What’s on: The stars come out in Ostend for annual film festival

Summary

The coast’s big film festival tops our picks this week, while the capital city hosts its biggest beer bash of the year

Ostend Film Festival

While the summer holidays might be over, there are still excellent reasons to go to the beach. This film festival – with its walk of fame, special guests and emphasis on local cinema – is certainly one of them.

Check out opening film The Best of Dorien B, which also repeats during the festival’s nine-day programme. The comedy-drama (pictured) is about a 30-something who “has it all” until several bumps in the road come at the same time, making her question whether she’s living the life she actually wanted. The debut from Flemish casting director Anke Blondé, Dorien B is getting solid reviews since debuting at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June. Ostend’s most famous international guest, meanwhile, is Monica Bellucci (The Matrix Reloaded & Revolutions), one of Italy’s most prolific actors, in town to present her new thriller Spider in the Web. The festival also includes screenings in locals bars, the Ensor Awards for Flemish cinema and horror films on Friday the 13th. 6-14 September, Kinepolis and other venues in Ostend

Het Theaterfestival

After 15 years alternating between Brussels and Antwerp, Het Theaterfestival is returning to the capital of East Flanders. The 15 Dutch-language productions were selected by theatre critics, all of them having premiered in Flanders or the Netherlands over the last 12 months. The mission: To bring the public’s attention to the productions that generated the most talk and all-around praise, whether through innovation or social and political impact. While some shows are sold out, there are still tickets for some intriguing titles, such as A Seat at the Table, a confrontational look at a group of actors’ own experience with everyday racism and exclusion, and True Copy, a one-man show about Geert Jan Jansen, one of Europe’s most famous living art forgers – played by the man himself. (In Dutch) 5-15 September, across Ghent

The Pilgrim’s Way

As early as two years after the end of the First World War, people were looking to visit Flanders Fields to make sense of it all. Maybe they had lost a son in the mud or maybe they had fought there themselves and were trying to make peace with a harrowing experience. Whatever the reason, the Talbot House in Poperinge – a home away from home for British soldiers during the war – were ready to help. It published The Pilgrim’s Guide to the Ypres Salient, which included practical information about battle sites, cemeteries and accommodation, but also stories from the front. The exhibition The Pilgrim’s Way is based on the book and contains a wealth of anecdotes and photographs of these early war “tourists”. Until 15 December, Talbot House, Gasthuisstraat 43, Poperinge

Belgian Beer Weekend

The annual Belgian Beer Weekend is awesome for all kinds of reasons. A pomp and circumstance ceremony like no other – limited to invited guests – kicks things off on Friday. Fully costumed guards form a procession to take a barrel of beer to the Saint Michael and Saint Gudula Cathedral, where it is blessed by an actual priest. This is in celebration of Arnold of Soissons, the patron saint of brewers. The barrel is then marched back to Grote Markt for the solemn inauguration of the beer stands by the Master of the Knighthood of the Brewers’ Paddle, along with Brussels-City mayor and city councillors. And then – finally – you can start tasting beer. More than 50 Belgian breweries take part, from the major to the tiny, including the Sint-Sixtus monks with their world-renowned Westvleteren. 6-8 September, Grote Markt

Photo credits, from top: Courtesy A Private View, ©Koen Broos/Berlin, Courtesy Talbot House/Facebook, ©Lander Loeckx/Belgian Brewers