A Belgian village stages a nature-themed film festival at two historic sites.
Story by Kasey Jackson • Photos by Fien De Geyter
Tucked in the heart of the rolling hills of the Flemish Ardennes in the province of East Flanders, Belgium, a group of Kiwanians is busy with last-minute preparations before several hundred guests arrive. Everything is coming together for a very special three-day film event these volunteers have been planning for more than a year.
Blikveld was born out of enthusiasm for film and love for the nature of the area, says Hans ’t Kindt, event chair and a member of the Kiwanis Club of Universus Oudenaarde. The films were chosen for a reason: people and nature merging in unique locations.
“Blikveld shows eight large and small classics for young and old,” ‘t Kindt says. “Stories about past and present, friendship and love, encounters and farewells. Films that derive their character from this unique landscape: undulating emotions, sweet or threatening, vulnerable but overwhelming.”
Two locations were chosen for the screenings: The Marca, a cultural event space located in the former St. Eligius Church of the district of Maarke; and Saint Vincent Chapel, which dates back to the 12th century. The spaces are located within an easy 10-minute walk of one another.
“When we started working on Blikveld, we wanted to do something new and different that would surprise the people in our region,” ’t Kindt says. “Kiwanis Universus has a tradition of trying to surprise people with new ideas and projects. In past years, we made our own 600 bottles of Limoncello and organized a party in an old factory. Since we live in a region without cinemas nearby, we started thinking of a film festival in beautiful historic locations which would add something to the selected movies.”
The event, which included two after-parties and Sunday brunch, was a success, with more than 700 people of all ages in attendance. Proceeds support four local partnerships and national and international social projects focusing on children, including The Eliminate Project and Happy Child, a European project created in response to the refugee crisis in Syria.
But the project did more than raise money for future Kiwanis projects. It brought the club closer together.
“I am very proud that as a club we worked together on Blikveld,” ’t Kindt says. “We showed respect for each other and worked in a positive vibe. That is what I’m really proud of. Friendship is one of the values we share in Kiwanis. We were friends before Blikveld and our friendships became stronger.”
Try for yourself
Is your club ready to tackle something new? Blikveld Chairman Hans ’t Kindt, member of the Kiwanis Club of Universus Oudenaarde, offers some advice for Kiwanis clubs that want to stage a similar film project:
- Start early. Blikveld took more than a year to plan.
- Be ready for resistance. Club members will be worried and have doubts. Be prepared to ease those fears.
- Form a subcommittee of members dedicated to the project.
- Secure sponsors. Blikveld sponsors included everything from Porsche Carrera Motors to shoe company Safety Jogger. In all, the film festival had more than 35 sponsors.
- Seek support from the community. The mayor and his team from local community Maarkedal showed strong support in Blikveld, ’t Kindt says.
This story originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Kiwanis magazine.