PH at Courtisane: Ghent, 51.0500° N, 3.7333° E

Gautam Valluri

Band, 1

Projectorhead will run a series of reports from the ongoing Courtisane Film Festival in Ghent, Belgium. In its 14th edition this year, the artists in focus are Thom Andersen, Pedro Costa and Basma Al-Sharif, alongwith an incredible selection of contemporary and canonical experimental films. The festival also features L.A. Rebellion, a series of films set in inner-city Los Angeles. PH writers Gautam Valluri and Graeme Arnfield will report.

Pieter-Paul Mortier, the festival director of Courtisane opened the fourteenth edition with a charming speech. He mentioned how the festival had started fourteen years ago and went on to thank all the people that made it happen. He stressed on the fact that the festival is still a growing organism and that the people involved, most of whom are established programmers are still on their learning curve.

Pieter-Paul Mortier (on the left)

Pieter-Paul Mortier (on the left)

Mortier’s introduction shed light on the cinephile scene of Ghent. This small city, sporting cobble-stone streets and Gothic structures of the Flanders tradition has its own little culture of watching films. Mortier mentions The Sphinx, one of the four venues of this years edition of Courtisane and he calls it ‘The Greatest Cinema in Ghent’ and then goes on to add that for those who grew up here, it is ‘The Greatest Cinema in the World’. The festival opened in the halls of the magnificent Minard Theatre. There is a retention of what cinemas used to be in this little city. People still dress up for an evening at the movies and between screenings they walk out the front to smoke cigarettes and discuss what they just watched.

The other venues hosting Courtisane this year are Paddenhoek and the Cinema at the KASK academy. All within walking distance of each other are a convenient to walk briskly between screenings and allow just enough time to discuss the films. The Number 4 Tram which promised easy commute between the venues is however has a section of its route shut down due to a sudden collapse of a building and rumored asbestos poisoning in the area. The talk of the town is that the Belgian army was called in a few days ago to help with the issue.

The buzz is here and can definitely be felt on the streets. The festival crew, though small are very much on their feet and are always available to help with a smile. Artists and Filmmakers have been seen hanging out at the cafes at the Minard and the Sphinx.

Report 1 will follow: A review of Wang Bing’s Fathers and Sons.