Although the days are getting lighter as we slowly leave winter and enter spring, the city prepares to be shrouded in a fog of mystery and fable as the 36th Brussels international fantasy, fantastic, thriller and science fiction film festival, BIFFF, returns to BOZAR from April 3 to 15, to scare and delight, in one of the world’s biggest fantasy film festivals.
Each year, a two-week interdimensional portal is rooted at the heart of European capital, spewing forth an army of over 50 000 dedicated ghoulish fans (many specifically dress for the occasion) to join in on the yearly celebrations. The film festival hosts an annual Vampire Ball, multiple exhibitions and most importantly, over 150 movies premiered over three screens. Here’s a look at the some of the opening week’s best entries.
Jungle – Wednesday 4th
Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe has moved past his boyhood roles and flourished to take on a myriad of new roles, including 2017 film Jungle. Not wanting to get bogged down in the mundanity that is life, Radcliffe and pals set off on a journey to South America to live on the wild side. But things start turning sour when he gets separated from his companions and finds himself all alone in a hostile environment, surrounded by wild animals, without any equipment to speak of, Yossi has to find a way to survive. And the rainy season is only just beginning…
The year of the plague – Friday 6th
Victor, a reclusive film fanatic who compares his unfortunate life events with everything he has seen from films, his recent break from his ex-girlfriend sees him try to move on, until he recieves a call from her saying the people in her surroundings are suddenly behaving like emotionless robots. Might all this have something to do with the latest craze for ginseng plants that everyone is dying to have in their homes?
The Spanish-Mexican-Belgian coproduction The Year of the Plague doesn’t take itself too seriously. Despite the countless references to famous horror movies, this adaptation of a bestseller by Catalan author Marc Pastor is first and foremost a funny remake of the cult classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Doubleplusungood – Saturday 7th
A Belgian film that makes a special apperance at this festival, Doubleplusungood is the tale of an ex-con returning to the city after a 15-year stay in prison. Now he’s back , he has an axe to grind: he wants to kill off Lucifer’s Twelve Apostles. Methodically he goes through the list, if need be with extreme measures. Not exactly someone we care to meet at midnight in a dark alley… but in a dark movie theater we rather like this kinda fella!
The star of the film, Marco Laguna, used to tour the European concert circuit with legendary indie band La Muerte. This first full-fledged fiction film is a no-nonsense cross between a revenge movie and a spiritual western. This film welcomes other national talents like actress/model Delfine Balfort (You Go to My Head, Steve + Sky) and dramatic heavyweight Bouli Lanners (Above the Law, Raw, The First, the Last).
Crooked House – Sunday 8th
Preimiring for the first time in Belgium, French filmmaker Gilles Paquet-Brenner presents his second films to BIFFF since his murderously efficient horror thriller appeared in 2009.
Private investigator Charles Hayward met Sophie de Haviland while he was stationed in Cairo for the secret service. Their brief affair has long faded away when she enlists his urgent services for a small matter: the death of her stinking rich grandfather Aristide Leonides.One day he’s found quite dead in the luxurious country estate where he holds court with his extended family. According to the will, his trophy wife stands to inherit everything, but Sophie smells a rat. It turns out that just about every family member has their own personal reason for offing granddad… and so, a race against time begins where our detective will have an uphill task in finding the real culprit!
With BIFFF Being over 30 years old, it always makes sure to expand things beyond its wide film selection to keep things fresh, with previous years having attracted fantasy directors like Peter Jackson, Terry Gilliam, William Friedkin, Park Chan-Wook to their ranks, this year will have plenty of exhibitions to join in on. Art contest, make-up, body-painting, a category of surreal films made in Belgium, manga and anime markets at Horta hall and much more will be available for those in attendance this year.
Whether you’re a movie buff or just plain curious, there is plenty to do at this monster mash.