Digital Entertainment Festival UNWRAP presents ambitious program for its maiden edition.

Digital Entertainment Festival UNWRAP presents ambitious program for its maiden edition.

Digital Entertainment Festival UNWRAP presents ambitious program for its maiden edition.

From October 14 to 15, Kortrijk will be the epicenter of the entertainment industry.

Kortrijk profiles itself as a hotspot in Belgium and beyond for everything related to gaming, and rightly so. With the Digital Arts & Entertainment (DAE) program at Howest, the region has created its very own golden ticket. Howest has been voted time and time again one of the best game development schools in the world and plays an essential role in the gaming industry. The creative talents of tomorrow are being molded today right on Howest’s campus. Moreover, with its Digital Design & Development (Devine) program, Howest has a full-fledged art course that guarantees an additional influx of creativity to the region. In addition, Kortrijk has been recognized by Unesco as a Creative City of Design, a title it wears with pride and which is reflected in projects such as Wonder and Paradise. Kortrijk is also home to Wilde Westen, festival and concert organizers pur sang that are always coming up with fresh, innovative concepts - just think Sonic City. Entrepreneurship in Kortrijk is embodied by co-creation hub Hangar K at Kortrijk Weide which also houses the Howest spin-off, DAE Studios, a space where young talent is guided on the path to creating their own game studio. 

Unwrap festival

The area’s powerhouses of creativity are joining forces to organize the first edition of the Unwrap Festival on October 14 and 15. The Unwrap Festival will highlight the region’s potential for the entertainment industry with a focus on existing talent. Within Europe, Kortrijk Weide is a major breeding ground for top international talent for the entertainment industry making it the perfect location to hold this event. With inspiring locations such as Hangar K, The Level, Départ and Tranzit right in their backyard, Unwrap has many assets. 

Unwrap Conference

The festival kicks off Thursday, October 14 with more than 20 expert talks at the Unwrap Conference. Flemish Minister of Media, Benjamin Dalle, will be the first speaker at the event. Minister Dalle wants to strengthen the Flemish audiovisual sector and is currently working on a 'Gaming Action Plan'. At the Unwrap Conference, he will explain the goals and ambitions of this plan and how it will benefit the gaming world. 

StuBru presenter and Unwrap host, Eva Mundorff, will take the reins as moderator for the ensuing panel discussion. Minister Dalle will be joined by a number of experts and policymakers with experience in the entertainment industry. They will discuss what the potential of the entertainment sector is in Flanders and how this potential should be optimized. The morning program ends with a keynote by American game developer, Epic, known among other things for the hugely popular 'Fortnite'.

In the afternoon, the Unwrap Conference will be split into 3 tracks. The 'Tech Deep Dive’ track will be geared towards professionals and students interested in content topics, post-mortems, testimonials, etc. Companies such as Massive Ubisoft (known from Tom Clancy's The Division 2) and Sumo Digital (Hood: Outlaws and Legends) will be there to share their stories. One of the top performers will be Clair Bellens of Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), known for Star wars and ABBAtars.

Track 2 will be 'Bridge Builders’ featuring a number of keynotes supplemented by talks about innovative projects on the border between music, games and film. Above all, the Unwrap festival aims to build bridges between professionals from many different sectors. The creative applications that arise from the gaming industry often find their way into other sectors. Maarten Walraven, for example, will speak about how games and music  increasingly blend together in metaverses. Take for instance the 'Abbatars' that were recently unleashed on the world. Game developer, I-Illusions, will testify to an inspiring collaboration with musicians while In The Pocket will present their vision for the potential of “The Metaverse", and Triangle Factory will talk about successful cross-media game projects and LBE (Location Based Entertainment).

Finally, the 'Entrepreneurial' track will address the question of what the future of entertainment is through panel discussions, pitches, and expert talks. Venly (formerly Arkane Network) CEO, Tim Dierckxens, will speak about new revenue models in the gaming world, like crypto and play-to-earn, which are opening completely new dimensions for game studios. Influencers also play an important role in everything entertainment these days. Mathieu Santy founded influencer agency 'MASTR' under the wings of PR and media company 'Day One' and knows better than anyone how to capitalize on the impact that influencers have today and the potential it has for tomorrow.

Following the conference, there will be a Game Pitch Café. This showcase will give developers the opportunity to present their latest project in a unique and informal way. The Game Pitch Café will display the best work developed in the region this year by students, startups, studios, etc. and a selection of titles from outside the region. The Game Pitch Café will result in a networking event where students, speakers, professors, and professionals can reminisce about what will undoubtedly have been a very exciting day.

Unwrap Career Fair

To grow an industry, more than anything, you need talent. Young talent is being delivered year after year by Howest’s DAE program. In addition to young talent and starters, though, you need people with experience to steer this continuous supply of young talent in the right direction and to accelerate the development of skills for substantial sector growth. The Unwrap Festival expects to draw DAE alumni with years of experience abroad back to the area by highlighting all the assets of the region. The Unwrap Career Fair, specifically, will focus on 2 types of creatives: students looking for an internship and professionals already active in the sector looking for a new challenge. The location for the fair is Howest’s seriously inspiring campus building, 'The Level' which will be dedicated entirely to this event on the day. The Unwrap conference will continue to run parallel to the Unwrap Career Fair with a wide range of pitches, panel discussions and expert talks on Friday as well. 

Compact Disk Dummies

The Unwrap Festival will conclude on Friday evening with a performance by local heroes Compact Disk Dummies + afterparty in Kortrijk’s concert hall, Depart. The Coorevits brothers are known for their musical experimentation and are the ideal closing act for this first edition of the Unwrap festival.

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