Accepted paper:

Patrasche a dog of Flanders - made in Japan

Authors:

An van Dienderen (Ghent University)
Didier Volckaert

Paper short abstract:

Japanese tourists visit the Antwerp cathedral daily. In front of a Rubens’ painting they start to cry. Nobody in Flanders has any idea that they are moved because of a novel written 133 years ago. Today this book, 'A Dog of Flanders' is a classic and inspired numerous films in Japan and the States. The documentary follows the remarkable transnational trajectory of the novel so as to question how “others” imagine Flanders. 85' film

Paper long abstract:

Japanese tourists visit the cathedral of Antwerp in Flanders daily. In front of a Rubens' painting they start to cry. Nobody in Flanders has any idea that they are moved because of a book written 133 years ago. The novel recounts a story about Nello and his dog Patrasche. They die in each other's arms in front of the Rubens' painting. This book, "A Dog of Flanders" is taught in Japanese high schools, and has inspired numerous films and TV series in Japan and the States. By contrast, the novel was translated into Flemish only in 1987. Belgians are hardly interested in the novel and its many admirers worldwide.

Why has the author of the novel situated the story in Flanders? How does she represent Flanders? And why are Japanese and Americans so attracted by this story? What images have they creating of Flanders based on this story? And why is the story so unknown in Flanders?

The documentary evokes different representations of Flanders based on the novel. Starting from a small house in Flanders the author-narrator embarks on a trip trough these images. Scenes from 35mm and 16mm prints of USA films, and the Japanese anime series, numerous illustrations found in first print books from the UK, USA and Japan, etc. The documentary continuously flirts with imaginary versions of Flanders. It is a prism, through which the viewer can experience how flu reality is and how a small book can stigmatize <> create an entire culture.

Shortlisted for Grierson:Sheffield Awards 2008 in the Innovation Award category

85' film

panel P43
Film programme