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The Göteborg Film Festival Celebrates Cinema’s Darker Side

Renowned for its quirky themes and engaging ad campaigns, the festival’s latest spot is hypnotically jam-packed with cinematic references. 

Standing at 1 minute 45 seconds, the Swedish festival’s short is created by local agency Stendahls. The multiple references – some obvious others more subtle – is a clever marketing technique encouraging the viewer to watch till the end in counting how many references they can spot. 

The homages are verbal as well as visual: the eagle-eared will spot quotes from Saw in the hypnotist from the promo’s opening lines, as well as 1997 Spanish film Open Your Eyes (remade as Vanilla Sky). 

The festival’s hypnosis theme is a response to the closure of cinemas thanks to the pandemic, according to organisers. “Watching a film in the cinema can be extremely hypnotic,” said Göteborg artistic director Jonas Holmberg. “At home, with a tablet, it is much harder to maintain the focus you need to get really absorbed by a film. The Hypnotic Cinema is both a tribute to and an extension of the experience of watching films at the movie theatre.”

The colours used – all sumptuous reds and velvety tones – call to mind the Italian Giallo horror films, such as Dario Argento’s Suspiria. It also connotes illegal activity and taboos – think red light districts. Argento’s use of red, and colour more generally, is used to similar effect in the festival promo: acting as plot point as much as tool.

The festival takes place between January 28 and February 6.

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