Back to archive

Café Derby wins four prizes in Vancouver


Lenny Van Wesemael’s debut feature Café Derby has picked up four prizes at the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival (8-13 March). It not only won the award for Best Feature, but also took home the prizes for Best Directing, Best Cinematography and Best Editing.

Café Derby was chosen to open the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival on International Women’s Day (March 8). Van Wesemael is the first Benelux director to receive the honour of opening the Festival. Her semi-autobiographical story charmed audiences and impressed the jury of four independent film professionals.

“I’m very happy”, she said, thanking the jury and the awards ceremony audience via a video message. “It is so nice to notice that your film is being appreciated on the other side of the world.”

For her debut feature, Van Wesemael was inspired by the story of her own father and the visit of Pope John Paul II to Belgium in 1985. Flemish actor Wim Opbrouck (In Flanders Fields, Salamander) plays Georges, a born stallholder who can sell anything to anyone. When he hears that the Pope is coming to Belgium, Georges is convinced that a fortune is there for the making. But his world-weary wife and five children have seen it all before…

Café Derby opened the Ostend Film Festival in September, followed by its international premiere at the Hamptons International Film Festival. The film also screened at festivals in Utrecht, Leeuwarden, Brussels and Aubagne.

Van Wesemael is not the first Belgian director to take home the main prize in Vancouver. In 2013, Patrice Toye also won the award for Best Feature with Little Black Spiders.

Lenny Van Wesemael and Geert Verbanck wrote the screenplay of Café Derby which was produced by Dirk Impens for the Ghent-based Menuet (Belgica, The Broken Circle Breakdown). The film received support from the Flanders Audiovisual Fund/Film Fund of Flemish Cultural Affairs Minister Sven Gatz and was also backed by the Screen Flanders economic fund, under the aegis of Flemish Economic Affairs Minister Philippe Muyters and Cultural Affairs Minister Gatz.