PARIS — Belgium’s Ramdam Film Festival, an annual showcase of politically- and socially-engaged movies, has been cancelled due to threats of a terrorist attack.
The one-week Ramdam fest kicked off as planned Jan. 20 but had to be shut down yesterday as the main venue, the Imagix theater, located in the French-speaking town of Tournai, was being targeted by terrorists, according to reports.
The fest, whose mandate is to “challenge” audiences with thought-provoking films, had secured a solid lineup, headlined by “Timbuktu” (pictured above), Abderrahmane Sissako’s Oscar-nominated film about Malians fighting the oppressive and barbarian occupation of Jihadists, and Andreas Rocksén’s “The Essence Of Terror,” a controversial documentary about the two Swedish journalists who were shot, captured and sentenced to 11 years in prison in Ethiopia.
“Since its creation in 2011, the Ramdam festival has given a voice to diverse cultural sensibilities and has promoted values of openness, dialogue, tolerance, freedom and exchange,” said the festival, addressing the cancellation. “(Ramdam)’s success and ever-growing participation underscore how much we care about our freedom of expression.”
Europe has been on heightened security alert since the shootings at French mag Charlie Hebdo and the Kosher supermarket, which killed 17 people in Paris. Threats of further assaults are still looming and Belgium has been on the radar of counter-terrorism investigators. On Jan. 15, police and Special Forces raided a local jihadist cell in Verviers, a town in Belgium, suspected to be on the verge of perpetrating an attack. Two gunmen were killed in the raid, one of various anti-terrorist operations undertaken throughout Belgium since Jan. 15. In total 13 people suspected to be linked to the Paris attacks have been arrested in the country.