The Leuven Hundreds

Portraits of a city's people, today

We’ve joined forces with Leuven to highlight 100 local people, places and projects that contribute towards making the city what it is today. From artists and architects to producers and professors, these are the driving forces powering Leuven forward one ingenious initiative at a time.

Cecilia Verheyden

Cecilia Verheyden

Freelance director / Founder, Studio Bodart (1985)

Can you describe what you do?

I work as a freelance director – you can find some of my work in cinema, TV and online. Behind the Clouds, my first feature film, was released in 2016, and since then I’ve been working on a couple of new stories. In the meantime I shoot commercials, TV programs and music videos. I am also the owner of the co-working space Studio Bodart: based in my house here in Leuven, it’s a place where creative freelancers can work together and meet clients, amongst other things.

How do you perceive Leuven?

Leuven is a small and cosy city, with literally everything I need: great bars and restaurants, a good cinema, a lot of cultural activities and nice shops. I enjoy living here because I have a pretty chaotic lifestyle, so it feels great to come home to a city that I know so well. Leuven is also steadily evolving, and I like seeing the city change. There are now many who are determined on turning Leuven into a cultural, vibrant, and open-minded city. I just hope our politicians will give them the chance to bring their ideas to live. I also like the fact that Leuven wants to be a green city – it’s going to be a bumpy ride till we reach that goal, so I hope we don’t give up.

How has Leuven contributed to making you who you are today? What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?

It wasn’t so much Leuven as a city that helped me to get me where I am now, but rather the people who live and work in the local cultural field. I think it’s important for the City to be more open and welcoming to artists and creative folks. For instance, I would love to be able to shoot commercials and movies in my own city, but it’s too difficult to obtain the necessary permissions, so I – like so many other producers – end up going to other cities like Antwerp and Ghent, where they are very welcoming of film crews. It’s such a pity, because there are so many beautiful locations to shoot here.

Sometimes Leuven is too quiet, and could do with some chaos.

On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city? What could it do better?

I think a city can never be too perfect, otherwise you’re actually taking away a lot of its energy, spontaneity and life. Sometimes Leuven is too quiet, and could do with some chaos.  I think we need to have more places where people can experiment and try out things, without it being so expensive. I also think that a city like Leuven needs to be aware of who exactly their local creatives are, bring them together and create collective strategies to make Leuven a social, cultural, green and welcoming city. It’s not always necessary to start everything with politics.

To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Leuven?

Have breakfast in Bar Stan on a Saturday, pay a visit to M-Museum and head to Cinema ZED for a good movie in the evening. On a Sunday, go to the area around the Vaartkom, chill out in their new park Sluispark and enjoy an apéro there.