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Fantastic Zagreb

Zero release of the first fiction film festival across the region will be held from 02. to 09.07. 2011 as a major announcement of the first edition in 2012. Fantastic Zagreb is festival that will bring together film fiction and related genres - science fiction, horror, thriller, suspens, animation, experimental film, the curious drama, etc. The projections are held at two open air locations - the plateau near the Church St.Catherine (Gradec) and the plateau above the garage in Tuskanac and Europa cinemas . Films will be shown thru 6 programs, and in this year's zero-release,we offer you really wide range of titles from Japan and Korea to France, UK, Spain and former Yugoslavia.

Our desire is to get the city of Zagreb not only a great genre film festival, but also the first open air film festival and a series of attractive screenings and events so the city would become more alive in the spirit of the festival, and vice versa. In this way we enrich the cultural and the summer tourist offer of Zagreb, with emphasis on the Upper Town of Zagreb's old legends like Grička vjestica (witch), Bloody Bridge, etc!  


'La posesión de Emma Evans' (EXORCISMUS), interview with Manuel Carballo


Well, a fantasy film festival would not be complete without an exorcism/horror and the latest demon to take possession is that in THE POSSESSION OF EMMA EVANS (La posesión de Emma Evans; Spain, 2010), also known as EXORCISMUS. While the film itself is a Spanish production (by Filmax, Barcelona) realized by Spanish director Manuel Carballo, it is set in London and filmed in English with actors Tommy Bastow, Sophie Vavasseur, Richard Felix, Douglas Bradley, and Stephen Billington. The film has made its way to the world’s most renown fantastic film festivals (including Sitges 2010 and Fantasporto 2010) and most recently crept out audiences in Eastern Europe at the first year of fun-tastic and freak-tastic Fantastic Zagreb.

The night EXORCISMUS screened, the outdoor Tuskanac Theater in old Zagreb was sold out, thrilling audiences during the Midnight Madness marathon hour. Manuel Carballo was there to open the film and attended a Q and A afterwards. Before viewing the film, I said to myself, ‘Another exorcism film?! Do we need another one?’ But, cinema often proves me wrong and indeed, EXORCISMUS kept me glued to my seat from start to finish. Whether it was the fabulous acting by the young Sophie Vavasseur or the terrific and terrifying verisimilitude (extraordinary direction by Carballo), the film was not only fantastically done, but it became clear to me that there was something more to it than meets the eye, something under the surface that I couldn’t quite get but wanted to. And I realized that this film was somehow conscious of itself, using this classic genre to comment on its surrounding and suffocating social situation.


ME: So, Manuel, can you sum up a little about the film for those who have not seen it?

MANUEL: The possession of Emma Evans" is a horror movie with a special touch as it is also a family drama. The film tells the story of Emma Evans, a young teenage girl in search of her identity. Feeling threatened by her obsessive and interventionist family, she decides to get solve her identity issues by joining the worst allies of all: the devil. Emma's desires will inevitably trigger a series of uncontrollable forces, leading her to maturity in a very tragic way.

ME: Why another possession film? What inspired you and what does it mean for you? Are there any underlying symbolic significances about modern Western culture for example?

MANUEL: Well, I believe that one of the plot twists and the possibility of dealing with a topic such as possession in a realistic way (and almost a documentary way) was legitimate enough for us to embark on these diabolical possessions. It was also an interesting way for us to approach the "culture of individualism" no matter what, the main goal being getting rid of any kind of boundaries, to ignore all the institutions and traditions dictated by society, even the strongest one, family...

ME: It’s interesting you say that because I felt the scene where Emma has her first kind of epileptic fit is when her parents tell her she cannot go to a concert with her friends. I felt that somehow that was a psychologically self-induced epileptic fit with the goal being to get what she wants. And that is a creepy reality, a kind of devilish possession that I think many people can relate to…Can we speak about the psychology of possession films? Do you think that her possession is self-induced or a kind of schizophrenia caused by ever rising social demands or an increasing all-consuming selfishness and therefore alienation complex?

MANUEL: In this case, it is obvious that there is a certain ambiguity, although as the film goes on there is a supernatural element that comes into play which answers all the questions. From that moment, all the possible interpretations are in the audience's hands, which is always much more interesting.

ME: Is there any kind of reason her name is Emma Evans or was it just any name?

MANUEL: It was just a name, which sounded good.

ME: Okay, cool. You have keenness towards thriller films and the supernatural. What is it you love about these genres and will you stay with these themes?

MANUEL: Not necessarily. I enjoy good stories, regardless the genre, but there is no doubt that these films you mention are always very well received by the audience. On the other hand, as a creator, this "fantasy" and horror genre enables you to metaphorically approach human fears such as fear of death, of insanity, disease, and the unknown ...Universal topics from the History of Arts. I wouldn't have any inconvenience in directing another kind of genre, from comedy to drama, western or science fiction...

ME: Your film got distribution to over forty countries at a time when most indie art films cannot find distribution to half that. How did you manage that great accomplishment?

MANUEL: That is a question for the very efficient international sales department of Filmax, the production company of the film. As I mentioned previously, these kind of movies are very well received by the audience, and this type of story seems to have less issues when looking for distributors, than say, a more alternative or a very particular story/plot.

ME: Sophie Vavasseur, the lead actress in your film, is superbly cast. Can you tell us how hard it was to find her and your experience working with her? (Excellent casting work by uber-talented Barcelona casting agent Lucy Lenox btw. ;-))

MANUEL: Well in fact, she had always been our first choice and we were extremely lucky to be able to work with her, as well as being very easy. Despite being young, she was very professional and makes your work much easier. An amazing actress without a doubt and I wish her a great and brilliant career.

ME: How difficult was it to direct a film in English and not in Spanish? And was it filmed all on location in London?

MANUEL: It was not a problem at all. As 80% of the film takes place in a house, most of the interiors were shot in Barcelona. And for obvious reasons, the exteriors were shot in London.

ME: What is next on the your list of projects? Can you speak about your next film yet?

MANUEL: It's called "The Returned" and it is based on an exceptional script by Hatem Khraiche Ruíz Zorilla. It is an explosive combination of thriller, horror and drama with a romantic touch, which, in my opinion, is the most original twist within the zombie world in the last twenty years.

ME: What do you think about this first ever film festival FANTASTIC ZAGREB? And how is it to have a film screened here?

MANUEL: I think it's a wonderful initiative and it will undoubtedly succeed as there is nothing which it can be compared to, and the people behind it are ideal for it. To be able to screen "The Possession of Emma Evans" here in the open air was great. I would love to come back and share with them other projects in the upcoming years, which would be a good sign for the festival as well as for me.

ME: Awesome, Manuel. You see, you said your English is terrible and in fact it’s as good as mine, maybe even better. Maybe an English speaking devil possessed you during this interview. LOL. Thanks a million for taking time with us. Cannot wait to see your next film. Anything else you’d like to say to everyone at Fantastic Zagreb, and beyond?

MANUEL: A big hug to everyone. ☺


Interview by Vanessa McMahon, July 10, 2011


photos by Vanessa McMahon

Festival founder Stjepan Hundic (left) and director Manuel Carballo (right)


Read film summary here by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: “Fifteen year-old Emma Evans has an argument with her mother Lucy since she wants to go to a concert in London with her friends Rose and Alex. Emma immediately has a convulsion and her family takes her to the hospital, but the doctors do not find any physical problem. Then her father John tries to convince his wife to send Emma to school, instead of homeschooling, but she prefers to keep Emma in the family-based education. Lucy sends her daughter to the psychoanalyst believing that she has psychological problems and Emma asks her friend Rose to record her session of hypnosis though the cellular but the doctor dies during the session. When Emma listens to the tape, she believes she is possessed by the devil and asks her parents to be submitted to an exorcism with her uncle, Priest Christopher Taylor. However her skeptical mother is against the ritual and recalls that Chris was responsible for the death of a teenager, Ana, in the past in an unsuccessful exorcism. But when Emma levitates in the kitchen in front of her family, her parents call Chris.”

view trailer here:  


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