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Premieres, open air and a femme fatale: the Brussels Film Festival
Every June, the Brussels Film Festival signals the end of the cultural season and marks the transition to the leisurely pace of the summer months, when music festivals take precedent over acquainting oneself with the latest high-brow art sensation.
The film festival has had its fair share of identity crises and organisational hiccups but recently seems to have found its niche in building bridges between cinema and music at the ever vibrant venue of Flagey.
This year’s edition comprises some 90 films divided into three sections. The official jury (including, among others, Belgian actor Sam Louwyck) will award the Golden Iris to the best overall film and the White Iris to the best first feature. This year’s big guest of honour is Bertrand Tavernier, a very French cinéaste who has always had a certain appeal in the Anglo-Saxon world thanks to English-language projects such as Round Midnight and In the Electric Mist. He doesn’t have a new film out but will hold masterclasses and present a retrospective of his films at Cinematek.
Stylish glamour will be provided by Charlotte Rampling, who will grace the festival with her presence to promote the English-language I, Anna (pictured). It’s the big screen directorial debut of Rampling’s son, Barnaby Southcombe, and she plays the femme fatale opposite Gabriel Byrne’s detective.
Among the other premieres of films that will be released later in the year are The Best Offer, the second Englishlanguage effort by Oscar-winning Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso), and Dutchman Nanouk Leopold’s farm drama Boven is het stil (It's All So Quiet) with the ubiquitous Flemish thespian Wim Opbrouck.
A large part of the festival’s appeal, though, lies in the free public screenings in the open air (weather permitting), which this year are entirely devoted to Belgian films. It’s a renewed opportunity to see movies that have gone on to a successful career in the international festival circuit, like The Broken Circle Breakdown, Offline and Tango libre.
The programmers venture into more adventurous territory with a series of music documentaries. Interesting entries in this section are Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, about the eponymous Russian band (several members of which are currently serving jail sentences for “religious hatred”); Daan in Progress (about Belgian language community-defying glam rocker Daan Stuyven) and Bent Van Looy: Round the Bend. The third details the recording of the first solo venture by the Das Pop singer and will be followed by a concert by the man himself.
More music awaits in a number of free events on the occasion of World Music Day on 21 June, with several concerts accompanying silent films, DJ sets and an after-party. Also present will be Chrysta Bell, the new muse of cult filmmaker David Lynch, who (in pure Julee Cruise fashion) produced and co-wrote her first album and is said to provide visuals for an enticing live show. The perfect soundtrack to a lazy summer.
June 19-26, Flagey, ¨lace Sainte-Croix, 1050 Brussels; www.brff.be
This article first appeared in Flanders Today