ABOUT LODE DESMET
Lode Desmet (1965) is an award winning international documentary filmmaker who has made films for & in co-production with most European broadcasters – ARTE and BBC included.
He studied Latin & Sciences at Sint-Amandscollege in Kortrijk and obtained a university degree in literature at the university of Leuven with a dissertation on Primo Levi.
He started his career in print journalism – writing for De Morgen and Humo – and moved on to become a sports journalist for Radio 1 under the guidance of the iconic sports reporter Jan Wauters.
In 1994 he started working for television and since then he has made a long list of shorter and longer documentary films.
In the beginning of 2016 BBC Radio 4 broadcast his latest radio-documentary Molenbeek Through The Looking Glass to great critical acclaim – and with very high audience ratings.
Between 2012 & 2015 he directed and produced – with his production company Asteroïde 4364 – a six-part documentary essay series De Werkende Mens about the way human beings work. It was broadcast on Canvas and received the Jury Award for Best Flemish TV-documentary at Docville – Belgium.
His feature length documentary War Is Not A Game (2010) explains the Geneva Conventions in simple terms to a broad international audience. ARTE and a number of other European and Canadian public broadcasters commissioned the film. It was selected for IDFA 2011 in Amsterdam. It received the DOXA Film Festival Award for Most Creative Documentary in Vancouver and the YFF Best Historical Documentary Award in Yorkton. The film was nominated for the Prix Europa in Berlin and also won an award in France : l’Etoile de la Scam – the French author’s rights organization.
The DOXA Film Festival described the film as follows: “Lode Desmet’s film is a scrupulous examination of the morality of combat. The interview subjects include former soldiers, mercenaries, guerrillas and peacekeepers; female bomber pilots serving in Afghanistan; and a Jewish-American lawyer who prosecuted Nazis at the Nuremberg tribunals. The interviews are deeply moving and provocative, as we hear tales of combat that complicate the notion of strict ethical codes. The film's subject is the intersection of abstract law and personal context, and Desmet pursues this dynamic across a broad swath of history, from World War II to Bosnia to the War on Terror. This is a disturbing, illuminating film that applies big questions to personal contexts, and vice versa.”
In 2005 he made the feature-length documentary Heysel 1985, Requiem for a Cup Final (90') for BBC2. The film won the EBU Golden Link Award and was selected as closing night film at the HotDocs festival in Toronto. The film also won the Garland of Honour at the International Sports Movies Festival in Milan. It was shortlisted for the 2006 Grierson Historical Documentary Awards and the Prix Europa Golden Goal Award. Lode Desmet also won his third Belgian TV Press Award with this documentary.
The Guardian called the Heysel film an “artful and very moving documentary.”
The Independent wrote: “Desmet's film trades in poignant little shards of memory.”
Daily Telegraph: “It is harrowing stuff. This was a programme that induced soul-stripping honesty in some of its participants.”
Time Out: “An intelligent, thoughtful film about how we deal we violence in our lives.”
In 2004 his film Mother's Crossing (60') won the Grand Prix at the Festival International du Grand Reportage d`Actualité in France. In New York it was given the Best Documentary Award at the Brooklyn International Film Festival. At the Ismailia International Film Festival in Egypt, the documentary won the Best Film Award by Cinema Magazine.
His documentary Exodus or Vina's World (1999 – 52') was awarded the Fipa d'Argent in Biarritz, the UNDA trophy for Brave Journalism at the Prix Italia in Florence, and the Prix Europa in Berlin.
SELECTED FILMS & PROJECTS
Made for: BIRN – Balkan Investigative Reporting Network & all regional TV stations in the Balkans
Neil MacDonald, Correspondent in Belgrade for the Financial Times: “Does Anyone Have a Plan?” takes an admirable stab at journalistic objectivity without losing sight of the human characters at the core of the dispute over Kosovo. The steady back and forth between politicians and “ordinary people” works better than I expected and lets a wide range of sides speak for themselves. As a new arrival in the region, I found it an ideal introduction.”
Susan Finch, UNDP, Skopje: “The film should be required viewing for anyone who is new to the region, or who simply wants to deepen their understanding of the influence of Kosovo’s final status negotiations over the fate of an entire region. It goes a long way towards detangling the numerous and polarizing issues in one of the most complex and difficult issues of our time.”
WORK & AWARDS
MOLENBEEK, THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (2016) (28’)
After the terror attacks in Paris, the world's attention turned to an inner-city district of the Belgian capital, Brussels, where several of the attackers came from. Molenbeek has been notorious for many years as a breeding-ground for Islamist extremism - and the Belgian government vowed to "clean it up". But do the authorities really have any plan to prevent the radicalisation of young Belgians? Tim Whewell has been travelling back and forth to Brussels since the Paris attacks to talk to local people as they hold up a mirror to themselves and search for explanations - and attempt to have a dialogue with a sometimes dysfunctional state.
Made for: BBC Radio 4 Crossing Continents
CATHéRINE (2016) (15x40')
Current affairs show with VTM anchor Cathérine Moerkerke - as editor-in-chief.
DE WERKENDE MENS (2015) (6x52’)
An exploration of the meaning of work in eight visual essays, using a class picture of
the director when he was eleven as a starting point. What will you become,
later? What have his classmates and has he become?
Made for: Canvas, with the support of VAF/Mediafonds
Awards: Best Flemish Documentary series at Docville - Belgium
THE MAJORITY STARTS HERE (2013) (60’)
Six youngsters from six different Balkan countries meet up in Sarajevo and undertake a trip in a van through Bosnia – Montenegro – Kosovo – Macedonia – Serbia and
Croatia … exploring their common past – present – and future.
Made for: BIRN – Balkan Investigative Reporting Network
UPLACE – THE RACE (2013) (45’)
Made for: Panorama – VRT
HET NIEUWE ZOET (2012) (45’)
Made for: Panorama – VRT
Awards: Persprijs Duurzame Ontwikkeling FDRO - Belgium
A LA GUERRE COMME A LA GUERRE
WAR IS NOT A GAME (2010) (86’)
An in-depth exploration of the history of the Geneva Conventions and how they are put in to practice by soldiers in the field.
Made for: ARTE – Lichtpunt Belgium – RTBf – YLE – TSR – CBC
Awards: DOXA Film Festival - Most Creative Documentary in Vancouver, YFF Best Historical
Documentary in Yorkton, l’Etoile de la Scam in France
Selected for IDFA 2011 in Amsterdam & nominated for the Prix Europa in Berlin
NERMA’S QUESTION (2008) (22’30)
Nerma Jelacic (30) leads a press agency covering all the local war crime trials in Bosnia & Herzegovina. She gave up a promising career in England for it.
Made for: Al Jazeera International – London – Lichtpunt Belgium
DOES ANYONE HAVE A PLAN ? (2006) (86’)
Seventeen ordinary people in Kosovo, Serbia & Montenegro, the Republic of
Macedonia (FYROM) and Bosnia & Herzegovina express their concern about the future of Kosovo. The region’s politicians try to answer them.
HEYSEL 1985 – REQUIEM FOR A CUP FINAL (2005) (90’)
Half an hour before the European Cup Final Football in 1985
39 fans died during riots in the Heysel stadium. The final was played anyway.
Made for: BBC2, VRT, RTBF, RAI, TSR, SVT, YLE, France2, SBS,
DR TV, Periscope Productions
Awards: EBU Golden Link Award, Garland of Honour at the International Sports Movies Festival in Milan, Belgian Press Award
Nominated for the Grierson Historical Documentary Award & the Prix Europa Golden Goal Award
Shown at: Hot Docs – Closing Night Film in Toronto 2005
RADIO – THE COUNTRY WHICH DOESN`T EXIST (2004) (28`)
The breakaway republic of Transdniester in Moldova is a living museum of Soviet times.
Made for: BBC Radio 4 Crossing Continents
ODE TO LIBERTY (2003) (28`)
Observational film about the oldest orchestra in the Arab world trying to revive itself after the fall of Baghdad.
Made for: VRT/BBC World
MOTHER’S CROSSING (2003) (60`)
Not all people smugglers are criminals. Rojanne can’t walk but a people smuggler carries her on his back across the Turkish-Greek border on their way to Europe.
Made for: FRANCE 2/VPRO/SVT/YLE/VRT/RTBf - Simple
Production & La Compagnie des Taxi Brousse
Awards: FIGRA Best Documentary – France, Best Documentary Award – Brooklyn International Film Festival New York, Best Film Award – Ismailia Film Festival (Cine Magazine)
Shown at festivals in Geneva, Rome, Prague, Split, Amiens, Kiev & Barcelona
RADIO – AN ASIAN ALCATRAZ (2001) (28’)
Program about child labour on fishing platforms in Sumatra.
Made for: BBC Radio 4
MY NAME IS WILKINSON (2000) (28’)
Creative documentary. The skeleton of a British soldier is found near Ypres. Ninety years after he died during the first World War he finally “sees” his great grand daughters.
Made for: ARTE/RTBf/VRT/YLE
EXODUS or VINA’s WORLD (1999) (54’)
A Kurdish refugee travels back illegally to Northern Iraq with his five year old daughter so that she can visit her grandparents.
Made for: YLE/SVT/ARD/NPS/RTBf/VRT
Awards: Prix Europa 2000, Fipa d’Argent, UNDA trophy – Prix Italia, Belgian Press Award