Belgium Film Festival Canceled After Terrorist Threat

'Timbuktu,' Abderrahmane Sissako (Competition)

The sole representative of African cinema in competition this year, the fifth solo directing effort from the Mauritania-born, Mali-raised Sissako was inspired by the real-life story of the 2012 stoning in Northern Mali of a young unmarried couple by Islamists in front of hundreds of onlookers. Sissako is one of the filmmakers from sub-Saharan Africa to enjoy international recognition, and he's been a Cannes regular. Both Bamako (2007) and Waiting for Happiness (2002) screened on the Croisette, the latter winning the Fipresci critics honor for titles screening in the Un Certain Regard sidebar. (Sales: Le Pacte)

The Oscar-nominated 'Timbuktu' and documentary 'The Essence of Terror' were set to screen at Le Festival Ramdan in Tournai, Belgium.

A film festival in Belgium has been canceled following terrorist threats.

The Le Festival Ramdam was scheduled to run from Jan. 20-27 at the Imagix Cinema in Tournai, Belgium, but was called off after repeated threats of a terrorist attack.

Authorities told local media that the risk of an attack was "at a very high level." Police evacuated the Imagix theater on Thursday, Jan. 22, and they intend to keep it closed until at least Jan. 28. A criminal investigation is underway.

Belgium media has speculated that the threats made have been targeting Ramdan's lineup, which was to include Abderrahmane Sissako's Oscar-nominated feature Timbuktu, about militant Islamic rebels in West Africa, and the documentary The Essence of Terror. Acclaimed Belgian directors Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne were supposed to attend this year's Ramdam festival for a screening of their film Two Days One Night, starring Marion Cotillard.

The move comes shortly after the terrorist attacks in Paris earlier this month, when 17 people were killed in the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and at a Jewish deli. An anti-terror operation in eastern Belgium shortly after the French attacks led to the shooting of two suspected jihadis by police and the arrest of a third during a raid in which, reportedly, a weapons cache was recovered. All of Europe is on high alert in the wake of the attacks.

In a statement on its website, the festival said it advocates "values of openness to the world, dialog, tolerance and freedom of expression" and that the events reinforced its desire to continue their work.