The Ensors, named after the Belgian painter James Ensor, are the most important awards in Flanders for audiovisual fiction, documentary and animation. They are traditionally awarded at the end of the Ostend Film Festival, which held its first edition in 2007.
From a jury to an academy
After a few years, the festival created the Flemish Film Awards, which were awarded by a jury in 2010 and 2011. This tradition of a jury that changes every year was continued unchanged from 2012, when the name was changed to The Ensors.
In 2018, the Ostend Film Festival licensed a new non-profit organisation, The Ensors, to continue its work as a separate organisation. It immediately broadened its support base by handing over the assessment to an 'academy', which now has over 1,400 members. The members are all professionals from the Flemish audiovisual industry and are all entitled to vote. Their membership is free, but expires if they fail to exercise their right to vote during a longer period.
The Ensors perfectly match the DNA of the Ostend Film Festival, which has always given ample attention to home-grown talent since its inception. This has made it possible to forge closer ties not only with organisations operating in the audiovisual sector, but also with The Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF). In addition to a growing reputation among the general public, The Ensors today also symbolise the growing international recognition of the Flemish audiovisual sector.
The award is a sculpture designed by the Ostend artist Yves Velter. The Ensors' Walloon equivalent is Les Magritte du Cinéma. Every year, an Ensor is awarded for the best French-speaking Belgian film, as a counterpart of 'the Magritte' for the best Flemish film production.
The Ensors association
The non-profit organisation The Ensors, which takes care of the complete organisation of The Ensors, including the Gala, receives a license from the Ostend Film Festival.
The Board of Directors consists of three representatives of Les Films du bord de Mer, the non-profit organisation behind the Ostend Film Festival. Statutorily one of them is chairman.
In addition, the following audiovisual professional organisations currently have a voting representative on the Board of Directors (each with an alternate):
- Belgian Screen Composers Guild
- Flanders Doc
- The Belgian Society of Cinematographers (S.B.C.)
- Unie van Regisseurs
- Flemish Independent Film & Television Producers (VOFTP)
The Ensor's Debate
In 2022, The Ensors association will be presenting a meaningful addition to the annual Gala, which is primarily an opportunity to showcase the quality and creativity of the profession.
Over the years there has been a demand for a more in-depth discussion. This was called The Ensors Debate, in which a varied group of leading figures from the industry are given the floor: government and policymakers, producers and other specialised professional organisations, distributors, buyers as well as members of the press.
In the opening weekend of the film festival, they ask the question: "If these are the nominations, what does that say about our profession?". Each panel member will have the opportunity to launch a clear statement and substantiate it with facts and figures – after which the real debate can begin.