Interview of Annie Bozzo (Version française cliquez ici)

I had the opportunity to meet Annie Bozzo, one of the organisers of the Brussels Festival of Thriller and Fantasy Film, and in particular of the body painting competition, in the offices of PeyMey association. In this interview , she unveils some of the history of the competition and shares funny souvenirs. This interview page features photos of Annie and photos of some body painting competitions, including the first one. In 2003, the competition will take place on March, 15th

Question : What was your personal involvement with the body painting competition, and the Brussels Festival of Thriller and Fantasy Film in general? How was the idea born? What was your role?

Annie : In 2003, we have the 21st Festival, and the 16th body painting competition. Hence the first edition of the body painting took place during the 6th Festival in 1988. During the first editions of the Festival, we hadonly a face make-up competition. Jean-Pierre Finotto, who was the head of make-up artists at the Brussels Opéra "la Monnaie", was helping us for the make-up stand. We were wondering how to broaden this activity, and someone suggested a body painting competition. So it started. The first edition was not international, there were no artists from other countries, only Belgian ones.

The concept of the Festival is to show artistic forms related to fantastic movies, we also have exhibitions,script-writing workshops, a festival of the imaginary, special effects make-up, the fashion parade. We try to show that fantastic movies is not limited to what you see on the screen, there is a whole range of artistic disciplines related to it.
The first person that was responsible of the body painting competition wast Gigi Etienne. She handed this over, for workload reasons, at the 15th Festival. I took over this responsibility 6 years ago,but I am also involved in movies and a lot of other activities for the Festival, so body painting comes on top of the rest…


(Annie Bozzo in front of posters of the Festival - Photo (C) by Robert )

Question : Tell us about the first editions of the body painting competition. When did Fardel start sponsoring the event?

Annie : Fardel started sponsoring the event very early,the second year, and quite naturally. We were looking for a company to help us, there is Kryolan, a large German manufacturer of make-up products, but we searched for a local company. Fardel was a small firm of two people. For them, the competition was a show case for their products, and they could not have organized such a promotional event with a co-operation. On the other hand, we had a supply of high quality products, and all candidates would use the same products.

Question : What was different in the first editions of the body painting competition?

Annie : In the second edition,we did a prior selection in a different place,in Gent, and the year after in Liège in the movie theatre "du Parc". The best candidates were selected to come to the Festival in Brussels. Even in the first years , we had enough candidates, but we have always strived to reach a certain quality level, and therefore we select about 15 candidates.

In the first years, the body painting competition took place during the Fantastic Night of the Festival (ndlr: it is a whole night during which four movies are shown, it starts late in the evening, and ends in the morning with a breakfast) we did so in order to get the public acquainted with this art.The 800 attending the Night would automatically see the body painting competition. But some people wanted to see the body painting and were not interested to spend the whole night in there, so we had overbooking problems ,and we decided to split the body painting from the Night.This was also more convenient for the artists and models coming from abraod.To work 4,5 hours during the night is more difficult than to do during the normal hours of a day.

(Body Painting Competition 1988 - Photo (C) by Raymond Widawski)

Question : What evolution have you witnessed with regard to the candidates?

Annie : There are more candidates, and the artistic quality of the make-up increases as time goes by.We have a new pitfall now: the level of quality is such that many candidates do not dare to apply and so we have less Belgiam participants, but more candidates from all over the world; some of them come from very far, last year we had two candidates from New-Zealand.

Question : Evolution of the public?

Annie : The public is more and more demanding He wants a show. So we now ask to the candidates, something we did not before, to prepare a presentation on stage, and to bring their own music for their performance... This is not always easy for them, as they are mainly make-up artists.

Question : What is the most difficult part in the organisation?

Annie : The body painting competition takes place the first day after the opening of the Festival, and this is difficult, because we arrive in the "Passage 44" (ndlr: this is the shopping mall where the Festival takes place) and everything should be ready from n organisation and a logistic point of view , but this is seldom the case. As you know we bring everything, or we have to do the set up in the movie theatre of the "Passage 44": the dressing rooms, the decoration,the computers. Sometimes, problems arise and have not been fixxed yet, like the computer's network being down, etc.

The group of people that is involved in the organisation of the body painting competition meet there in the morning–they have seen each other two or three times during the whole year –a nd there is so much to explain and settle, on top of that you have the candidates from distant countries, New-Zealand, Ukraine, etc.You must explain the rules and the schedule in half an hour, to show them around the dressing rooms, the showers, all that in several languages! Information is provided by Fardel responsible, by Jean-Pierre Finotto and I. The students of Jean-Pierre guide the candidates throughout the day.

Question : Tell us about the pre-selection?

Annie : The pre-selection is based on photographs sent by mail, photographs of the work that the artist would do for the competition. The pre-selection jury is composed of Jean-Pierre Finotto, Jean-Paul Duriau (from Fardel) and I.

The jury on the day of the compétition is an international jury of professional make-up artists (7-8 members) with a guest of the Festival -it was Dario Argento last year.

Question : Do you have an anecdote, a special souvenir to share?

Annie : Here is what happened, and we are still laughing when we remember it:

In the beginning, candidates did not have to wear any piece of underwear. Models would come in and undress completely.And the doors opened to the public one hour after artists started to paint the models.So we had candidates completely naked, and we noticed that the cleaning personnel of the shopping mall had taken a chair, and were sitting, with their brooms and bucket, in uniform and in lineand were staring at the models! That was a problem! The models did not seem embarassed, but we were, after all, this ws not supposed to be a display of naked men and women. firstly, we started to require a "string" and secondly, we opened the doors to the public, after 1 PM, when models are already partly painted.

(Body Painting Competition 1992 - Photo (C) by Raymond Widawski)

Question : Any particular wish for the future?

Annie : Our dream is to extend the body painting competition, have more candidates in a bigger space. A location where the public could more easily move between the models. By the way, we will try to change the set-up this year to improve this aspect.If the body painting competition takes place in another location, the disadvantage is that there is more work, and a rental fee. And it is not easy to break even! Besides that, we are satisfied with the overall organisation and quality of the body paintings.

Thank you very much to Annie, and long live the body painting competition of the Brussels Festival of Thriller and Fantasy Film!

(Body Painting Competition 1997 - Photo (C) by Raymond Widawski)