BRUSSELS — Hungarian helmer Kornel Mundruczo has scooped the top prize, worth $11,320, at the Brussels Film Fest with his pic “Pleasant Days.” The film also took the Silver Lion at Locarno in August.
Fest, devoted exclusively to first and second films by European directors, did not feature the kind of celebrity guest list as in the past, when stars such as John Malkovich, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins attended.
After struggling just to survive for the last few years, the fest has changed its profile to differentiate itself from other Belgian fests.
“It started off as a highly commercial event, basically designed to sell films in Belgium,” organizer Sven Tuytens told Variety. “Three years ago it began showing European films only. But then last year it ran into problems finding a venue.” Fest’s organizers had arranged to stage it in the impressive Art Deco building Flagey, the former home of Belgian TV & Radio, but it was not ready in time for the 2002 event.
After that debacle, the event was taken over by local producer Dominique Janne, who decided to make the fest into a showcase for new Euro talent. This helps the event differentiate itself from other Belgian fests such as the Flanders Intl. Film Festival, held in Ghent.
The retooled event proved successful with the public, with an estimated 11,000 tickets sold.