No traditional opening reception, but lots of liquor and above all a lot of cinephile entertainment. That is how the opening night of Film Fest Ghent on Tuesday 13 October can be summarized. With Thomas Vinterberg's opening film Drunk, Belgium's biggest film festival has got off to a flying start. In a safe and corona-proof setting, 110 feature films and 32 short films will be screened on the wide-screen over the next ten days. There are also VIDEODROOM concerts at Kunstencentrum Vooruit and the festival will close with a special anniversary edition of the 20th World Soundtrack Awards, on Saturday 24 October.
With Drunk, Film Fest Ghent has chosen a top-notch Danish tragicomedy in which four adult men venture into an experiment where they go through life with just the right amount of alcohol in their blood. Sparkling in the lead role is none other than the splendid Mads Mikkelsen. The result is a noisy and sobering tragicomedy for which director Thomas Vinterberg once again called upon co-scenarist Tobias Lindholm. Drunk is an exquisite mix of humor and misery as well as an intriguing, vigorously directed study on the - positive and less positive - effects of our everyday drinking culture.
Moreover, Thomas Vinterberg is not a stranger to the city of Ghent. This is the eighth of his twelve feature films that will be screened at the festival. Two years ago, the initiator of the Dogme 95 movement was present in Ghent to attend the red carpet alongside Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he could not be present at the opening night of Film Fest Ghent. A video message addressed to the audience brought at least some consolation.
Despite the pandemic, Film Fest Ghent will welcome numerous (inter)national guests on the red carpet in the coming days. Among them, many actors, actresses, directors and composers who have won international acclaim such as Viggo Mortensen (Falling), Maïwenn (ADN), Gabriel Yared (World Soundtrack Lifetime Achievement Award) and Pedro Costa (Vitalina Varela). Moreover, Belgian talent will appear, such as Jérémie Renier (L'ennemi and Slalom), Veerle Baetens (Cheyenne et Lola), Filip Peeters (Familie), Daan Stuyven (Éden), Fabrice du Welz and Natali Broods (both members of the international jury).
Obviously, the festival is not able to welcome as many guests as in normal years, but Film Fest Ghent takes care of that with numerous pre-recorded Q&As with filmmakers who will not be able to come to Ghent due to the pandemic. On top of that, the festival has set up an online VOD platform (online.filmfestival.be) and is committed to livestreaming events in order to allow as many people as possible to enjoy the festival in a corona-proof manner.
Contenders for this year's Grand Prix for Best Film and the Georges Delerue Award for Best Soundtrack / Sound Design include Stephan Streker's Belgian film L'ennemi, Kelly Reichardt's First Cow, Sean Durkin's directorial debut The Nest and the pictorial Vitalina Varela by the Portuguese director Pedro Costa. With Petite Fille by Sébastien Lifshitz, a documentary will go into competition for the first time at Film Fest Ghent.
Golden Bear of Golden Lion?
Both the Golden Lion winner Nomadland by Chloé Zhao, with the omnipresent Frances McDormand in the lead and Golden Bear winner There is no Evil by Mohammad Rasoulof will have their Belgian premiere at the festival. These are just a few of the many masterful titles that will be exhibited on the silver screen in the coming days. On top of these new releases, a series of classics will be dusted off. Wenders, Herzog, von Trotta, ... and of course also Fassbinder will be rediscovered with our focus on New German Cinema. We will also commemorate the enfant terrible of the Belgian cinema, Robbe De Hert, rediscover Solaris and Koyaanisqatsi with a new score and celebrate the 40th birthday of The Shining by Stanley Kubrick via the VIDEODROOM programme at Kunstencentrum Vooruit.
20th anniversary World Soundtrack Awards
The World Soundtrack Awards, the world-renowned film music prizes, will celebrate their 20th anniversary in a special way on 24 October. Adapted to current circumstances, this year's WSA will be a free, online edition, livestreamed from Kinepolis Ghent, where the ceremony itself will take place. With our central guest Alexandre Desplat and Gabriel Yared, who will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award, we will look back at two decades of film music while once again highlighting the biggest musical achievements in film and other audiovisual media of the year.