BIFFF : the opening!

Article published on April 17, 2012
Article published on April 17, 2012
By Agata On the 5th of April the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival was opened to the enthusiastic public for the 30th time. Barbara Steele , star of the greatest horror masterpiece of Italian film, La maschera del demonio, cut the ribbon and officially started the event. Names of the festival funders, managers and crew over the years were mentioned and applauded.
Finally, Terry Gilliam himself was invited to introduce his short movie , The Wholly Family. The film shows an American family on nightmare-ish holidays in Naples. Constant arguments, accusations and misunderstanding cause a high level of stress for the whole family. Eventually the son is acting out and is being sent to bed without dinner. This results in him having a very lively dream about the dinner from hell – there is blood and horror, and, of course, a lesson learnt. The theme loosely revolves around the food theme and rightly so, since the short was sponsored by the Italian pasta manufacturer – Garofalo. It’s very cleverly used though and enhances the surreal feel of the film, so typical for Gilliam.

The Raven was chosen as the opening picture. Directed by James McTeigue, scripted by Ben Livingstone and Hannah Shakespeare, it stars John Cusack and Luke Evans. As a huge John Cusack fan, I was very excited to go this Belgian premiere. I wasn’t disappointed. I believe Cusack’s presence would make any movie highly enjoyable and so it did with this story of Edgar Alan Poe’s last days. The writer’s death is surrounded by mystery – Poe was found wondering the streets of Baltimore in the state of delirium right before he died. The movie is a variation on the story of what could be the reason of his death in a relatively young age.

We meet Poe when he is in his late 30s, disillusioned, broke and drunk more often than not. He struggles to earn a living and his shining star as a well recognized writer is slowly fading away. Nevertheless he has a big fan, who however expresses his appreciation for Poe’s literature in a peculiar way – by re-enacting the murders from Edgar’s stories - The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Pit and the Pendulu.

The stories were horrifying and the killings are morbid – bloody, violent and very carefully planned. Edgar Alan Poe is engaged by the local police to help in the investigation, the task which he takes on even more enthusiastically when his love object is captured by the murderer. Cusack’s Poe is melancholic and witty; however I wish the author’s interesting persona was presented in the fuller and more descriptive way. It would be great to learn more about Poe. Instead the movie reminds a bit of a new version of Scherlock Holmes and focuses much more on violent killings than on Poe himself. Still, it is a very enjoyable movie and was appreciated by (quite loud and enthusiastically commenting throughout the movie) public.

BIFFF attracts a large number of people and offers attractions other than just movies - there are life performers, make-up classes, not to mention a rich choice of film merchandise for all the movie buffs out there. It’s the first time I attended it and definitely not the last.

BIFF Du 5 au 17 Avril 2012

Location: Rue de la Comtesse de Flandre 8 Gravin van Vlaanderenstraat 1020 Brussels