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2023 Grimm Reaper award-winners announced



Grimmfest, Manchester's International Festival of Fantastic Film, celebrated its fifteenth anniversary this year with four days of the very best in genre cinema, screening at Odeon Manchester Great Northern from 5–8 October. The lineup included 16 feature films and three programmes of shorts, all new to Manchester, many receiving international, European or UK premieres – and all eligible for the much-coveted Grimm Reaper Awards. This year’s jury included Caroline Couret-Delegue, Executive Producer and Managing Director of Film Seekers International Sales Agency; Mary Beth McAndrews, film producer and Editor-in-Chief at Dread Central; UK writer-director Ben Parker (THE CHAMBER, BURIAL); Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes, Reader in English Literature and Film, and Co-Director of the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University; Amber T, UK Correspondent at Fangoria; and Sean Wheelan, Producer at Filmgate Films and Filmgate VFX in Gothenburg. The Grimm Reaper winners for Grimmfest 2023 are: BEST SCARE: DELETER Always a hotly contested category as jurors debate what precisely constitutes a “scare” and whether to select a traditional “jump scare” or something more... intangible. In the case of DELETER, what impressed and stayed with the jury, rather than any one moment, was the eerie, unsettling mood and atmosphere of the film as a whole. BEST VFX / SFX, and BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: PANDEMONIUM Quarxx’s visually astonishing tour of existential hell was a real favourite with the jury, who were particularly impressed by the film’s rich visuals and consistently imaginative and seamless mix of practical and digital effects work. BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: MOTHER SUPERIOR Another richly visual film, the jury particularly praised Marie Alice Wolfszahn’s heady mix of Nazi eugenics, folklore and witchcraft for its elegant and evocative production design and truly immersive sense of time and place. BEST SCORE: DOOR DOOR presented the jury with something of a conundrum, insofar as, while it is 35 years old, it had never previously been screened in the UK, on which basis they elected to make it eligible for awards at this year’s festival. It was highly commended in pretty much every category, but our jurors were particularly taken with Gôji Tsuno’s offbeat soundtrack and determined to award it BEST SCORE. BEST SHORT: MANTRA MANTRA was a favourite with everyone in the jury, singled out for its strong use of location, powerful performances, elegantly jittery camerawork, and suffocating atmosphere – and for its unsettling view of contemporary sexual mores. SILVER MELIES SHORT: THERE ARE NO GHOSTS A clear favourite, jurors praised THERE ARE NO GHOSTS for its subtle performances, elegant staging, and beautifully written script, which moves from wry humour and gentle humanism to an emotionally devastating final payoff. BEST ACTOR IN A FEMALE ROLE: TAMSIN TOPOLSKI for WHAT YOU WISH FOR In keeping with this year’s female focus, this was a standout year for female roles, but in the end the jury was unanimous in singling out Tamsin Topolski’s chilling study in polite, privileged psychopathology, all the more terrifying because the polished veneer never slips, no matter how monstrous her character is revealed to be. BEST DIRECTOR, BEST SCREENPLAY: NICHOLAS TOMNAY for WHAT YOU WISH FOR WHAT YOU WISH FOR was a real favourite with the jury for its deft, witty, Highsmithian screenplay; its carefully controlled, pitch-perfect direction; and the skill and subtlety with which the various twists and tonal shifts are orchestrated. BEST ACTOR IN A MALE ROLE: DAVID PAREJA for THE COFFEE TABLE THE COFFEE TABLE was another clear winner with the jury, who felt that a major part of its success was down to the extraordinary performance of David Pareja, who manages to retain audience sympathy and empathy no matter how appalling his actions become. BEST FEATURE FILM: THE COFFEE TABLE Of all the films in the festival, THE COFFEE TABLE made the most visceral impact on our jury, with its beautifully balanced mix of sociopathic social comedy, black farce, and escalating nightmare; simultaneously hilarious and horrifying, it was an undisputed choice for BEST FEATURE. Plus, the votes are all in, and after a close-run contest, this year’s Audience Awards go to Andrew Rutter’s THE HERITAGE for BEST SHORT and Nicholas Tomnay’s WHAT YOU WISH FOR for BEST FEATURE. AT A GLANCE:

  • BEST SCARE: MIKHAIL RED for DELETER

  • BEST SFX / VFX: Olivier Afonso & the entire VFX team for PANDEMONIUM (with an Honorable Mention for ABRUPTIO

  • BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: Marie Alice Wolfszahn, Cristina Brandner-Wolfszahn and Manuel Biedermann for MOTHER SUPERIOR

  • BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Didier Daubeach, Hugo Poisson, Colin Wandersman for PANDEMONIUM

  • BEST SCORE: Gôji Tsuno for DOOR (with an Honorable Mention for Benjamin Leray for PANDEMONIUM)

  • BEST SCREENPLAY: NICOLAS TOMNAY for WHAT YOU WISH FOR (with an Honorable Mention for Caye Casas and Cristina Borobia for THE COFFEE TABLE)

  • BEST SHORT: Stef Meyer and Pascal Bourelier for MANTRA (with Honorable Mentions for BOOKWORM and FAMILY NIGHT)

  • SILVER MELIES SHORT: NACHO SOLANA for THERE ARE NO GHOSTS

  • BEST ACTOR IN A MALE ROLE: DAVID PAREJA for COFFEE TABLE

  • BEST ACTOR IN A FEMALE ROLE: TAMSIN TOPOLSKI for WHAT YOU WISH FOR (with Honorable Mentions for Nadine Lustra for DELETER and Georgia Atkin for THE SACRIFICE GAME)

  • BEST DIRECTOR, NICHOLAS TOMNAY for WHAT YOU WISH FOR (with an Honorable Mention for Tamae Garateguy for AUXILIO)

  • BEST FILM: Caye Casas for THE COFFEE TABLE

  • AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST SHORT: THE HERITAGE

  • AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST FEATURE: WHAT YOU WISH FOR

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