Film director Barry Sonnenfeld special guest at this year's Brussels fantastic film festival

Film director Barry Sonnenfeld special guest at this year's Brussels fantastic film festival
Credit: Belga

U.S. film director and producer Barry Sonnenfeld will be guest of honour at this year’s edition of the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFFF) where he will give a masterclass on 8 September, the festival organisers said on Thursday.

Initially scheduled for the end of March, the festival is making a huge comeback this year in flesh and blood at Palace 10 of the Brussels Expo, from 20 August to 10 September, after two years of cancellations followed by a virtual edition last year, due to the health crisis.

The film festival for thrill-seekers will screen nearly 200 films during its 13-day marathon. These will range from fantasy, cult films, thrillers and science fiction to horror, cartoons, experimental movies and underground films. There will be around 90 feature films and 100 short films in their world, European or Belgian premieres.

The special guest of this anniversary edition will be Barry Sonnenfeld, director of the Men In Black film trilogy and of the Addams Family films. In addition to his masterclass on 8 September, spectators will have an opportunity to meet Morticia, Gomez, Wednesday and the Thing during an exceptional screening on Saturday 10 September.

With “Get Shorty,” which grossed U.S. $70 million in the United States, Barry Sonnenfeld propelled John Travolta to the rank of Hollywood’s most sought-after and expensive star. A year later, Steven Spielberg asked the New Yorker, who had already collaborated with the Coen brothers, to direct Men In Black. Agents K and J, played on screen by Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, were so successful that a sequel was released five years later, in 2002, and a third in the series in 2012.

The U.S. director’s presence is expected to draw many of his fans to the Belgian capital, despite the uncertainty of the festival authorities about the attendance for this “return-to-normal” edition.

Accustomed to receiving some 60,000 people each year, the festival will open this year in “a new place and on a new date,” which is why “it is impossible to judge and determine the exact number of visitors, but we are obviously hoping for the largest number of people possible,” BIFFF spokesperson Jonathan Lenaerts said.

In 2019, the last year without coronavirus, the festival received nearly 55,000 visitors. For its 40th edition, the BIFFF was postponed for a few months to avoid “taking the slightest risk” linked to the pandemic, Mr. Lenaerts noted.

In 2018, the BIFFF, with its international reach, received Mexican film director Guillermo del Toro, who won an Oscar for his film “The Shape of Water,” released in 2017. He too, gave a masterclass in Brussels – in the Bozar Hall.

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