This month, CINEMATEK (the Belgian Royal Film Archive) pays tribute to Charles Dekeukeleire (1905-1971), one of Belgium’s most important filmmakers. Especially his avant-gardist films from the late 1920s, such as Impatience (1928) and Histoire de détective (1929), are (justly!) considered as masterpieces of experimental cinema. See, for example, Kristin Thompson’s excellent analysis of these films. But while Thompson is less enthusiastic about Dekeukeleire’s later work, I find films such as Witte vlam (1930), Visions de Lourdes (1932), Thèmes d’inspiration (1938) and the underrated Het kwade oog (1937 – on which I have been working, see here) equally interesting.
Next to a film programme focusing on Dekeukeleire’s work and its film historical links, CINEMATEK hosts an attractive exhibition curated by Mathilde Lejeune (Université Lille 3), who also gave a lecture on her ongoing research on Dekeukeleire’s life and work. For the exhibition, she made an insightful selection out of CINEMATEK’s rich archival holdings on Dekeukeleire: film stills, scripts, publicity material, reviews, certificates, letters, and, above all, Dekeukeleire’s intriguing little notebooks. Lejeune introduces the exhibition in this video.
Definitely worth a visit for anyone interested in the history of Belgian cinema, experimental and documentary cinema! The exhibition is on display until 28 April.
Last Friday, I participated in a seminar on Herman Teirlinck, one of the protagonists of Flemish cultural life in the first half of the 20th century. He’s most famous for his literary works, his innovations in theater and, after the Second World War, for establishing ‘De Studio’, a drama workshop that educated various generations of actors. I presented a study on the only film in which Teirlinck was involved, the remarkable The Evil Eye (1937, Het Kwade Oog, dir. Charles Dekeukeleire).
Niets bestaat vóór het spel, by Toon Brouwers
The seminar was organized by the University of Antwerp (the Research Center for Visual Poetics, my colleagues from last year), the Conservatory and the Royal Academy for Fine Arts Antwerp, to celebrate a new book by Toon Brouwers, on Teirlinck’s ‘De Studio’, its importance for theater education and its evolution until the 1990s.
This morning, I participated in an exciting ‘audio workshop’ organized by the Study Centre for Experimental Literature (Ghent University & Vrije Universiteit Brussel). After some fascinating introductory reflections by the organizers on the historical context of radio dramas in Flanders, the Netherlands and Germany, and their theoretical and analytical possibilities in the light of ‘transmediality’, four speakers approached one or more radio dramas from a different angle. Janine Hauthal (VUB) talked about Samuel Beckett’s Cascando from a drama perspective, thereby including some critical gender-related observations (why are the roles in Cascando always interpreted by men, while Beckett doesn’t prescribe any sex to the characters? Is it really only because of a dominant – and restricting – autobiographical reading?). Luk Vaes (Orpheus Institute) offered a musicology perspective on the ‘radio dramas’ by the fascinating composer Mauricio Kagel.
Lars Bernaerts (Ghent University) shared his insights on the practice of novel-to-radio drama adaptations, taking Terug tot Ina Damman, based on Simon Vestdijk’s novel, as a starting point to talk about how literary conventions are taken over and slightly adapted, while the multi-modal possibilities of the radio drama medium itself are also at play. In my own talk, I also focused on a literary adaptation: how the theatre play De Vertraagde Film (1922), by the Flemish writer Herman Teirlinck, was made into a radio drama by the same name in 1967. The transmedia-perspective was enriched as there was also made a film based on De Vertraagde Film in 1937, Het Kwade Oog, by Charles Dekeukeleire in co-operation with Teirlinck himself. This transmedia perspective was follow by some institutional considerations, as the radio drama was made by the public service broadcaster BRT to pay tribute to Herman Teirlinck, who had just passed away. As I’m invited to give a talk on Teirlinck’s relation to film during a study day in February, I’m looking forward to work further on this material!