Cinema Belgica, Lier

The Cinema Belgica in Lier was built around 1912. Colloquially known as 'de Speutter', the venue was situated at the edge of the city center and was loved by the working class. After renovations in the 1950s and 1992, the cinema closed in 2010 and was redeveloped into apartments. Source: Archief Lier & Erfgoedcel Kempens Karakter.

Aim. Cinema Belgica is an open access  platform, exploring Belgium’s rich cinema history. Its extensive database forms a starting point for everyone who wants to dive into the history of cinema in Belgium. Whether used as an encyclopaedia, an analytical tool, or a vehicle for exploration, the Cinema Belgica platform is a place where researchers and film lovers can find a wealth of information about cinema as a dominant entertainment industry and a lived, popular culture in Belgium from 1896 onwards.

Academic background. Cinema Belgica springs from the field of New Cinema History, which studies cinema cultures as a social and cultural historical phenomenon. Inspired by the Dutch Cinema Context and other platforms on cinema and media history, Cinema Belgica aims at offering an open source data platform covering key aspects of Belgian cinema history.

Institutional background. Cinema Belgica is the online platform which results from the Cinecos/Cinema EcoSystem project, an interuniversity infrastructure project (funded by the FWO-Hercules Fund, 2018-2022). The project is set up between Ghent University, the University of Antwerp, and the University of Amsterdam. 

Datasets and partners. Cinema Belgica allows users to explore Belgium’s cinema history via a robust database behind the platform. This data derives from the integration of a series of separate datasets, which were often built in the context of academic research. Please click here to get more information on these datasets and research projects, as well as on Cinema Belgica’s partners and donors. Together, these datasets cover key aspects of film production, distribution, exhibition, programming, censorship, and reception.

Policy. Cinema Belgica is not a replacement for the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), but aims to be a complementary platform. Cinema Belgica is both an online encyclopaedia and a research tool for the history and sources of Belgian film culture. The database provides information that enables users to see networks and patterns in Belgian film culture.  A primary focus of Cinema Belgica is to contextualise data. To further contextualise film data Cinema Belgica links films to their respective IMDb or Wikidata page when possible. Linking this historical source to our data has been made possible by our partner institution, Universiteitsbibliotheek Gent. Note that due to copyright and related rights these images can only be viewed within the UGentNet.

In its data management, Cinema Belgica adheres to the FAIR data principles. This ensure that its valuable research resources will be findable, accessible, processable, and reusable for future generations of film historians in Belgium and beyond. The FAIR principles also reflect in the data management platform, which is designed to be reusable for other research projects in arts and humanities. 

By making the data accessible on an open access platform, Cinema Belgica will facilitate the (inter)national exchange of information and comparative research into the history of cinema. Researchers will be able to make use of different tools integrated into the data platform to facilitate their research. Researchers and institutions are encouraged to use or integrate our identifiers in their own projects to make future linking possible.

Timing and release. In October 2020 Cinema Belgica had its soft launch during the International Film Festival Gent, Belgium. In this first phase Cinema Belgica was released in a closed BETA version (password required). The purpose of this soft launch was to make our data publicly available for researchers and other users, to conduct testing and to obtain feedback. One year later, in October 2021, Cinema Belgica was released as an open access platform. Among the many improvements and enrichments of the massive dataset behind Cinema Belgica, was the addition of five new major datasets. The last phase will consist of the further development of the platform by implementing additional search functions, developing an environment for editing data directly on the platform, and so on. This will result in its final launch in the first half of 2022.

Contact, collaboration, information. A database is never complete, nor is Cinema Belgica. Our information can always be improved. If you find any errors in the data, if you would like to donate existing datasets or participate in Cinema Belgica, you can contact us via