter Nathalie Hertzberg, whose recent credits include The Goldman Case, and Denmark and French producer Marianne Slot, who has collaborated regularly with filmmakers including Lars von Trier, through her France-based outfit Slot Machine.

Six films will compete for the festival’s documentary prize worth €5,000. The festival follows and supports the careers of the filmmakers it has previously invited and this year Mexican director Tatiana Huezo returns with The Echo, a snapshot of the daily life of a family in a remote Mexican village.

Other documentary competition titles include Embodied Chorus by Lebanese filmmakers Danielle Davie and Mohamed Sabbah, a co-production with Luxembourg, and Hollywoodgate by German-based Egyptian journalist Ibrahim Nash’at, a profile of the head of the Taliban airforce commander and a Taliban lieutenant in Afghanistan.

The festival also showcases films out-of-competition and a section dedicated to young audiences.

“The festival is 11 unique days where audiences get to see celebrities in real proximity and the sales companies get to properly catch up with distributors and filmmakers because there’s more time to chill than says Berlin or Cannes,” says Juncosa.

Local heroes

The Made in Luxembourg programme features films and shorts made with Luxembourg support. The country is at the heart of western Europe and is bordered by France, Germany and Belgium, countries with long-standing commitments to filmmaking. It boasts the Film Fund Luxembourg and has co-production treaties with countries including Canada, China, Germany and Ireland.

Veteran Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako’s latest feature Black Tea is backed by the Fund and produced by Luxembourg’s Red Lions, with partners from France, Mauritania, Taiwan and the Ivory Coast. The film is screening at the festival fresh from its Berlinale competition outing and tells the story of a woman who flees Ivory Coast on her wedding day for a new life in China.

Other titles counting Luxembourg among the backers include Rodrigo Moreno’s The Delinquents, a co-production with Argentina, Chile and Brazil, Kanaval, directed by Henri Pardo, a collaboration with Canada and Quebec, and Kirk Hendry and Neil Boyle’s feature animation Kensuke’s Kingdom, a co-production with France and the UK.

In the spotlight

China’s Wang Bing will deliver a filmmaking masterclass alongside a screening of Youth (Spring) which screened in Competition at Cannes 2023. There will be a tribute and retrospective of the work of Argentinian-born France-based auteur Gaspar Noé, with screenings of Enter the VoidIrreversibleVortex and Climax.

Viggo Mortensen will attend the festival and join a screening of his second film as director, the western The Dead Don’t Hurt, introduced by Krieps, stars in the film alongside Mortensen.

Members of both the Europa film festivals and Europa International organisations are gathering for conferences as part of the festival’s expanding industry programme. Workshops and social events will provide a chance to meet with Luxembourg’s financiers, funders and filmmakers. Local players include production companies such as Jani Thiltges and Claude Waringo’s Samsa Film and producer Bernard Michaux.

“We consider ourselves a platform where people can network in a quiet, intimate environment,” says Juncosa. “There are lots of projects that have been born from random moments at this festival as people connect with local producers.”

Additional events include the seventh edition of the Virtual Reality Pavilion showcasing 10 innovative works in virtual and augmented reality, which is organised by the Film Fund Luxembourg in collaboration with Montreal’s PHI Centre and neimënster.