1. THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS (USA 2011, 104’, B/W) dir. Sean Branney
Movie adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft’s works have proved to be tough to impossible, and most such attempts do not succeed in preserving the literary virtues of the prototype. With middle-length “Call of Cthulhu” (2005), H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society entered the field as the indisputable champion of Lovecraftian filmmaking, since these guys had the audacity to shoot a film recreating the silent 20’s, i.e. Lovecraft’s own era. And with great success.
This time around, changing roles and duties, they attempt the next step: a full-length film in the spirit of the Talkin’ 30’s, still B/W but with rich in-between tones. They expertly chose the novela “The Whisperer In Darkness“, which combines elements of Fantasy & Science Fiction, capturing the spirit of an era where humans had still to face their primeval fears while achieving the one technological breakthrough after the other.
The film makes its World Premiere in SFF-rated ATHENS, well in accord with the popularty of H.P. Lovecraft in Greece.
2. 8th WONDERLAND (FRANCE 2008, 94’, Colour) dir. Nicolas Alberny & Jean Mach
There is a virtual country on the Internet, and it is named “8th Wonderland”.
Its “citizens” pay a euro per week, and every week a referendum is held. If the proposal passes, then the citizens of 8th Wonderland take it on them to implement the decision in the real world.
At first, the actions of 8th Wonderland seem more like clever pranks that attract media attention and convey a message to the wider international public. But soon, the agenda of the virtual country changes, and more and more provocative and controversial actions are put to vote. And they are approved. And they are implemented. Thus, 8th Wonderland attracts the attention -and the anger- of the powerful nations of the world… but how to fight a country that doesn’t exist? With a beat comparable to a Norman Spinrad novel, stingy humour and spirited provocative mood, Alberny & Mach pose questions without permitting easy answers, while the poignantly light approach to the most serious issues acts as a self-sarcastic tactic that shelters the film from becoming shallow… if you think this sentence is self-contradictory, most probably you have not yet realized that “for every complex problem, there is a simple, clear, and wrong solution”.
3. DEPOSITARIOS (MEXICO 2010, 110’, Colour) dir. Rodrigo Ordonez
In the near future, genetics has permitted to create clones which humans use as a steam-off valve – unloading bodily strain and/or emotional pain to the clones which live a vegetable life. Using a plot akin to a political and police thriller, with many characters and subplots, “Depositarios” is squarely based on its story, its characters and a constant stream of dilemmas, rather than in special effects. As the director himself states, “it is a film about love, pain and ethics”, but also about politics and the media, a film that wonders what is the price a society is willing to pay in order to secure happiness… especially when others could pay the price in our place.
4. ΕARTHLING (USA 2010, 110’, Colour) dir. Clay Liford
Due to an accident in a space station orbiting the Earth, some people realize that they are not humans but members of an alien race stranded on Earth. Little by little they meet each other and seek a way to return to their home planet. American independent film making with a familiar feel, having in mind also Croneberg’s works as well as “The Man who fell to Earth” by Nicolas Reog, with director Clay Liford shooting a thoughtful movie about the loss of delusions, estrangement from what had once been familiar, and the longing for an unknown home. And essentially, he poses anew the fundamental question: where does the essence of our existence reside? In our biological identity? In the experiences of our Past? Or in the Future we desire?
5. ΤΗΕ ORACLE (UNITED KINGODM 2010, 72’, Colour) dir. Shamus Maxwell
Sara Delphi is a modern-day Oracle. She has the hereditary gift to give the true answer to the question posed by each one of her clients -but only at the point of orgasm!
Newcomer Shamus Maxwell, with excellent British humour, portrays the loneliness and the danger that looms over people with special gifts, as they draw the jealousy and greed of the others. And even an Oracle may not know what the future has in store for her…
6. Α ΗΕΤΕDΙΚ ΚΟR/THE 7TH CIRCLE (HUNGARY 2009, 107’, Colour) dir. Arpad Sopsits
Based on true and tragic events that happened in Hungary, The 7th Circle explores a field that we usually ignore or delegate to professionals: the soul of the children, and how they experience existential agony, which is usually considered a burden -but also a privilege- of the grownups.
It is the 3d year in a row that SFF-rated ATHENS screens a film from the very dynamic contemporary Hungarian Cinema.
GREEK FILMS in COMPETITION
7. COLD (FROST) (GREECE 2010, 57’, Colour) dir. George Pitsakis
Three female students search for an apartment to rent, and they hit the ideal deal: cheap, nice, and room-plenty. But, of course, things are not what they seem: early on, mysterious phenomena start to happen, that seem to center around an old mirror that came with the house. Soon the young girls will realize that some horrifying presence haunts the place, connected to an old crime, forgotten sorrows and forsaken sins…
Supernatural horror thriller, which attempts to bring the horror element out in broad daylight, the film also attempts to blend the standard recipes of the genre with a strong local element, using tried-and-true techniques, and proving that “budget” is not a entity that necessarily haunts the shooting of a film. An independent production that was noticed in the recent International Film Festival of Thessaloniki.
8. THE DEATH I DREAMED (GREECE 2010, 92’, Colour) dir. Panayiotis Kravvas
Inspired by true events that happened in Greece, “The Death I Dreamed” employees the means provided to shoot with intensity a story about a group of teenagers that seek in Death -of others- what they cannot find in -their own- Life. Panayiotis Kravvas fills his frames with passionate emotions and a lurking desperation. My personal favorite moment, the unexpected use of a 35mm film. What use? Come and find out.
SUBCONSCIOUS (GREECE, 2010, 72’, colour) dir. Chris Petropoulos
The desire of the people around the world to experience things “authentic”, freed from posture, carefully chosen words and purposeful manipulation, has spread to all aspects of social life and activities. From here comes the success of all kinds of “reality shows” which have no need any more to be sleazy in order to attract the audience. From here comes the success of blogging (in its original form) as diaries of everyday life… In this general social trend, that movie appeared that wasn’t shot as a film but as an amateur unedited video, it created supporters and opponents, and finally a new genre, “found footage”.
With “Subconscous” Chris Petropoulos offers his take on the genre, where the play between Authentic and Artificial becomes a dark game between Real and Fantastic.
FRIDAY 11/3: Battle of Giants
–THE HUNT FOR GOLLUM (UNITED KINGDOM, 2009, 40’, colour) dir. Chris Bouchard
–THE CALL OF CTHULHU (USA, 2005, 47’, B/W) dir. Andrew Leman
The two most widespread mythologies in the land of the Fantastic, are undoubtedly The Lord Of The Rings (J.R. Tolkien) and the Cthulhu mythos (H.P. Lovecraft). And they are universes apart: In LOTR, the heroes (but also almost everybody else), are princely, noble, idealists… they are -at least- honourable. In CoC, the heroes are puppets in the hands of ancient powers which are reborn inside them through detestable feelings like fear, and eventually crush them with disdain or indifference. They are -at least- depressingly weak…
But what if the above are not really conflicting but complementary, jointly depicting the Human Contradiction? SFF-rated ATHENS wants to give you a chance to think about it. «Τhe Hunt for Gollum» and «Call of Cthulhu» are two internationally recognized fan films shot by followers of each creed, and together they form a duel that has only winners – those that will be there at Friday midnight.
SATURDAY 12/3 Missing: UFO
-DETENTION (NEW ZEALAND, 2010, 12’, colour, dir. Aden Shillito)
–WESTALL ’66: A SUBURBAN UFO MYSTERY (AUSTRALIA, 2010, 49’, colour, dir. Rosie Jones)
–PROJECT GREY–Directors’ Cut (CANADA, 2010, 85’, colour, dir. Crystal-Dawn Rosales & Christian Blaze)
The… 3d mythology that besieges the Sci-Fi & Fantasy land, is UFOs. And, damn, they refuse to verify their existence. Three approaches on an issue that has seduced – and destroyed- human lives.
Short film “Detention” looks gently at a child and its dangerous discoveries, from which it survives only because it is a child, i.e. a unreliable creature in the world of grownups.
Westall ‘66 is a documentary on a real event: In 1966 hundreds of students (and some professors) witnessed a UFO in the Australian suburb of Westall (Melbourne Victoria), in broad daylight. Aliens? Government secret experiments? Rosie Jones offers a documentary full of tenderness, on the cover-up that ensued, but mainly on the emotional scars the present-day adults carry from that incident and the ridicule and suppression that they had to suffer from the adults.
Project Grey wraps up the search for UFO: a science-fiction thriller, creates a puzzle of alien visitors, dark government plans, Russian spies(…), conspiracy theories and personal stories of jealousy and revenge, under the general motto “It’s fear they want!”, while we are left wondering about the boundaries between truth and madness. In some parts the film flirts wiht horror, while Carpenter’s “They Live Among Us” does hover in the premises.
Conclusion: UFO: still missing.