The seventh edition of the Offscreen Film Festival starts on 5 March with The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears, will feature a wide focus on British cult films, and has master of erotic cinema Radley Metzger as its guest of honour.
The Offscreen Film Festival, the festival of genre, cult and trash cinema, will take place from the 5-23 March at Cinema Nova, Cinematek, Bozar and Cinema Rits in Brussels.
For this seventh edition, Offscreen’s team of archeologists of the bizarre have decided to set sail to Great Britain, where they dug up some rare relics from the 1960s to the 80s, among them the Stonehenge of British fantasy cinema, The Wicker Man (1973), personally presented in its brand new Final Cut version by Robin Hardy himself. This program will give the occasion to pay an extended homage to England’s most iconoclastic filmmaker, Ken Russell, and to two-time Bond-Girl and B-Movie queen Martine Beswick.
This year’s Offscreenings selection will feature 10 films presented as premieres, a selection of films as the avant-garde of tomorow’s cult cinema. Next to L’Etrange Couleur des Larmes de ton Corps, the new foray into Italian genre cinema by the auteurs of Amer, Hélène Cattet et Bruno Forzani, the festival will offer Her, Spike Jonze’s romantic science-fiction drama, as well as the intelligent revenge thriller Blue Ruin that made a splash during awards season. Next to these films scheduled for a theatrical release after the festival, Offscreen will offer the unique opportunity to discover on the big screen the latest works from mavericks like Sion Sono (Why Don’t You Play In Hell), and Hitoshi Matsumoto (R100), but also the retrofuturistic and intriguing Computer Chess by Andrew Bujalski, A Field in England, the latest opus from Britain’s new enfant terrible Ben Wheatley or Yann Gonzalez’ disconcerting Les rencontres d’après minuit.
British Cult Cinema – Mind the Gap
‘Mind The Gap’ is the famous warning known by any user of London’s tube. It’s also the favourite one-liner of the cannibal that terrorises that same metro in Raw Meat (Death Line). The expression also fits perfectly with this year’s main theme of the festival: the striking contrast between the featured selection of films, which frontally attack all conventions, and the mainstream cinema of that same period.
17 Films, some of which have become cult classics (Wolf Rilla’s Village of the Damned, Bunny Lake is Missing by Otto Preminger), others being real discoveries (Psychomania, Don Sharp; The Reckoning, Jack Gold), all feature an England where fearless modernity slowly turns into nightmare.
Ken Russell: Retrospective and conference
This cinematographic trip to Albion will give the opportunity to extensively salute the late Ken Russell, through his most emblematic works such as The Devils, Tommy, Altered States, and his lesser known biopics like Mahler, Valentino or the seldom screened Clouds of Glory, a TV drama that has long been considered lost. Cinema Rits will join the homage with a double event: one day will be devoted to the screening of the director’s four first films made for the BBC, with which he reinvented the documentary form, next to a two-day symposium gathering some of the biggest specialists of the director’s work.
Homage to Martine Beswick
Another tribute will be paid, in her presence, to an actress who offered her talent and charms to the popular British cinema of the period: Martine Beswick. James Bond girl for both With Russia With Love and Thunderball, she was also one of the female leads, along with Raquel Welch, of One Million Years BC. She then stayed in the prehistoric era with Slave Girls, and with her raw beauty she illuminated one of the last productions of the Hammer studios: Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde.
Guest of Honour: Radley Metzger, pope of porno chic
In these times of hygienic, mechanical and dull pornography, there is no place left for the delicacy and sophistication of a film maker like Radley Metzger. Influenced by Bergman and Antonioni, Metzger captured the libertine atmosphere of the swinging sixties in psycho-erotic dramas such as The Lickerish Quartet and Camille 2000. In the permissive 1970s, he explored the border with hardcore in the taboo-breaking drama Score. Using the alias ‘Henry Paris’ he then ventured into full blown pornography, yet still upheld the same attention to detail and mise-en-scène. Radley Metzger will honour us with is presence during this retrospective and will give a Masterclass at Cinema Nova on 8 March 8 at 17h.
Gisaburo Sugii, Japan’s other animation maestro
Lesser well known internationally than his counterpart Miyazaki, Gisaburo Sugii is, at 73, the other veteran of Japanese animation. With true masterpieces like The Belladonna of Sadness (1973 – chief animator) and Night on the Galactic Railroad (1985 – director), Sugii gave to the genre two artistic milestones. Offscreen will propose a small retrospective of the author.
Special screenings: Live soundtracks, matinées, Belgian evening
Offscreen wouldn’t be Offscreen without its live soundtracks. Exploring the dark corners of film history from a musical angle, two concerts will liven up – if need be – the nights of Cinema Nova. On 8 March, at 22h, the collective from Marseilles Oaïstern will spotlight the first ever European westerns, shot in the French Camargue in the 1910s – the so-called baguetti western. 22 March at 22h, we will (re)discover the Spanish counterpart of Georges Méliès, Segundo de Chomon, accompanied by the exhilarating live music of LouisLouis and Truna.
On Sunday 16 March at 14h, Offscreen will give you the opportunity to revive the golden years of cinema in the form of a faithfully reproduced matinee show, with usherettes guiding you to your seat and offering candy from a tray during intermission. Vintage serials and trailers will precede the main feature: One Million Years BC in glorious Technicolor.
One of this edition’s main themes may be British cult cinema, but when it comes to excentricity, Belgium definitely holds its own. The evening of 13 March will be entirely devoted to the work of some national authors that have clearly lost their marbles. Gathered under the title Ceci n’est pas … België/Belgique/Belgium, seven short films selected in association with Kortfilm.be and a feature (The Miracle of Life, by Joël Rabijns and Yves Sondermeier) will demonstrate that Belgium remains the land of surrealism, transgression and waffles.
The full programme is now online – presales start on 10 February on the website.