Youth Film Festival Antwerp creates Inflatable Festival Village

The Antwerp Youth Film Festival (formerly known as JEF festival) comes up with something new every year, while preserving previous successes. A classic festival highlight was the ‘Experiential Screenings’ and for the first time the event had a ‘festival square’ with an inflatable cinema and game arena.



In the experiential screenings, the audience is encouraged to be actively involved with the film. Implementing that concept on DANCING QUEEN included plenty of dancing, but also the ringing of bicycle bells! Elfi De Vos: “In the past, we opted for a ‘Bingo concept’, which we expanded this year with a broader concept that is popular with certain adult films – like the audience shouting along with scenes and dialogues in THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. We came up with a number of extra elements for DANCING QUEEN: whenever a bicycle appeared on screen, you should ring a bell. For emotional scenes, boxes of tissues were passed around, while a manual taught you some basic dance moves. It was never a quiet screening, but the experience was complete.


Together with Cinekid, the Antwerp Youth Film Festival had an inflatable cinema built after the Portuguese model that intensively toured festivals. This year it was combined with a game arena – just as inflatable! – in which young visitors were challenged to play games and compete against each other, loudly encouraged by a commentator. This way, gaming becomes a tangible and visible component of the festival; just as much as watching movies, it is no longer an individual but a shared experience. The result of so much inflatable film fun looked like a real inflatable festival village – or at least a square – increasing the visibility of the event in the street scene.



Awards were handed out, including the first ECFA Awards of the year, in all three categories. Since the festival takes place simultaneously with the Berlinale (where the overall ECFA Awards are celebrated), it isn’t surprising that the winner in Antwerp was the same as in Berlin. This is how CHICKEN FOR LINDA (by Sebastian & Chiara Malta, France) ends up on the shortlist again. “The visual style is so different from what we had seen before. The theme of mourning is depicted in a warm way.

The ECFA Doc Award went to US, BOYS (by Charlotte Coeman & Arne Brown, Belgium), about a boy confronted with different perceptions of manhood. “Elements like father-son relationships and masculinity are themes that really need to be explored.” The ECFA Short Award went to CRAB (by Piotr Chmielewski, Poland).


The ECFA Jury were Mitsuo Tahira (KINEKO, Japan), Helena Maarja Tarro (Just Film, Estonia), Sarah Kasmi (Belgian director) and Sarah Van Dale (Belgian director; EXTRAORDINARY MONA).