Victoria (2020)


In the desert of Southern California lies the unfinished city of California City.
It was a predesigned city, originally intended to mirror Los Angeles in size and population, but it was never completed. At the centre of VICTORIA stands Lashay T. Warren, who left behind his turbulent past in LA to make a fresh start within this grid of thousands of crumbling streets.

Lashay makes his way through the vast city on foot. He reports about his encounters with his new and unfamiliar home in a diary, just like the early pioneers did, when they entered a foreign desert country. Sharp-witted and playful, the diary fragments show his wonder at his new desert surroundings, his efforts to obtain his high school diploma at the age of 26, and his absurd and endless job maintaining the disappearing streets of California City.

VICTORIA is a film evoking a wandering, in which elements of the real and the imagined are interwoven, and in which Lashay T. Warren – like a contemporary pioneer – draws up his own path and leaves behind his mark.



“A compassionate encounter between modern-day LA pioneers and the desert lands of California City.”

– Cineuropa, Jan Lumholdt

The film shows the optimistic power of a character whose situation is rather desperate”

– Interview with Liesbeth De Ceulaer, Isabelle Tollenaere and Sofie Benoot, Cineuropa

“Thanks to Lashay’s charismatic charm and curious perspective, the film is neither slow nor moody: every observation or pause seems to be directed at seeking a possible path forward, at finding, identifying, and connecting with the life and the spirit of freedom hiding in the dry and spare desert.”

– Bright Lights Film Journal, Ezra Haber Glenn

“An atmospheric film that blurs the lines between reality and myth, “Holgut” eschews linear storytelling, offering instead a poetic journey where past and present meet.” 

 – Variety, Lise Pederson, 25.4.21

S. Benoot, L. De Ceulaer & I. Tollenaere, Belgium; 2020, 71´
Berlinale, Jean Rouch IFF, Belfort IFF, Curitiba IFF, Transit FF, Kassel Dokfest; FICUNAM Mexico, Arica Doc Chile
World premiere: Berlin IFF – Forum 2020 – Caligari Award, Indie Lisboa – TVCine Channels Award, Beldocs – Special Jury Mention, Open City London – Open City Award, Play Doc Galicia – Best Play Doc Picture 2020, Docville – Best Belgian Film, Curitiba IFF – Special Jury Prize, Jean Rouch IFF – The Antropology and Environmental Award, Big Sky IDFF Montana – Artistic Vision Award
Arsenal Distribution (A,DE,CH), Sunny Film (Japan), Beldocs Distribution (West Balkan), National Distributor + NL: Dalton; Broadcast: TVCine Portugal, EDU Rights: ProQuest, North America: KWELI, VOD: Shelter
World except of Belgium (Dalton Distribution)
Festival & sales

SOFIE BENOOTs films are patchworks of different stories, which are carefully puzzled together to reveal hidden connections. Blue Meridian (2010) and Desert Haze (2014) played at Visions du Réel, Camden IFF, Torino FF, Doclisboa and BAFICI. She teaches at LUCA School of Arts in Brussels.

LIESBETH DE CEULAERs films explore the tense and complex relationship between man and his environment. The Best Act on the Isle (2008) and Behind the Redwood Curtain (2013) have been shown on festivals such as Docville (Best Belgian Doc) or Hot Springs DFF.

ISABELLE TOLLENAEREs films playfully move between the codes and conventions of documentary and fiction, film and contemporary art. Viva Paradis (2011), Battles (2015) and The Remembered Film (2018) have been presented at IFFR (Fipresci award 2015), Centre Pompidou, Viennale, Visions Du Réel, FID Marseille, IDFA, CPH:DOX, 25FPS (Grand Jury Prize 2018).