The seemingly perfect sense of patience and good nature of the fiercely loyal fantasy fans attending the world premiere of Luc Besson’s new film The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec was tested to the limit at its sell out screening.

It wasn’t so much that it was late starting - fantasy fans have no qualms about such things - but more that it was one of those rare occasions when cameras and mobile phones had to be handed over prior to the screening.

That meant that the twin long queues inside the festival’s home, the impressive quasi-industrial Tours & Taxis building, located just outside the centre of Brussels next to the Haven canal, had a long wait before the traditional fight for the best seats inside the pop-up cinema.

Adele Blanc-Sec

Luckily the Belgians – and other international genre fans – seemed to rival the Brits in their queuing ability. Granted there were distractions…a smattering of ‘actors’ representing characters from the film ran around firing off blanks noisily and generally romped about, while as the queue gradually got closer to the cinema entrance there was always the body painting stand to hold the interest.

And that is then great thing about BIFFF (as it is more simply known) – the fans love their event. Inside the warehouse building there are also an art exhibition, stands selling DVDs, comics, posters, books etc., as well as the heavily used bar. The smell of beer and hot dogs may permeate the building, but for fantasy fans the festival (now in its 28th year) is an annual treat.

There is also a great tradition of interactivity at BIFF. If a full moon appears during on screen during a film then the crowd howls…there is, in fact, plenty of shouting generally, especially when it comes to warning a hero/heroine about impending slice’n’dice doom.

Thankfully Luc Besson entered into things with a bubbly enthusiasm, bounding onto the stage to address the audience prior to the much-anticipated premiere of The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec. There was a little good-natured banter before he and the film’s star Louise Bourgoin sang a brief rendition of The Beatles’ Michelle (as in ‘Michelle, ma belle…) that the very vocal audience lapped up.

Adele Blanc-Sec

Even a brief technical hitch with the digital presentation didn’t hamper the good will and enthusiasm for the movie, mainly driven by the charming, charismatic and engagingly enthusiastic performance by Louise Bourgoin as the adventurous journalist Adèle Blanc-Sec.

Still…there was more queuing on the way out (phones and cameras to pick up etc), and outside, waiting patiently was another queue for the next movie. Following Adèle Blanc-Sec was George Romero’s Survival of the Dead, to be swiftly followed by the double-bill of Takanori Tsujimoto’s films Hard Revenge Milly and Hard Revenge, Milly:Blood Battle.

BIFFF (now in its 28th year) has developed into a come-to event for fantasy fans. Running April 8-20, it features more than 60 screenings (including a smattering of premieres) and wrapped with a screening of Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass. Other highlights include a horror all-nighter, the Zombie Parade, Japanimation Day, Vampire’s Ball and the International Body Painting Contest.