Directors Liesbeth De Ceulaer, Sofie Benoot and Isabelle Tollenaere
Forum selection Victoria, directed by Flemish filmmakers Sofie Benoot, Liesbeth De Ceulaer and Isabelle Tollenaere, picked up the Caligari Prize on 28 February 2020 at the 70th Berlinale.
The film follows Lashay, a latter-day pioneer, who has left behind a grim past in LA in favour of a new life in the mysterious desert town of California City.
The jury citation (in translation) reads: “California City, the failed urban vision of an investor in the 1950s, forms the stage for the restart of an African-American family who has relocated from Los Angeles. Starting with everyday life and spontaneous experiences, the filmmakers accompany the young father. A hybrid documentary with feature-like elements unfolds.
“Lashay T. Warren not only uses his smartphone creatively to relocate, but linguistically engages in a surprising dialogue with the absurd place in the desert. By insisting on and communicating a subjective perspective, Victoria asks existential questions about urbanity and precarious living conditions and creates new hope out of nothing, against all expectations. “
Talking to Business Doc Europe before the world premiere in Berlin, co-director Liesbeth De Ceulaer commented how, “the first time that we met Lashay I remember him being very charming.… and we thought we can really work with this guy, we can really build this movie together. We kind of had this idea in mind of someone coming from LA and leaving a certain past behind and starting anew in California City.”
Added Isabelle Tollenaere: “Making a film in general is a difficult thing to do, and with three people it is very difficult, but at the same time it has its benefits… It’s so nice to actually be able to share this journey that you normally you do alone…I would have an idea and Sofie and Liesbeth would say ‘it’s ok but maybe we can do this’, and in the end we would end up with something better.”