Sarah Grégoire is a young and enthusiastic art restorer doing an internship in Paris. Things seem to go well for her, but the tone quickly changes when Sarah discovers that famous paintings are being replaced by replicas. The switch between forgery and original is happening during the restoration process. Sarah returns to Belgium and tries to unravel the truth behind a secret group named 'The Friends of the Masters', referring to the old masters like Rembrandt and Rubens. Helped by her best friend Valerie, she digs deeper into the ambiguous world of art, a world that she used to idealize. What does her father, a master restorer himself, or his former colleague and Sarah's current employer Victor van der Veken, know about the forgeries? And what will be the consequences when Sarah reveals one of the best protected secrets in the history of Western art: 'The Vanitas Project'...
Information for the audience:
Directors: Oscar Spierenburg
Producers: Picoux Productions
Key cast: Manon Verbeeck, Laura Verlinden, Dirk Roofthooft, Benjamin Ramon, Erico Salamone
Oscar Spierenburg (1981) grew up in Spaarndam (The Netherlands) and moved to Belgium when he was 26. He is a painter as well as an autodidactic director. He strongly believes in the principle of ‘learning while working’ and has always found this to be true for his career particularly. He has taught himself how to paint and direct and has proved his skills with the short film “César’s Spring”, which led to quite a few prestigious nominations. This success was of course a motivation to continue on to something bigger. “Vanitas” is Oscar’s first feature film. Alongside working as a director, he owns a small art gallery in the center of Antwerp.
Prizes and awards:
2015: AWARD 'BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE FILM' for feature film 'Vanitas' - FAFF / Los Angeles (USA)
2015: 'GLOBAL INDEPENDENT FILM AWARD' for feature film 'Vanitas' - Toronto World International Film Festival (CA) 2015: 'Best Actress' for feature film 'Vanitas'- Indie Film Festival 2015 (CH) 2015: 'Best Feature Film' (Bronze) for feature film 'Vanitas' - 12M Film Festival 2015 (RO) 2012: AWARD winning price: APERTUS Open Source Cinema Project: Award of Distinction, The Libre Digital Arts Festival, Lintz (AT) 2010-2011: ‘The Sping of César’AWARD: Honorable Mention of the Jury 2011 – International Shortfilmfestival Leuven (BE)
2016: Official Selection 'Vanitas' – Snowdance Independent Film Festival - (DE) 2015: Official Selection 'Vanitas' – Paris Independent Film Festival – (FR) 2015: Official Selection 'Vanitas' – Toronto World International Film Festival 2015 (CA) 2015: Official Selection 'Vanitas' – Melbourne World International Film Festival 2015 (AU) 2015: Official Selection 'Vanitas' – IFF (won 'Best Actress') (CH) 2015: Special mention 'Vanitas' - I Filmmaker International Film Festival Marbella (SP) 2015: Official Selection 'Vanitas' - FAFF (won 'Best Feature Film') (USA)
“For whatever medium I’m working with, I always use the same starting point: I conjure a world that is adjacent to reality, and thus feels at least as authentic."
With Vanitas Oscar wants to tell a very personal story, about a young woman in the art- and restoration world. The mystery that often surrounds the art-world is the canvas on which the story is painted. The ethics of restoration and the dubious concept ‘replica’ is unknown territory when it comes to feature films.
Sarah, a girl who is driven by a great passion for art, is looking for the right direction to take in life and is torn between a couple of strong personalities. "I find it interesting to envision the main character as the central figure, who starts acting for herself only later on in the story, when it is already too late. She only knows part of the truth, which is why she makes all the wrong moves. Vanitas – the symbol for decay, vanity and emptiness – embodies the vulnerability of art whilst also paralleling with the characters’ vulnerability."