(imagine that very catchy Mission Impossible tune here) : « Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it, is to extend F.A.C.T.S. to an entire weekend and to make it a huge success. »
The eleventh edition of F.A.C.T.S. became another quantum leap in our existence. Gone were the days when Sunday was the only F.A.C.T.S.-day, add in Saturday ! For the very first time, we could proudly announce a F.A.C.T.S.-weekend, which took place on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 October 2001.
‘Bigger and better’ would probably be the best way to summarise this year’s edition. Indeed, not only did F.A.C.T.S. last twice as long as any of the previous editions, we also used more space than ever before.
Once again invading the I.C.C. in Ghent, we filled the main room with even more dealers than last year (which already saw a record number of inscriptions), coming once again from Belgium, Germany, Holland, France and the UK. Professional dealers, fanclubs, private collector’s, distributors, associations, all were present and accounted for.
The activities room, which saw the light for the first time last year but suffered then from a too small entrance (keeping many people away), saw it entrance doors doubled and its activities quadrupled : the Belgian Star Wars costume division proudly showed their Speederbike scale 1/1 (people gazed in awe) as well as many self made costumes; the Belgian Voyage Club organised plenty of sci fi quizzes; there were special effect make up demonstrations (or how to turn an ordinary man into a frightening vampire); dozens of trading card demonstrations and tournaments were organised (Magic, Star Wars, Star Trek, Bionicles, Pokémon, etc.); an arcade gallery attracted scores of game fans (especially the Game Cube tickled their curiosity); and some or our guest stars made their appearances there.
The projections room moved from the first to the ground floor. A larger room, with a more modern look, more comfortable chairs and better acoustics ensured a fun film ride for the fans of anime with titles like “Escaflowne the movie”, “Uthena the movie”, “Cowboy Bebop” ep. 25 and 26, etc. On Sunday we had a special surprise for all the Star Wars fans (and, boy, were there Star Wars fans !) : an exclusive pre-release showing of the DVD of “Star Wars Episode I – the Phantom Menace”, in presence of Fox Belgium.
We also used some space of the Entrance hall to accommodate the biggest AT AT model ever made, scale ¼ (more than 5 meter high !), dominating the entire convention room.
All in all, F.A.C.T.S. extended itself over more than 2.500 m 2 : yet another record broken with this year’s edition.
One couldn’t mention ‘big’ without thinking of this year’s guest stars. Although even our convention was affected by the tragic events of 11 September (resulting in our two American comic artists, Keu Cha and Bill Tucci, cancelling their participation), we still had more guest stars than any other edition.
For only the second time in the history of F.A.C.T.S., we welcomed a Japanese manga artist. Correction : not one, not two, but three mangaka were present at F.A.C.T.S. 2001 ! Ms. Yoko Hanabusa, Ms. Harumo Sanazaki and Ms. Kaya Tachibana all actively participated in our convention.
We also welcomed our very first movie producer and director. Nobody else than Mr. Roger Corman, who produced more than 400 (!!) movies and introduced people like Martin Scorcese, Jack Nicholson, Brian Da Palma, Robert De Niro, James Cameron and many others into the movie business. Hollywood wouldn’t be what it is today if it wouldn’t be for Mr. Corman. The Q&A we organised allowed his fans to finally ask the questions which had been bugging their minds all these years. Thank you, Mr. Corman, for attending our convention. We were truly honoured.
Last but definitely not least, Mr. Ray Park, better known as the Toad in “the X-Men” and even more famous as Darth Maul (arguably the coolest character in “Episode 1 – the Phantom Menace”), attended our convention. The result was clear : hysterically crying (female) fans, guys with Darth Maul tattoo’s (real ones !) on their back, long line ups of more than hundred patiently waiting fans, loads of pictures being taken with an ever sympathetic Ray, four Stormtroopers proudly escorting Ray, and more of those things one only sees at convention. Quite clearly our most popular guest star ever, despite the price charged for an autograph which some fans considered too high (but which didn’t prevent hundreds of fans to cue to get one).
Furthermore, we welcomed a tv-station, a radio station and one of the most read Flemish magazines as new sponsors. Three different media-sponsors : what better way to advertise our convention ? Reporters quickly got word of our convention and we were mentioned in every major Flemish newspapers, in many magazines, on national radio and tv shows, etc.
This year’s edition also saw the start of our very own website. Welcome www.facts-convention.com, the permanent source of information about our convention.
For the first time ever, we worked together with the International Film Festival of Flanders – Ghent, the biggest film festival in Belgium. It resulted in Mr. Corman’s presence at our convention and the projection of movies in the B-Film, horror, science fiction genres (“St. John’s Worth”, “2001 – A Space Odyssey”, etc.). Keep an eye open on this collaboration : it holds very promising perspectives !
It has already been mentioned : this year everything was ‘bigger and better’. And, to our own relief and joy, this observation is valid for the number of visitors too. We shattered our previous records and welcomed almost thousand more visitors than last year : more than 2.600 people visited our convention, participated in the activities, cued to see their favourite guest star, bought till they had no money left, had a drink, chatted with other fans, all in all, had a great day (judging by the very positive echo’s we heard).
One final word on this year’s trends : Laserdiscs are dead (you could pick them up very cheap) and videotapes seem to be heading the same way, so long live the DVD ! Comics are here to stay . as long as they are cheap (limited edition comics found few buyers this year). It’s Star Wars toys you’re looking for ? There were more than you bargained for, as long as you sticked to the new stuff. Vintage (1977-1983) Star Wars toys were hard to find and very expensive when you bumped into one. Manga and anime were back with quite a few extra dealers. And of course everyone’s eagerly awaiting Lord of the Rings – the movie .
We’re therefore proud to say this was, by all standards, our best edition ever. But just wait and see till you see next year’s convention .
« Mission accomplished successfully ! »