Berlin: 'Children of the Dead' Wins Forum Critics Prize

THE CHILDREN OF THE DEAD-Publicity Still-H 2019
Courtesy of Berlinale

The feature, from New York ensemble the Nature Theater of Oklahoma, is a zombie home movie based on the novel by Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek.

The Children of the Dead — a zombie home movie shot on Super 8 and directed by Kelly Copper and Pavol Liska of New York's Nature Theater of Oklahoma theater ensemble — has snatched the top critic's prize for best film in the Forum sidebar of the Berlin International Film Festival.

FIPRESCI, the international association of film critics, named Children of the Dead the best film in the 2019 Forum lineup. The movie, which was produced by Austrian art-house provocateur Ulrich Seidl (Paradise: Faith, Dog Days), proudly embraces the tradition of trash cinema, using amateur actors, original Alpine locations and grainy Super 8 stock to tell its story of a zombie invasion in an idyllic tourist town.

The film takes its inspiration from Elfriede Jelinek’s monumental ghost story of the same name, in which the Noble Prize-winning author using the imagery of the dead rising as a metaphor for Austria's still-festering, and repressed, memories of World War II and the Holocaust.

“The actors are amateurs, as well as the directing, the makeup looks cheap, the directors didn't even read the novel they were adapting. Everything could have gone wrong with this film, but it did not fail,” the FIPRESCI jury said of Children of the Dead. “Instead it brings life to a novel almost impossible to transpose by doing a silent film about the rise of the living dead, which is not only the rise of the repressed past, but also a rise of cinema, using the nearly dead format of Super 8, reminiscent of home videos. The result is hilarious, edgy, at times confusing, funny and something not everyone will agree on. But this is cinema: We need to disagree!”