Travelling to Massachusetts, USA: "VILLA EMPAIN" is officially selected for CAMDEN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2020

"VILLA EMPAIN" visits Rumania! Austrian Cultural Forum invites our film to screen at CASA TRANZIT in Bukarest. 

"VILLA EMPAIN" travels to Sweden! Lund International Architecture Film Festival has selected our film to participate.

"VILLA EMPAIN" is invited to screen at French Riviera Film Festival in L.A. 

MUBI has selected "VILLA EMPAIN" exclusively from July-August 2020 and will continue to feature it in the library until June 2021.  

Thanks to the camerawork of Ivo Nelis "VILLA EMPAIN" was a finalist of the New York Cinematography Awards 2020.

Sadly, due to COVID 19 Oberhausen and Karlovy Vary will not screen "VILLA EMPAIN" as planned.

"VILLA EMPAIN" is part of GO SHORTS festival at Nijmegen, Netherlands 

Surprise screening at TRUE/FALSE Film Fest in Columbia, Missouri. 

"VILLA EMPAIN" at Diagonale 2020, "Die Unvollendete" - Diagonale 

"VILLA EMPAIN" is part of the DEEP FOCUS / REGAINED section at IFFR - Rotterdam International Film Festival.

"VILLA EMPAIN" will be screened in competition at Brussels Art Film Festival.

"VILLA EMPAIN" at VIENNALE Film Festival. Together with Luke Fowler, Annie Macdonell, Philipp Fleischmann and Gaston Solnicki, the film is part of the short film experimental section Embracing all Around.

Perfect screening venue: the 'invisible cinema' of Austrian Film Museum -  more information here...


"VILLA EMPAIN" at UNDERDOX Film Festival Munich at Werkstattkino on October 10, 2019. Part of the 'Kurzfilmnacht Dokumente & Experimente' with Henry Hills, Camille Tricaud, Albert Sackl, Claudia Larcher - more information here...

What could the fate of the Villa Empain, Baron Empain’s crazy project in Brussels, which has gone through a long and eventful journey since its completion in 1934, possibly inspire? Katharina Kastner’s challenge was to draw the portrait of the place, keeping in mind the work of time, like in a human existence. Shot in 16mm, her film appeals to the senses, it captures the stirring of leaves undulating in the garden light, the movement of iridescent pearls, or the colourful games ofa piece by Daniel Buren. Without a word, but with a caressing camera, she pays close attention to the hidden patterns on the gorgeous marbles, or to the veins in the most precious types of wood used to decorate the rooms. In slight touches, regardless of the monumental aspect of the 27.000 square-feet villa and the pool that so impressed its first visitors, Katharina Kastner o ers an organic vision of the place, which has been marked by the trials and tribulations of life, and used successively as a museum, an embassy and a squat, until its final renovation. The clever editing makes furtive connections, underlines colour associations, mixes up times and tactile sensations, while the spaces we explore keep rustling. The film takes us on a reminiscing journey, with slices of Empain’s life, from the family archive here on a holiday, there playing on the beach, images from a distant past that keep haunting the premises. The film reveals to us this living space that was designed like a piece of art, but it does so in a wandering way. This dream vision guides us through the villa like an echo of foregone fantasies, a mental space, but also a welcoming backdrop for the work of time. A bit like the fingerprint work we see in the film, or the slight touch of a pencil on a blank sheet. (N.F.)

Original version: without dialogue. 

Directed by: Katharina Kastner. Cinematography by: Ivo Nelis. Edited by: Olivia Degrez. Sound Design by: Hélène Clerc-Denizot. 

Artist: Tamar Kasparian.

Production: The Moon Embassy. Nicola S. Sangs.

Thank you to Luc Empain, Tamar Kasparian www.tamarkasparian.net and Boghossian Foundation www.villaempain.com

Movie review - Filmuforia

Katharina Kastner’s dreamy, impressionistic documentary debut captures the essence of the Villa Empain, one of the most beautiful architectural masterpieces of Art Deco in Brussels. In 1930, at the age of 21, Baron Louis Empain commissioned the building of a private mansion in 55 acres on the prestigious avenue of the Nation which was later on renamed as Franklin Roosevelt Avenue.

Using the finest materials available in those interwar years (marble, bronze and precious wood), the luxurious house consisted of four granite polished facades, surrounded by a large garden with a pergola and swimming pool. A collector and curator, Louis Empain eventually decided that the property was better served as a museum of decorative and contemporary art and it was donated to the Belgian State in 1937. But the Second World War changed everything and the villa languished until 1943, when it was requisitioned by the German army, eventually becoming an embassy for the USSR in peacetime when Empain recovered his property in the beginning of the sixties before reselling it in 1973. For nearly ten years it was rented to the TV channel RTL then falling to semi-rack and ruin during the 1990s. It was eventually saved by a wealthy family who set up the Boghossian Foundation in 2007, transforming the building into an East West cultural  and guaranteeing the revival of its fortunes.

Shot in 16mm this is a sensual creation that resonates with the passage of time, from the house’s former glory, through its trials and tribulations to its present reincarnation. The clever editing brings an eerie and fleeting sense of human presence drifting through the empty rooms and light-filled gardens where leaves swirl and valuable materials shimmer in shafts of sunlight. Taking us on a distant journey to the coast where the family once enjoyed beach holidays this is a space reflected by its evocative fantasies and haunted by the war years. A century of memories recorded in a place in time. MT

FID MARSEILLE | 9 -15 JULY 2019 - more about