Category Archives: Research & publications

Claus’ De Vijanden (1967)

I published an article on Hugo Claus’ first feature film, The Enemies (De Vijanden, 1967). You can read it here (in Dutch).

Naar aanleiding van het tienjarig overlijden van Hugo Claus (1929-2008) vinden er dit jaar heel wat evenementen plaats, zoals de tentoonstellingen in het Letterenhuis (Antwerpen) of in de BOZAR (Brussel). Het literair-historisch tijdschrift Zacht Lawijd wijdde een extra dik nummer aan Hugo Claus, waarbij men twaalf auteurs uitnodigde om met het rijke Clausarchief van het Letterenhuis aan de slag te gaan. Zelf deed ik een onderzoek naar de totstandkoming van Claus’ eerste langspeelfilm, De Vijanden (1967). Het artikel, getiteld Hugo Claus, de snelste en goedkoopste filmer van Europa, kan je hier lezen.

Affiche De vijanden

Affiche De Vijanden

Het artikel gaat in op hoe Claus tot dan toe als schrijver gewend was aan een grote mate van artistieke controle. Ook voor De vijanden was hij als initiator, scenarist en regisseur de belangrijkste spil. Eigen aan het filmmedium, was er echter ook een aanzienlijk deel van het creatieproces dat hij niet zelf in handen had. In combinatie met zijn gebrek aan ervaring als filmmaker betekende De vijanden daardoor een sprong in het onbekende. Het inzoomen op de totstandkoming van deze film en op de filmopvattingen van de debuterende cineast verschaffen – naast een blik op de werkwijze van Claus – inzicht in een bepalende periode voor de Vlaamse filmgeschiedenis en in de start van de officiële Belgisch-Nederlandse filmsamenwerking.

Top-Hit Girl & Het Dwaallicht

Scroll down for English version.

Brood en Rozen

Publicatie in Brood & Rozen

Het tijdschrift Brood & Rozen publiceerde zonet mijn onderzoek naar Top-Hit Girl, een nooit gerealiseerde communautaire satire van Frans Buyens, die het maatschappijkritische filmproject aan het begin van de jaren 1970 inruilde voor de Elsschotverfilming Het Dwaallicht. Je kan het volledige artikel hier lezen.

Het artikel onthult een Vlaams-ideologisch gekleurde doofpotoperatie uit de geschiedenis van het film- en cultuurbeleid. Oorspronkelijk had Frans Buyens van de ministeriële filmcommissie in 1970 een positief subsidie-advies gekregen voor Top-Hit Girl, een satire over de Vlaams-Waalse verhoudingen in België met referenties naar o.a. Leuven Vlaams. Maar een film die de communautaire kwestie in het belachelijke zou trekken zag toenmalig minister van Cultuur Frans van Mechelen (CVP) niet zitten. Hij weigerde het project te honoreren. Om zo weinig mogelijk ruchtbaarheid te geven aan zijn controversiële beslissing, paaide de minister Buyens door hem met voorrang een ander filmonderwerp te laten kiezen, liefst een literatuuradaptatie. Ondanks zijn non-conformistische reputatie liet Buyens zijn maatschappijkritisch project onmiddellijk varen om Willem Elsschots Het Dwaallicht te realiseren (de film verscheen in 1973). De ministeriële doofpotoperatie bleek geslaagd: Buyens was bijzonder spaarzaam met commentaar over de hele affaire.

Synopsis Top-Hit Girl

Uit de synopsis van Top-Hit Girl

Over de politiek en communautair geladen ontstaansgeschiedenis van Het Dwaallicht wisten we tot nog toe zo goed als niets. Dit artikel maakt dan ook de eerste nauwgezette analyse van de perikelen rond Top-Hit Girl en Het Dwaallicht. De rol van politieke en Vlaams-ideologische factoren binnen de filmproductie en -verspreiding in het Vlaanderen van de jaren 1970 staat centraal. Tegelijk laat het artikel een nieuw licht schijnen op Buyens’ bijna mythische reputatie als eigenzinnige en compromisloze filmmaker.

Affiche voor Het Dwaallicht

Affiche voor Het Dwaallicht

My research on Top-Hit Girl and Will-O’-the Wisp, two film projects of Frans Buyens, has now been published. You can read the English version on CLCWeb here. In 1970, Buyens received a positive funding recommendation for Top-Hit Girl, a satire about community difficulties in Belgium. However, Minister of Culture Frans van Mechelen refused to support the project because it conflicted with his pro-Flemish views. The minister successfully swept this controversial decision under the rug by offering Buyens the option to trade his socially critical project for a film adaptation of Willem Elsschot’s novel Will-O’-the Wisp. Political maneuvers thus ensured that a satirical treatment of Belgian community difficulties in cinema was suppressed. Flemish cinema was instead directed towards adapting literary classics, thereby confirming the national culture instead of critically investigating it.

Boek ‘Subsidie, camera, actie!’ open access

My book on the history of Flemish film policy, ‘Subsidie, camera, actie! Filmbeleid in Vlaanderen (1964-2002)’ (in Dutch only), is now made open access. You can download it here.

Mijn boek Subsidie, camera, actie! Filmbeleid in Vlaanderen (1964-2002), dat in oktober 2017 verscheen, is vanaf heden open access beschikbaar. Je kunt het boek hier gratis downloaden. Het boek biedt een historische analyse van het Vlaamse filmbeleid tussen 1964 en 2002, met bijzondere aandacht voor de relatie tussen film, overheidsbeleid en Vlaamse identiteitsvorming.

cover boek

 

 

Young Scholar Award

Thursday evening, I was awarded the NeFCA Young Scholar Award! The biannual Young Scholar Award is an initiative of the Netherlands Flanders Communication Association (NeFCA) and honours the accomplishments of young doctors who “succeed in combining their individual academic career with contributions to the discipline of communication and media research”. The award ceremony took place at the Etmaal van de Communicatiewetenschap, this year organized at Ghent University by Stijn Joye and his team.

NeFCA award

Chair of the jury Tonny Krijnen (EUR) handing over the award

Report on Film policy symposium

In June 2017, I was invited by John Hill (Royal Holloway, University of London), Nobuko Kawashima (Doshisha University and Tokyo University, Japan) and Paul McDonald (King’s College London) to attend the symposium ‘Film Policies in Transition: Globalization, Digitization, Protectionism’ at King’s College in London. I wrote a report on this symposium, which is now published in Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media. You can download the report here.

Alphaville

After the publication of the edited book Reconceptualising Film Policies, this symposium, which was related to a special issue of the International Journal of Cultural Policy on film policy, is further evidence for the fact that the long neglected field of film policy studies is currently burgeoning …

Publication on film policy and media convergence

For the first time since Albert Moran’s 1996 volume Film policy, a new edited volume focusing on film policy has been published. Reconceptualising film policies (Routledge) is edited by French scholars Nolwenn Mingant (Université de Nantes) and Cecilia Tirtaine (Université Paris III – Sorbonne Nouvelle) and features a chapter that I wrote together with my PhD and postdoc supervisors Daniël Biltereyst, Philippe Meers and Roel Vande Winkel. The chapter is titled From film policy to creative screen policies and focuses on media convergence and film policy trends in Flanders. You can read the full chapter here.

Book cover reconceptualising film policies

The article starts from the observation that in recent years, digitization processes and media convergence trends have changed the film industry in various ways. Scholars have indicated various alterations in the aesthetics, production, distribution, exhibition and reception of films, thereby pointing at new technological possibilities and challenges, an increasing participatory cinema culture, changes in the broader creative and economic strategies of film and media companies and an overall convergence between film and other media. The expansion of film industry activities from film to various other media has a long history. Media convergence trends, however, have recently intensified this expansion. In a European context, the role of film policy is particularly relevant in this respect, as film policy forms a crucial cornerstone for the organization of European film industries.

By focusing on recent developments in Flanders (the northern, Dutch-language region in Belgium), this case study examines how, in tune with digitization and media convergence processes, government film policy in Europe has increasingly expanded its scope. More specifically, we analyse how film policy has evolved from a focus on the production of films into a more complex set of policy measures towards ‘creative screen media’ production. With this case study, we argue that contemporary film policy should be seen within the broader media environment and media policies, which are characterized by the growth of a conceptual and practical convergence between various (old and new) media, information and communication technologies and creative arts. This transition process is not ‘new’ as such, but has remarkably intensified since the turn of the millennium. Indeed, the evolution from film policy to broader creative screens policies runs parallel with and is connected to a more general shift in government policy (in Flanders and elsewhere), from a ‘cultural’ to a ‘creative’ industries policy paradigm.

Remaking European Cinema

I’m excited to announce the international symposium ‘Remaking European Cinema’! I’m organizing this symposium together with my colleagues Eduard Cuelenaere and Stijn Joye at Ghent University on 1 June 2018. See the symposium website for more information. I copy the call for papers below.

Remaking European Cinema

 A symposium on the theory and practice of the film remake in a European context

1 June 2018, Ghent University, Belgium

Confirmed keynote speakers:
– Professor Thomas Leitch, University of Delaware
– Professor Lucy Mazdon, University of Southampton
– Dr. Iain R. Smith, King’s College London

The film remake, whether as a practice or a concept, has been around since the very beginnings of cinema. While the earliest studies of the remake provided general overviews trying to sketch patterns and localize differing practices, this was followed by substantial attempts to define the remake as both a textual and cultural artefact and as a commercial business. Building on adaptation theories, scholars eventually pinpointed the intertextual properties that are inherent to (the relationship between) a source film and its remake(s). These evolutions in the research field spurred the idea of the remake as a kind of prism, which can be used to examine a variety of aesthetic, cultural, economic and social questions. For quite some time, most studies in the field were confined to the Hollywood practice of remaking non-Hollywood films, or, vice versa, non-Hollywood film industries remaking Hollywood films.

More recently, attempts are being made to look beyond Hollywood, inquiring into other nations or regions that, for example, remake their own films or the films of neighbouring countries. Notwithstanding these promising evolutions, there is still a lack of sustained research analysing the specific context(s) of European cinema. As a continent, Europe is known for its fragmentation and diversity due to the multitude of different languages and cultures existing next to and through each other within a relatively small geographical area. Although attempts to pinpoint the characteristics of European cinema are always questionable given that ‘Europe’ is as much a social, contingent and dynamic construction as other geopolitical entities, various cultural, economic and political dynamics grant the concept of European cinema analytical value. Accordingly, the purpose of the symposium is to bring together scholars with expertise in the currently vibrant field of remake studies for a discussion of the dynamics and particularities of the film remake in a European context.

Potential subjects to be addressed include, but are not limited to:

  • Historical and contemporary approaches to film remakes in Europe
  • The industrial, financial and production-related dynamics of European remake practices
  • (Regional, national and transnational) public film policies towards remakes
  • Cultural aspects of the European film remake (banal nationalism, cross-cultural comparison, cultural proximity, cultural identity …)
  • Textual aspects of the European film remake (narration, aesthetics …)
  • The distribution, programming, exhibition and reception of European remakes
  • Remakes within European national/regional cinemas (including Western, Northern, Southern, and Central and Eastern European cinemas)
  • Transnational or cross-cultural European remakes
  • European art cinema remakes
  • European popular cinema remakes
  • European remakes of non-European films
  • The European remake and theories of intertextuality, genre, seriality, repetition …
  • European remakes and questions of adaptation, ‘originality’, authenticity, authorship, ownership, copyright …

Paper proposals should include the title of the presentation, a 300-word abstract, and a short autobiographical statement.

Submission deadline: March 10th 2018.
Proposal acceptance notification: March 30th 2018.
Please send your proposals to: remakes@UGent.be

More information on the symposium website: www.remakingeurope.com

Following the symposium, authors of selected papers will be invited to contribute their work to an edited volume on this subject with an internationally renowned academic publisher and/or a special issue of an international academic journal.

This symposium is organized by Gertjan Willems, Eduard Cuelenaere and Stijn Joye, Centre for Cinema and Media Studies (CIMS) at Ghent University. The symposium is funded by the FWO research project ‘Lost in Translation? A multi-methodological research project on same-language film remakes between Flanders and The Netherlands’ and sponsored by the Film Studies section of ECREA and the Popular Communication division of NeFCA.