Flanders succumbs to EU summit

Fest a success but Americans stay home

GHENT, Belgium — The Flanders Intl. Film Festival ended on an abrupt note Oct. 18, with the fest’s closing concert performance coming a night earlier than usual because Ghent was playing host to a summit of the European Union’s leaders the next day.

With more than just globalization protesters to worry about after the Sept. 11 attacks, security was both draw-string tight and highly visible, so much so that industryites attending the fest’s 28th outing were effectively evacuated from the city first thing the next morning.

That, however, failed to dampen spirits at the fest-closing, and inaugural, World Soundtrack Awards, despite a number of no shows from Americans unwilling to cross the Atlantic.

John Williams, who stayed in the U.S., was feted with best soundtrack composer of the year for his work on “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.”

Elmer Bernstein, who was to conduct the National Orchestra of Belgium playing highlights from his career — such as the theme from “Magnificent Seven” — accepted his lifetime achievement award via video from his home in Santa Monica. Conductor Dirk Brosse filled in.

But on hand to lead the orchestra performing his music was Paris-based composer Gabriel Yared (“The English Patient,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “Betty Blue”).

The Flanders fest is uniquely big on celebrating film music.

The fest, of course, also has a regular film competition. This year’s grand prix winner was Zacharias Kunuk’s “Atanarjuat … The Fast Runner.”

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