Girl and Niet Schieten! lead race for Flemish Oscars


Winners of the 10th edition of the Ensors will be announced at the Ostend Film Festival in September

True stories

Girl by Lukas Dhont and Niet Schieten! (Don’t Shoot!) by Stijn Coninx lead the pack in this year’s nominations for the Ensor Awards, the Flemish film industry’s equivalent of the Oscars. Each film is nominated in nine categories, closely followed by Hellhole by Bas Devos, with eight nominations.

Girl, which was also the Belgian entry for the real Oscars this year, is the story of teenager Lara (pictured), who is transitioning from male to female while also studying ballet. Dhont based the story on real-life Flemish dancer Nora Monsecour.

Girl’s lead actor, Victor Polster, and co-star Arieh Worthalter, who plays Lara’s father, are both contenders in the acting category.

Niet Schieten! delves into the true-life history of the Brabant Killers, as seen through the eyes of a nine-year-old boy whose parents and sister were killed before his eyes during a raid on a supermarket in Aalst. Veteran actors Jan Decleir and Viviane De Muynck are both nominated for their performances.

And Hellhole follows the stories of several people affected by the March 2016 terrorist attacks on Brussels. Actors Willy Thomas and Alba Rohrwacher are both nominated for their performances.

Dhont, Coninx, and Devos also wrote or co-wrote their films, and so may be making multiple trips to the podium on awards night. But the most eligible individuals are Marc James Roels and Emma De Swaef, who are nominated as directors and writers of Ce Magnifique Gâteau!, which is also a contender for best film, best children’s film and best animated film.

De Swaef has the distinction of being one of the few women among the nominees outside the acting and production design categories. Ruth Beeckmans has nominations for co-directing and acting in Trio, which is also a contender for best film.

Frederike Migom is nominated for best script and best children’s film for Binti. And Annabel Verbeke is a contender in the documentary category for We Will Remember Them.

The most prominent nominees from ethnic minorities are Bebel Tshiani Baloji, the star of Binti, and Fatou N’Diaye, singled out for her performance in Koen Mortier’s dark cycling drama Engel (Angel).

The only person nominated twice for different films is Nicolas Karakatsanis, director of photography on Hellhole and Engel. Mortier is also a contender for best director.

As seen on TV

As well as film, the Ensors also honour the Flemish TV industry. This year VTM’s self-referential tragicomedy Studio Tarara leads the field with eight nominations, closely followed by Vier’s bank heist drama De Dag (The Day), with seven nominations. Beyond competing for best series, script and direction, the two series dominate the acting categories.

The other contenders for best series are Undercover (éen), Fiskepark (Canvas) and 13 Geboden (VTM).

Voting in all categories is reserved for the Ensor Academy, made up of members of the Flemish film and TV industry. The winners will be announced on 14 September, on the last day of the Ostend Film Festival.

Photos: Girl (top) and Niet Schieten! (above) top the Ensor nominations