The 18th edition of the Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival (HÕFF) crowns Niels Bourgonje's "Shut" as the Méliés Short Film Competition winner and Rain Rannu's "Child Machine" as the best Estonian genre film. "The Last Sentinel" by Tanel Toom scooped the Best Sci-Fi Film Award.
The Silver Méliés of the biggest genre festival in Baltics went to Shut by director Niels Bourgonje (Netherlands). According to Jury, the award was given for creating an unnerving atmosphere for exploring the growing disconnection between different generations and for its comprehensive approach.
Two short films got special mentions by the jury. Vulvina Queen Of Ecstasy by Clémence Andre, Nawel Bahamou, Ming Chieh Chang, Théo Guyot, Mary Yanko (France) got acknowledged for the technical merit and its dark fairytale style, that touches upon themes of war and endless desire, that leads to the eventual demise of oneself. Secondly, "The Moon of the Kurent: The Ritual” got a special mention for the powerful atmosphere and the use of strong symbolism which leaves the audience with many different interpretations.
The jury consisted of Maarja Hindoalla, Jonas Trukanas and Raoul Kirsima.
The Silver Méliés will grant the film a chance to compete for the Golden Méliés and become Europe’s best short film. The competition’s winners are announced at the annual ceremony that is usually held in November by the European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation, of which HÕFF is a member.
The Estonian Genre Film Competition was overseen by a jury made up of five students from Haapsalu: Sander Põldmaa, Karoliina Lääne, Uku Viispert, Karlote Karm ja Christopher Kampmann. They decided to award Child Machine by Rain Rannu. The film is about a 9-year old girl, who gets lost in a swamp while hiking with parents. She finds herself in an underground room where a secret start-up builds an AI that is far more intelligent than human. The girl and AI want to escape together.
„This remarkable film contrasted from others with the amount of fantasy and unexpected horror. The storyline was captivating, special effects were outstanding and the actors were amazing. The film brings out audience's emotions, offering humor, tension and excitement, " explained the young jury.
The Last Sentinel by Tanel Toom (Estonia) got the best sci-fi film award. The statuette "Robot Hand" is given out by the Estonian Sci-Fi association. All HÕFF features and shorts that are directly or indirectly related to Sci-Fi are contributing to the award.
„It's a well-planned story taking place in a post-apocalyptic world. The details are presented very moderately, which make the viewer constantly reconsider the events. The actors play well with a laid-back style, and the characters are constructed with clarity and modest stereotypical features. The storytelling is supported by using minimal equipment that creates an effective visual. The soundtrack helps to keep and grow viewer's tension. The important details appear to the viewer very shortly before the protagonist,” said the jury, consisting of Joel Jans, Jüri Kallas and Kalver Tamm.
The audience award was given to Finnish action thriller Sisu by Jalmari Helander.
Before the screening, a charity auction with film memorabilia was held. The money was donated to Estonian Rescue Association that supports directly the Ukrainian rescuers in the war. 3855 euros were donated for Ukraine.
The head of the festival, Helmut Jänes said that the festival was succeeded. "For us, the most important is the trust of the audience and the willingness to visit HÕFF - maybe solely for our unique atmosphere that we are trying to commit with even more in the future" explains Jänes. He thanks the audience for loyalty.
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