Do vampires not get your heart racing? Perhaps Casey Affleck as a ghost, Jaws’s Italian cousin, or the grimy Fritz the Cat will do the trick. The eleventh edition of the Offscreen Film Festival is again offering something cult to suit everybody’s taste.
The Offscreenings section with new lms that are being shown in preview is exceptionally rich this year. The festival is opening with Revenge, an update of the rape and revenge lm (the exploitation lm subgenre in which a sensationalized rape scene is usually followed by the victim becoming a sadistic avenging angel and massacring the perpetrators). Coralie Fargeat demonstrates that this misogynist genre can get a surprising twist when there is a woman behind the camera.
2. A Ghost Story
The title may sound generic, but
A Ghost Story is nothing like your average haunted house horror lm. Director David Lowery collaborated with the acting duo Rooney Mara and Casey Af eck from his earlier Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. This moving analysis of the mourning process requires some suspension of disbelief because Af eck spends most of the lm hidden under a bedsheet. This did not stop the American press from ranking A Ghost Story as one of the best films of 2017.
November, Estonian director Rainer Sarnet’s black and white peasant drama populated by werewolves, is in many respects reminiscent of Marketa Lazarova, the Czech classic from 1967 that was our undisputed highlight of the Focus on Czech lm during the last edition of the festival. The lms have a similar magic-realist atmosphere, related primitive settings, and virtuoso black and white cinematography, which deservedly won an award at Robert de Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival.
4. Conference Italian Cinema
Variety once lauded Offscreen for its “well-curated assembly of retrospectives”. This year, the special Genre Cinema all’italiana is being accompanied by a conference on the heyday of popular Italian lm in the 1970s, with its spaghetti westerns, horror lms, sexy thrillers known as gialli, and brutally violent crime lms called poliziotteschi. For a long time, these were dismissed as rip-offs of American lms, but many of these titles have become cult classics in their own right.
5. Enzo G. Castellari
As part of the Genre Cinema all’italiana retrospective, Offscreen is inviting two eighty-year-old lm maestros to Brussels. The rst is Enzo G. Castellari, who made lms in every possible genre in the 1970s, but was especially interested in poliziotteschi. From a sociological perspective, these police lms aptly re ected the political unrest of the Years of Lead, but they are also hugely entertai- ning with their non-stop action, as Castellari’s High Crime and The Big Racket demonstrate.
6. The Last Shark
If you are plagiarizing Mad Max and remaking The French Connection, why not make a Mediterranean rip-off of Jaws? Enter The Last Shark or L’ultimo squalo. Is this the ultimate disaster of a monster lm or an irresistible guilty pleasure? Did Spielberg ever see this curiosity? And was the totally unconvincing mechanical shark actually sometimes replaced by a dolphin? This is your chance to ask director Enzo G. Castellari yourself, because he is coming to introduce the screening.
During the spaghetti western special at Offscreen in 2010, we discovered that Sergio Corbucci, Damiano Damiani, and Giulio Questi are not trans-Alpine TV chefs, but the competitors of Sergio Leone who made lms that were at least as good as their much more famous colleague’s. For this edition, the programme directors found the 1976 lm Keoma in the oeuvre of the jack-of-all-trades Enzo G. Castellari, and they are presenting it as “one of the best spaghetti westerns ever”.
8. Sergio Martino
The second Italian guest at the festival is Sergio Martino. Just like his colleague Castellari, he also directed police lms and post-apocalyptic sci- , but more than anything, Martino is known as a master of the giallo, the Italian thriller, characterized by violent murders, plenty of eroticism, a fascination with psychosis, and extremely stylized cinematography and soundtrack. Among other lms, Martino is coming to present Torso and All the Colors of the Dark, starring his muse Edwige Fenech.
9. Ralph Bakshi
Offscreen also has a penchant for offbeat animation, as is evident from their past programmes around the work of stop-motion mavericks Martha Colburn and Bruce Bickford. This year, the festival is focusing on Ralph Bakshi, the pioneer of adult animation who is renowned for his X-rated Robert Crumb adaptation Fritz the Cat. In addition to this classic, Offscreen is also showing Heavy Traf c and Dirty Duck, and the audience will be able to ask Bakshi questions during a live video conference.
10. Wim Castermans
You weren’t expecting any more vampire lms, but we’ll happily make an exception for Wim Castermans. Wim died of brain cancer on 5 October 2017. Since 2010, he had been a copywriter and programmer for Offscreen. Wim’s dedication was boundless and he was loved by both his colleagues and audiences. Wim is being commemorated with a number of self-made lms and photos, and the screening of Mr. Vampire, a kung-fu extravaganza and one of his personal favourites.
> Offscreen Film Festival. 7 > 25/3. Various Locations.