14th IFF Cinematik

13. August 2019

The International Film Festival Cinematik Piešťany is enjoying the popularity among lovers of good movies for already 14 years. After last years extremely successful edition the festivals organizers are finalizing this year’s edition. In addition to the two main competitions, Meeting Point Europe and Cinematik.doc, it will also introduce eight non-competitive sections offering dozens of unique film experiences from around the world, many of which will be presented on a big screen for the first time in Slovakia.

One of the festivals most popular section is the “Midnight-ish” Cult & Beyond, this year focusing on cinema Witches. Seven assorted films are linked by its heroines gifted with supernatural powers. However, each movie understands and uses them in a different way.

The latest and most resonant movie of the section is In Fabric by Peter Strickland, which is presented three months prior to its cinema release. Partly a horror, partly a comedy this genre fusion by the British filmmaker of unique style is focusing on the fate of a woman, who purchases a cursed dress from a creepily persuasive saleslady. The mysterious story is full of references to classic “Giallo” movies of the 1970s and 1980s – making it an ideal invitation for the next movie of this section.

Suspiria (1977) by the Italian master of horror movies Dario Argento introduces the audience to the milieu of a mysterious ballet school where a young dancer Suzy witnesses a series of inexplicable murders. Considered a classic of its genre the movie fabricates the model of a witch as the “mother” of all dark forces. A psychedelic collage of image and sound which at times dominates over the plot itself is an attack on all senses.

Love Witch  (2016) by American filmmaker Ann Biller is looking at withes in a totally different way – this time not interested in lives but in love.
This black comedy draws on the woes of the beautiful Elaine, who tries to use all her natural and supernatural charms looking for the man of her dreams. The witch becomes a symbol of irreverence and emancipation, while oscillating on the edge of self-parody. The film is also interesting in its form being a beautifully playful and ingenious homage to the colorful ’60s’.

Thanks to the only Czechoslovak title in this section – the cult Witch Hammer (1970) by Otakar Vávra, we can take a look back to the past.
This black and white classic based on the novel by Václav Kaplický sure does not have to be presented twice. let’s just remember that the dramatization of the constructed inquisition processes of the 17th century gained, at the time of the film’s creation, an interesting socio-political symbolism thanks to the normalization era.

Historical facts are accompanied by stories about witches in contemporary horror movies Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse (2017) and The Witch: A New-England Folktale (2015). Both movies exhibit a suffocating atmosphere, both are dominated by loneliness of distant places in the womb of nature, where anything is possible. And both, coincidentally are directorial debuts. The first is the work of Austrian filmmaker Lukas Feigelfeld. The second was shot by Canadian Robert Eggers, who shined with it at the prestigious Sundance Festival (Best Director of a Feature Film, nomination for Grand Jury Prize in the category Best Feature Film).

A somewhat more recent connotation has witchcraft in I Am Not a Witch (2017). The drama by Rungano Nyoni, a British filmmaker of Zambian origin, recalls that a witch hunt is not just an experience of the past. The main character, nine-year-old Shula, has become a victim of superstitions about witchcraft, which are still quite common in Africa. Will she find the strength to rebel?