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Patrick Duynslaegher • Artistic director, Film Fest Gent

"Our festival is a window to the transformation that is happening in the music and TV scene"


- Cineuropa spoke to Patrick Duynslaegher, artistic director of the Film Fest Gent, about the focus of this year's edition and the challenges for the future

Patrick Duynslaegher  • Artistic director, Film Fest Gent

The 42nd edition of the Film Fest Gent kicks off today with a programme based on British cinema, European series and world film soundtracks. “As the biggest film festival in Belgium, we are also a platform and a showcase for new, talented Belgian filmmakers. So we maintain strong roots in the Belgian film industry,” says Patrick Duynslaegher, who is in charge of the artistic direction of the gathering.

Cineuropa: What is the main theme for the 42nd edition of the festival?
Patrick Duynslaegher: We are a non-specialised type of festival, showing all kinds of cinema from all over the world. Yet every year we have a focus; last year it was French cinema, and for this edition it is British films.

Do you have any premieres of British movies?
They are mainly new films. We do, however, have a couple of titles in what we call our Classic section. Some of the movies have been shown at other festivals outside the country, but every film we screen is a Belgian premiere.

Although the festival is about films, you have also been focusing on music. Can you tell us about this aspect, and how you balance music and film within the same event?
First of all, we have a competition for films, with two distinct prizes. We have an award for the best movie, and we also have a second prize for the best soundtrack, score or sound design. There was a time when you could clearly tell what the sound design was and what the music was, but nowadays all those things are mixed together, which makes it very interesting. We also have a specific section on films about music – mainly documentaries, but also some fiction features – which is called Sound and Vision. And then, of course, we have our concerts, taking place at the end of the festival. This year, we have a special concert that reflects our focus on British cinema: it’s called Great British Film Music. It takes you through the history of British cinema, including a selection of movies spanning many decades, and the guideline is the musical score. The first part of the concert includes classical composers, with soundtracks from Shakespeare adaptations like Richard III, and the second part deals with contemporary ones like Patrick Doyle (who is receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award), Craig Armstrong, Michael Nyman and George Fenton – all of whom will be present at the concert. Finally, as a closing event, we have the World Soundtrack Award ceremony and concert, which this year is dedicated to Alan Silvestri.

Why did you also choose to include TV series at this edition?
In recent years, TV series have undergone a huge evolution. We find hugely successful products of a very high quality, in both technical and narrative terms. There has also been a shift in the audiences: while mainstream cinema is aimed at young people right now, it is in the TV series where you find real adult dramas. So it is a huge world that is opening up, and I think film festivals should be a window to the transformation that is happening. That is why we have four series this year in our Serial Madness section: a successful Flemish comedy, whose first episode was just broadcast, reaching over 600,000 viewers (we will show the four last episodes as premieres); and also three other European TV series, of which we will show the first two episodes.

How many people are you expecting at the festival, and what are your main challenges in the years to come?
We have already sold around 100,000 tickets, which is a big audience for a festival that lasts 11 days. Regarding the challenges for the following years, when the festival started to include music in its programme 15 years ago, we were a unique event in Europe. Now there are a lot of other gatherings focusing on these aspects, so our challenge is to hold on to our position and find new ways of strengthening the qualities that make us special. We need to renew things and try to grow in those activities that can be of benefit to the film and music industry. That is the challenge we are currently facing. We have a strong foundation, but right now what you need is a good network all over Europe, so we are also working with different partners in order to reinforce our international dimension. 


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