The European Genre Forum pilot presents eight projects
by Vladan Petkovic
- The genre projects include the new efforts by Nevio Marasović, Talal Selhami and Seth Ickerman
Despite the fact that European genre films are now enjoying greater success in the mainstream, there still exists a gap between the now bustling genre and the already-established film community. While they generate impressive revenues at the box office, for regional film funds or the industry at large, genre films still seem to be too scary to be taken seriously.
In order to tackle this divide by linking the hottest up-and-coming European genre masterminds with already-established players in the European film landscape, the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival’s inaugural European Genre Forum, organised together with French consulting agency Screen Division, Croatia’s Fantastic Zagreb Film Festival and Finland’s Night Visions International Film Festival, with support from the Goethe-Institut, presented eight genre projects at a pitching session on 26 November.
The session was opened by Moroccan filmmaker Talal Selhami, known for his fantasy-horror debut, Mirages (2011). His new project, Ashura, is about a group of children who, on the eponymous holy day, visit an old house and encounter a creature of darkness from Arabic mythology. One of them disappears, and 26 years later, they reunite to face the demon from the past. Written by Selhami, David Villemin and Jawad Lahlou, Ashura is in production by Morocco's Overlook Film and Sandman Pictures, together with France’s Metaluna Productions.
Next up, Finnish producer Aleksi Hyvärinen (Christmas Story [+see also:
film profile]) presented Bodom, which he co-wrote with director Taneli Mustonen (Ella and Friends [+see also:
film profile]). The slasher horror is set on the eponymous lake, where four teenagers were stabbed to death in 1960, and the murderer was never caught. Now, another group of teenagers go to the same campsite to reconstruct the murder. Bodom is in production by Don Films.
Estonian writer-director Oskar Lehemaa has already won the Best Short Film Project Award at the Baltic Pitching Forum this year for his 15-minute body-transformation horror Karv (“hair” in Estonian). It's about insecure and balding Leo (25), who tries to solve his problem with a mysterious hair-growth serum that he ordered over the internet. Karv is in production by Kaspar Ainelo and Kinosaurus Film.
Next, Serbian producer Tea Korolija presented one of the two projects directed by Croatia’s Nevio Marasović (Vis-à-vis [+see also:
interview: Nevio Marasovic & Rakan Rus…
film profile]) that took part in the EGF. Multilingual, written by famous Serbian writer Miloš Radović, is a thriller about two ex-criminals who kill a drug smuggler and decide to sell the drugs they find back to their owner. This results in them having to hide in a desolate lake hotel, where they get into an unlikely love triangle. With the shoot set to take place in Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria, the film is in production by Le Spot Productions (Serbia), and shooting will start in early 2015.
Marasovic’s other project is Albino, written by Norway’s Gjermund Gisvold. It is a mystery thriller/horror in which a hapless taxi driver, stuck with friends at a cabin in the snowy mountains, is accused of murder, and everything he does to absolve himself only worsens the situation. It is a co-production by Croatia and Norway, with producer Danijel Pek of Antitalent Production (Croatia) leading the project, which starts filming in January 2015.
Estonian producer Helen Lõhmus presented For the Whole Family by Russian playwrights and directors the Presnyakov brothers. It is a drama that turns into a thriller about a well-off Russian couple, Lidia and Mark, who are renting a house in the woods for a holiday trip. They get a visit from someone who brings news about a lost girl whom he’s looking for, and he then disappears into the woods again. The plot twists, and we see that actually, Mark and Lidia are villains who paid to play an illegal and deadly game.
Croatian writer-director Vanja Vascarac’s first feature film, Block 62, is a period thriller/horror set in Yugoslavia in 1962. After a series of strange suicides in a newly built housing project, communist officials start an investigation. The investigator starts to doubt his reason and suspects a possible demonic possession of a little girl, so party officials decide to hire a Catholic priest. Working together on the case forces them to confront both themselves and the secrets they hold from the WW2 era. It is a Croatian-Serbian co-production, with producer Srđan Krnjaić and companies Vertigo and Revolver on board.
Finally, probably the most visually impressive project of all, Ickerman from France, was presented by writers, directors and producers Raphaël Hernandez and Savitri Joly-Gonfard, who work under the pseudonym Seth Ickerman as directors and graphic designers for renowned brands such as LG, Ubisoft and Samsung. Their first feature film takes place in 2050, the era of the “all-digital”. Seth Ickerman, an ordinary secondary-school teacher, is obsessed with old 35mm films. Nostalgic for the last century, with his old dusty film reels he discovers the values of authenticity and materiality that his era has forgotten. Ickerman falls into his imaginary world and starts acting like the heroes he admires on the big screen – such as Steve McQueen, known for doing his own stunts and risking his life for cinema.
Further pitchings of these projects will take place at the upcoming editions of partner festivals in Croatia and Finland.