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#IntoTheSpotlight – About Dracula Film Festival in Brasov

We dedicate this month's #IntoTheSpotlight special column to Dracula Film Festival in Brasov and get behind the curtains to find out who brings the best horror, fantasy or thriller films on our screens every year and how they do it. Marian Gîlea (President of Fanzin Cultural Association) answers our questions and tells us how the festival was born, how it has evolved over time and what are the future plans, among others.

Dracula Film Festival reaches its sixth edition after six years of terrifying the Romanian audience with some of the best horror productions. How and why did Dracula Film Fest appear in the Romanian festivals circuit?

Marian Gîlea: The Fanzin Cultural Association, the organizer of DFF, was founded in 2013 and its the aim was to organize cultural events in Brasov. We then created a comedy theatre festival – Comedy Week, a stand-up comedy festival – Stand Up Fest, a jazz and blues festival – the Brasov Jazz & Blues Festival and a film festival – Dracula Film Festival. All the events were meant to be unique, something that Brasov was missing, and, moreover, to have the potential to become annual events. At that time it was easy because almost nothing was happening in the city 🙂

Who are the essential people that make the festival happen year after year?

Marian Gîlea: The Fanzin Cultural Association is part of the “Days and Nights” group. The entire “Days and Nights” team in Brasov, consisting of 15 people, is involved in the organization of each event: volunteer coordination, graphics, online, social media, guest management, etc. Furthermore, this year at Dracula Film Festival we’ve been working with Ioan Big, programmer and president of the Dracula Digital jury. Alin Ludu Dumbravă is the artistic director since the first edition, just like Cristian Mărculescu, the short film programmer. I also need to mention Anca Grădinariu, who worked with us for the first five editions and helped us design the concept of the festival.

Since the horror film fits into a different category that is not usually present in film festivals, can you tell us what were the main challenges, big and small, that you have encountered since the festival was born until its 6th edition?

Marian Gîlea: The communication and marketing part. Every year we wanted to have a clean campaign without too much blood or grotesque elements, especially as we don’t have in our minds just the classic Horror when selecting the films, we also consider related film genres that are less disturbing, such as Fantasy or Thriller. Each edition we thought of a campaign that would not turn away the public less passioned by horror films 🙂

Even the festival logo (two red spots), created by the Firestarter ad agency in Brasov, is very simple but of great impact just because it avoids raising a susceptibility among the common film consumer and not just the one with a particular appetite for horror. After all, the festival is a collection of cinematic stories just like the other festivals and the fact that ours are … more different than the rest and that not all of them are suitable for children, doesn’t change what they really are… just some tales.

Is there a nice moment you had throughout the six years of Dracula Film Festival that made you feel that you are on the right track? 🙂

Marian Gîlea: The enthusiasm of our organizing team and the high number of volunteers who are doing their best to make the festival work. Last but not least, the enthusiasm of foreign guests; they are very excited to come to a horror festival which takes place on Dracula’s homeland.

How do you feel the festival has evolved since its first edition so far?

Marian Gîlea: First of all, we, the festival team, gain valuable experience, and by learning just a bit on each edition we are getting better and better at what we have to do. Then, the high number of films submitted in the festival’s competitions, a number that only gets higher year by year and that includes films from different corners of the world, increases the selection mass and so it raises the quality of the festival through films that go all the way up to the finish line.  This year, there were more than 200 films from over 50 countries submitted in the feature competition, as for the short film competition we had over 2000 films. Last but not least, the festival is becoming more and more popular and acknowledged and you can notice this by the growing number of new viewers interested in the event.

What were the biggest “achievements” of Dracula Film Fest, since 2013 so far?

Marian Gîlea: The biggest achievement is that we managed to organize it despite all the obstacles encountered, keep the festival alive. For example, Braşov City Hall refused to finance this year’s edition of the festival 🙁

In 2018, the Dracula Film Festival is held between October 17th-21st, in the same wonderful city as usual – Brasov. What are the three highlights of this edition that should not be missed out?

Marian Gîlea: THE FEATURE COMPETITION – six films in national premiere which have their origins in as many different civilizations and cultures, spread throughout the planet;

The masterclass held by SERGIO STIVALETTI, the legendary Italian master of special effects;

The film “OVERLORD”, produced by J.J. Abrams, which closes the festival on October 21st, three weeks before … its world premiere;
Highlight bonus: the ZOMBIE WALK which happens in the historic center of Brasov and whose magnitude grows every year.

What is the Fantastic Romanian Film Day and what films can we see in this section?

Marian Gîlea: It is a new section within the festival, we want to bring out the contemporary Romanian fantasy film, as well as fantastic stories from the past. For this first edition, the selection process was quite simple – we made a list of all the Romanian fantasy films we knew and we picked the first films that accepted our invitation.
This year, the audience will have the chance to watch “The Bucharest Experiment”, “For Romania” (in premiere), “141 A.D. Mission in Dacia” (in premiere), and “Steps to the Moon “, made by Ioan Popescu-Gopo, on which Cristi Mărculescu insisted to have in the programme.

What are the festival’s goals in the long run?

Marian Gîlea: We want to become one of Europe’s most popular genre festivals for ‘forever young’ people. We have all the ingredients for this goal. We have Dracula in the title, we have Braşov, one of the most beautiful cities in Transylvania, we have the team, the innovative spirit, the competence, the passion and the enthusiasm for our goal to become reality, and not to remain just a dream.

How do you see the festival over six more editions?

Marian Gîlea: My dream is to have David Lynch, Lars von Trier, and Guillermo del Toro as guests of the festival. Fingers crossed 🙂

An article by Romina Banu

English translation by Andreea Toader

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