In the Ghent cultural/economic/housing site Zebrastraat, there’s an exposition on the Belgian animation film pioneer Raoul Servais (until 8 November). Born in 1928, Raoul Servais is an autodidact whose work is mostly characterized by a moral or political message, as is clearly exemplified by his international breakthrough film Chromophobia (1965). Concerning his style, he is often inspired by other Belgian artists, such as Constant Permeke for Pegasus (1973), or Paul Delvaux for my favorite Servais film, Nachtvlinders/Papillons de nuit (1997).In 1979, he was the first Belgian filmmaker to win a Golden Palm in Cannes, for his short surrealist film Harpya, in which he combines animation and live action techniques.
When I interviewed Servais a few years ago for my research, I would not have guessed that the now 87-year-old filmmaker would still release any new films. Nevertheless, his new film Tank had the honor to open the Film Fest Gent and is now playing continuously at the exposition. It is shown in a claustrophobic cellar of the Zebrastraat site, which fits perfectly with the theme of this World War I film, inspired by the poem Le Tank of the French pacifist poet Pierre-Jean Jouve.