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October 31 - November 4 2008, Beijing, China

The 2008 Belgian Cultural Festival, organized by the Belgian Embassy in China, will bring some of Belgium's renowned and diverse art forms, artists and academics to China to establish a platform for cultural exchange today and in the future.

The theme of the festival is "when we first met". The festival traces back the roots of inter-cultural activities between China and Belgium to the 17th century, when the Belgian Jesuit missionary Ferdinand Verbiest brought astronomy to China. One century later, Joseph-Marie Amiot came to the capital of imperial China and introduced the royal court to European science, literature and music. Amiot even staged a Baroque music concert for the Emperor Qianlong.

This historical concert will be recreated by the Ensemble Sirocco, who was awarded the first prize at the prestigious International Chamber Music Contest of Rovereto, Italy in 2006, and won international acclaim in an European tour thereafter. Paul Arblaster will sketch the cultural and historical exchange between the two cultures in the light of three books about China published between 1568 and 1789, reflecting both changes in the late Ming and early Qing as well as changes in Belgian society between a period of Religious Warfare and Enlightenment.

The Chinese contribution to the First World War in Belgium and France has been largely forgotten. Guido Latre will refresh our memories on the 140,000 Chinese labourers that served on the Western front between 1917 and 1920. Well known in China for his 2001 master-piece Canton, La Chinoise, documentary producer and director Rob Rombout is back with a project on the legend of Di Renjie. Rombouts lecture will focus on his method of working and the importance of documentary film in Belgium today.

The Belgian Comic Strip has been a unique cultural phenomenon in the world. The works of Herge, creator of Tintin, defined the art form. His influence is still prominent today. Jean-Louis Tilleuil will discuss the history and social significance of comic strips while Antonio Cossu will give demonstrations and organize a workshop for Chinese Manhua painters to inspire the genres and its artists.

Nicolas Godelet is the chief architect and designer for the renovation of Pingyao's outer city. His proposes a dialogue between the Medieval and the Modern: a city that is a continuation from the past, that serves multiple functions and adapts to human and ecological needs.

Last but not least, the internationally acclaimed Trio Portici enlivens the festival with a classical concert of the works by F. Chopin, Belgian Composer C. Franck and the Chinese composer Tan Dun.


19:00 Festival Opening, Peking University Centenary Hall

20:00 Concert by Ensemble Sirocco, Peking University Centenary Hall


14:00 Lecture by Mr. Guido Latre - Chinese Labour in the Flanders Fields, Peking University Centenary Hall

18:00 Lecture by Mr. Rob Rombout - Belgian Documentaries and European Visions (film excerpts and discussion), Peking University Centenary Hall

19:30 Concert by Ensemble Sirocco, National Center for Performing Arts


10:00 Comic Strip Workshop with Jean-Louis Tilleuil and Antonio Cossu, Peking University Cartoon Workshopl

14:00 Lecture by Jean-Louis Tilleuil and Antonio Cossu - The Belgian Comic Strip Culture, Peking University Centenary Hall

17:00 Launch of the Smurfs in China, Peking University Centenary Hall

19:00 Concert by Ensemble Sirocco, North Church

19:30 Concert by Trio Portici, Peking University Centenary Hall


19:00 Lecture by Paul Arbastler - Joseph-Marie Amiot and Ferdinand Verbiest: Science and Baroque Music in China, Peking University Court 5 Jing Yuan


15:00 Lecture by Nicolas Godelet - A Renovation Project in Pingyao, Peking University Court 5 Jing Yuan

Peking University - Centenary Hall & Chinese Department Conference Hall

NCPA No. 2 Tiananmen Chang'an Jie, Xicheng District

North Church No.33 Xishiku Avenue, Xicheng District

All events are free and first come first serve. For more info, link to the Belgian Embassy website below or contact Ms Pauline Tam +86 10 5276 8955.

(photo: Ensemble Sirocco)

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