Here is a ghost that we expect every year: the European Fantastic Film Festival of Strasbourg (the FEFFS), which will delight fans of genre cinema once again this year. He is back for ten days, from September 23 to October 2 for a fifteenth edition. On the program: films in competition, exceptional guests, retrospectives, masterclasses, open-air cinema, VR, video games, an exhibition, a Fantastic Village, the nanars of the Eccentric Night and… The hundred years of Nosferatu. If you have the fangs, with this prog ‘to freeze the blood, you’ll have enough to put in your mouth.
Fifteenth Edition, already, we said, for the Strasbourg festival. Since 2006, the Films du Specter association has been blowing a wind of mystery over the city each year. First Hammer Film Festival, then Specter Film Festival, in 2008 it became the one we know: the FEFFS, Strasbourg European Fantastic Film Festival; and was affiliated the following year to the European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation. An international recognition that allows him to award a silver Méliès, which makes it possible to preselect the films in competition for the Méliès d’Or, at the famous Sitges festival (Festival International Fantastic Film of Catalonia, Spain).
And it is that he has come a long way, the FEFFS. First spread over five days, it went to a week of programming, until today: ten days! With in addition, a multitude of events outside the theaters, and the development of Connexions, the digital branch of the festival.
Fifteen years of memories
From his memories as a spectator, as artistic director of the FEFFS, Daniel Cohen tells us about his emotion during the first Zombie Walk (in 2009), which then brought together nearly 5,000 people in the streets of Strasbourg. A special day when the public has “answered the call”. “We went to the public square, to claim, demonstrate, the right to march for the freaks ». This year, still no wandering after a post-Charlie Hebdo break, then sanitary with the Covid. But as Daniel Cohen notes, not without humour: “Today, reality has surpassed fiction. […] We are in a post-pandemic world where everyone has been infected..
Before seeing arriving instead a “Regular Walk”he remembers another crazy rendezvous: the screening, place du Château de Jurassic Park, with 4,000 people flocking there. The result ? Queues starting from Place Broglie: “a beautiful serpentine in the city center”. Because the FEFFS is also that: the desire to bring together generations, audiences, to federate and make people discover genre cinema. Make it accessible by programming films that only go through festivals, sometimes by translating works himself especially, or by bringing out nuggets from the archives of the Cinémathèque française, etc. “One of the great vocations of the festival is to defend fragile cinematographies”. All this while surrounding himself with the greatest, thus inviting major figures of cinema, for memorable moments.
Daniel Cohen thus remembers the arrival of Roger Corman at the Star Saint-Exupéry cinema at the 2009 closing ceremony, driving a DeLorean of Back to the future. Or meeting with George A. Romerofrom the projection of Gremlins place de la Cathédrale in front of more than 1000 people in the presence of its director, Joe Danteor of Robert Rodriguez arriving at Entzheim airport with her two sons, “texan cowboy hats” on the front…
And for the fifteenth?
For this edition, the FEFFS is “refocuses on cinemas”deserted during the Covid crisis. Give the public the desire to go there. Before the health crisis, the festival witnessed an attendance of 30,000 spectators on average (15,000 indoors, and just as many at other events).
And for this anniversary edition, there will be many occasions. Let us first note the arrival of his guest of honor, Christopher Gans, a former genre film critic, who himself became a renowned director. In addition to his masterclass, the public will be able to (re)discover one of his classics and one of the greatest successes of French cinema (5 million admissions): The Pact of the Wolves (2001), in remastered version. A first, after its broadcast at the Cannes Film Festival. Still by the French master of the genre: his first feature film, Crying Freeman (1995)and finally the famous silent Hill (2006) (“definitely the best video game adaptation of all time”we read about him in the program).
bath 100 : the centenary of Nosferatu
Another distinguished guest of the program, Nosferatu which celebrates its centenary this year.A masterpiece of German expressionism and silent cinema, Murnau’s film (Nosferatu the Vampire) had its premiere in Berlin in 1922. For this anniversary, the FEFFS could only roll out the red carpet for it. Ahead of the opening ceremony (Friday 23), the festival also devotes a Cinémix session (on sax and synth) and invites itself into the industrial hall of the Phare Citadelle for an original, unique session on Wednesday 21 : “Nosferatu goes electro”we are told.
Thirsty for more? FEFFS will also rebroadcast two other adaptations of Dracula by Bram Stockerwith Werner Herzog’s version (Nosferatu, Ghost of the Night1979), and that of Francis Ford Coppola, Dracula (1992) with the excellent Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder and Anthony Hopkins.
Retrospectives: French Touch, the unmissable Eccentric Night
Retro lovers will be, like every year, well satisfied. The FEFFS has another retrospective in store: on the French Touch genre cinema. If French fantastic cinema has trouble finding a place in the general press, there are many French productions in specialized works (think of Méliès, for example). In a selection ranging from the 1940s (with The beauty and the Beast by Cocteau) in the 2000s, the festival will show the breadth and eclecticism of French genre cinema. We will also be able to enjoy the first rerun in a restored version of the brilliant The City of Lost Children (1995) of – and presence of – its directors, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro (the 1er october).
As for the nanarophiles, the appointment is given on saturday 1er october for the traditional and essential quirky night. The concept ? A night in the cinema (from midnight) with the screening of three films (nanars let’s say it) selected from the archives of the Cinémathèque française. “The best of the worst”and badly dubbed in the French version, of course (“a pleonasm”slides Daniel Cohen).
This year, we will have the pleasure of rinsing our eyes on a French naturist comedy from the 1950s (The island of naked women) and an erotic vampire film (to stay in the Nosferatu juice) where Dracula goes into a nightclub business in Hollywood. The whole will be punctuated by a Hong Kong martial arts film based on guillotine hats, and an anthology of trailers, with a breakfast served at dawn, for the survivors who have held out until then.
And the competition?
Beyond these tributes to yesterday’s cinema, the FEFFS leaves room for today’s cinema, by showing films that would probably never have been distributed in France. In the program, Midnight movies in the pure tradition of the genre as well as a few special sessions (Daniel Cohen recommends the very aesthetic and dreamlike The Secret of the Perlims by Brazilian Ale Abreuavailable from 4 years old).
And of course, we don’t forget its international competition of fantastic films, as well as the other categories crossovers, animated films, and short films. If it is impossible to summarize all of this programming (“by the line”), its artistic director recommends a few in particular. A great source of pride: to have been able to program and specially bring in the Ukrainian director Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk from ” heart touching “ Pamfir.
Other favourites, the French The Rascals (by Jimmy Laporal-Treasure) which looks back on the wars of skinhead versus immigrant gangs in 1980s France, and Our ceremonies by Simon Rieth, “a wonderful coming of age tale” we read about him. Like piggy (Cerdita), a revenge story of a bullied girl, by director Carlota Pereda, which deals with fatphobia against the backdrop of a horror film.
In the selection of animated films, you should not miss Unicorn Wars by Alberto Vazquezwith a pretty crazy pitch: a bloody war between bear cubs (looking like Care Bears) and unicorns, within the Magic Forest. More poetic, very clearly humanist: the island, the musical reinterpretation of Robinson Crusoe by the Romanian Anca Damian. Awarded at the 2019 edition of FEFFS, the director returns with a work to which the festival is also devoting an immersive exhibition, in augmented reality: “In Search of Paradise” (to be discovered as part of Connexions au Shadok, until October 8).
The Village, VR and outdoor cinema: something to do outside of the cinemas
And because it will be necessary to take breaks between sessions, FEFFS will reinstall his Village place Saint-Thomas. With its refreshment bar, merch stands, creative workshops, signings, the opening concert by the duo Beatrice & Melissa, shamanism, theatrical improvisation (with the CiP – Collectif impro Potes), and even a make-up contest with the Candice Mack school, on the theme of vampires.
At the Shadok, controller addicts will be able to attend the Indie Game Contest (now entrusted to the East Games association, historical partner of the festival), and put on the prog’ of Connections with many VR movies. And you can write down your date on Place du Château, for free outdoor cinema: Flash Gordon by Mike Hodges, Tuesday, September 27.
As you will have understood, this fifteenth edition of the FEFFS has decided to vampirize our days as well as our evenings, until October 2.
Strasbourg European Fantastic Film Festival
From Friday 23 September to Sunday 2 October
In Strasbourg cinemas (Star, VOX, UGC Ciné Cité) and various locations (Phare Citadelle, Shadok)
Fantastic Village: Place Saint-Thomas