Mass hypnosis screenings planned for the 2022 Gothenburg film festival


After isolating a movie buff on a Lighthouse island in the North Sea In 2021, this year’s Gothenburg Film Festival, Scandinavia’s biggest film and television event, is set to stage yet another daring metaphor for film consumption, subjecting audiences at three different film screenings to hypnosis from mass.

Nicknamed The Hypnotic Cinema, the titles of the section chosen for the unique experience are “Memoria”, winner of the 2021 Cannes Jury Prize by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, with Tilda Swinton; “Land of Dreams” by Iranian Silver Lion of Venice winners Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari (“Women Without Men”) with Sheila Vand, Matt Dillon and Isabella Rossellini; and “Speak No Evil” by Danish director Christian Tafdrup, which is scheduled to premiere at Sundance this month.

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Before each film, a hypnotist will perform mass hypnosis from the main stage at Gothenburg’s Stora Teatern, the festival announced on Tuesday. Transforming the audience’s state of mind according to the mood and theme of the film, the hypnotist will break the hypnosis after each screening.

The Gothenburg Festival has just released a promotional trailer which calls The Hypnotic Cinema a “mind-blowing cinematic experience”. In the video, a costumed hypnotist in front of a spiral vortex asks a female member of the audience to “open their eyes.”

“Listen carefully”, “forget your problems”, “let go of your stress”, “do not be afraid”, “leave us inside you”, “we are your new experiences”, advise other figures mesmerizing as the camera descends what looks like a hotel hallway as a bunny masked individual lurks in the background, channeling echoes of “The Shining” and “Donnie Darko”.

The woman is finally told to wake up. She finds herself sitting in a movie theater, but the end of her trance is another matter. “Do you really dare to let go?” Asks an ending title.

Hypnosis involves focused attention, reducing peripheral awareness. Watching movies in the cinema has a side effect, says Gothenburg Festival Artistic Director Jonas Holmberg. “Both cinema and hypnosis emerged at the end of the 19th century. If you look at the early movies – Méliès, Griffith – it’s totally hypnotic. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. There are very, very strong similarities between being hypnotized and watching a movie, especially in a movie theater. “

The organizers of the 2022 Gothenburg Film Festival are currently keeping their fingers crossed that they can organize this year’s event as an in-person event in theaters, complemented by an online program of 50 films for those in Sweden who don’t. can’t do it. in Gothenburg.
In such a context, “we want to celebrate this cinematic experience in theaters and also extend it by adding another layer of hypnosis,” said Holmberg. Variety.

But The Hypnotic Cinema also has a larger image, part of a larger focus called Disorder. His titles include the winner of the 2021 Berlin Golden Bear “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn”, “Land of Dreams” and “The Falls”, by Chung Mong-Hong from Taiwan.
“During the pandemic, society has been heavily ordered by regulations and restrictions. A lot of people have started to think about what drives us to do what we do and why, ”explained Holmberg.

The titles of The Hypnotic Cinema were chosen for different reasons. Apichatpong’s films revolve around “different modes of consciousness,” Holmberg said.

Co-written by Jean-Claude Carrière, co-screenwriter of Luis Buñuel, “Land of Dreams” addresses “the relationship between the state and people’s consciousness”, with Sheila Vand (“A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”) in the role of a US Census Bureau. official who collects people’s dreams.

“Speak No Evil” turns on a Danish family who visit a Dutch couple they met on vacation. The journey becomes more and more strange, even sinister. “Hypnotic cinema is all about retaining the experience of watching the movie,” said Holmberg. “We wanted to see what happens when you go even deeper into the spectator mode associated with a very well done and effective horror film.”

The Gothenburg Festival runs from January 28 to February. 6. Its full program will be announced on January 11.

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Gerald R. Schneider