2022 "Special' Feature Film Winner 

Curt Fortin was born on the 27th of September in 1978 on the sunny island of Aruba. He was 5 years old when he moved with his mother and sister to the Netherlands. At a very young age, Curt knew what he wanted to do with his life. Acting, directing, and writing stories.
Curt wrote and directed his first short movie in 1999 called “Little Man” which was aired on Dutch television.
In 2002 Curt began his acting career in a soap opera “Onderweg naar morgen”. Many popular series followed, like: “Bon bini beach”, Huis Anubis and “Voetbal Vrouwen”.
In 2005 Curt started hosting on Dutch Television. He was officially introduced as the new television host of the Dutch “Top of the Pops”, a music program that suited him perfectly, where he could also express his love for music. After that, he hosted two children's television programs: “Hoela Hoep” and “De Schatkamer van de Efteling.”


Working with children for more than three years, inspired Curt to start writing children's books. In 2014, he released his first book called “Yakanuko” and won the “Hotze de Roos” award for best book of the year. After that, two more children's books followed: “The Giant Snake” and “Bird & Sheep.”


In 2016 Curt produced his first theater show. He adapted the books “Yakanuko” and “Bird & Sheep” for the main stage and live performance.
With both productions, he toured the country inspiring children and their parents to fight for their dreams and to take care of each other.

DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT

The past 12 years of my career have taught me a lot, but most importantly that children are pure, emotional, and honest. Congo Tales tells the story of a beautiful nation, a rich and valuable country, and most of all a story about of us—humans.

In order for us to open up and discover a new world, we have to fall in love with it first. Only then, we would want to invest, to get to know them better and create a bond. As we embarked on the quest of wanting to share the richness and history of the Congo to a young generation, I had to keep this in the front of mind.

By telling the story of Congo through the eyes of Akesi, I choose to not emphasize the cultural differences, but to have a more natural and neutral perspective. It may be new to us, but for Akesi it's just life. The historical background of Congo becomes the backdrop for Akesi’s life lessons by translating the colonial chapters of Congo and political events to the events of his everyday life.

Today, media and influencers are playing an important role in storytelling, therefore the series reflects this format. The balance between our hosts, graphics, and animation set the tone in which this adventure will unfold. Congo Tales will take its audience along the path of life, through history, mystery and most of all, love.

Said Abitar is a scenographer and illustrator who studied and graduated at La Cambre Brussels. He also worked there as an intern atelier assistant and teacher as well as at Saint Luc Brussels.


Drawn to performing arts and cinema at first, his work as a designer rose to the next level along with his partnership with the multimedia company Tales of us, on their project Congo Tales. A travers ce projet, il a développé sa pratique du dessin, non plus come un outils de transmission mais comme une partie active du projet artistique auquels il participe. Through this project, he developed his practice of drawing, no longer as a transmission tool but as an active part of the artistic project in which he participates.


As a scenographer, Said Abitar’s work is intertwined with drawing and painting. Starting out as a decorator for plays and cinema, he developed his space design by constantly re-adapting the canvas, be it to provide a Symphonic orchestra with projected decors such as in La belle Helene d’Offenbach, or for printings on different kinds of supports so to match the scenographies of La danse de La Pavane for the series Opéra, as for preparing truck awnings in Cameroun for the play Balle au centre.


He also participated in the Elan Laboratory (scenographic research laboratory) as part of the Les Récréätrales festival in Burkina Faso). For the cinema, he participated in the design of several film sets in different countries like Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Italy, and Ghana.


One would eventually come across his paintings and drawings at the movies watching La trêve, where his paintings were featured to be the oeuvre of a psychopath artist, but also the costumes he designed and manufactured for Mounia Meddour’s film Papicha.

DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT

Akesi and the Congo River* originated from the heart of the rainforest. As artistic director at the time, I prepared the sets which were to stage the tales and legends told by the inhabitants of the forest.

This became us telling ancestral tales and legends but also the great history of the Congo and the Congo river through the singular little story of a young boy living in Brazzaville. A tale where myths and historical characters meet modern life.

The possibility of developing this project through the drawing and the presence of a real person illustrates the connivance between reality and magic found in stories from oral traditions. The narrator's pedagogical discourse gradually mutates into an epic in space and time. Reality and fiction then become travel companions to discover the world around Akesi.

In the great tradition of initiation stories, Akesi suffers a loss—that of his big brother. He has to go in search of answers to be able to move forward in his life.

Like a stained-glass window traversed by light, I wanted the animation to sometimes leave room for contemplation of the background decorations. Time can be suspended to allow you to get lost when contemplating an open fire or the continuous movement of a river, only to then come back to the surface of ourselves, with perhaps a different vision of things.