The Belgian love of all things fantastic is not always reflected in the festival's line-up, and this year there are no local feature films on the programme. However, director Jaco Van Dormael will be on hand to present an exclusive sneak preview of his time-hopping new film Mr Nobody, which is strongly tipped to make its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May.
You can also check out young Belgian talent in the short film competition on April 17, which includes highlights such as De Onbaatzuchtigen (The Altruists) by Koen Dejaegher. This ironic portrait of a world where people can sell family members and buy replacements won a prestigious short film prize at last year's Venice Film Festival.
But perhaps the most impressive Belgian sights at the festival are the participants in the various costume events. These include a Vampire's Ball, a body painting contest and Cosplay, which involves dressing up as characters from Japanese animation series. While some of these activities are clearly for obsessives, anyone can participate in Zombie Day on April 11, during which the festival organisers plan to make-up as many people as they can to look like the undead, and then release them into Brussels city centre. You have been warned.
Among the feature films, it is striking how far Europe has come in challenging US and Asian genre cinema. Home-grown films such as Dead in Three Days from Austria and Cold Prey from Norway have proved so successful that they are onto sequels, both appearing in the festival. Meanwhile, Spain has developed a veritable horror industry, with films such as the apocalyptic sci-fi Before the Fall, the ghostly mystery The Beckoning and the bloody black comedy Sexykiller.
Horror, fantasy and sci-fi can be great entertainment for people who like bad films, and there are a fair number of movies in the festival which are unashamedly tongue-in-cheek (Trailer Park of Terror, anyone?). But there are also films here with something to say, and feelings to convey.
Brussels International Festival of Fantastic Film,
Tour & Taxis, Brussels.