Oldenburg Film Festival Attracts Young Talent

Whitney Able's starring performance in Nick Basile’s 'Dark,' which had its world premiere in Oldenburg, was a highlight of the festival known as Germany's Sundance.

This year’s edition of the Oldenburg International Film Festival continued its proud tradition of promoting independent film rather seamlessly. Edward Berger’s Jack, last year's closing night film, and Jack, the new drama from director Elisabeth Scharang, new film, opened the 2015 edition.

One of this year's stand-out highlights was the world premiere of Nick Basile’s Dark, a study of depression masquerading as a psychological thriller, with actress Whitney Able (Monsters) giving a tour-de-force performance as a young woman stuck in New York during the 2003 blackout.

Other titles were more controversial, like Spanish director Sergi PerezThe Long Walk Home, whose bleak plot – a man dealing with everyday doom and loss – combined with some rather cruel treatment of an aging dog, led to a number of walkouts – most notably special guest Joana Cassidy, in Oldenburg to receive a life-time achievement honor.

British actress Eliza Bennett and producer Scott Lochmus hit town for H8RZ, a high-school thriller that plays like a mash-up between The Breakfast Club and The Usual Suspects.

Despite budget difficulties, Oldenburg was able to attract talent from most of the films screening here, which included Miguel Llonso’s Crumbs (a journey through a post-apocalyptic Ethiopia, which played to sold out screenings); Dennis Hauck’s neo nourish Too Late, starring John HawkesKenny Riches’ irreverent comedy The Strongest Man in the WorldDusan Milic’s faux futuristic refugee-drama Travelator and Sean Baker’s Tangerine, which, despite being filmed on an iPhone, still delivered cinematic visuals.

Rounding out the program were a retrospective of director George Armitage (Grosse Point Blank, Miami Blues), a short film competition and the second edition of last year’s panel discussion “Linking the North”, with Apollo Media’s Jorg Westerkamp, producer of Starz' Crash series, quizzing producers Reinhardt Beetz and Christian Kaps on their experiences finding co-producers from Scandinavian countries.

The festival is now heading into its home stretch, with the winners of the short film award and the nominees of the European Discovery — Prix Fipresci award being announced on Sunday. 

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