Photo of the week: Flanders takes Girl to Cannes


First-time director Lukas Dhont’s sensitive portrayal of a transgender girl’s dream to become a ballerina will premiere next month in Un Certain Regard

Director is happy with ‘freedom’ to make film

A debut feature film made in Flanders will get its world premiere at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in May. Girl, directed by Lukas Dhont, will be screened in the Un Certain Regard section of the festival, which is devoted to films with an original outlook and aesthetic.

Girl tells the story of Lara, a 15-year-old who is determined to become a professional ballerina. Her impatience and adolescent frustrations are heightened as she realises her body does not bend easily to ballet’s strict discipline, because she was born a boy.

Newcomer Victor Polster plays Lara, with Arieh Worthalter (Bastille Day) as Lara’s father. Valentijn Dhaenens (Albert II) and Katelijne Damen (Rosie & Moussa) appear in supporting roles.

Meanwhile Ballet Vlaanderen was closely involved in the making of the film, with its dancers appearing on screen and its artistic director, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, providing choreography.

Dhont studied cinematography at the KASK Academy of Art in Ghent, going on to win prizes for his short films at festivals in Ghent and Leuven. He has also been busy making music videos for acts like Oscar and the Wolf.

First in 30 years

“I am incredibly happy with the freedom I have had making Girl and the trust that so many people placed in me to develop my first feature in this way,” Dhont said when the film's selection was announced. “To be able to present Girl in world premiere at the Cannes Festival is just… unbelievable.”

The news is also significant for the veteran Flemish film producer Dirk Impens, who recently announced his retirement from the business. “To present Lukas’s debut feature to the world in the Cannes Festival’s Official Selection is nothing short of a very bold dream becoming reality,” he said.

This is the first time in 29 years that a Flemish film has been selected for Un Certain Regard. The last entry was Hugo Claus‘s Het Sacrament in 1989.