System_D: a Festival of Diversity and the City in Brussels

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Brussels is another country. Or so we often feel in the rest of Belgium. And yet it is the centre of our country, seen as the essence of Belgium when it comes to foreign attitudes towards the country. Cultural initiatives to reshape Brussels in the collective imagination, such as System_D, should be acknowledged and welcomed in a small country with such multicultural diversity.

On Friday 5 June 2015, the De Pianofabriek venue opened its doors to the public for the retrospective exhibition System_D: Shot in the Dark. System_D is a biennial film festival first held in 2012 for young emerging Brussels-based talent. It gives young artists the opportunity to show their Brussels, their view on the politics, culture and social life of a city they know in a way that differs from how most other people know it, and it gives its audience a new perspective on Brussels, through the eyes of its striking, talented and vibrant youth. A mix of all styles and genres, the films are made by non-professionals. In fact, one of the criteria for entering the festival and the competition is that artists have not had any professional training in filmmaking. This results in the breaking of boundaries and redefining the medium of film. Indeed, online social media platforms are some of these films’ most popular destinations, and often watched there more often than cinema movies or TV shows.

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System_D is an anglicised French expression (système D) that refers to the self-made attitude and pride in these young artists. They “cope”, they “get by”, without any institutional assistance, and with this essential freedom they change the game. These are not films interested in pleasing their audiences. What they aim to do is make us look in a new way. Not only at the city, or at its people, but also at the artform. What is art? This philosophical question is now more important than ever, and System_D engages wit hit in a playful, painful and serious way.

The exhibition and video-installation Shot in the Dark offers the audiences who have missed the previous two editions of the film festival a chance to engage with the films, photographs and their artists in a new setting. Black & white photographs capture the stunning beauty of the people and spaces in the capital city that outsiders never get to see. In the basement of the Pianofabriek, located in the bustling Saint-Gilles area in Brussels, the installation of multiple screens showing the films, catering for viewers with cushions and individual headphones, is complemented with a make-shift cinema, a bicycle-powered wall screen and a screening of the films in an ingenious loop.

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De Pianofabriek is one of 22 Flemish community centers in Brussels, located in the busteling Saint-Gilles. De Pianofabriek stands for openness and a refreshing urban cultural programme, always considering the diverse fabric of languages and cultures inherent in Brussels and Saint-Gilles.

In the first two editions, System_D the film festival was organised as a part of other film festivals, but it now has a more committed partner in Brussels, with KVS, the Brussels City Theatre. In the past, famous “Brusseleirs” Ish Ait Hamou, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah have been contributors with films or members of the jury, as well as Pitcho, Ronnie Ramirez and Dorothée van den Berghe. With these names attached to the System_D festival, but mostly through the accomplishments of the young artists themselves, the organisers aim to bring the films and other works of art out of the underground and into the limelight of the Brussels art scene. Being harboured by the KVS in a longer-term collaboration will no doubt contribute to the realisation of these ambitions.

To take part in the next edition of the film festival in the KVS, or to find out more about the exhibition, which runs until 24 July 2015, surf to the System_D website or to Pianofabriek.

Practical Information  

SYSTEM_D: Shot in the Dark
5 June 2015 – 24 July 2015
Opening hours: Mon thru Fri 10:00 – 20:00h | Sat & Sun 13:00 – 20:00h

Rue du Fortstraat 35
1060 Saint-Gilles / Sint-Gillis


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