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An Interview with the Obscura Filmfestival's David Ghane

by Mike Haberfelner

September 2020

Quick Links

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You've been running the Obscura Filmfestival since 2016 - so what can you tell us about the festival as such, and the philosophy behind it?

 

The main idea was to present cool entertaining genre movies to like-minded fans in a festival athmosphere. I found out that this is the best way to enjoy great genre movies. Much better than watching them at home and alone on your TV.

 

What inspired you to launch the Obscura Filmfestival  back in the day in the first place, and what were the main challenges to get it going?

 

We already have quite a few genre festivals in Germany and they are growing. I started visiting them in 2004 and over time went to more and more, up to 12 festivals a year. I also followed the international festival market online and discovered films that I would like to see in Germany. So I suggested them to the festival organizers but a lot of the films weren't shown. I always wondered why, did they not get the movie or was it their own will not to show them? Other festival goers in Munich created their own mini festival in a small indie cinema, and I thought why not do the same in Berlin where I live and try to get the films that I suggested all those years to see myself whether it is possible or not. So I looked into my BD and DVD cupboard for films of which I had foreign BD/DVDs, but which weren't released in Germany and asked the producers if I could show them at my filmfestival. I found a small indie cinema which I could afford and started a crowdfunding campaign to see if there was a demand for it. That was successful so the first Obscura Filmfestival was born in October 2016, and it was actually possible to show some of the films that I suggested to my now colleagues.

 

Let's take a leap to the present right now: When and where are you holding your next fests, and what are some of the highlights planned for them?

 

The 6th Obscura Filmfestival Berlin takes place on the October 30th and 31st 2020 in the Kino & Bar in der Königstadt, Straßburger Str. 55, 10405 Berlin. The 4th Obscura Filmfestival Hannover is planned for February 2021, depending on the Covid and cinema situation then.

 

The biggest highlight is probably the Dutch sci-fi action spectacle Kill Mode, which is shown on Saturday at 20:15 - it is the prequel to Molly. If you want something stronger and dirtier, check out the Argentinian post apocalyptic double feature (I am Toxic/Soy Toxico & Scavenger/Carrona), which is shown at 15:00. But I'd say with such a compact program every film is a highlight.

 

Key question, where can one get tickets for the Obscura Filmfestival?

 

You can get festival passes for all films and single tickets via the website - www.obscurafilmfest.de - and Eventim. Single tickets will also be sold later on in the cinema itself.

 

I guess I have to address the elephant in the room here, in what way does the Corona virus affect the Obscura Filmfestival?

 

The first idea was to have the 4th Obscura Filmfestival Hannover in the week of Halloween, but in Hannover either the cinemas are too small, so they won't open at all with the restrictions, or they are open but are not allowed to host special events, like my filmfestival. So I had to postpone it to next year and instead I am doing a smaller one in Berlin on two days.

 

You host the Obscura Filmfestival in both Berlin and Hannover - why these two cities, and how do the respective festivals in Berlin and Hannover compare?

 

I live in Berlin and Berlin is THE film city in Germany, so it was obvious to do one here. Hannover is my homeland and does not really have any festivals so I wanted to establish my one there. In 2010 the big Fantasy Filmfestival once visited Hannover but they never returned there. In Hannover I also get financial funding from the city. The film lineups in both cities are completely different. In Hannover the short films are also more successful than in Berlin. In the past Hannover had its fest in spring and Berlin in autumn. My plan was to do only one per year and always in autumn. Covid killed this plan this time but I am hoping for the future.

 

How has the Obscura Filmfestival grown and evolved over the years, and some highlights from past festivals?

 

It started really small, with DVDs and Blu-Rays from my cupboard being shown, the films were already a few years old and some were quite trashy. Nowadays I acquire some from the European Film Market and from German labels which are more professionally made and often brand new. I also always had guests so far, filmmakers, actors/actresses, first only from Germany and later also international ones from Ireland, Argentina, Mexico and the USA.

 

Some of my personal highlights were the following: at my 3rd edition in Berlin I had the 2nd screening of What the Waters left Behind after the world premiere in Sitges and the main actor from Argentina was present. Directly afterwards I showed Kodoku – Meatball Machine, which screened at the biggest fantastic festivals in the world that year including the Japanese Filmfest in Hamburg. At the same festival I also had my first short film world premiere Girl and a Scar and the UK based director was present.

 

In Hannover I showed the ultra violent Chilean film Trauma, which was quite a tough ride getting it and one guest came all the way from the Ruhr area to Hannover to watch it. A year later I had another Sitges world premiere in my lineup and the DCP was sent from Sitges festival to me, I kept the envelope. In Hannover I showed a film produced by Alex De La Iglesia, Errementari, and also had the Korean 16 Million Euro battle epic The Great Battle in my lineup.

 

At one point my festival was held in a big multiplex cinema and about 20 cast and crew members arrived to the world premiere of their short film. Several people took photographs and filmed the photo session. It really looked cool, you can watch the video on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/obscurafilmfest/videos/571371153328885/

 

I also love to pick up the filmmakers from the airport or station. One time they slept in my guest room for a week. They came from Frightfest and wanted me to show their film while they were in Berlin, so for that occasion I created an Obscura Special in August, just two films and not a festival.

 

There is the audience award for best feature and short film, and I sent the trophies as far as Australia, Korea and Argentina. One time I thought I could bring the trophy personally, so I booked the bus to Copenhagen, travelled overnight and handed over the trophy to the director, which together with the two main actresses were present during the screening in October. I got the idea since the two actresses also travelled home by bus. I then went sightseeing and travelled back the next night.

 

I also always have lots of free goodies to give out, film magazines, posters, postcards, stickers. The audience can win Blu-rays, books and last year a big boardgame. I also offered mead/honey wine a few times, of course red one to match the theme.

 

Any future plans for the Obscura Filmfestival for years to come?

 

I would like to become an inherent part in the German festival market. It would be great if more people would participate since so far I'm doing this all by myself while still having my normal day job, There are also two things I haven't had so far: I would like to have a feature film world premiere, but this is quite difficult since my standard is high. Not so important but also nice would be to show a film that later has a general cinema release in Germany.

 

Basic question, why horror? And is this a genre at all dear to you personally, and why?

 

I accept the following genres: Action, horror, science fiction, thriller, fantasy and adventure. My own film collection consists of 30% action, 40% horror and then 30% is all the rest from the above. I don't really know why I like horror (and action), maybe it is because I like the extreme and controversial. I like to shock people and then protect and care for them. It is probably also to flee from the normal life into a fantasy world where the rules are different. Sometimes I imagine how life must be in such a setting and then I am glad that we actually live in a much better world.

 

Which variations of horror, maybe also eras of horror, do you personally like the most, and which could you do without?

 

My favourite horror genres are: Torture porn, terror, splatter, exploitation, slasher. So I really liked the time after the first Saw film was released which started this wave of torture porn and terror, including the famous French films.

 

I don't like at all this new trend of post horror or arthouse horror. That is not really horror for me. It looks to me like they made these films for people who don't like or watch horror at all in oder to introduce them to it in a very subtle and soft way.

 

Your favourite movies (not necessarily only horror)?

 

Versus, Casshern, Once Upon a time in China, Ride (the italian one), Hardware, the Saw films, Frontier(s), Collector 1 & 2. There are actually a lot and it changes over the decades.

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

There are some films which are not in the genres I mentioned above which I don't like at all. Most are professionally done though so they are not really bad from an objective perspective. There are of course really bad genre films as well including so called amateur or hobby movies, but you cannot really count them in. I would say the worst films are those that are so slow that you want so fast forward or loose interest in how they end. I once walked out of a movie at a festival and it seemed a good choice.

 

Your/your festival's website, social media, whatever else?

 

www.obscurafilmfest.de

www.facebook.com/obscurafilmfest/

www.instagram.com/obscurafilmfest/

filmfreeway.com/ObscuraFilmfestival

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

To all fans out there, please support independent films, indie films can show you the rough edges that mainsteam studio films never can. And go to the cinema, it is so much nicer than streaming and watching at home. A filmmaker of a short film that I selected for Hannover 2021 said to me „I believe that it is a good thing that you postponed the festival to early 2021. Films are made for cinema screenings not for laptops.“ I totally agree.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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written by
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