Courtisane Festival

The 2019 Courtisane Festival is upon us, taking place in Ghent from 3 to 7 April. The programmers of this festival have chosen to select films that have been largely invisible for decades, to show their power in a new day and age. One of the programmers, Stoffel Debuysere, shares more about the wonderful discoveries that are awaiting you.

Written by Stoffel Debuysere

There’s a quote I like by Raúl Ruiz, a filmmaker who has a prominent place in the programme of Courtisane Festival 2019: ‘In true travel what matters are the magical accidents, the discoveries, the inexplicable wonders and the wasted time.’ I guess the search for such moments of ‘true travel’ is what keeps us ongoing in our endeavours. In preparation for this festival, I was lucky enough to experience some of these magical moments, in particular while working on a programme we’re dedicating to manifestations of African-American independent filmmaking that have emerged from the East Coast of the US.

Most – if not all – of the films in this programme have been largely invisible for decades. Some of the most striking discoveries we made are works by filmmakers whose careers were regrettably short-lived. I’m thinking of Fronza Woods’s sensitive portrayals of everyday struggle and resolve, in particular Fannie’s Film (1979), which portrays the working day of 65-year-old Fannie Drayton, a cleaning woman for a professional dance studio. I also have in mind Edward Owens’ strikingly beautiful films of heartbreak, queer desire, and his own family, including Remembrance: A Portrait Study (1967), a filmic portrait of the artist’s mother and her friends.

Despite limited resources and distribution, these filmmakers were able to develop a distinct style to give visibility to lives that are so often ignored, while apprehending them in their absolute singularity. The bewilderment of discovering the tremendous force immanent to these and so many other films is precisely why we are keen to share them with you.

Courtisane Festival
3-7 April – Ghent