National pride Koen De Bouw can finally take on his Mastership of the Ostend Film Festival. The Flemish actor already hosted the FFO Nights, but in January it is time for the real thing. As befits an FFO Master, De Bouw was given control over his own film route. He baptized his eclectic Master selection 'Going Mental' and wants to draw attention to the importance of mental health. From 21 January onwards, you can visit CC De Grote Post for a few of De Bouw's theatrical, poetic but above all comforting and healing cinema.
This year, Koen De Bouw already took on the role of host of the FFO Nights, but in January it is time for the real thing. He has chosen mental health as the theme for his selection, because this subject needs our attention, now more than ever.
I have named the theme that determines my film selection 'Going Mental'. Going Mental' can mean losing yourself completely in your passion, giving yourself completely. That can be a beautiful thing, but it is also important to take care of ourselves. During the period we are all going through right now, the importance of mental health cannot be ignored. Therefore, with this theme, I would like to highlight both sides.
Koen De Bouw has collected some theatrical, poetic but above all comforting and healing films. His selection spans several decades and includes classics such as Una giornata particolare (1977) and Der Himmel über Berlin (1987), but also more recent masterpieces such as Beautiful Boy (2018) by our own Felix van Groeningen.
I took the opportunity to include some of my personal favourites in the programme: films that have partly shaped me and that I would like to see again on the big screen. There are also a few films that I have not yet seen, but that I am looking forward to seeing very much. I have been working very hard these past years, and one of the consequences is of course that there is little time left for an evening at the cinema. The third part of my selection consists of films in which mental health is strongly represented, although I think this theme is woven into every good film.
"Last year, I had made a completely different selection: a look back at the time when I discovered cinema and the films that stayed with me from that time. But I have thrown that overboard this year. In view of the crisis we are going through, it seemed obvious to me that mental health should be highlighted.
We should certainly not underestimate the impact of the pandemic on people's mental health. For some people it undoubtedly feels like they have been waking up on another planet for over a year, the world has completely changed. On the other hand, I have the feeling that mental health remains underexposed even within health science. You would think that in recent months there would be enough evidence that more psychological support is needed, but still that change is not happening."
"My film selection consists of several parts. I used the opportunity to include some of my personal favourites in the programme: films that partly shaped me and that I would like to see again on the big screen. There are also a few films that I have not yet seen, but that I am looking forward to seeing very much. I have been working very hard in recent years, and one of the consequences is of course that there is little time left over for an evening at the cinema. I am first and foremost a maker, not a viewer. The third part of my selection consists of films in which mental health features heavily, although I think this theme is woven into every good film."
"As a theatre actor by training, I love films that could have been plays, such as Abel or Una Giornata Particolare. Both films have a main character who is cast out of society or who has never felt part of it. I think that theme is very relatable, which gives these films a healing power."
"His play Zie de mannen vallen was one of the first plays I ever saw on a stage when I was about 15 years old. That piece really blew me away. A few years later, when I was shooting my first feature film in Amsterdam, I went to see Abel in the cinema. Those were two very special moments, inextricably linked to Alex van Warmerdam's work. Moreover, Abel is about a young man who looks at the world in a very different way, which was recognisable to me - and undoubtedly to many people. These theatrical elements also work very well in the kind of cinema van Warmerdam makes. I am really in love with everything he does."
"Beautiful Boy has crushed me in all its poetic simplicity, in which unspeakable and invisible things become visible and sayable. This seemingly simple film that touches the heart of people has disappeared from the big screen far too quickly. I want to give people a chance to see it on the big screen after all.
Only art and love can keep us away from madness.
"I saw Ik schilder met schilders in De Studio in Antwerp: a great documentary about a great man. Adriaan Raemdonck is a gallery owner in Antwerp and I find the way he thinks about art and how he places art in the world very inspiring. Moreover, an art documentary could not be missing from my selection. Art is the only thing that can keep us away from madness."
Herwig [Ilegems] is a good mate and with Head to Head he has made a beautiful, still portrait. He experiences a meditative moment with different animals that is at the same time witty, contemplative and poetic. Theatre too often stays under the radar, so I thought it was important to give people a chance to see this project.
Abel (1986) by Alex van Warmerdam
Beautiful Boy (2018) by Felix van Groeningen
Der Himmel über Berlin (1987) by Wim Wenders
Head To Head (2020) by Herwig Ilegems
Ik schilder met schilders (2019) by Jacques Servaes
King Kong (1976) by John Guillermin
Spirited Away (2001) by Hayao Miyazaki
Una giornata particolare (1977) van Ettore Scola
The festival starts on Friday 21 January and ends on Saturday 29 January. The full programme will be announced on 14 December 2021.
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