On creating an alternative to Belgian film festivals, by Eva Van Tongeren

Eva Van Tongeren (1990) is an Antwerp-based experimental film-maker, noted for her award-winning 2015 feature film There Are No Whales in France (VAF’s Wild Card Award), and her curatorial and production work in film collective De Imagerie. Besides her work with Visite, she is also currently working on her next film. Make sure to check out some of her favourite Belgian movies, too.

After having graduated from LUCA in 2015, I quickly joined De Imagerie, based in Het Bos. Simply put, it’s a self-sustaining, non-profit and independent film collective thanks to our coffee roast project Cordon Coffee, and Het Bos’ kitchen and bar facilities that we do in collaboration with Otark Productions. De Imagerie co-founder Koen Bleuzé was looking to broaden the collective and its audiovisual production, so invited fellow film- maker Anne Reijniers and I to join the team last summer. During this period he, his founding partner Thijs Paijmans and I got talking and realised we all shared a strong desire not only to screen more films in Het Bos, but also to organise a film festival. Eventually, we decided to move from just talking about it to actually make it happen, and Visite – a multi-day film festival held twice a year in Het Bos and curated by Anne and myself – was born. We showcase little-known films and artists which we feel could, and should receive more attention in Antwerp, and even Belgium. We just held our second edition in February, and are already preparing ourselves for the upcoming festival in August.

We showcase little-known films and artists which we feel could, and should receive more attention in Antwerp, and even Belgium.

There are no rules for choosing the films – we screen what the team has seen, thoroughly enjoyed and found inspiring, and want to share with the public. There does tend to be some thematic threads running throughout Visite: a heavy focus on Belgian and female film-makers as well as a selection that leans towards the political, experimental, even documentary-esque. Call it hybrid cinema where you combine the personal with something more universal, a mix of experimental and documentary genres. Films which may have rotated heavily on the global film festival scene, but which are then unfortunately never to be shown or heard of again – at least not in Belgium. This, however, is merely a reflection of our personal preferences and membership at De Imagerie rather than any concerted and conscious curatorial decision. Having said that, aspects we do highlight in Visite are the inspirations and working processes involved in film-making. We invite all the directors to attend their own screening in order to be able to discuss their project, as well as ask them to bring along a film which they found inspirational for their project. As film-makers ourselves, it’s fascinating to understand exactly how and why the director could – and did – make such a magical film. As a result, all the selections are contemporary films, as the personal attendance of the directors is a key element to Visite. Another facet of our work is the fact that we’re very keen to welcome everyone at Visite as we’re conscious that our selection might be daunting and considered rather experimental and alternative. We are determined however to have more than just a niche audience of “high culture” lovers as we see Visite as more of a public tribute to film-makers and their working process, rather than having any sort of educational ambition.

Call it hybrid cinema where you combine the personal with something more universal, a mix of experimental and documentary genres.

Visite initially stemmed from a very simple yet strong love for cinema, as well as a desire to take on a new project. Since its beginnings though, it has evolved into something more than just a fun activity, and we hope to see Visite grow into a crucial alternative within the Belgian film festival scene.

hetbos.be/project/26