[BIFFF 2022] Top, flop, notes by Loïc Smars

Find at the conclusion of this edition of the BIFFF what made vibrate or what annoyed our journalists sent on the spot. Tops, flops and notes galore, let’s go!

This year the BIFFF moved to the Heysel Plateau for the next 5 years. If the editions at Bozar have been acclaimed in view of their geographical orientation, Palais 10 recalls the years spent at Tour & Taxis for these large spaces, minus the artisanal cinema. If the beginning of the festival was marked by the mess of a new place (Press office not found, technical problems, canceled sessions, etc.), the organization has been able to improve as the days go by and makes us optimistic for the sequel. One of the biggest surprises of this edition, at the end of summer, was the gigantic outdoor bar with several foodtrucks to choose from. The next good news is that the organization is resuming good habits and the BIFFF 2023 will indeed take place during the Easter holidays: there are only 6 months left to find all the familiar faces (Olivier, Vincent, Loïc, Roxane, Youssef, Jonathan, Stéphane, Mélody, Gilles, Kamal, etc.) and relive this special atmosphere of the BIFFFien universe.

Top 5

  1. Freaks Out
  2. Once upon a time in Uganda
  3. Ritual
  4. Megalomaniac
  5. Hinterland

It has been a constant for several years, the programming is much more qualitative than before. No more useless stews just to fill in the gaps, the festival wants to offer the public real experiences. This does not prevent you from being desperate in front of certain films (as we will see in the other part) but it is clear that even the worst brings a welcome originality to the proposed offer. But before talking about the worst, let’s dwell on the nuggets that I have seen during the last twelve days.

In first position, few doubts to have as Freaks Out, Belgian-Italian film, lit up this festival. After having already surprised the world by reinventing the superhero film, Gabriele Mainetti tackles the figure of the mutant (à la X-Men) with even more talent. Contrary to its model, the film takes its time to characterize the characters, to install its universe between poetry and action and in the end, the 2h20 spin at full speed. Surprisingly, I saw the best film in the program but I almost regretted the session, so much I would have liked, for once, to immerse myself calmly in this original universe, far from the audience so atypical of the BIFFF. The second film is just as original! One upon a time in Uganda tells the crazy story of a guy living in a slum in the capital of Uganda who, taken with a passion for cinema, decides to create a studio at home in order to create films. The documentary recounts the international recognition of his Tarantinesque work and above all his friendship with a New Yorker who gave up everything to come and help him. The following films will be less joyful. Ritual tells the story of a professional diver working for the police who will find herself in the middle of a murder case referring to the Congolese genocide initiated by Leopold II, former King of the Belgians. In addition to succeeding in an effective thriller, Hans Herbots also dares to deal frontally with the Belgian colonialist past. The fourth movie Megalomaniac, also delves into the history of Belgium by taking the side of imagining that the skinner of Mons had two children. Two children who are obviously not really sane, one continuing his father’s legacy, the other suffering from severe schizophrenia. If I forget the slightly arty excesses of the “ghosts” of the house, this film fulfills its contract of gloomy experience and reveals the talent of the two main actors. To finish this top, I change register to discover Hinterland, an Austrian thriller set during World War I. Veterans, barely out of Russian prisons, return to a Vienna that has changed a lot. In addition to not being able to adapt to this new life, they are murdered one by one. The two positive elements of this film are the historical aspects of the time transcribed in a credible way and the general aesthetic resulting from a sort of Gothic three-dimensional book.

PS: did you notice that three Top 5 films are Belgian?

The flop 5

  1. Moloss
  2. Rubicon
  3. No looking back
  4. Scare Package 2
  5. silent night

With regard to the programming, it is automatically more difficult to establish a flop. Despite the originality of some of its proposals, here is the worst we have seen this year. The top four on this list are also the ones I couldn’t hold on to until the end. I notice that they are admirably ranked according to how quickly one picked up. Moloss, a kind of friend’s film that got lost at the festival, never managed to convince me as its amateurism disappointed me without amusing me. I fled after 24 minutes. Next, Rubicon, a neatly set Austrian sci-fi film that has just one slight quibble: it’s hopelessly boring and contemplative. If this film will certainly find its audience, I preferred to let them have all the fun before going to sleep. A session that this time lasted 47 minutes. No looking back had the merit of offering originality: a road trip where a mother pursues her daughter in order to kill her and recover her granddaughter. But it was without counting on a series of stupidities and inconsistencies that got me out of the film. Arrived 15 minutes late and left 15 minutes before the end, I barely lasted an hour in front of this Russian UFO. The fourth film in this ranking directly follows the previous one: Scare Package 2. If I had seen and appreciated the first part at the very beginning of the festival, the second opus abandons all the surprises of the first to devote itself entirely to an agreed parody of horror films. The sauce doesn’t take and if I haven’t left the session, it’s quite simply that boredom has won over me (yes, that does mean that I slept). The last on this list wasn’t the most obvious. if silent night is not a dung strictly speaking and sometimes even to be good in its closed-door form before the end of the world, the excessive advertising of Coca-Cola until the last minutes of the film prevents all emotions and limits me angry. Just for that, bam! Fifth of Flop 5!

The ratings of the films seen!

Moloss : Not wanting to spoil the party too much for an audience made up of people who worked on the film, I prefer to slip away quickly in front of so much undrinkable amateurism.

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Scare Package 2 : The first succeeded what this second opus failed: originality.
No looking back : The idea may seem attractive but the treatment is catastrophic.

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Studio 666 : Impossible to get into this film to the glory of the leader of the Foo Fighters who collects all the clichés of the genre ad nauseam.
Rubicon : a magnificent but boring sci-fi film.

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Scare Package : If the joke lasts too long, we saw some welcome original ideas.
sink hole : For once, the Koreans failed to keep the blood pressure monitor active. Unlike a disaster film, we often witness a somewhat failed comedy.
silent night : Do you want a Coca-Cola before the end of humanity? That’s all I took away…

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Holy Shit! : A tour de force to succeed in an original film with so few means. It’s a pity that the implausible gets involved in the game.
MexZombies : It’s funny a zombie movie whose heroes are kids. In addition to the small fat, he wins! But it still lacks rhythm and what causes it!
secret cop : First film by an Icelandic national team goalkeeper, shot with bits of string. If we are torn between admiration and disappointment, we are especially curious to see what the rest of the filmmaker’s career can give!
Mad Heidi : We got what we wanted: a completely stupid film in front of an unleashed public. Too bad that in the middle there are too many contemplative and useless scenes.

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The Cursed: Dead Man’s Prey : Another Korean tour de force that offers another version of the zombie myth. To see just for the scene where 100 undead have only one goal, to kill their target!
The Black Square : A German vaudeville full of surprises.
The visitor from the future : They managed to go from the web series to the film while keeping their DNA. And quality SF is rare in France.
Megalomaniac : A fat and glaucous film on the butcher of Mons. Maybe a little too much useless effects but a performance from the lead actor and actress.
Hinterland : The most amazing thing is that the original aesthetic of the film does not bother us.
predator : Well… it’s Predator isn’t it?

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Ritual : Effective polar and frontal treatment of the difficult history of Belgium.

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Once upon a time in Uganda : A brilliant documentary on an extraordinary story. What else?

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Freaks Out : The stories of superheroes or mutants, it can be really good when it’s treated by a filmmaker and not by amusement park workers.

[BIFFF 2022] Top, flop, notes by Loïc Smars