Film Fest Gent: Jubilee year gets under way with screening of very first film

Film Fest Gent: Jubilee year gets under way with screening of very first film
A still image from der Handler de 4 Jahreszeiten. Credit: FFG

With the 50th edition of Film Fest Gent taking place in October, the film festival is starting the celebrations early with a screening of the first film ever presented at the event to be shown on Wednesday.

What was first named Ghent's First International Film Event opened on 25 January 1974 (49 years ago). The first film presented was 'der Händler der vier Jahreszeiten' (The Merchant of Four Seasons), by German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder. This will once again be screened on Wednesday at Ghent's Studio Skoop.

"Studio Skoop exists to provide the fullest possible overview of world film production in all its facets," the first festival guide read. "We hope, if there is enough interest, to repeat this festival annually in the future, improving and even expanding it."

The Festival's success is highlighted by its 50-year history.

Looking back, looking forward

The festival, which was renamed International Film Festival of Flanders in 1982 and in 2013 was shortened to Film Fest Gent, has been a fixture for film lovers for half a century, attracting some 100,000 visitors each year.

Despite the name changes, the essence of the festival has remained unchanged: "to offer a unique screening platform for the most challenging, surprising and haunting films of the moment."

While the occasion is the "ideal opportunity to look back on the festival's rich past" and celebrate what makes it a success, Marijke Vandebuerie, general director of Film Fest Gent stressed that it also wants to look towards the future.

"Our role as a festival in the international film landscape requires constant reflection and dedication to our mission: to disseminate film culture to a large and diverse audience. In 2023, expect lots of celebration, a new house style, and a critical questioning of (our role in) the ecosystem of the film industry."

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Additionally, Film Fest Gent will open up its rich festival history, making all screened festival films available online, with original synopses as published in the annual film catalogues at the time.

The festive screening of 'der Händler der vier Jahreszeiten' (original language, English subtitles) will take place on Wednesday 25 January at 20:00 at Studio Skoop in Ghent.

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