Felix van Groeningen. Flemish film director, scriptwriter and a film producer. He graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent. Groeningen already became famous because of his debut movie Steve + Sky. For this movie he received the Plateau Award 2004 for Best Belgian Film. His The Misfortunates, an adaptation for the screen of the book De helaasheid der dingen by Dimitri Verhulst, was awarded C.I.C.A.E. Award – Special Mention at Cannes Film Festival in 2009. In 2010 The Misfortunates was the official Belgian entry for the Academy Award in the category Best Foreign Language Film. In 2012 Felix Van Groeningen opened the Film Festival in his city of birth, Ghent, with his fourth movie The Broken Circle Breakdown.
He also directed a couple of shortfilms and theatre pieces.
The Broken Circle Breakdown, dir. Felix van Groeningen, Belgium, the Netherlands, 2012, 111 min
Berlin IFF 2013 – Panorama Audience Award, Label Europa Cinemas
Tribeca FF 2013 – Best Actress, Best Screenplay
Academy Awards 2014 – Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film
Elise and Didier have been in a happy though unconventional relationship for seven years now. It was love at first sight. They both shared the need to have their own way of living and they bonded over their enthusiasm for bluegrass music, feasting and making music together and later over the unexpected pregnancy and birth of their daughter Maybelle.
Suddenly and unexpectedly the wheel of fortune turns. When six-year-old Maybelle goes down with a serious disease the couple’s passionate feeling is tested and Elise and Didier are growing apart. Each of them starts their own life but they are still fighting for their daughter and they believe that love can overcome any adversity.
The Misfortunates (De Helaasheid der Dingen), dir. Felix van Groeningen, Belgium, the Netherlands, 2009, 108 min
Academy Awards 2010 – Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film
Cannes FF 2009 – C.I.C.A.E. Award – Special Mention
The Misfortunates is a surprising and original mixture of a tragicomical romance, black humour and cold cynicism combined with the atmosphere of music by Roy Orbison. 13-year-old Gunter Strobbe lives together with his father and three uncles in his grandparents’ house, but their way of living is far from being silent and peaceful. The Strobbes are mainly gamblers, drunkards and womanizers spending their whole days in blissful idleness, with constant arguments but for most of all drinking and partying a lot. Ridiculous ideas are the order of the day. The more crazy the better as it makes them more enthusiastic. Childhood influences Gunter’s adult life and he finds it difficult to take responsibility for his actions. But when he learns that he is going to become a father something changes…
With Friends Like These (Dagen zonder lief), dir. Felix van Groeningen, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, 2007, 100 min
The film tells a story of five friends (Zwarte Kelly, Blonde Kelly, Nick, Frederic and Kurt), who are reunited when Zwarte Kelly comes back from New York after few years. Even though everybody seems to be happy that she’s back, Kelly discovers that things have changed when she was gone. While among her friends she realizes that the life she knew before has gone and that it will never be as it was before.
Steve + Sky, dir. Felix van Groeningen, Belgium, the Netherlands, 2004, 95 min
Steve, a small time crook and a drug dealer gets to prison where he meets Jean-Claude. When he leaves jail Steve starts working in a strip club owned by Jean-Claude. It’s where he meets Sky, a drifter employed in a series of part-time jobs including being a prostitute. The girl wants to break with the life she has known. She falls in love with Steve who intrigues her with his image of a “bad boy”. Steve on the other hand is fascinated with mysterious Sky.
Groeningen’s picture juxtaposes the bleached reality of everyday life with the bright neon lights of a night club reflecting the ups and downs of the couple’s stormy love affair.