Costume Designer Wins Top Award At Solothurn Film Festival


(MENAFN- Swissinfo) “With Anna van Brée, we are awarding a prize to a costume designer whose experience, filmography and skills make her the ideal ambassador for this essential profession,” said Niccolò Castelli, artistic director of the Solothurn Film Festival, on Thursday.

Anna van Brée has designed costumes for a long list of productions. Two films are being shown at Solothurn this year: Back to Alexandria by Tamer Ruggli and The Love Stories of Liv S by Anna Luif.

Her meeting with the Swiss film director Ursula Meier was decisive. She has worked with the Franco-Swiss director since her first film Home in 2008. Van Brée has collaborated on all her films, including L'enfant d'En Haut, Ondes de choc - Journal de ma tête and La ligne.

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Following Home, she designed the costumes for around twenty productions. These include the series Les Indociles by Delphine Lehericey, currently on the Play RTS platform, and A forgotten man by Laurent Nègre, selected last year at the Geneva, Zurich and Solothurn festivals, and Petite soeur, selected for the 2020 Berlinale, by Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond.

In her genes

Anne van Brée was immersed in this world from birth. Her mother worked in the same profession and her father took over his parents' tailor shop in Antwerp and dreamed of becoming an actor.

“When I was young, I was part of a children's acting troupe that presented a show once a month on Flemish TV. And the directors would come looking for child actors,” she told the Keystone-ATS news agency.

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When she was a teenager, instead of selling ice creams to earn holiday money like her friends, she was already working on film sets. She went on to study fashion at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, before entering the world of show business. She also studied at the Institut Supérieur des Arts in Brussels.

Thanks to her mother's connections and her many film shoots, she was soon in demand by the other students as a costume designer for short films in the film department and for theatre productions. She later became head costume designer on the set of a feature film in Belgium.

Film and theatre

Anna van Brée has had several careers at the same time, as a costume designer on film sets and in the theatre, and as a director with her company, Belgo-Suisse.

“These environments are quite natural for me. I like the improvisational aspect and the one-off stress of filming, as well as the more long-term stress of a theatre show. But when I'm putting on a show, that's all I can do. In that case, she delegates responsibility for the costumes to someone else,” she says.

“In the theatre, the dramaturgy of the costume is done at the same time as the creation of the show: it's much more organic. In the cinema, everything moves much more quickly,” she explains.“It takes four hours for the first fittings for roles with several silhouettes, but at the start you're looking for the character.”

At the end of the 1990s, she left Belgium for Switzerland, where she concentrated on theatre costume. In 2003, she returned to directing, and Thierry Spicher opened the doors of the Arsenic theatre for her. Five years later, she met Ursula Meier.

She hopes that the Solothurn prize will help her build her reputation in German-speaking Switzerland.“I'd love to go and work there. I think that my Flemish rigour fits in well with the German mentality,” she said.

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