2016 Sundance Docs in Focus: THE LAND OF THE ENLIGHTENED

enlightenedNext up in the world competition: From Belgium, THE LAND OF THE ENLIGHTENED, Pieter-Jan De Pue’s hybrid expedition into the child-controlled badlands of Afghanistan.

Festival Section:
World Cinema Documentary Competition

Sundance Program Description:

In this seamless blend of fictional and documentary form, we experience a stunning cinematic journey into the beauty of war-tormented Afghanistan. Shot over five years on evocative 16mm footage, first-time director Pieter-Jan De Pue paints a whimsical yet haunting look at the condition of Afghanistan left for the next generation. As American soldiers prepare to leave, we follow De Pue deep into this hidden land where young boys form wild gangs to control trade routes, sell explosives from mines left over from war, and climb rusting tanks as playgrounds – making the new rules of war based on the harsh landscape left to them.

De Pue’s transportative and wonderfully crafted film confronts the visceral beauty and roughness of survival, serving as a testament to the spirited innovation of childhood and the extreme resilience of a people and country.

Some Background:
Director: Pieter-Jan De Pue
De Pue makes his feature directorial debut with this project after a background in commercial work and an early short documentary.

Producer: Bart Van Langendonck
Van Langendonck’s Savage Films was behind the 2011 Best Foreign Language Oscar-nominated feature BULLHEAD. Other doc projects have included the hybrid LAST HIJACK as well as ANTON CORBIJN INSIDE OUT (both at Berlin), while recent fiction includes THE ARDENNES (Toronto).

Co-Producers: Femke Wolting, Morgan Bushe, Eyeworks, and Christian Beetz

Submarine’s Wolting directed and produced LAST HIJACK and produced recent titles such as Peter Greenaway’s EISENSTEIN IN GUANAJUATO and Gabrielle Provaas and Rob Schröder’s MEET THE FOKKENS. Fastnet Films’ Bushe is a Sundance alum with the short doc THE LAST DAYS OF PETER BERGMANN (2014). Gebrueder Beetz Produktion’s Beetz recently co-produced THE YES MEN ARE REVOLTING (Toronto).

Editors: Alain Dessauvage, Stijn Deconinck, David Dusa, and Nico Leunen
Dessauvage has previously cut THE ARDENNES and BULLHEAD, among other projects. Dusa is best known as the writer/director of FLOWERS OF EVIL (Cannes, Tribeca). In addition to cutting fellow 2016 Sundance title BELGICA, Leunen’s alumni credits include WHITE SHADOW (2014), KHADAK (2007), and EXOTICORE (2006).

Why You Should Watch:
One of several world films that blur the lines between fiction and nonfiction, De Pue’s exceptionally shot project envisions an apocalyptic landscape flecked with young US soldiers preparing to go home and gangs of much younger boys who have had no choice but to adapt to what’s been made of theirs.

More Info:

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the link in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance filmmaker class of 2016 Twitter list.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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