Get ready for the 2021 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. As in its earlier years, the 2021 festival will showcase films from a small, national cinema in order to examine the chosen culture’s filmic trends in more detail.

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 2021.

Join us!

Next to the main screenings at the Cinema Galeries 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. Thanks to our sponsors we’re also able to offer complimentary popcorn.

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 2021 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.

Located in the historic Saint Hubert Galleries, Cinema Galeries is dedicated to art house cinema, and complements a programme of contemporary filmmakers with exhibitions of modern art and educational programmes.

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.

Check out our IMDB listing:

Brussels Independent Film Festival announces winners of Atomium Film Awards 2020

The 2020 edition of the renewed Brussels Independent Film Festival closed Saturday evening after a week full of films from all over the globe with the presentation of the 'Atomium Film Awards'. The filmmakers were crowned with edible chocolate awards made by Belgian chocolatier Wim Vyverman.

The prize for the Best Narrative Feature Film went to 'The Names Of The Flowers' (Bolivia) by Bahman Tavoosi. As Bolivia stages the 50th anniversary of Ernesto "Che" Guevara’s death, Julia, an old countryside teacher, is invited to share her historical story with the world: giving a bowl of soup to the captured guerrilla in her classroom, while he recited a poem about flowers to her, a few hours before his death. The invitation is withdrawn soon after, as other women step forward, claiming the story of “the soup and the flower” as their own. The jury members praised the film's “remarkable color design and framing”, as well as its “breathtaking performances”. 'Hollow Heart' (Denmark) by Emilie Marloth Frøkjær received the award for Best Narrative Short Film. Ellen has achieved great success on the art scene with her installation piece "Hollow Heart", where she scans and projects her sick daughter's heart in front of a live audience. As the press begins to doubt Ellen's talent, she chooses to restage the piece bigger and wilder. But as her daughter Adalyn enters puberty and is more fragile than ever, Ellen must choose between chasing fame or assuring Adalyn's health. The jury found the film an “astounding piece of cinema which deeply resonates”.

Best Documentary Feature Film went to 'House Calls' (Germany) by Anne Münch. A portrait about an 80-year-old philosopher who goes from door to door to prepare people for the great occasion of Immanuel Kant’s 300th birthday. In search of closeness, he wants to get to the bottom of the pressing issues of our time. “The goal of getting philosophy demystified and bringing it to the people was very well achieved”, reported one jury member. 'PACIFIC' (Lebanon) by Angie Obeid was awarded with Best Documentary Short Film. This observational documentary follows a group of inhabitants of a Brussels high-rise building named 'PACIFIC', in the aftermath of the suicide of one of its tenants.

'ON' (Australia) by Jelena Sinik won the prize for Best Animated Film. In our age of attention scarcity, ‘ON’ explores just where our gaze is falling. Take a curious and playful glimpse into both the connectedness and enduring loneliness of the modern condition, through this intimate and unexamined lens. The award for Best Experimental Film was for 'Shelly' (United States) by Katie Vida. 'Shelly' is a video work developed entirely on Snapchat, the app known for its face altering features. The piece includes filtered selfie video diaries by Kentucky native Shelly, who has exhausted her savings on an Airbnb rental to explore New York. Her meanderings are meaningful for their short-lived revelations. 'Shelly' sheds light on smartphone technology as a form of embodiment, elucidation, connection, and at times, detachment. Best Music Video went to 'Worthless' (Germany) by Robert Piel for the band Sabbath Assembly. The video tells the coming-of-age tale of a young man as he claims his territory and his sexuality in the face of an adversarial peer group and family. Set in a provincial rural setting, the protagonist finds his identity in skateboarding, brawls, and self-harm, ultimately individuating in an act of extreme savagery. Our jury members praised the “original camera work” in particular.

And last but not least, Best Belgian Film was awarded to 'Int.Anouchka-Night' (Belgium) by Louise Hansenne. Anouchka is a 30-year-old scriptwriter who works in a wine bar to earn a living. She retraces her last 15 years of alcoholism through a script she wrote. “Anouchka is imperturbable and very solid but she opens up and becomes very fragile”, the jury thought. “An excellent film about alcoholism that brought up as many questions as it answered.”

Out of more than 3,000 entries, 100 films from all over the globe were selected to be screened at different locations in the heart of Brussels. The festival's newest section, 'The Rabbit Holes' also proved to be a hit. The vaulted rooms of the underground exhibition hall at Cinema Galeries served as the setting for the continuous screenings of a careful selection of experimental films.

"We do not have a red carpet, we do not organize fancy parties. We just want to show films", says organizer Kris De Meester. "We are especially happy this year with the large turnout – we had people sitting on the stairs at times – for a selection of what are arguably sometimes challenging films.” The 2020 edition was yet another successful one, with a record number of attendees and the continued support of the Atomium, Cinema Galeries and Cinema Ritcs.

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:

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, Tarkovski, and Hollywood producer Bhavani Rao, member of the PGA, 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:

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.

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.

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.

Overall Rating
  • Claudio Borrelli

    I will always have and immense affection for the Brussels Independent Film Festival, and for Belgium, because it was my first festival with my first feature film, and a great experience. We met very good and friendly people. Thanks Brussels.

    July 2020
  • I had the opportunity to participate in the festival. It was one of the last festivals before the COVID-19 pandemic. So there were no social distances and instead the festival organizers were very welcoming, friendly and nice. It was a very well organized festival with very interesting film programming in the heart of Brussels.

    May 2020
  • We wish we could have attended - the venues and website information look fantastic - really nicely curated festival, very nice communication from the organizers, proud to have been selected - thank you!

    March 2020
  • Thanks a lot Brussels Independent Film Festival for screening my shortmovie 'Hallebaan 3', in which I explore the vulnerable side of personal memories. After the death of my father, I visit the home of my childhood a very last time and lose myself in time and space.

    February 2020
  • Here at Escape Studios in London we were delighted to have our short film Adam & Eve Mk II by Sebastian Kuder selected for the Brussels Independent Film Festival. Thanks for a great festival!

    February 2020