Ariane Louis-Seize’s “Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person” has picked up the director’s award at Venice Days.
“It bravely addresses crucial themes such as depression, mental health, euthanasia and neurodiversity. Nevertheless, it is able to do so with a light-hearted feel, which makes the film radical and courageous,” noted the jury, composed of European cinephiles from the 27 Times Cinema program and led by Portugal’s João Pedro Rodrigues, behind “The Ornithologist” and “Will-o’-the-Wisp.”
“While the film has unique tone and style, it joyfully reaches a wider audience thanks to its tenderness and emotional engagement,” they added, praising Louis-Seize’s “strong directorial vision.”
In the film, a young vampire has a problem: she is too sensitive to kill. When her parents cut off her blood supply, Sasha meets Paul, a teenager with suicidal tendencies who is willing to give his life to save hers.
It’s produced by Jeanne-Marie Poulain and Line Sander Egede for Art et essai, while h264 handles world sales.
“I wanted to talk about vampires for a very long time. I have always been interested in supernatural stories. Vampires are so old. They have to kill to survive, which creates so many ethical dilemmas,” she told Variety.
“This fear of death is something I experience deeply. It’s so hard to picture the world without the people we love or that one day, our life will just end. I don’t think making films helps with that, but it’s a nice way to address these issues and hopefully connect with people.”
As well as make them laugh.
“The way I see life, it’s both tragedy and comedy. Comedy can be a way of addressing very serious matters. I guess I wanted to make a luminous film about death and talk about life as well.”
The award comes with a cash prize of €20,000, to be split equally between the filmmaker and the film’s international distributor.
The audience also had a say, selecting Delphine Girard’s “Through the Night,” sold by Playtime and produced by Versus Production, for an award.
“The film starts with a woman who pretends to call her sister but she is actually calling the police to get help,” she said, referring to its harrowing plot. But there is another woman, Anna, who hears her protagonist’s pleas.
“I wanted to explore the aftermath of a violent night and the way sorority might be an answer and an antidote for women.”
Tommaso Santambrogio’s “Oceans Are the Real Continents” and, once again, “Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person” were the runners-up.
Finally, the Europa Cinemas Label – for best European film in the section – went to “Photophobia” by Ivan Ostrochovský and Pavol Pekarčík, showing a family taking shelter from the war in the Kharkiv metro station.
“When we arrived in Ukraine with humanitarian aid in the spring of 2022 and settled into a life alongside the metro refugees, we realized that the eyes of the world would be on the front line. That was why we decided to find something most closely approaching ‘ordinary life’ and preserve it to the best of our abilities,” said the filmmakers in a statement, admitting they tried to “find a moment of genuine humanity at a time of devastating horror.”
“This is no miserabilist cliched war story. We see the way human beings – and the children in particular – learn to create a new way of living. There is hope here, and joy in the small things. The occasional luxury of feeling the sun on their faces, for example,” argued jurors Gerardo de Vivo, Lukas Berberich, Mira Staleva and Priscilla Gessati.
The jury also encouraged sales agents to snap it up. “We strongly recommend that companies look at this film very quickly and get to work. As exhibitors, we are convinced this film has a wide audience waiting for it.”