Here are the members of the official jury of this 34th edition :Jérôme Lemonnier , Sam Karmann , Khadija Alami , Sarah Hirtt , Nadir Moknèche , Gabe Klinger , Irmena Chichikova , Jean-Luc Couchard
Brazilian-born Gabe Klinger is a director based in Chicago, known for his films Porto (2016) and Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater (2013). He has won over a dozen international awards and distinctions, including the Lion for best documentary film at the Venice International Film Festival for Double Play and two awards at the Mons Festival for Porto. In Belgium, Porto was distributed by the independent distributor Cinéart. Klinger also teaches film production and the history of the cinema, as well as working as a curator for events like the Rotterdam International Film Festival.
Irmena Chichikova was born in Bulgaria. She studied at the National Academy for Film and Theatre Arts (NATFA), graduating in 2008, before starting out as an actress and beginning her professional stage career with The Art of Sweeping Things Under the Rug, based on Scenes from a Marriage by Ingmar Bergman. The play was a critical and commercial success, earning her the ASKEER award (2009) in the Best Actress category. After a role in Stanimir Trifonov’s The Glass River, she obtained her first lead role in 2012 in Petar Popzlatev’s I Am You, sharing the role of Adrianna with the actress Janet Spassova. They both won the Golden Rose award for their performances. In the same year, Irmena worked on Maya Vitkova’s film Viktoria, which was selected for the Sundance Film Festival in 2014 and nominated at numerous other festivals. In 2018, she appeared in The Bra, directed by Vert Helmer, and Adina Pintilie’s Touch Me Not, which won the Golden Bear and the overall Best First Feature award at the 68th Berlinale. She has also appeared in numerous plays and short films. Since 2007, she has had a parallel career as a model, working in particular with the designer Neil Miteva, and more recently for the Bulgarian modelling agency Ivet Fashion.
Belgian actor Jean-Luc Couchard trained at the Liège Conservatoire and is best-known to the public for his comic roles, such as JC in Dikkenek, now a cult classic, Ozgür the mechanic in The Barons or the Walloon separatist Frank Vrut in Il était une fois, une fois. He has regularly demonstrated the full extent of his range, particularly on the stage, performing the work of great playwrights such as Brecht, Marivaux, Jarry, Molière, Poe and Shakespeare. In 2013, he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Magritte awards for Patrick Ridremont’s Dead Man Talking. He has also been active on the small screen, appearing in the series Baron Noir (season 2) and The Crimson Rivers, both recently shown on French television.
Jérôme Lemonnier began playing the piano at the age of five and continued his musical education at the École Normale de Musique de Paris, then at the Paris Conservatoire and the Sorbonne, where he studied Musicology. He went on to work as a composer and arranger, creating the music for numerous songs and pieces for the theatre, television and advertising. He began writing for the cinema in 2006 after meeting the French writer and director Denis Dercourt. His first film score, The Page Turner, was nominated for a César award in 2007. This was followed by Tomorrow at Dawn, Flesh of My Flesh, A Pact, In Balance.... Jérôme Lemonnier has worked with directors including Christophe Ali, Nicolas Bonilauri, Rémi Tézier, Raphaël Nadjari Emmanuel Courcol, Mathilde Bayle, Pierre Isoard, Olivier Langlois, Sylvie Ayme and Thierry Petit.
After training at the Cours Florent drama school in Paris and the ENSATT national theatre school in Lyon, Sam Karmann began his career in Jean-Pierre Bouvier’s theatre company. On screen, he started out with small roles, for instance in Alexandre Arcady’s Le Grand pardon (1982) and Le Grand carnaval (1983), in which he crossed paths with Roger Hanin. This was probably destiny at work, as in 1989, they worked together in the famous series Navarro (in which he played Inspector Barrada), in a partnership that lasted seven seasons. In parallel, he continued with his stage career, leading to another decisive encounter, this time with the duo of Agnès Jaoui/Jean-Pierre Bacri, which would lead to roles in Cuisine et dépendances and Un Air de Famille. On screen, he played Emile, the serial killer in the cult film La Cité de la peur, with the TV comedy outfit Les Nuls. Moving from comedy to drama, he went on to appear in Agnès Jaoui’s The Taste of Others, Gérard Jugnot’s Monsieur Batignole, Maurice Barthélemy’s Casablanca Driver, Romain Levy’s Radiostars, Mona Achache’s Les Gazelles and Gérard Pautonnier’s Grand froid. He has also played some fine roles on the small screen, working with directors such as Alain Tasma, Pierre Boutron, Olivier Guignard, Julien Zidi, Olivier Barma and Stephen Cafiero. In parallel to his acting career, he made his first short, Omnibus, which won a Palme d'Or in Cannes in 1992 and an Oscar in 1993. Then in 1999, he directed his first feature-length production, Kennedy and I, adapted from a novel by Jean-Paul Dubois. His second full-length outing was Nickel and Dime in 2003, followed in 2007 by True Enough, in which he played a part as well as writing and directing. Around the same time, he also adapted and directed the cult Canadian series Les Bougon for French TV channel M6. A long career, during which Sam Karmann has never abandoned the theatre (Raisons de Famille, nominated six times at the Molière awards, Le Bonheur, with Marie-Anne Chazel ,and recently Le Garçon du dernier rang), or the television (recent appearances in the series Irresponsable and the TV film Meurtre en Moselle). And there has certainly been no let-up in his film roles, with an appearance in Agnès Jaoui’s Place publique in 2018 and a role in Smiley, an anthology film directed by Cyril Gelblat, Marc Fitoussi, Tristan Aurouet, Thomas Bidegain and Vianney Lebasque, due in 2019.
With a grounding in economics studies and an immense love of the cinema, Khadija Alami became a key figure in the Moroccan film industry, and soon became known internationally. In 1998 she set up K Films, a company supplying services and technical teams for major international film productions shooting in Morocco. As a result, she has worked on an eclectic selection of over forty international productions, from Bille August’s Jerusalem to Ridley Scott’s GI Jane, Cédric Klapisch’s Paris, Jérôme Le Maire’s Tea or Electricity, Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips, Jawad Rhalib’s Insoumise and James Wan’s recent blockbuster Aquaman. She also produces shorts and full-length films for young talents (such as Myriam Bakir and Tala Hadid), and in 2006 directed her own short film, Au bonheur des dames. Since 2017, she has been a permanent member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Sarah Hirtz graduated in Romance Languages and Literature, but inspired by her first love of the cinema, went on to study directing at the INSAS television, film and drama school in Brussels. She obtained her Masters with great distinction, and her graduation project, Waiting for the Thaw, won a number of awards, including second prize in the Cinéfondation Award at the Cannes Festival in 2013. This was followed up in 2014 with another short, Javotte, directed whilst writing her first feature-length film, Escapades, which we are presenting at the Mons Festival.
Nadir spent his childhood and adolescence in Algiers. Between 1990 and 1993, he studied the dramatic arts, first of all at the Chaillot National Theatre School and then at the Théâtre du Soleil, and with the help of a super 8 camera, he had already begun shooting a few little films. Between 1993 and 1995, he studied film at the New School for Social Research in New York and made two shorts. His first feature, The Harem of Madame Osmane (2000), was filmed in Tunisia, and marked the beginning of a frequent collaboration with Biyouna, a very popular dancer and actress in Algeria. She also appears in Viva Algeria (2004) and Délice Paloma (2007). Next came Goodbye Morocco in 2013, starring Lubna Azabal, and Lola Pater, which was selected for the Locarno International Film Festival in 2017.
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