OPORTO — Scandinavia was the big winner at this year’s 26th Oporto Intl. Film Festival (Fantasporto), which wrapped Sunday.
Laced with a winning sense of dark humor, Sweden’s highly original “Frostbitten” from Anders Banke, which was touted as Scandinavia’s first vampire pic, won best film in fest’s Fantasy Section.
Before morphing to the present, pic kicks off with a German army patrol which, cut off from its unit, stumbles across an — apparently — deserted cabin.
Portugal’s biggest film fest, Oporto offers a window onto Europe’s burgeoning horror pic output.
Denmark’s Anders Thomas Jensen again took best film in the parallel Director’s Week section, this time for “Adam’s Apple,” after having won the same prize in 2003 for “The Green Butchers.”
This black comedy about a priest who attempts to recycle a neo-Nazi, also won actor (Ulrich Thomsen) and screenplay.
Victoria Abril took Director’s Week best actress for her energetic turn as a scam artiste in Spanish grifters’ comedy “Swindled.”
Fantasy best actress went to Orsi Toth, the lede in Hungarian Kornel Mundruczo’s “Johanna,” which also snagged a Fantasy Section special jury award. Spain’s Jaume Garcia Arija nabbed best actor for a convincing perf as a kidnap victim struggling to maintain hope and sanity in Spanish pic “Zulo.”
Sophisticated and well-received Asian films once again came up trumps at the festival, with Park Chan-wook’s “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance” winning best film in the Orient Express section and “The Bow” by Kim Ki-duk scooping Special Jury Prize.
Portuguese films also had an unusually high presence in this year’s edition.
“Coisa Ruim,” a sober sierra-set haunted house chiller from Frederico Serra and Tiago Guedes, opened the festival to major audience applause, but did not convince film critics.
U.S.-French-Portuguese co-production “Animal,” by Roselyne Bosch, involving veteran Portuguese producer, Antonio da Cunha Telles, won a Melies d’Argent and is now a candidate for Melies d’Or 2006 for best European Fantasy Film.
Fest expanded this year into more venues throughout Oporto and clocked up over 100,000 admissions, in line with recent year audience.
Festival director, Mario Dorminksy, who was recently appointed Culture Councilor for neighboring Gaia Mu-nicipal Council, took a slightly more backstage role this year — thus giving greater prominence to the other two members of the troika behind the fest — Beatriz Pacheco Pereira and Antonio Reis.
Dorminsky stated that he was delighted with the quality of films and audience reaction this year and is now planning new international promotional initiatives to consolidate event’s status as a top world fest.