2022 Film Fest Ghent: 49th edition kicks off in style with Lukas Dhont’s second feature “Close”

With his second feature “Close,” Belgian film director and screenwriter Lukas Dhont (b. 1991) made an auspicious return to the Cannes Film Festival last May, after winning the Camera d’Or with his debut film, “Girl” (2018), about a young trans woman who wanted to become a ballerina. “Close” earned him the Grand Jury Prize in Cannes, shared with “Stars at Noon,” directed by Claire Denis.

Yesterday, the film premiered in his native country as the opener for the 2022 Film Fest Ghent and the film will be released there on November 2, the same week as the release in the Netherlands and France. So far the film’s distribution rights have been sold to over one hundred foreign territories, spread across the globe.

The film is Belgium’s submission for the Oscar for ‘Best International Feature Film’; the shortlist will be announced on December 21, while the Oscar nominations will be made public on January 24, 2023. The 95th Oscars will take place in Hollywood on March 12, 2023, and will air live on ABC and in more than two hundred territories worldwide.

“Close” is a compelling coming-of-age drama and tells the story of two 13-year-old besties Léo and Rémi, played by newcomers Eden Dambrine and Gustav De Waele, whose intense friendship is suddenly disrupted. Their mothers are portrayed by two leading ladies from French cinema: Léa Drucker and Émilie Dequenne—iconic actress in the Dardennes’ Golden Palm winner “Rosetta” (1999) when she was only 17. The film is an emotionally transformative and unforgettable portrait of friendship, love, independence, identity, heartbreak and healing.

Lukas Dhont was inspired by American psychologist Niobe Way’s book “Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection” (2011), and named his feature after ‘close friendship,’ a recurring term in the book.

When “Close” was reviewed at Cannes and gained international attention, reviews were highly favorable. ABC News wrote, ‘“Close,” the Belgian director’s second film after his controversy-generating debut “Girl,” has emerged as one of the standouts at Cannes, and one of the most poignant. While heartbreak in film is usually expressed through romantic relationships, Dhont’s movie traces the painful fallout of two exceptionally close boys who drift apart when their intimacy is ridiculed.’

“Close” (2022, trailer)

BBC stated that “Close” is ‘an exceptional film of empathy and vision, and a devastating Belgian coming-of-age drama co-written and directed by Lukas Dhont. […] Some people may have reservations about some of Dhont’s choices, as I do, but it’s hard to imagine anyone seeing “Close” without being rocked by his tremendous empathy and vision. At the age of 31, he is already an exceptional filmmaker, and this is an exceptional film.’ The Guardian describes the film as a ‘heartbreaking tale of boyhood friendship turned sour.’

As the film will be released virtually anywhere in the next few months, check out the reviews where you are located.

Here are some stills from yesterday’s red carpet at Belgium’s Film Fest Ghent with filmmaker Lukas Dhont and his actors, and where the film was unanimously applauded.

Émilie Dequenne, Lukas Dhont, Eden Dambrine, Gustav De Waele and Kevin Janssens | Film Talk
Eden Dambrine, Lukas Dhont, Gustav De Waele | Film Talk
Émilie Dequenne, Lukas Dhont | Film Talk
Émilie Dequenne | Film Talk
Émilie Dequenne | Film Talk
Flemish actor Kevin Janssens plays the father in “Close” | Film Talk
Lukas Dhont introduces his film at Film Fest Ghent | Film Talk