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April 17th, 2019

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Happy Patch: short films in Brussels

I did something last night I have not done before - I went to the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival, which has been going for about as long as I have been living in Belgium. The partner of one of my colleagues at work had a short film in the mix, so I persuaded Anne and F to join me at Bozar for its session. In the space of two hours we saw ten very different films from nine different countries, all made in 2018. They were:

Stray (14 min, Australia), written by Katherine Chediak Putnam and Dean Law, directed by Dean Law

Spooky story of a returning WW2 soldier (David Breen) who finds his wife (Melinda Joan Reed) is now possessed by the spirit of a stray cat and therefore has stopped wearing clothes.

Lendemains funèbres (18 min, France), written, directed by and starring Ambroise Michel

Silly story of an undertaker whose daughter (Ambre Hasaj) starts predicting which member of the family will die next - and it's Papa's turn...

Synthia (11 min, Austria), directed by Maria Hinterkörner and Bernhard Weber, written by Maria Hinterkörner

Maria Hinterkörner was actually there last night and did a short interview before we launched into the films for the evening. This was our second favourite film of the ten, with near-future designer Pez (Lisa Schrammel) balancing work commitments over boyfriend Chris (Aksel Stasny). She ironically asks her home AI Synthia (voiced by Doris Wolf) if it can kill Chris for her. Robots have no sense of humour...

In a foreign town (11 min, USA), directed and written by Michael Shlain, based on stories by Thomas Ligotti

A chap (Yuri Lowenthal) talks to his therapist (Tony Amendola, by far the highest-profile name of the evening) and relives being taken to a strange theatre as a boy (Jack McGraw) where he saw a scary showman (Strange Dave). Even at only 11 minutes, it went on a bit.

Moriran los niños (no IMDB but here's a trailer; 21 min, Argentina) directed by Bernardo Bronstein

Longest film of the evening. Near-future babysitter (Guadalupe Docampo) is looking after the kids in a hi-tech apartment. The power fails and things start going horribly wrong. A promising premise whose ending did not really deliver.

Alien Death Fuck (They Came) (4 min, Norway) directed by Thomas Lunde

The shortest film of the night, actually originally a funders' perk for a Norwegian alien sex invasion TV series. A seduction with a twist. (Didn't note the two actors' names at the time, and now can't find a cast list online; not on IMDB, at least not yet.)

Le Blizzard (12 min, Andorra) written and directed by Àlvaro Rodriguez Areny

In wartime, a woman (Aida Folch) has been separated from her young daughter (Irene Quero) in a blizzard which appears to be on the French border with either Spain or Andorra. Gruesome violence and special effects, but yet another film with an inconclusive ending. Judging by the length of the credits, the entire population of Andorra appears to have participated in the making of the film.

Regulation (12 min, USA) written and directed by Ryan Patch

The standout of the evening, which is just as well as it's the one by my colleague's other half. In the not very distant future, a social worker (Sunita Mani) has the task of persuading a young girl (Audrey Bennett) to take the mandatory "happy patch" which stops children and adolescents from experiencing negative feelings. In a very few minutes, the details of a future society are convincingly conveyed by showing rather than telling. Here's the trailer.


Neverending Kitchen (12 min, Spain) written and directed by Fernando González Gómez

Three friends (Javier Bódalo, Carmen Ibeas, Niko Verona) talking in the kitchen after a party, with comic horror effects. Dialogue depends at one point on an untranslatable Spanish pun. Seemed a bit pointless.

Dead Teenager Séance (20 min, Brazil) directed by Rodrigo Gasparini and Dante Vescio, written by Dante Vescio, Rafael Baliú and Rodrigo Gasparini

Rather silly teenagers-explore-haunted-house story. Good make-up and effects and some funny lines that even survived translation from the Portuguese. Notable performance from Sofia Peres as Punky, the girl who gets killed near the start and spends the rest of the film plotting vengeance.

So, that was a reasonable strike rate - only a couple of them were actively bad and a couple were actually rather good. I might go again another year.

Friends in the London area might like to note that Regulation is also being shown at Sci-Fi London on 18 May at 1440, 19 May at 1445 and 21 May at 1330, along with a bunch of others.

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