IWONDERFULL Grand Prize Jury
Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and based in Belgium, he is an award-winning musician, filmmaker, a polymath artist; he works as art director, costume designer for fashion and other visual art forms. The name Baloji refers to occult and evil forces: in Swahili, it originally meant “man of science,” but in colonial times it turned into “man of occult sciences/sorcerer”. For his work, this has been both a heavy burden to bear and, at the same time, a drive to a playful and empirical approach, shaping his vision into an oneiric and magical realism, notably through his work on the mask, symbolisms, and the strong association of colours and sound caused by his synesthesia. As a filmmaker, Baloji released his first feature film Omen (premiered at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival where it won the New Voice Award), accompanied by a four-part soundtrack where each record is written from the point of view of one of the main characters. The project is also accompanied by a travelling exhibition project featuring the costume designs and photos of his work. The film Omen follows several short films noticed in the circuit and distributed worldwide such as Zombies (London FF, MUBI award, UKVMA). As a musician, Baloji has released two critically acclaimed albums and two EPs, the latest Avenue Kaniama on Bella Union Records.
IWONDERFULL Grand Prize Jury
Co-founder and co-editor of CLAP magazine from 2014 to 2016. Since 2017, she has co-piloted the cinema and series website frenchmania.fr. She has also been a television columnist since 2014 for “Le Cercle” on Canal+ and one of the voices on France Inter’s famous radio program “Le Masque et La Plume”. She has published several books on cinema and series, such as Woody Allen: profession Cynique (2015), Cheforama (2017) and Game of Thrones Décodé (2019). Ava Cahen joined the Syndicat Français de la Critique de Cinéma in 2016. Alongside her teaching activity at the University of Nanterre Paris X (2014-2020), for five years she took part in the feature film committee of La Semaine de la Critique under the direction of Charles Tesson before taking over as head of the committee. Ava Cahen is entering her 3rd year as artistic director of La Semaine de la Critique.
IWONDERFULL Grand Prize Jury
Dedicated to cinema with a particular artistic view, she has been building an expertise in handling challenging filmmaking processes at the unpredictable border between fiction and reality, and with complex international co-production structures: the 2018 Golden Bear winner, Touch Me Not by Adina Pintilie; Collective by Alexander Nanau, Oscar nominee for Best Documentary and Best International Feature in 2019; and Anhell69 by Theo Montoya, premiered at the 2022 Venice Film Critics’ Week. She is the creative producer of the 2022 Romanian Pavilion at Venice Art Biennale with Adina Pintilie’s You Are Another Me – A Cathedral of the Body and is currently producing Pintilie’s second feature, Death and the Maiden. Bianca is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, an Emerging Producer (2016) and Producer on the Move (2021).
He holds a Ph.D. in Chinese Film Studies from SOAS, University of London. From 2009 to 2020 he was the program manager of the International Film Critics’ Week, an independent section of the Venice Film Festival. Since 2017 he has been working as a programmer for Filmmaker Festival in Milan, and since 2021 he serves as head of Pardi di domani selection committee and advisor for the Competitive Sections of the Locarno Film Festival. He is also active in film distribution, currently holding the position of head of acquisitions for the Italian company Academy Two. He is a member of the National Union of Italian Film Critics (SNCCI) and of the European Film Academy (EFA).
Head of programming for the Venice Film Critics’ Week, from 1999 to 2006. From 2000 to 2007 she worked as a programme advisor for the Thessaloniki Film Festival and 4 Ecrans, Paris. Since 1996 she has been collaborating with the Trieste Film Festival, and in 2016 she was appointed TSFF Artistic Director. She curated several retrospectives dedicated to Greek, Romanian, Polish, Georgian and Yugoslav cinema. She has served as jury member in numerous European film festivals and has collaborated with training programmes such as Midpoint Feature Launch, First Cut Lab and Czech Film Springboard as a consultant. For a few years she worked as a translator for several subtitling companies based in Italy and the UK. In 2012 she co-funded the production company Mansarda Production. Among others, she produced the documentary The Last Resort by Thanos Anastopoulos and Davide Del Degan, which premiered in May 2016 at Cannes in the Official Selection-Special Screenings.
He directed, produced and was the DoP of White Men, co-directed with Alessandro Baltera in 2011, which premiered at the Festival dei Popoli in Florence and screened at various international festivals (DokLeipzig, Bafici, Ankara Film Festival), winning the jury prize at the Kazan Film Festival. In 2012, he co-directed with Alessandro Baltera Swahili Tales, a medium length documentary in three episodes. In 2014 he curated the photography of Roadstead by Alessandro Abba Legnazzi, which won the best film award at the Torino Film Festival and the best cinematography award at the Krakow Film Festival and at Documentaria in Noto. The film was nominated for best documentary at the Globi d’Oro. In 2015, he co-directed with Andrea Fenoglio On Opposite Fields, a documentary in two episodes. In 2016 he curated the photography of Bar Malfé by Alessandro Abba Legnazzi and in 2018 the one of After the crossing by Joel Akafou; the latter was presented at Berlinale 2019. Mother Lode, his first feature film, was awarded the Eurimages Lab Award 2019. The film premiered at the 36. Venice Critics’ Week at the 78. Venice Film Festival and has been distributed in Italy, France and Switzerland.