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FESTIVALS / AWARDS HOFF 2020

Beware! The 15th Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival announces its full programme

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- Going online for its anniversary edition, the Estonian genre festival still promises to stay in costume

Beware! The 15th Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival announces its full programme
Old Man - The Movie by Mikk Mägi and Oskar Lehemaa

The 15th edition of the Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival, now taking place entirely online from 8-10 May, will screen 22 feature films and 16 shorts. There will be some new additions as well, including the Estonian Genre Competition. “2019 was a special year for Estonian genre film, something that could be called an ‘explosion’, referring to the 2006 ‘explosion of Estonian cinema’, when films like The Class [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
or Autumn Ball [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
landed at the top international festivals,” says Helmut Jänes, head of the event. “Several of these films have been successful internationally – for example, Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Miguel Llansó
film profile
]
– or at the box office, while two well-known authors managed to surprise us with new works: Mart Sander with Eerie Fairy Tales [+see also:
interview: Mart Sander
film profile
]
and Urmas E Liiv with Dora Who Came from Highway,” he adds, also praising Rain Rannu’s start-up parody Chasing Unicorns [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
and Toomas Aria, who is finally giving Estonia some high-octane action with Justice. “I hope it will serve as an inspiration for many young filmmakers who will hopefully pick a genre movie for their first work!”

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The new section will also accommodate Old Man - The Movie [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
by Mikk Mägi and Oskar Lehemaa, the latter coming back to the festival after winning last year for his short Bad Hair. “It’s a crazy adventure-comedy about a stubborn old man who tries to find his escaped cow before, you know, it explodes,” Lehemaa tells Cineuropa, referring to the cult character created by animators Mikk Mägi and Peeter Ritso around 2012. “After their short went viral, people wanted more Old Man. They either loved these characters or hated them, but the old dude rarely leaves anyone indifferent.” In 2017, Lehemaa was asked to help with a feature-length film. “Fast-forward through two years of manic writing and storyboarding and voice acting and a million other things... Old Man - The Movie is a stop-motion animation, and I think this insane character could not properly exist in any other form.”

And yet, according to Jänes, the anniversary edition will be about much more than just a series of online screenings – fittingly, for a festival famous for its “zombie walk” and an audience jumping at any chance to dress up. “Besides screening as much of the originally planned programme as possible, we are putting a lot of effort into conveying the festival’s cool atmosphere online,” he insists, mentioning plans for hosting a virtual opening ceremony, its first-ever industry panel, a virtual parade accompanied by a costume competition, Q&As and the Méliès d’Argent short-film competition.

The team is also getting ready to celebrate HP Lovecraft’s 130th birthday with screenings of Color Out of Space – boasting yet another typically subdued performance by Nicolas Cage – as well as The Call of Cthulhu and Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator, and the main programme will also see the likes of Come to Daddy [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, with Eljiah Wood (sporting a bowl cut), Corona Zombies, about the COVID-19 zombie lockdown, and two premieres. “We are extremely delighted to have premieres, which are really hard to get these days for festivals in the context of lockdowns, cancelled events and the disrupted industry,” says Jänes, mentioning [James Di Martino’s] The Faceless Man, so far only screened in Australia, and the Ukrainian thriller Stranger, in which, as described on the festival’s website, “a synchronised swimming team has disappeared in the swimming pool during a performance. A patient of a water-therapy clinic has disappeared while taking a bath. How are these cases connected, and how is a doll with real hair related to it?!” Luckily, everyone will find out in a week’s time.

The festival is organised by the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival together with the Haapsalu Culture Center and the City of Haapsalu.

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