Competish widens scope to include all Euro films

BRUSSELS — Eleven European features compete for honors at the Brussels Film Festival, which unspools in the Belgian capital June 22-29.

Previously focused on first and second films, the competition opened up in 2010 to accommodate more mature work.

Wider scope this year allows in films such as Agusti Villaronga’s multiple Goya winner “Pa negre” and Italian gangster pic “Vallanzasca” by Michele Placido.

But fest retains its White Iris award for best first film, this year with five contenders, alongside its main Golden Iris prize.

Most competitors have history at major European festivals, with Berlin channeling Chernobyl drama “Innocent Saturday” and Polish pic “Suicide Room,” for example, while dark comedy “Happy Happy” and social drama “Parked” come via Goteborg.

Exceptions include dark Austrian drama “Brand” by Thomas Roth and Gypsy tale “Jimmy Riviere” from French first-timer Teddy Lussi-Modeste. Both land in Brussels with little international exposure.

Gaul opens and closes the fest, with romantic comedy “Pourquoi tu pleures?” raising the curtain and Roschdy Zem’s racially charged crime drama “Omar m’a tuer” bringing it down.

Local features have a low profile, with only “Au cul du loup” screening out of competition. Pic tells the story of a Belgian woman returning to her family’s roots in Corsica. First-timer Pierre Duculot directs.

A tie-in with the Sundance Channel provides the fest’s only non-European fare. Lineup includes Michael Tully’s “Septien” and “Night and Weekends” by Greta Gerwig and Joe Swanberg.

Meanwhile the fest’s growing professional side includes a two-day masterclass on script development with Laurence Coriat, using her work on Michael Winterbottom’s “Wonderland” as a case-study.

There is also an afternoon with screenwriter Jean-Francois Halin, who penned the “OSS 117″ films, plus workshops on film digitization and the links between the music and film industries.

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