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Culture beat – December 26
City-centre theatre house La Bellone opens its doors over the festive period for the second edition of its seasonal mix of contemporary art, music and performance. Until January 3, La Bellonne fait le mur! invites visitors to explore the theme of hidden treasures via a guided tour of its myriad artistic disciplines. Reservations are only necessary for the children’s workshops.
New Year’s Eve in Brussels is now centred on Place de Brouckère after the city cancelled the traditional Mont des Arts firework display due to safety concerns. The party starts at 23.00 with DJs, sound and light shows and a clock counting down to a pyrotechnic show at the stroke of midnight The city says it will be a “magical and modern spectacle”. A new pedestrian plan is already in place in the city centre, so avoid traffic congestion and use public transport. For non-residents, the entertainment package Happy Brussels is one stress-free option. Organised by visit.brussels, it proposes a pass for €45 providing access to a large number of clubs and parties as well as top city tourist attractions (Atomium, Cinéma Galeries, guided tours), shop discounts and free drinks in some of Brussels’ more offbeat bars.
The annual Festival Noël au Théâtre offers families a respite from the usual Christmas diet of DVDs and Disney films, with 23 shows from December 26 to 30. Its big appeal is the wide range of ages the programme caters for and a variety of entertainment, from music, dance and puppetry. Multiple venues include the Théâtre National, Centre Culturel Jacques Franck, Botanique and Théâtre Marni, among others. It’s difficult to pick out highlights, but La Petite Filles aux Allumettes, Cigale et Fourmi and Gulfstream promise some magical moments.
The Be Film Festival at Bozar and Cinematek, from December 26 to 30, celebrates Belgian cinema. Over the past nine years it has supported a host of breakout filmmakers including Bouli Lanners (Eldorado, Les Géants). This tenth anniversary edition continues a rich tradition, presenting the best local productions of the year, including the Dardenne brothers’ latest award-winner Deux jours, une nuit. The programme also gives a sneak peak of the gems to come in 2015.
Looking ahead to the New Year, there’s a holiday premiere at Bozar on January 3 in the double screening of The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him & Her by American director Ned Benson (The Westerner). The two films provide accounts of the same story, one from the point of view of James McAvoy (Conor) and the other, Jessica Chastain (Eleanor). The previously happily married couple become strangers in the wake of a tragedy. Benson explores the couple’s attempt to reclaim their former lives and love.
More screen treats from January 8 to 11 in the Bozar Cinema Days as the film club celebrates its 10th anniversary. A festive four-day programme opens with Turist, a black comedy by Ruben Östlund. Previews include The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq in which Guillaume Nicloux stages the famous writer’s imaginary abduction with Houellebecq playing himself; Blind Dates by Georgian director Levan Koguashvili, The Kindergarten Teacher by Israeli director Nadav Lapid, Les Hommes by Stanislas Zambeaux, Ming of Harlem by Phillip Warnell and The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films by Hilla Medalia. The mini festival is also screening Bruno Dumont’s series P’tit Quinquin, a blend of Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis and Twin Peaks. Elusive Spanish director Adolpho Arrietta is a special guest and presents a selection of his works. The closing film is the Belgo-German documentary Gardenia. Before The Last Curtain Falls by Thomas Wallner, inspired by Alain Platel’s play.
Get a glimpse of the diversity of dress and design across the European Union in the exhibition Fashion Art EU at Brussels Parlamentarium until May 15. The multimedia visitor centre is hosting the show that was conceived by Madrid’s Fashion Art Institution. Each of the 28 member states is represented, presenting their own sartorial values, both contemporary and traditional. Entrance is free.