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Belgium’s Academy Award Submission ILLEGAL to Open in NYC

Written by: FFT Webmaster | March 3rd, 2011 Early Access to Award Winning Independent & Foreign Film
Belgium’s Academy Award Submission


to Open in New York City 3/25/2011

ILLEGAL, Belgium’s official submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the American Academy Awards. This French and Russian language film from writer/director Olivier Masset-Depasse explores burning issues of immigration, family and reunion. ILLEGAL was an Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival, Director’s Fortnight, as well as playing at the Venice, London and Pusan Film Festivals, among others.  The film was also nominated for the LUX Prize of the European Parliament. ILLEGAL will open at Cinema Village on Friday, March 25th, 2011, immediately followed by a limited national theatrical release.

Tania is a former teacher from Russia, living illegally in Belgium with her son, Ivan. One day she is stopped for a routine check by the police and is arrested. Separated from Ivan, who manages to escape, she is placed in an immigration detention center for women and children. While utterly refusing to face expulsion, Tania thus begins a fight to preserve her dignity, identity and humanity, as well as find her son.

Olivier Masset-Depasse chose to make ILLEGAL in order to call attention to human rights violations that have been documented in Belgium, prompting the European Court of Human Rights to convict the country’s government of inhuman or degrading treatment on four occasions.  While the film is an indictment of the system, Masset-Depasse’s story is a sympathetic and nuanced portrait of a range of victimized parties, including not just the detainees, but many guards and police who are trapped by failed policies that dictate that immigrants ‘should be made to never want to return to Belgium.’ ILLEGAL is a mélange of true stories, but it was also important for the filmmaker to work in the fiction genre, as opposed to documentary, in order to create an engaging psychological thriller with a universal protagonist that could stand in for anybody; in his words, he feels that fiction “allows for a deeper exploration of the different characters’ subjectivity, reaching for something that is more universal.” In keeping with his feminist tendencies, Masset-Depasse chose a female protagonist, played by Anne Coesens, who has starred in all of his films. Coesens won the Best Actress Award at the most recent Palm Springs Int’l Film Festival for her harrowing performance in this film.

Please contact Claire Weingarten at or (212) 941-7744 ext. 208, to attend the screening or to request a screener and press-kit.  To download press-kits and images, please go to the Film Movement website:

Director Olivier Masset-Depasse and actress Anne Coesens are available for email interviews.

For Additional Information:  click here


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