Visit Het Bos: Visite Film Festival #4
Twice a year, De Imagerie, a collaboration between Cordon Coffee, Bosbar, Otark and various filmmakers, invites artists for the Visite Film Festival at Het Bos. The fourth edition kicks off on February 21 at the Beursschouwburg in Brussels, but all the other screenings will take place in Antwerp. At Het Bos from February 22 to March 3.
Visite Film Festival is not all about Cinema, but also about food. Every evening starts with a dinner, prepared by Otark, and for this edition, every day will have an artisanal pasta dish on the menu. I have a sit-down in Het Bos with filmmaker/curator Eva Van Tongeren about this month’s festival.
‘At Visite Film Festival, we invite filmmakers who generally come from Belgium or nearby countries, but whose work touches on themes relevant to the entire world, usually in the form of experimental, political or documentary films,’ Van Tongeren explains. ‘The invited filmmakers are all present at the film festival so we can make a full evening’s programme in which they show some of their own work and the work of another filmmaker who inspires them and afterwards go in dialogue with the audience about the different methods, fascinations and inspirations that drive them’.
A bricolage of filmmakers
By far the most well-known guest this edition is British avant garde icon John Smith, whose Hotel Diaries opens the festival in Brussels and is shown again in Het Bos the day after. Many of the other guests, however, are lesser known but deserve to reach a bigger audience, which De Imagerie is happy to provide them. ‘We start from the films we personally love and want to share with a bigger audience,’ Van Tongeren says, ‘some of these works are really recent or have not been shown in Antwerp before, while others have already had a festival run but have not been shown a lot since’. The desire to include a varied selection of known and lesser known artists really comes to the fore when taking a closer look at this edition’s programme. ‘We really want to make a collage of on the one hand young artists who we want to offer a platform and on the other hand artists with an already impressive record, like John Smith’.
‘We try to include at least one artist from Antwerp and a student filmmaker in every edition,’ Van Tongeren continues, ‘and then we try to find artists who have already made a name for themselves in Belgium, supplemented with filmmakers from the Netherlands, The UK etc’. Of course, the formula of Visite Film Festival requires the artists to be present for their own screenings, so all of them reside relatively nearby. ‘Most artists we approach react very positively,’ Van Tongeren says, ‘first of all because we are filmmakers ourselves, so an invitation can be seen as a token of our admiration for our colleagues, but also because we ask them to choose a work to accompany their own. They enjoy being able to compose an evening’s programme that way’.
Choosing is losing
When deciding on a one day visit to the festival, it is easy to go for the biggest name on the programme and choose for John Smith’s Hotel Diaries. If you are looking for the full Antwerp experience, February 24 is the way to go. Ria Pacquée is an Antwerp filmmaker and her film, As Long As I See Birds Flying I Know I Am Alive, includes shots from our lovely city. I ask Van Tongeren to flag up her personal favourites. ‘It is very hard to decide on one absolute recommendation this edition’, she says. ‘Justine Cappelle is a very promising student whose film [Maregrave, Feb 28], is a fascinating piece of work. I am also a huge fan of Herman Asselbeghs, an ex-teacher of mine at Sint-Lukas [LUCA School of Arts], whose programme [For Now + Carry On + 10th of November | 09:05, Mar 2] I highly recommend,’ she continues, ‘but actually, I think you should come every night’.
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Text by Jonah Simanjuntak
Pics by Visite Film Festival