Audiences to be put in hypnotic trance at Swedish film festival | Movies

The Göteborg film festival is no stranger to stunts. It has previously featured screenings for a single audience member at a North Sea lighthouse, as well as “coffin screenings” in which lucky viewers were interred inside a sarcophagus to enhance their sensory empathy.

This year, festival directors are planning to put the entire audience under by hiring a hypnotist for three gala screenings. Ahead of Swedish premieres for Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria, Shirin Neshat’s Land of Dreams and Christian Tafdrup’s Speak No Evil, a hypnotist will appear on stage to “transform the audience’s state of mind in accordance with the mood and theme of the film”.

Organisers said the spell would be broken after the screening. They did not comment on what would happen if the hypnotist became unavailable between the opening or closing credits – or what the effect would be on audience members who might, for instance, need to access the bathroom during the film.

Memoria, whose running time is nearly three hours, is the most prominent among the films: a near dialogue-free English language debut for its Thai director with Tilda Swinton playing seemingly the only person on Earth able to hear new sonic booms.

Göteborg artistic director Jonas Holmberg explained that the experiment was intended to “raise questions about submission, transgression and control” made more pertinent during the pandemic.

“Watching a film in the cinema can be extremely hypnotic,” he added. ““At home, with a tablet, it is much harder to maintain the focus you need to get really absorbed by a film. The Hypnotic Cinema is both a tribute to and an extension of the experience of watching films at the movie theatre.”

The Goteborg film festival runs for 10 days from 28 January.

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