Thierry Michel

Thierry Michel

Thierry Michel was born on October 13, 1952, in Charleroi, Belgium, an area known as "The Black Country". At 16, he studied cinema at the Institut des Arts et Diffusion in Brussels where he recently came back to teach cinema. He experienced the last tremors before the students' upheavals which was to be the prelude to political enrolment in the militant and lyrical movements of the time. In 1973, he began to work as a filmmaker at the Belgian Television and realized numerous programmes all over the world. He dedicates his first films "Pays Noir, Pays Rouge" and "Chronique des saisons d'Acier" to the coal basin of his youth and his first fiction feature length "Hiver 60" tells of the insurrectional strikes of 1960.

He alternated documentaries and fiction and managed to bring a camera inside a prison's walls to film "Private Hotel", a poignant hymn to liberty at the heart of confinement. After a long quest for his identity and his regional and political origins, Thierry Michel explored other continents and other dreams. The result was his second feature length film "Emergency exit", a poetical and mystical work set in the heart of the Moroccan desert which had always attracted him.

He then came back to reality with two very moving pictures, "Kids from Rio" and "From the grass roots" which depicted the street urchins and the favelas of heart-rending Brazil. This was to be his first encounter with the black culture which he studied in-depth in Zaire with "Zaire, the cycle of the serpent", a many award winning film which ruthlessly portrays the ruling class and the rejects of Zaire society.

He made a brief return to Belgium and filmed a Minister at the centre of a political and criminal scandal which has upset all of Belgium: "La grâce perdue d'Alain Van der Biest"; following this he packed his bags once more to investigate the validity of international armed charity with "Aid for Somalia : a losing battle".

A few months later, he sets off for Zaire to shoot "The last colonials" a film on the colonial heritage and the presence of white people and white culture in the country after years of independence. A few days after his arrival, he is arrested, imprisoned and expelled from the country. His equipment is seized, and he finishes his film thanks to his own archives and images from the preliminary shooting.

He directs "Post-colonial nostalgia", a film on the historical relationship between the Zairian people and white colons during the years of Congo/Zaire's independence. He then sets off for Africa once more, this time to shoot a major work, "Donka, x-ray of an African hospital". This tragic, human and uncompromising portrait of the Conakry hospital in Guinea will win prestigious awards both in Europe and in the United States.

Thierry Michel pursues his work in the wake of his African experience: following the fall of the Zairian dictator, he starts shooting a historical documentary, somewhat reminiscent of great Shakespearean tragedies: "Mobutu, king of Zaire".

After ten years and seven films made in Africa he goes back to Asia and the Republic of Iran, one of the cradles of Islamic fundamentalism. There he made his latest film "Iran, veiled appearances" in which he paints a portrait of a society that is socially and culturally split. The eye of the film-maker captures the religious fervour of some which contrasts so violently with the desire for freedom of others.

Thierry Michel has an insatiable curiosity and has, for the last twenty years, not stopped filming all the beloved faced that inhabit the "sublime reality" of his camera. "The themes are the same, where you are. Man is the same, whether here or there; life and death are perceived identically. I have yet to stop working".

Filmography

"Congo River"
* Feature documentary 116’
* Coproduction : Les Films de la Passerelle - Les Films d’Ici

- the International Confederation of Art House Cinemas Prize – 56th Berlinale – Germany - Public prize 11th Afrika Filmfestival - Belgium

"Iran, Veiled Appearances" by Thierry Michel 2002Types:Feature documentary 90 & 60 minProduction : Les Films de la Passerelle, Les Films d'Ici, RTBF télévision belge, VRT, ARTE France, CBA, RAITRE, Centre du cinéma et de l'audiovisuel de la Communauté Française de Belgique En collaboration & participation : Eurimage, Procirep, CNC, MEDIA, SVT, YLE , DGCI, Sundance Documentary Fund, Prize : - Grand Prix of the festival « European Creation Documentary » at Strasbourg.- Official Selection of the Golden Gate Awards Competition. San Francisco – USA- Prize Joseph Plateau – Best Belgian Documentary 2001-2002- Coq de Cristal : prize awarded by the Parliament of the French Community - Belgium 2002 - "Ezio Croci" prize for the Best Film, Filmondo, Milan – Italia- Honorary Mention – The Tel-Aviv international documentary film festival – Israel

"Mobutu, King of Zaire" by Thierry Michel 1999Feature Documentary – 135' - serial (3 X 52') – 59' - film 35 mm film and beta digitalProduction: Films de la Passerelle - les Films d'Ici- Image Création -RTBF Liège - MCF - CBA - Canal + - CEE - Eurimages - VRT - RTNC - ORF - MEDIA- Agence de la francophoniePrize : * Mention d'honneur "Vues d'Afrique" Montréal (Canada)• Nominé par IDA Los Angeles (USA)• Mention spéciale à l'European Film Academy Berlin (Allemagne)

" Donka, the x-ray of an African hospital " by Thierry Michel- 1996Feature Documentary - 55 minutes et 85 minutesProduction : Films de la Passerelle - RTBF Liège - MCF - MSF - Zeaux - Image Création - Canal + - BRTN - CBA Prizes: Prize of the Best Documentary Producer of the European Union at "Vue sur les Docs", Marseille 1996 - Golden Spire Winner at San Francisco International Film Festival in the Golden Gate Awards Competition, USA. - Prize of the best international documentary and prize of the best film of the Festival at the International Documentary Festival from Toronto (Canada) "Hot Docs" - IDA Award in feature documentary section during the International Documentary Festival Asssociation of Los Angeles - USA

“ Post-colonial nostalgia ” (1995)Medium-length documentary film

" The last colonials " (1995)Feature Documentary
* Ecrans Nord Sud Prize, "Vues d'Afrique", Montréal (Canada)
* Prize of Honour, International Festival of Exploration film - Toulon (France)

" Aid for Somalia : a losing battle " (1994)Feature Documentary

"La grâce perdue d'Alain Van der Biest" (1993)Feature Documentary

" Zaire, the snake's cycle " (1992)Medium-length and Feature Documentary film
* Special Jury Prize at Nyon International Festival (Suisse)
* Sesterce d'argent at the International Festival of Nyon (Switzerland)
* The Public Prize the International Festival of Nyon (Switzerland)
* The documentary Silver Medal at l'URTI Monte Carlo (France)
* Nanook Prize at the twelfth ethnographic balance sheet in Paris (France)
* Golden Screen at the festival "Vues d'Afrique" in Montréal (Canada),
* Certificate of Merit at the 38ème Film festival of Cork (Ireland),
* First Prize at “ Filmer à tout prix ” in Brussels (Belgium)" From the grass roots " (1990)Medium-length documentary film
* Prize of Honour at Golden Gate Awards San Francisco (USA)

" Kids from Rio " (1990)Medium-length documentary film
* First Documentary Prize at Biarritz (France)
* Best Belgian short film of 89-90 in Gand (Belgium)
* Prize of Honour at Golden Gate Awards, San Francisco (USA)
* Mesquite Award Winner at San Antonio Cine Festival (USA)

" Emergency exit " (1987)Feature Documentary
* Prize of Salerne (Italy)

" Private Hotel " (1985)Feature Documentary
* Prize at the Festival of Nyon (Switzerland)

"Hiver 60" (1982)Feature Film
* Prize of social Film (Belgium)
* Bologne Prize (Belgium)

"Chronique des Saisons d'Acier” (1980)Feature Documentary

"Pays Noir, Pays Rouge" (1975)Medium-length documentary film

"Portrait d'un Autoportrait" (1973)Feature Documentary

"Ferme du Fir" (1971)Short documentary film


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