Flanders International Film Festival Ghent

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Film Fest Gent, previously the Flanders International Film Festival Ghent (Dutch: Internationaal Film Festival van Vlaanderen – Gent) is an annual international film festival in Ghent. It was created in 1974 and is acknowledged by the FIAPF as a competitive festival specialized in the impact that music has on film. Parallel to the film competition are the World Soundtrack Awards which are being handed out to film composers since 2001.



The first festival edition was organized in 1974 and called 'Filmgebeuren van Gent' (Film Happening of Ghent). The cinema Studio Skoop and the Universitaire Film Club (university film club) wanted to program movies which did not make it to the regular cinemas because of their content and style. 18 provocative films were shown during the festival's first edition thereby shocking the establishment by breaking taboos and covering new topics. This initiative launched some new names and concepts thereby forming the base of a film festival that offers a wide range of world cinema.

The driving force behind the earliest editions of the festival was the erudite Ben Ter Elst, owner of the Studio Skoop at the square of St Anna. He often gave a verbal introduction to many noncommercial and unknown but brilliant films. As the festival got more and more successful, the organization was taken over by Jacques Dubrulle. Since then the name of Ben Ter Elst was not mentioned.

By 1978 the program had expanded to 50 films that were subdivided in several categories. The strictly cinephile programming gave way to a broader range of films and also to a focus on education. In 1978 the festival expanded so vastly that a more solid structure was required.

Financial and organizational problems and the changing international film landscape required substantial adjustments. Dubrulle, who was active in film production and communication, was asked to expand the festival's scope some more and develop an organisational structure.


A non-profit organization was founded in 1979 to support the festival as the governments (the city of Ghent, the county of Eastern Flanders and the national government) participated more in the event. The festival became an established event which enjoyed growing interest. Because of the structure, organized funding was made possible and helped the festival blossom. John Bultinck, also a renowned cinephile was the first president.

Due to internationalization, the program was further expanded from 1979 to 1983. Foreign producers were invited to Ghent. Among them were King Hu, Maximilian Schell and Bertrand Tavernier. The arrival of a new cinema complex in 1981 with spacious rooms, huge screens and state of the art sound systems enabled the festival to grow even more. The program contained up to 100 films. In 1983, the association was renamed the International Film Festival of Flanders - Ghent .


In 1985, the festival took a fresh start because of a permanent team that continually worked on the festival and created a long-term vision. The main theme of the festival was launched in that same year: the impact of music on film. No other festival in the world has the same focus on film music. Its specific emphasis on film music enabled the festival to cross the traditional borders of film projection by organizing concerts dedicated to and performed by internationally renowned film composers such as Ennio Morricone, Georges Delerue, Jean-Claude Petit, Nicola Piovani, Peer Raben, Stanley Myers, Carl Davis, Bruce Broughton and Michael Nyman.


The Flanders International Film Festival -Ghent came to be Belgium's biggest festival with a varied film program covering all film genres and styles. Since the nineties, the international interest grew as well as the foreign guests and European and world premieres.

In 1993 the festival was appointed Cultural Ambassador of Flanders. In terms of content, the festival followed the latest trends, both artistically and technically. The new media were introduced in 1996. In 1998 the festival was designated Ambassador of Ghent.


The Ghent Film Festival was the first in the world to emphasize the importance of film music. Besides the international competition for the ' impact of music on film " - classical concerts , silent film screenings with live music and seminars on film music - the festival organized the World Soundtrack Awards for the first time in 2001. These awards are an initiative of the World Soundtrack Academy which was established in that same year. It is an organization that aims to oversee the educational, cultural and professional aspects linked to film music and sound. The composition competition for young European composers was added to the World Soundtrack Awards in 2002.


Thanks to the commitment and vision of many, the Ghent Film Festival has grown into an organization with a strong national and international reputation. Renowned journals such as Variety [1] have acknowledged the importance of the Ghent Film Festival. The emphasis on film music thereby ensures its own identity and a solid base of over 130,000 visitors.

The film program includes

  • Official selection: those in the running for the Grand Prix for Best Film
  • Festival Previews: the selection that will be released in the Belgian cinemas when the festival is over
  • World Cinema: Films which offer a cross-section of contemporary films d'auteur from all over the world.
  • Memory of Film: focus on the works of the director to whom an exhibition is dedicated
  • Almost Cinema: a cooperation with the Arts Centre Vooruit with an alternative vision on cinema. Basic principles such as projection, and filmstrips are tackled from a different angle by artists.
  • ExploreZone: selection of a new generation of films with contemporary and quirky look
  • PLUS-Parcours: a special program aimed at people who are over 55, from every section of the program.

On top of that, Film Fest Gent has an adapted film program for both gays as visitors with a visual impairment. The festival also tries to involve the disadvantaged as immigrants. Professionals can address the Press and Industry office of Film Fest Gent and film school students can get accreditations.

From 2010 onwards, Film Fest Gent organizes an exhibition dedicated to an icon of film history. Jacques Tati was the first to be celebrated followed by Ingmar Bergman, Romy Schneider, Martin Scorsese and Federico Fellini in 2014.

Former film journalist, Patrick Duynslaegher is the current artistic director of the festival.

On the occasion of its 40th edition in 2013, the festival was renamed Ghent Film Fest. During that anniversary edition, a special section was devoted to American Independent Cinema. The 41st edition gave special attention to French cinema. French directors and actors were invited to present their new films to the festival audience. In addition, debates were organized, with Q&A's, director talks and meetings with the French film industry.



  • Grand Prix for Best Film
  • Georges Delerue Award for Best Sound Design
  • National Lottery Award for Best Belgian Student Short
  • European Film Academy Award for Best European Short
  • Explore Award
  • ACE Image Factory Public Choice Award
  • Port of Ghent Audience Award
  • Canvas Audience Award

World Soundtrack Awards[edit]

  • Film Composer of the Year
  • Best Original Soundtrack of the Year
  • Best Original Song Written Directly for Film
  • Discovery of the Year
  • Public Choice Award
  • The Lifetime Achievement Award
  • The Sabam Award for Best Young European Composer

Award winners[edit]

Grand Prix for Best Film[edit]

Year Winner Director Country
2000 Love's a Bitch (Amores perros) Alejandro González Iñárritu  Mexico
2001 Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner Zacharias Kunuk  Canada
2002 The Man Without a Past (Mies vailla menneisyyttä) Aki Kaurismäki  Finland
2003 In America Jim Sheridan  Ireland
2004 Nobody Knows (Dare mo shiranai) Hirokazu Koreeda  Japan
2005 The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada Tommy Lee Jones  United States /  France
2006 Ten Canoes Rolf de Heer  Australia
2007 The Counterfeiters (Die Fälscher) Stefan Ruzowitzky  Austria /  Germany
2008 The Market: A Tale of Trade (Pazar: Bir Ticaret Masalı) Ben Hopkins  Turkey /  Germany
2009 Eyes Wide Open (Einayim Pkuhot) Haim Tabakman  Israel
2010 When We Leave (Die Fremde) Feo Aladag  Germany
2011 Elena Andrey Zvyagintsev  Russia
2012 Tabu Miguel Gomes  Portugal
2013 The Selfish Giant Clio Barnard  United Kingdom
2014 Gente de bien Franco Lolli  Colombia
2015 Ixcanul Volcano Jayro Bustamante  Guatemala /  France
2016 A Quiet Passion Terence Davies  United Kingdom /  Belgium

Port of Ghent Audience Award[edit]

Year Winner Director Country
2014 Pride Matthew Warchus  United Kingdom
2015 Black Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah  Belgium
2016 Home Fien Troch  Belgium

Canvas Audience Award[edit]

Year Winner Director Country
2014 Il Capitale Umano Paolo Virzì  Italy
2015 Carol Todd Haynes  United Kingdom /  United States
2016 Home Fien Troch  Belgium


External links[edit]