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The closing of cinemas and culture houses in our country is giving the organisers of Ostend Film Festival (FFO) the necessary headaches. Normally, the first winter edition would take place from 15 to 23 January 2021. The lack of clarity about the reopening of the festival locations inspires Ostend Film Festival to come up with a new concept: FFO Nights 2021. A resolute choice for an extensive annual operation and a spread of the 2021 festival edition throughout the year instead of a nine-day festival in January. Red Sandra, the film by Lien Willaert and Jan Verheyen that was scheduled to open the festival on 15 January, will be one of the highlights during FFO Nights. The presentation of De Jamies on 22 January and De Ensors on 23 January will take place.

During the past months, Ostend Film Festival was forced to work on a hybrid edition, in which a number of online films would support an offline festival with limited auditorium capacity. The uncertainty about a timely reopening of the festival locations (Kinepolis Ostend, CC De Grote Post, Kursaal Ostend) is now throwing a spanner in the works. Another track with a full online programme was soon abandoned, as this is not in keeping with the inclusive, public-friendly and atmospheric character of the festival. That's why the FFO team came up with a new concept for its 2021 festival edition. 

FFO Nights: a new concept

No nine days in January, but a festival all year round, when it is possible and when it is allowed. Ostend Film Festival will spread and adapt its activities in function of the Belgian film releases and the corona measures. Red Sandra, the film by Lien Willaert and Jan Verheyen that was set to open the festival on 15 January, will be one of the highlights. With this new formula, Ostend Film Festival wants to help the Belgian filmmakers, film distributors and cinemas to start up again after this difficult corona period with one clear message: Go back to the cinema and support our local talent! 

Streaming to the whole of Flanders

As the name FFO Nights suggests, the Ostend Film Festival will organise a glamorous film evening with especially a lot of attention for Flemish films and home-grown talent. For these FFO Nights, the festival mainly aims at Saturdays with as main event a pre-première of a Flemish film in the presence of cast & crew. All Flemish cinemas can subscribe to the streaming of the red carpet event, live from Kinepolis Ostend, and afterwards screen the film in pre-première. This gives all film lovers access to exclusive new content, and more importantly, an extra reason to go back to the nearest cinema. The date and programme for the first FFO Night will be announced at the beginning of 2021.

Peter Craeymeersch (Manager FFO):

“Since its foundation 14 years ago, the Ostend Film Festival has been the festival that supports home-grown talent. Now more than ever it is important that we are here to support our Belgian film sector. That is why we have devised a formula through which we can offer Flemish (co-)productions additional support in the release of their films. In addition to the producers and distributors, we also want to hearten all cinema operators in Flanders by making the FFO Nights available throughout Flanders.”

Extensive annual operation

Every FFO Night of course includes a supporting programme, which gives room to new film releases, Flemish series and industry events. The current annual programme of the Ostend Film Festival will also be given a facelift. Under the name Cinema Storck, FFO normally organises an arthouse programme a few days a week in Kinepolis Ostend. The current operation will be expanded with extra screenings and especially more events around new film releases and (cult) classics.

De Jamies & De Ensors will be held in January 2021

Of course, the festival in January will not disappear completely. The presentation of De Jamies (the Flemish online video awards) and De Ensors (the Flemish film awards) will then take place. Both presentations will be elaborated under alternative formats, in which the organisations aim to reach as wide a range as possible. On 22 January, De Jamies will be streamed online through various channels. The presentation of De Ensors on 23 January will be available on Canvas.

Mayor Bart Tommelein:

“Together with the organisers of the Ostend Film Festival, we hope that the corona situation will be normalised by the winter of 2022. From then on it is the intention that De Jamies and De Ensors will be the apotheosis of a renewed city festival and film festival for everyone, on the big screen, where films belong.”