If Paris is like a sweet tartelette, all sweet and fancy, the perfect tasty treat to boost your spirits on a cold fall day, Ghent is like a layered pound cake, not a lot of fancy adornments, but delicious in its own way. Of course, the fact many of the old buildings look like layered cakes helps.
The fall wind is still cold, but with the Belgian rail strike paralyzing travel across the country, we set out exploring oblivious to both.
Ghent isn’t a large city, about 250,000 people, but it has a rich culture, with a notable university district, a brand new history museum, a castle, two fabulous gothic cathedrals and a famous summer festival. It also has a film festival, which happens to be going on right now. But it’s not just an ordinary assemblage of international movies curated by film studies graduates; the Ghent Film Festival pays particular homage to soundtracks and even gives awards to the best soundtracks. As a result, many of the composers make a point of attending the film festival, and performing concerts during the festival.
Filip, our host and Katie’s third cousin, has a special connection to this part of the film festival, as his old car was used as a prop in a series of photos taken by a friend of his of many of films’ great composers like James Newton Howard and Elliot Godenthal. The photos became an exhibition and are published in a book. We’re hoping to be able to attend the closing concert of the festival on Saturday night, by Gustavo Santaolalla, who composed the music for Babel.
And then there’s Tim Robbins, who has delusions of musical grandeur, now that he’s split from his wife, Susan Sarandon. Apparently he is in town for the film festival, as well as to play a concert with his band on Wednesday. We’ve been keeping an eye out for him on our tours around the city, but we’ve yet to spot him. Perhaps on Wednesday.