With its 52nd edition the Cartoonfestival of Knokke-Heist is one of the oldest festivals in the world. So of course it is a yearly tradition to attend the opening ceremony.
In the cartoon competition world the festival still has a ‘ big name’ – although the competition itself gets little attention at the festival itself that has the aim to attract and entertain tourists to the city at the Belgian coast.
Since a few years the festival is hosted in a pavilion right on the beach. What a great decision! It brings ten thousands of tourists to the festival – that has a free entrance. Most people come for the ‘popular’ part of the exhibition – this year the ‘Love is …’ cartoons of Kim Caseli, but at the same time those tourists see the selected works of the gag cartoon and press cartoon competitions. I don’t know many cartoon festivals who have over 50 000 visitors.
The exhibition in 2013 itself has three parts:
- The ‘Love is …’ – exhibition that explains the history of the ‘Love is …’ cartoons and a tribute to these cartoons by 4 Belgian contemporary cartoonists Lectrr, Pieter De Poortere, Sacha Eckes and Eva Mouton
- The Press Cartoon section with winners and selected works of the Press Cartoon Belgium and Press Cartoon Europe
- The cartoon competition winners and selected works on a free topic
The opening ceremony itself began with the prize distribution of the Press Cartoon Belgium 2013 awards. The third prize this year was for Saive, GAL’s cartoon was second and the winning cartoon was from Dubus that was published in the Belgian newspaper ‘La Dernière Heure’ about the death of a Belgian politician who was known to drink a little too much.
As a comment on his prize Dubus did apologize to all his colleagues because he did find his work not so good itself. A choice of the jury, that was composed this year of Belgian musicians Johan Vernimmen, Sandra Kim, Paul De Groeve, Jean-Luc Fonck, Paul De Groeve and Lange Jojo. On the question of master of ceremony Peter Vandeveire ‘why musiciens?’ organizer of the PCB and PCE Anthierens answered short and clearly: ‘Why not?’. Perhaps he was not really happy with the choice of the jury, because he did award another cartoon from the famous Belgian press cartoonist Marec with a special award.
And then the French Cambon could collect his first prize in the Press Cartoon Europe competition (almost 100 cartoonists from 34 European Countries submitted 274 works).
The son of Kim Casali came to the world first exhibition of the iconic cartoon couple ‘Love is…’. He told us that his mother Kim was a rather introverted person that expressed her feelings for his father, through these little ‘Love is …’-doodles. In the seventies they were published by the Los Angeles Times. The beginning of a long story that has become a part of the collective memory.
And then the prize winning cartoonists of the 52nd edition of the cartoon competition were announced. 778 cartoonists from 67 countries sent 1978 cartoons to Knokke. The Belgian cartoonist Nikola Hendrickx (IOA) did win the Davidsfonds prize and the second prize with the same cartoon: Shit! The third prize was for Victor Crudu and the winner was the Serbian Spiro Radulovic with his cartoon ‘Periscope’. Luc Vernimmen did win the Public Award from the edition 2012 and came to collect his winning prize.
And then it was time to go and see the exhibition and have a drink at the opening reception (did not see a lot of finger food!). Time for networking with some cartoonists. Unfortunately the number of cartoonists at this festival is decreasing every year: besides the prize winning cartoonists Marec, Gal, Dubus, Cambon, Hendrickx, Vernimmen and Radulovic and the cartoon guests Lectrr, Pieter De Poortere en Sacha Eckes (Eva Mouton was ill) we saw: O-sekoer, Ab Molenaar, Jos Verhulst, Emile De Bolle and Lejon Deborger. I certainly must have missed some others. I did hear some comments as: ‘This is more an opening for local VIP’s then for cartoonists ‘ or ‘As a cartoonist I don’t feel welcome’.
I am totally convinced that organizers should put cartoonists first at events – and it must be said that since a few years the prize winning cartoonists are hosted very well by Ivan (a retired civil servant of Knokke) and his wife during their stay in Knokke. A real progression. At the other hand we should also recognize that the festival in Knokke – with its focus on popular and contemporary art – is reaching a very large public. It needs our respect for that …