Brussels International Film Festival: Terry Gilliam opens with epic journey, Claudia Cardinale honored

The first edition of the brand-new Brussels International Film Festival kicked off yesterday with Terry Gilliam’s latest feature, “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” loosely based on Miguel de Cervantes’ early seventeenth-century novel “Don Quixote.”

After more than twenty-five years in the making and unmaking—Mr. Gilliam first tried to get it off the ground in 1989—the film now sees the light of day. With a cast including Johnny Depp, Vanessa Paradis, and French actor Jean Rochefort scheduled to play the title role, production ran into difficulties in 2000 when sets were destroyed by flooding, and the departure of Jean Rochefort due to illness and other financial problems resulted into the suspension of the movie, before it was ultimately cancelled. Two years later, “Lost in La Mancha” was released, a documentary chronicling the making of “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.”

BRIFF’s opening night, with filmmaker Terry Gilliam introducing “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” at the Brussels Bozar | Leo/Film Talk

But to make a long story short, here we are, almost three decades later. Mr. Gilliam’s long-stalled passion screen project, which didn’t only outlive Jean Rochefort but also John Hurt (cast as Don Quixote in a later stage), was the closing film at the Cannes Film Festival last month and turned the two screenings at the 2018 Brussels International Film Festival’s opening night into a major event. Introducing “Don Quixote” to the audience, Mr. Gilliam, with his bright humor, spontaneity and enthusiasm still as his signature trademarks, briefly recounted the history of the making of what may be the most personal film so far for the American-born British filmmaker, actor, animator, comedian, and Monty Python member.

Undoubtedly the Brussels International Film Festival hit the mark from day one and put itself on the map right away. Two thumbs up.

Other BRIFF guests include American film director Randal Kleiser and French star Gérard Depardieu, while the internationally renowned screen icon Claudia Cardinale is their guest of honor. Ms. Cardinale dropped by to greet the audience before the screening of “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”—she was announced as ‘The Queen of the Festival’—and as part of a retrospective of her work, she will introduce a few of the most acclaimed films she did during her long and rewarding career.

Brussels International Film Festival, Brussels
June 20, 2018

“The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” (2018, trailer)

THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE (2018) DIR Terry Gilliam PROD Amy Gilliam, Mariela Besuievsky, Gerardo Herrero, Grégoire Melin SCR Terry Gilliam, Tony Grisoni (characters created by Miguel de Cervantes) CAM Nicola Pecorini ED Teresa Font, Lesley Walker MUS Roque Baños CAST Adam Driver (Toby), Jonathan Pryce (Don Quixote), Stellan Skarsgård (The Boss), Olga Kurylenko (Jacqui), Joana Ribeiro (Angelica), Óscar Jaenada (Gitano), Jason Watkins (Rupert), Sergi López (Barbero)