Celluloid Diaries: Must-see films at the Offscreen Film Festival

Monday, March 5, 2018

Must-see films at the Offscreen Film Festival

bruxelles festival

This is the first year I've been part of the programming team of the Offscreen Film Festival in Brussels, Belgium. The festival starts on Wednesday, March 7th, and I'm proud to show you all the cinematic delights we have in store for you.


The Offscreenings program presents a fine selection of special, new and unreleased films, giving a platform to movies at the cutting edge of contemporary cinema. These films are noted for their artistic originality, unique vision and inventive approach to the medium and genre.

You can find the Offscreenings program here.

Our guests for this module are Vicky Krieps (actress, Gutland & Phantom Thread), Kevin Janssens (actor, Revenge) and Govinda van Maele (director, Gutland).

vicky krieps phantom thread

Genre Cinema all'Italiana

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Italy was at the forefront of such popular movie genres as peplums, spaghetti westerns, thrillers, police action, and horror. Many directors (Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci), cinematographers (Vittorio Storaro), and composers (Bruno Nicolai, Ennio Morricone) made their names during this golden age of Italian genre cinema, or "filone", a term for the cross-pollination between various film traditions, cycles, movements, and trends contributing to the richness and diversity of popular Italian cinema. Also prominent in this era of enormous creativity and expansion were the festival's guests of honor - Enzo G. Castellari and Sergio Martino. Actor Luc Merenda will be present as well. Offscreen will be showing a retrospective of their most important films. Check out the program here.

luc merenda the violent professionals

Thierry Zéno

Belgium's most subversive filmmaker, Thierry Zéno, passed away on June 7, 2017, due to a lingering illness. This multidisciplinary artist is foremost the director of the unsettling, controversial feature film Vase de noces (1974). In 1976, a new documentary causes shockwaves: the often unbearably distressing Des morts, which deals with burial rites around the world and is not suitable for sensitive viewers. He will return to this ethnological approach with documentaries such as Chronique d’un village tzotzil (1992) and Ya basta ! Le cri des sans-visage (1997), while his fascination with Félicien Rops and other artists is reflected in his works Les muses sataniques (1983), Ce tant bizarre Monsieur Rops (2000) and Eugène Ionesco, voix et silences (1987).

vase de noces thierry zéno

Vampires Suck!

No supernatural creature has been portrayed as frequently in cinema history as the vampire. Bram Stoker's Dracula, everyone's favorite bloodsucker, has alone racked up nearly 200 different movie appearances. Even today, the vampire continues to fascinate, guaranteeing the box office success of franchises such as Twilight and Underworld. The flipside of this popularity is that the monster has become too hokey and familiar. Indeed, to quote the title of one Twilight spoof, Vampires Suck! But they are also supremely versatile, as Offscreen shows with a selection of 21 transgressive vampire movies which turn the genre conventions upside down, breaking with the clichés of Gothic castles, garlic and crucifixes to depict the creatures as hyper-realistic, modern, exotic, hybrid, unusual, or simply deranged. These films provide unique spins on vampire mythology and inject the genre with compelling stories about the human condition, sexuality, addiction, disease, and mortality.

You can see a list of all the vampire movies we'll be playing at the Offscreen Film Festival at Vampires Suck: 21 Most Unusual Vampire Movies.

Director Harry Kümel will be present at the screening of his Daughters of Darkness.

ganja and hess

Adult Animation from the 1970s: Ralph Bakshi & Co

Ralph Bakshi (°1938) ranks up there with such masters of animation as Walt Disney and Tex Avery. He pioneered adult-themed animation interwoven with political commentary and satire, stirring up controversy with his feature debut, the X-rated animated adaptation of Fritz the Cat. His next two films, Heavy Traffic and Coonskin, proved equally controversial. His work is bold, profane, hysterical, obscene, sometimes dark, but always stunning. Bakshi will be present at the festival via a Skype connection.

This small Bakshi homage forms part of a night of adult animation. There was a surge in taboo-breaking films in the late 1960s, with other animators producing politically incorrect, amoral cartoons such as Dirty Duck by Charles Swenson (who will also be present at the festival via video conference). Porno chic and hardcore also abounded in the shape of short sextoons, or in live action pornography such as Sex in the Comics, which pays tribute to the Tijuana Bibles or “dirty” comic books. An unforgettable adults-only night.

fritz the cat ralph bakshi

Hands Off!

Forget Ash's possessed hand in Evil Dead II or Thing T. Thing, the helpful hand from The Addams Family. The hands stealing the show in this B to Z are another breed of five-fingered beast entirely.

Demonoid AKA Macabra starts off in a small town in Mexico, homeland of the film's director Alfredo Zacarias (whose other Z-movie credits include The Bees), and tracks the bloody progress of a demonic hand which serially possesses a variety of humans, including a plastic surgeon and a priest. Never before has a severed body part demonstrated such ingenuity in eliminating its opponents!

In The Hand, another extremity turns homicidal after being violently severed in a car accident and even begins to infect the mental health of its former owner (Michael Caine). This second feature from writer-director Oliver Stone (Natural Born Killers, JFK, World Trade Center) is a barking mad psychological thriller with splashes of horror and even a touch of slapstick.

hands off

Which movies are you looking forward to seeing at the Offscreen Film Festival?


  1. Is Bakshi is still making films? He made a lot in the 70's. I remember Wizards and LOTR best.

  2. These films all look amazing. It's a shame I missed the Offscreen Film Festival. I hope they get promoted more on social media before the Christmas downturn. I've never seen The Hand, but it's definitely on my list now!

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