Brussels, Head of the Brussels Liaison Office, Vice President Government Relations
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The UFA film nights were once again very well received in Brussels this year. Hosted by Bertelsmann and the UFA film production company, the silent film festival visited the Belgian capital, where it has become established as a highlight in the city’s cultural calendar, for the fourth time.
As in previous years, the screenings were held on three evenings at the Palais de Beaux-Arts (Bozar) event center. Brussels was the second host city for the UFA Film Nights 2016; the festival had already cast its spell over audiences on Berlin’s Museum Island in late August.
The UFA Film Nights concept was once again an attention magnet in Brussels. On three consecutive evenings, masterpieces of the silent era were presented on the big screen, accompanied by live music on a stage. The preceding reception at the Palais de Beaux-Arts, attended by around 400 guests from politics, business and the cultural scene, showed how great the interest in this unusual cultural event has become. Some 1,500 visitors then watched the opening feature, Fritz Lang’s 1921 film “Der müde Tod” (“Destiny”). The silent classic was digitally restored by the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation with significant support from Bertelsmann. The new version of the masterpiece had celebrated its premiere at this year's Berlinale. Its new film music is by the German composer Cornelius Schwehr, was performed by the Symphony Orchestra of the Brussels Philharmonic and conducted by Timothy Brock. The performance rang in the new season at Bozar.
The UFA Film Nights entered the second round the following night with the screen adaptation of a literary classic: “Faust,” Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau’s silent film based on the famous drama penned by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The movie, which premiered in 1926, tells the story of the scholar Faust, who is led into temptation by the devil himself, Mephisto. Live musical accompaniment for the two-hour work was provided by the American DJ Spooky, who has worked with the likes of Brian Eno, Yoko Ono and the Kronos Quartet.
The finale of the UFA Film Nights in Brussels featured a real treasure of silent film history: “The Adventures of Prince Achmed” from 1926 is the world's oldest surviving animated film. Director Lotte Reiniger brought the "Arabian Nights"-style fairy tale to life with an elaborate technique using silhouettes. After its restoration, the family-friendly movie’s powerful images and colors are even more impressive. Thanks to the three musicians of “Trioglycerin,” who had already accompanied the UFA Film Nights in Berlin, the movie was an acoustical experience as well.
The enthusiastic responses of the many visitors in Brussels on all three days are a sure indication that the silent film genre has lost none of its fascination, even in the 21st century.