Monday, June 23, 2008

Brussels festival celebrates first and second films

The sixth Brussels Film Festival is about to kick off, with its usual focus on first and second films from directors across Europe. The festival is opened and closed by "Melodrama Habibi/Une chanson dans la tête" by Hani Tamba and "Tricks" by Andrzej Jakimowski respectively (and a world and a Belgian premiere respectively too). Films to look out for include Germany's "The Stranger in Me", France's "57 000 km entre nous" and Russia's "Everybody Dies but Me".

The festival also features a special section devoted to rare movies, and an interesting selection of free outdoor screenings on the freshly-renovated Place Flagey in Ixelles. For film-makers there is a pitch competition (now closed) and a film workshop. Dates: June 28-July 6. For details in English, French and Dutch visit the Brussels Film Festival.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

RIP: Dino Risi, master of the Italian comedy

Dino Risi, master of the so-called "Italian comedy", died on Saturday June 7. Il maestro came to the spotlight with films such as "Il sorpresa/The Easy Life" and the original "Profuma di donna/Scent of a Woman", now better known as a remake starring Al Pacino.

I attended a special retrospective of his work in Brussels a few years back, and was struck by a number of things. All his films have the most amazingly brazen characters, which might also be due to the fact that he also worked with the most amazing actors such as Vittorio Gassman, Alberto Sordi and Ugo Tognazzi. His best films are also very clearly collaborative. You can feel the teamwork behind his minor masterpiece "I mostri/The Monsters", which would probably be more accurately translated as "Bastards". I asked at the time, "Who could possibly do movies like this these days?" The question still stands.

As a writer, I ask myself: which came first, the ferociously satirical scripts or the opportunity to create films with ferociously satirical actors?

Risi had some 50 films to his credit, and had a strong influence of post-war Italian cinema. He is the father of prolific director Marco Risi and received a Golden Lion at the Venice festival six years ago.

Salute, maestro.

Dino Risi on Amazon US
Dino Risi on Amazon UK

Jaco Van Dormael to talk in Brussels

One of the most promising writer/directors in Europe some ten years ago was Jaco Van Dormael, who made a huge splash with "Toto le héros" in 1991, followed by "Le huitième jour" in 1996. Rumours about his upcoming "Mr Nobody" have been extravagent to say the least, saying it covers "time" and is the most expensive Belgian film ever made.

This Tuesday June 10 he will put the rumours to rest or confirm them when he talks to the French-speaking Belgian writier's group ASA in Brussels.

For details, visit ASA.

Jaco Van Dormael on Amazon UK