The Dardenne brothers are vicariously in the competition in Berlin with Mohamed Ben Attias’ film “Inhebbek Hedi”.
George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Josh Brolin and their fellow Caesarians have now left the red carpet, clearing the way at Potsdamer Platz for the real stars of the Berlinale: the international independent filmmakers. Though sometimes the independents need a helping hand too. For Tunisian filmmaker Mohamed Ben Attia, that hand belonged to the strong arms of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne.
Attia had already been working for two years on developing Inhebbek Hedi, his romantic drama about a young man in post-Arab Spring Tunisia who’s about to get married (but who has fallen in love with another woman), when he got word that the Dardenne brothers were keen on co-producing his picture. “I could hardly believe it,” he told the American entertainment industry magazine Variety. “When I skyped with them for the first time, I tried to keep real cool.” But the Dardenne brothers were, in their own words, instantly fascinated by his film’s realistic screenplay.
LES FILMS DU FLEUVE
Their own pictures (such as La Promesse, Rosetta, L’Enfant, Deux jours, une nuit) don’t require any further introduction these days, but it’s a lesser-known fact that the two brothers from Belgian Wallonia back other talents as well with their production company Les Films du Fleuve. And those are big talents indeed: the Dardennes’ catalogue includes names like Ken Loach, Jacques Audiard, Cristian Mungiu and Costa-Gavras. That they use their influence, know-how and bankroll to back as yet unknown filmmakers like Attia goes to show that the Dardenne brothers put their love for cinema not only on the screen, but also behind it in the form of concrete commitment. So it is that these two masters of social realism, who feel right at home themselves at the film festivals in Cannes, are also vicariously in Berlin.