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Fantasy Film Festival
by Becky Tan

The fantasy film festival originated in Hamburg in 1987. Now, showing in its 33rd year, 60 films (including short films) traveled to seven cities: Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne, Munich, Nurnberg, and Stuttgart. Savoy Cinema hosted the Hamburg festival September 19-29. It was attended by visitors 18 years old and older, of which the majority seemed to be male. At least in Savoy, during the break between films, the line in front of the men’s toilet was four times longer than the line at the women’s toilet, an event which I have never experienced in many years of film-going. Season tickets for the whole week were available for 75 euros. Some of the films such as LITTLE JOE, 47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED or SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE NIGHT have appeared main stream, or will open later, in Hamburg theaters. (BT)


Tetsuya Nakashima, Japan

Hideki and his wife Kana are expecting a child. A colleague of Hideki stops by his office and leaves a note with the name of this unborn child: Chisa. All is well until two years later, this colleague dies and mysterious spirits suddenly take over the family apartment, threatening everyone. There is a grandmother, who is dying. A friend is suddenly bleeding. Kana is depressed and spends time looking out of the window and smoking. “Blood calls.” Hideki has problems at work and is uneasy about this development; he seeks an exorcist. Kana and Hideki seem more distant from each other. Is Kana the evil one? But no: she dies. And so it goes, a thriller, with deaths, accidents, blood, all because of some evil spirit connected to their daughter, Chisa. There was never a moment without some action which pushed forward. I was biting my nails the whole time. Excellent colors in the photography. (BT)


Matteo Rovere, Italy/Belgium

Romulus and Remus are 18-year-old brothers who live near the Tiber River. Remus believes that he will become the king of the land, and if you have followed the legends about the founding of the city of Rome, you already know the plot of this film. You can sit back and enjoy the excellent acting, photography, and never-ending action. In the beginning they are in prison. Several times their loyalty is tested and the brothers must fight against each other.  They travel through the countryside, always talking to the gods, but “The Gods do not look out for us.” They wander on, hungry and thirsty, always together. “He is me and I am him.” There is a fire burning down the huts; there are fights where armor is useful. This film seems so perfectly real, that I accept every event as fact. Yes, that’s how Rome was founded. I saw the film in Latin (!) with English subtitles. (BT)


Johannes Roberts, UK/USA/Dominican Republic

Four teenaged girls are friends at the Modine International School for girls: Mia (Sophie Nélisse), Sasha (Corinne Foxx), Alexa (BrianneTju) and Nicole (Sistine Stallone). Sasha’s father Grant (John Corbett) is an archeologist, who works underwater.  Therefore the girls have access to scuba diving equipment, oxygen tanks, and flashlights. Instead of travelling out onto the water in a boat with other school friends, they chose to swim alone, very isolated.  Soon they are all underwater, entering a cave and exploring the historic Maya City ruins: statues and skeletons. The tunnel collapses and they must seek a new exit. They lose their way, lose each other, and cry for help; rescue lines break, and the sharks attack. Luckily they find Grant, Carl, and Ben underwater, but the sharks do as well. The opening in this 90-minute film shows a sea accompanied by ominous music, which sets us in the right mood for scary action of which at least 70 minutes occur underwater. The girls soon run out of oxygen and I, too, felt that I could not breathe. The sharks are actors in their own right, menacingly filling up the screen with repeated attacks. (BT)