Provingthat in this era of DVDs, re-issues and special festival screenings, no footageis ever safely in the grave, Paul Schrader will bring his version of TheExorcist: The Beginning to the Brussels International Festival of FantasticFilm on March 18 in a precursor to what looks like a limited theatricalrollout.

Thiswill be a world premiere for the $35m film, which was binned by producer MorganCreek almost two years ago after it was deemed not scary enough.

Schraderwas replaced by Renny Harlin, who then went on to shoot an entirely different$50m film with changes in the key cast.

NowSchrader is resurrecting the first film, starring Stellan Skarsgard (whoappeared in both versions) and Billy Crawford for a world premiere in Belguim.

TheHarlin version of The Exorcist: The Beginning was released to lukewarmreviews but a healthy worldwide gross of $76m. The Schrader film, meanwhile,has never been seen before.

WhileMorgan Creek has been unclear on its plans surrounding the original version -it once thought of premiering it on a DVD release alongside the Harlin take -it has never ruled out theatrically-releasing the Scrader version.

Thedirector himself has expressed a desire to show the films side-by-side and letthe audience decide, saying: "In the end it's a revenue stream. And allrevenue streams eventually reach the sea."

Box office returns of filmsin the Exorcist franchise:

1973 - The Exorcist:US $232.7m (inc. re-releases) Int'l $208.4m
1977 - Exorcist II: The Heretic: US $30.7m Int'l n/a
1990 - The Exorcist 3: US $26.1m Int'l $12.9 (est)
2004 - Exorcist: The Beginning: US $41.8m Intl $35.1m

Themove reinforces the role of film festivals in empowering directors and changingpublic opinion. Vincent Gallo, for example, followed a critical mauling atCannes in 2003 for his opus The Brown Bunny with a re-edit, a berth atthe Toronto Film Festival and FIPRESCI prize at Vienna later that same year.

Exorcist: The Prequel is one of the highlights of theFantastic Film festival (March 11-26.)More details of this year's programme were announced in Berlin yesterday.

The 23rd edition of thefestival this year boasts 15 world premiers, 12 European premiers and a totalof 36 features films competing for honours within the three main competitionsections.

Dario Argento will attendthe world premier of his latest film Do You Like Hitchcock, as will USveteran horror meister Jeff Lieberman (Squirm) with Satan's LittleHelper.

European premiers includethe latest US releases Ring 2 (Hideo Nakata) and Boogeyman(Stephen T. Kay), as well as Spanish enfant terrible Alex de la Iglesia's FerpectCrime and Bille August's UK/US/Denmark/Canada co-production Return ToSender.

Films in the InternationalCompetition will again compete for the Golden Raven and a euros 5,000 prizeawarded to the film's Belgian distributor. Last year the award went to SouthKorean Jun-hwan Jang for his Save The Green Planet.

The Jury of the EuropeanCompetition will nominate the film which will represent the Brussels festivalat the Golden Meliès Competition for Best European Fantastic Film in June 2005(Neuchâtel, Switzerland).

The prize, which offersinternational promotion to the winning film, is an initiative of the EuropeanFederation of Fantastic Film Festivals, of which Brussels is the foundermember.

The international filmsscreening within the 7th Parallel section - idiosyncratic and auteur drivenworks that explore the borders of genre cinema and beyond - will this yearcompete for the inaugural 7th Orbit Award. The winning film will be subtitledfor Belgian distribution.

Some 30 films from aroundthe world will enter the International Short Film Competition. A jury composedof buyers from 15 international broadcasting networks will award the Prize ofthe Television Channels, which guarantees the purchase of the winning film byeach of the represented broadcasters. In 2004 the prize was awarded to IvanSainz-Pardo (Germany) for Simones Labyrinth. Broadcasting channelsincluded Channel 4 (UK) and VPRO (Netherlands).

On the occasion of the 100thanniversary of the death of French novelist Jules Verne, the festival willscreen a selection of films adapted from his works, including Around TheWorld In 80 Days (1956) and 20.000 Leagues Under The Sea (1954).There will also be a retrospective of the works of Karel Zeman, a directorgreatly inspired by Verne.

The festival will host a2-day programme devoted to Japanese animated series or animated films in videoformat as well as a retrospective of rare fantastic films made in Poland andthe Czech Republic between 1960 and 1990.

Other sidebar featuresinclude the annual Nexus Awards for Best Fantastic Videogame, the 18thInternational Body Painting Contest and the closing night Bal des Vampires.