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Brussels International Film Festival back for second year

20:31 13/06/2019

The Brussels International Film Festival (Briff) is back and its second edition from 20-29 June looks like it will live up to the splash of last year’s first edition.

With the renovation of the Place de Brouckère completed, the festival big top and its terrace will have plenty of room to anchor the Briff Village, where festival-goers will be able to relax, have a drink, meet not only old friends and make new ones but also meet the filmmakers and discuss the films.

"The over-riding quality of the festival is eclecticism, a wide selection, in movies but also in guests," says festival co-founder Céline Masset.

The opening features the film It Must Be Heaven by Elia Suleiman. "Here we are in a Jacques Tati type of world," Masset says. "A comedy of the absurd but with a political basis and a serious message, a movie that received an honorable mention from the jury and won the Press award at Cannes this year.

"The closing film is a completely different world: Claude Lelouche’s latest film, Les Plus Belles Années d’une Vie, and he will be on hand to present it - A Man and a Woman, 53 years later."

The guest of honour is French director Michel Hazanavicius, who is known internationally for his Academy Award-winning black-and-white silent movie The Artist, but who also is the creator of the cult OSS 117 films and of the genre-breaking La Classe Américaine. He will be on hand for discussions and screenings of his films.

Other guests include Abel Ferrara, the idiosyncratic director of such films as King of New York and Bad Lieutenant; Emilie Dequenne, who 20 years ago at the age of 17 starred in the Dardenne Brothers’ Rosetta and won the best actress award at Cannes for that first performance (the brothers will be present for her screening and the Q&A afterwards); Bouli Lanners, Belgian actor and director who has curated a programme of films (animation, fiction, documentary and short) dealing with the global environmental crisis; and rising French filmmaker Viril Vernier who navigates between documentary and fiction.

“One of the off-competition programmes is a subject that is of utmost importance these days, the state of the environment," says Masset. "So we asked Bouli Lanners to choose six movies on the subject and he will be present to discuss the issues and the possible solutions along with an expert critic on nuclear energy.”

Films from Afghanistan, Brazil, France, Canada, China, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Palestine, Qatar and Slovenia will be competing in the international competition, while directors from France, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland will vie for the director's week competition. Meanwhile, six Belgian films which are yet to open will be presented in the national competition.

Masset adds: “We’re happy to have a wide representation with films from Afghanistan, China, Brazil, Qatar, Palestine, Canada and Europe of course - and each story is very different, the films inhabit very different universes, family drama, but also zombies, genre films, eclectic in terms of countries and in terms of subject matter and treatment.

"In the director’s week we have concentrated on emerging directors, four men and four women who are on their first or second film, and again, the stories are very varied."

There’s an Argentinian film that has been making waves, it’s called La Flor and it is 886 minutes long (including breaks) and took 10 years to complete. The Briff is offering Brussels a unique opportunity to see it by screening it in three parts over three days.

Other off competition programs include a Space programme, six films ranging from Forbidden Planet to First Man; a Belgian Panorama, nine of the best Belgian films from the past year; Open Air, five free screenings on the BRIFF Village terrace; Are You Series, a programme for TV binge watchers featuring the new season of Big Little Lies; Screen the Beat, four music documentaries; and a Virtual Reality programme, the Experience Festival, which will present five VR films as part of BRIFF.

"One of the goals of our eclecticism is to offer as many people with as many tastes films that they want to see," Masset concludes. "Longstanding film buffs and neophytes all ready to enjoy a convivial and festive atmosphere in a city that is equally varied, and of course individuals who will enjoy one type of film one day and be ready for something completely different the next.

"That’s the way we want to do it, lots of different films, different kinds of people, and the opportunity for all those different types to meet each other and compare notes, professionals and fans making contact for serendipitous exchanges, in talks, masterclasses, and over drinks on the terrace. Discover new films, enjoy classic films again and share it all with close human contact. Otherwise why hold a festival?"

Sorry! Our prize draw has now closed and the winners have been notified by email.

 

Written by Richard Harris