Get ready for the 2023 edition of the renewed Brussels Independent Film Festival, an annual weeklong event that has highlighted independent and experimental cinematic talent for over four decades!
The Centre Multimedia in Brussels founded the Brussels Independent Film International Festival (Festival International du Film Indépendant de Bruxelles) in 1974, to focus explicitly on super-8 films and other technically experimental cinematic styles. Although the festival was originally devoted to more highly experimental pieces, it expanded to include many different types of independent offerings.
During its original thirty-eight year run, the festival shone a much needed a spotlight on different, small national cinemas (for example, Lebanon in 2012 and Egypt in 2009). Ir ran a special competition for films by and for the deaf (from 1991 until 2012) as well and hosted national and international award competitions each year. It also created a program for young adults interested in making movies.
The festival has hosted many noteworthy filmmakers: Pedro Almodóvar (All About my Mother, Talk to Her), François Ozon (Swimming Pool, 8 Women), and Nanni Moretti (The Caiman). Unfortunately, in its original incarnation, the festival came to an end in 2012.
Inspired by that original movement, the revived Brussels Independent Film Festival continues to emphasize lesser known, vanguard cinematic works and furthers its tradition of galvanizing budding talent.
The Brussels Independent Film Festival takes pride in its astute selection process. It is known for discovering hidden gems that later go on to successfully thrive at A-list festivals, with some films even catching the eye of the Academy Awards. In 2021 for example, the Brussels Independent Film Festival selected and awarded 'Ala Kachuu – Take and Run', directed by Maria Brendle, which was nominated in 2022 for an Oscar in the Best Live Action Short Film category.
Most importantly, the Brussels Independent Film Festival creates a space for unique visionaries and voices. True to its history, the festival screens films of both novices and veterans—with medium and low budgets—from all over the globe. The festival’s goal is to create a warm, open atmosphere in which filmmakers, fans, critics, and producers can watch the films of emerging talents, explore new cinematic techniques and styles, and award cinematic excellence.
The Brussels Independent Film Festival wants to create an intimate atmosphere in which to revel in the beauty and wonder of the cinema with like-minded cineastes from all over the globe.
The next edition of the Brussels Independent Film Festival will take place in the heart of Brussels, Belgium in February 2023.
‘OFF ON’ SELECTION
As of 2023 our festival will enter an exciting new phase in its existence. Next to our physical screenings we’ll also be screening online with the special OFF ON SELECTION. The OFF ON Selection will go online one week prior to the opening of the physical part of the festival and will stay online until the last day of the festival. Viewers will be able to watch, but not download your film. If needed we can geo-block your film to our region.
We’re open to any genre (narrative, web series, made for tv, documentary, experimental …) and especially any duration (which is always an issue for the physical part of the festival). Selected filmmakers will receive all official selection perks (The Tarkovski Grant, The Producer’s Night nomination, …) and are in the running for any of the award titles. When you submit your film for consideration to both a physical section and the Off On Selection it is possible to be selected for both, but this is of course not guaranteed.
Filmmakers that submit their film only to any of the other sections (so any other than the Off On Selection) will not be selected for an online screening.
Next to the main screenings at the Cinema Galeries, The Cinema @Tour&Taxis, Kinepols and Cinema Ritcs we’ll screen a selection of films in the most unique venue Brussels has to offer, the Atomium. The Atomium is a building in Brussels originally constructed for Expo 58, the 1958 Brussels World's Fair. Designed by the engineer André Waterkeyn and architects André and Jean Polak, it stands 102 m (335 ft) tall. Its nine 18 m (60 ft) diameter stainless steel clad spheres are connected so that the whole forms the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. It is now a museum and one of the locations of our festival.
Entrance to the screenings is free of charge.
THE RABBIT HOLES
In 2020, the Brussels Independent Film Festival launched a new section, 'The Rabbit Holes', where visitors can travel down a cinematic rabbit hole of offbeat, weird, wonderful, poetic, surreal or abstract films for free for the duration of the festival. For its 2023 edition, the festival will go underground again with a selection of experimental films (narrative films, documentaries, animations, music videos...) by artists from all over the globe. The vaulted rooms of the underground exhibition hall at Cinema Galeries will serve as the setting for the weeklong continuous screenings of carefully selected works on different screens. It will feature different works that adopt alternative approaches to filmmaking. They are sometimes profoundly personal, other times formally radical explorations of image, sound and atmosphere. Making films is truly the process of creating art – vibrant, living works that evoke emotion and resonate with viewers. This essential truth often gets lost in today’s world, which sees cinema as a means of commerce and often overlooks obscure and experimental works of great value but limited box office appeal.
EDIBLE FILM AWARDS
During the Brussels Independent Film Festival we'll reward the best films with an Atomium Film Award. Made out Belgian chocolate, it's the first edible film award.
Brussels Independent Film Festival is
- An IMDB qualifying film festival
- Named as one of the Top 50 Film Festivals worldwide by iFilmFestival.com.
- A 'Climate Neutral Film Event', powered by TreePlan.org.
- An official festival partner of The Producer's Night Los Angeles (producersnight.com).
PROUD PARTNER OF THE BIGGER SCREEN
Brussels Independent Film Festival is supported by The Bigger Screen, an organization that aims to make film as an art form more accessible and more inclusive. A short overview of their projects:
- SUPPORTING FILM FESTIVALS: Film festivals are not only a place to share films, but they are a safe haven for film makers to connect, share, and learn. The Bigger Screens supports and engages with over 25 respected international film festivals from mainstays like the 61st Ann Arbor Film Festival and the Brussels Independent Film Festival to emerging events such as the Venice Film Week and The Producer’s Night Los Angeles. These events bring filmmakers and filmgoers together, providing that place to connect and engage in a comfortable setting, away from Hollywood glitz and glamour.
- CONNECTING CULTURES PROGRAM: Each year, The Bigger Screen selects ten countries and grants filmmakers from those areas the ability to submit their work free of charge to partner festivals all over the world. This opens the door of film exposure to those who may not otherwise be able to enter. As we support inclusivity and shareable films, this program exemplifies our mission.
- LOCAL FILMMAKERS PROGRAM: We understand that the cost of making a film can be taxing, so to encourage rising talent, we waive the festival submission fee to local talent. With numerous worldwide locations for festivals, this provides great opportunity for filmmakers around the world to enter the international film scene. This opportunity opens the world of film. Think global, act local, right?
- INCLUSIVE AUDIENCE PROGRAM: Our screenings are always low or even free of charge to provide opportunity for interested film goers to view up and coming, challenging, and inspiring pieces of art, encouraging students, seniors, and those in underprivileged environments to share the experience of film and cinema. We welcome film goers, regardless of income and financial status.
- THE TARKOVSKI GRANT: All selected filmmakers will receive The Tarkovski Grant, a film festival submission fee waiver package with an average value of about $250. This not only saves you a lot of money, but it also recognizes your work as something to watch for during the selection procedure, making a selection with another partner film festival more likely - but of course, never guaranteed. The Tarkovski Grant supports hundreds of filmmakers each year in their challenging journeys as independent filmmakers, by promoting existing films, no matter the genre, style or length.
ABOUT THE PREVIOUS EDITION:
From Obscure Underground Cinema To Oscar Nominated Film Gems And Chocolate Prizes: Brussels Independent Film Festival Announces Winners Of 2022 Atomium Film Awards
After seeing its live screenings cancelled last year in light of Covid-19 regulations, the Brussels Independent Film Festival was pleased to welcome back guests in person for a special double edition this year. Screening both last year's selection (take a look back at the 2021 award winners on the website: www.brusselsfilmfestival.org/2021-edition), and the new 2022 selection, the event proved to be packed full of cinematic gems. Over the course of 10 days, the festival screened more than 200 feature and short films from 45 countries at Tour & Taxis, Cinema RITCS, Kinepolis Brussels, and Cinema Galeries. On closing night, this year's festival edition was concluded with a Filmmakers Networking Drink at RITCS Café, sponsored by CA/ST Casting Studio. The festival was also pleased to welcome several special guests at its screenings - filmmakers, actors and crew members of the official selection: Alisi Telengut, Anne-Sophie Reinhardt, David Borchkhadze, Goga Devdariani, Sandro Gabilaia, Maia Gurabanidze, Masho Tevdorashvili, Glenn Dumortier, Marius Lefever, Sylvia Borges, Leyokki, David Cabannes, Marijke De Belie, James Smith, Victor Ridley, Alice Spa, Alex Anna, Clément Natiez, Sonsoles Masiá, Simon van der Zande, Ousmane Diallo.
The 2022 Atomium Film Awards took place at Kinepolis last Friday. Winners were crowned with Belgian chocolate and thus edible medallion awards of the Atomium, made by 'Gault & Millau Finest Chocolatier' Wim Vyverman. These eight films were handpicked by this year's jury members as the 'best of the fest':
Best Narrative Feature Film: Humanization (Sweden) by Giulio Musi. To bring a subject as grief and guilt for the loss of a child in a magical realistic way, makes it all the more poignant. The imaginary takes over the narrative storyline. Is it a dream, is it the continuation of the nightmare, or a second chance that never will be fulfilled? The black white photography brings the story to its essence. A powerful film about a delicate subject, according to the jury.
Best Narrative Short Film: The Dress (Poland) by Tadeusz Łysiak. A deep portrayal of the protagonist’s life and struggle, together with the actress' terrific performance, make this a unique and powerful film, the jury members say. Strong cinematography and the use of handheld camera makes the story feel more personal. A universally compelling story, as it touches on the themes of love, desire, loneliness and rejection.
Best Documentary Feature Film: Khan's Flesh (Germany) by Krystsina Savutsina. With meticulous compositions and subtle associations, the filmmaker portrays life in a Belarusian town. Observational yet stylized vignettes depict inhabitants of different ages and classes, in moments of celebration, recreation or labor. The stratification as much as the rituals that structure daily life in the town are brilliantly highlighted, according to the jury members.
Best Documentary Short Film: Generation 328 (Belarus) by Veranika Nikanava. The jury found this a very well structured, shot and carried out production, with sound and music adding towards the overall tone of the piece.
Best Animated Film: The Fourfold (Canada) by Alisi Telengut. A very creative, mind-blowing and almost romantic way of making animation, jury members declared. A film with a very unique aesthetic to it, a visual feast of colors, textures, sound; and a moving, inspiring tale and exploration of human-nature relationship.
Best Experimental Film: Brutalia, Days Of Labour (Greece) by Manolis Mavris. The jury thought it to be a powerfully crafted dystopian, multi-layered dark short film that questions and reflects on many relevant issues of our contemporary society. They praised the brilliantly written screenplay, exquisite direction and cinematography, authentic performances and great production design. An intriguing and thought-provoking film.
Best Music Video: Bellydance Vogue (Lebanon) by Hadi Moussally. A beautiful film about rebirth and creating freedom for yourself. The images of the family dancing mixed with those of the director dancing by himself were found to be very powerful especially.
Best Belgian Film: High Jump (Belgium) by Lennert Madou. A very strong film with beautiful cinematography, deemed our jury members. They were especially blown away by the main actor's performance, whose physicality and truthfulness on the screen is breathtaking. A great coming of age story on how to connect with someone you love on so many levels.
A special thank you to this year's international team of jury members:
Eric Godon (Belgium), actor (In Bruges, The Missing, Undergods, Anna), director and writer.
Kris De Witte (Belgium), world renowned photographer known for portraits of David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, and many others.
Maarten Cornelis (USA), veteran film professional and founder of Producer's Night Los Angeles.
Jane Ching (Hong Kong), festival manager (Sundance Hong Kong, Hong Kong Arthouse Film Festival).
Cherise Silverstri (USA) actress, producer, film festival manager (Super Shorts London Film Festival).
Naomie Bessirard (France), filmmaker and natural born film critic.
All selected filmmakers will receive The Tarkovski Grant, a film festival submission fee waiver package with an average value of about $250. This not only saves you a lot of money, but it also recognizes your work as something to watch for during the selection procedure, making a selection with another partner film festival more likely - but of course, never guaranteed. The Tarkovski Grant supports hundreds of filmmakers each year in their challenging journeys as independent filmmakers, by promoting existing films, no matter the genre, style or length. The Tarkovski Grant is supported by film festivals from all over the world. Find out more here: www.thetarkovskigrant.org
All selected films are also automatically in the running for Producer's Night.
Producer's Night is an opportunity for independent filmmakers to have their work screened to a private group of elite Hollywood producers. For many directors, it could mean their ticket to the mainstream. The exclusive screening presented by Cinematory and Tarkovski, will show the best of independent cinema from the past year's film festivals at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in West Hollywood. The only way to be considered for this by being selected at one of the partner film festivals. Brussels Independent Film Festival is a proud partner film festival of Producer's Night. More information: www.producersnight.com
In an added effort to support new and emerging filmmakers, the Brussels Independent Film Festival will offer a free year of access to Videomaker's digital magazine to all filmmakers submitting their work. Videomaker Magazine is dedicated to video production, features tips and tricks for shooting and editing, buyer's guides for equipment, and editorial content on the industry of film. More information: www.videomaker.com
Optional: an exclusive one-on-one interview on www.iFilmFestival.com. The Brussels Independent Film Festival would like to offer more exposure to selected filmmakers and their work. Selected filmmakers will be invited after the festival to answer some online interview questions (about their work, future projects, views on film,...) if they wish to do so. The interview will appear as an article on film festival news page www.iFilmFestival.com, and will be shared on the Brussels Independent Film Festival's Facebook page. The interview will only be used within this context, and won't be used for other purposes without the filmmaker's permission.
Each edition, the festival will also give out awards in the following categories:
Best Narrative Feature Film
Best Narrative Short Film
Best Documentary Feature Film
Best Documentary Short Film
Best Animated Film
Best Experimental Film
Best Music Video
Best Belgian Film
We accept short and feature films up to 120 minutes: drama, experimental, animation, documentary, ...
The Brussels Independent Film Festival accept all forms and genres. All non-English language films must be subtitled in English. Entry does not guarantee acceptance into the festival. Submissions WILL NOT be returned. We also accept submissions that have premiered elsewhere and that may have distribution agreements already in place. Rough cuts and incomplete projects are not accepted. Multiple entries are allowed, however a separate entry form must be submitted for each. The festival has the capability to screen BluRay and DVD.
EXHIBITION & SCREENING
Screenings are scheduled during the Festival at the discretion of the Brussels Independent Film Festival. Whilst every effort will be made to adhere to the published schedule, Brussels Independent Film Festival reserves the right to make changes at any time for any reason. Brussels Independent Film Festival will not be liable for any costs claimed as a result of a change in scheduling. No film may be withdrawn from the festival program after its selection. If chosen as an official selection, Brussels Independent Film Festival is granted the permission to exhibit the film at the Brussels Independent Film Festival and all associated screenings. Location and timing of any screenings of the film shall be the sole decision of the organizers of the Brussels Independent Film Festival. Filmmakers will be solely responsible for all costs resulting from the submission of the film to the Festival including but not limited to postage or insurance of the film, and expenses of your staff or any representatives of the film. Producer will indemnify the organisers of the Festival against all claims, demands, costs, damages, expenses (including legal fees), proceedings and losses resulting from the screening of the film at the Festival or from claims by any third parties.
LOSS OR DAMAGE
Although every precaution will be taken to prevent loss or damage to materials while in the possession of the festival, The Brussels Independent Film Festival is not responsible should any materials be damaged while in transit to or from, or while in the possession of the festival.
The filmmaker holds the Brussels Independent Film Festival, its management, juries, subsidiaries, agents, sponsors, affiliates, and etc. harmless from any and all claims of liability resulting from entry. The filmmaker certifies to have full rights. Producer will indemnify the organisers of the Festival against all claims, demands, costs, damages, expenses (including legal fees), proceedings and losses resulting from the screening of the film at the Festival or from claims by any third parties.
The festival does not offer screening fees for its films. By submitting through FilmFreeway you are agreeing to NOT request a screening fee as a requirement for your film's participation in the festival, should your film get selected for the program.
Since the festival only requires a nominal entry fee, we will NOT accept requests for other entry fee waivers.