Festival brings film soleil, rediscovered horror film

Ljubljana – This year’s Festival of Genre Film, dedicated to film soleil, an offshoot of film noir, will get under way tonight with a screening of John Sturges’s Bad Day at Black Rock at Kinodvor cinema in Ljubljana. Another highlight will be a screening of The Amusement Park, a rediscovered film by the horror visionary George A. Romero.

Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), a fusion of western and film noir, is an early representative of film soleil, a cinematic term coined by US film critic and author D. K. Holm in 2005 to describe films in the 1960s and 1970s that did not require the gloomy grey, black and white shades to portray the dark underbelly of human nature.

The term did not stick, but the genre nevertheless developed and peaked in the next decades, and will be the centrepiece of the 9th Festival of Genre Film. “Our ideas of crime and thriller (as well as horror) are perhaps too inextricably linked to darkness. Or perhaps the dark side of human existence that feeds the discourse of genre cinema is something we would rather not see in broad daylight. Let’s see it though!” Maša Peče, the festival’s curator and producer, said in a press release.

The festival’s section Retrospective, dedicated to film soleil, features six films, including Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) by US filmmaker Russ Meyer, known for writing and directing a series of successful sexploitation films, and The Chase (1966), a southern gothic film directed by Arthur Penn and starring Robert Redford, Jane Fonda and Marlon Brando.

The week-long festival, which will be held entirely in person this year, will also feature contemporary genre films, including Mad God (2021), the long-awaited masterpiece by Phil Tippett, one of the most legendary visual effects artists in Hollywood history, and 2551.01, the latest project by Austrian experimental filmmaker and artist Norbert Pfaffenbichler, who will be the festival’s guest of honour.

Another highlight will be the emerging genre film of the Middle East and two live-to-picture concerts accompanying screenings of iconic silent films Häxan (1922) by Denmark’s Benjamin Christensen and The Unknown (1927) by US director Tod Browning. Horror film buffs may also look forward to The Amusement Park (1973), a rediscovered and newly-restored masterpiece by George A. Romero that was thought lost for almost half a century.

In addition to workshops, the festival, organised by Kinodvor and the Slovenian Cinematheque, will also hold another Cult Film Conference in cooperation with England’s Northumbria University. Horror cinema experts Kate Egan and Johnny Walker, a senior lecturer and an associate professor with the university, respectively, will give lectures at Friday’s event.