Guilherme Daniel’s Bad Seed wins the MOTELX Award for Best Portuguese Horror Short / Méliès d’Argent
Kirill Sokolov wins the MOTELX Award for Best European Horror Feature / Méliès d’Argent with Why Don’t You Just Die!
The 13th edition of MOTELX – Lisbon International Horror Film Festival came to a close this Sunday, after six days that saw thousands of people flock to Cinema São Jorge. In a year in which the mythical number 13 took centre stage, the public defied superstition, with a record number of sold-out sessions.
Bad Seed by Guilherme Daniel was named as the big winner of the MOTELX Award for Best Portuguese Horror Short / Méliès d’Argent 2019. The jury, comprised of Samuel Úria, Howard David Ingham and Raquel Freire, justified their choice with the following words: “The film we chose as the winner surprised us more than any of the others. It has a sustained sense of dread, and was the only film in a strong competition that truly communicated the uncanny.
All three of us found ourselves fascinated and disturbed by this film from the very beginning.
The two leads gave tremendous, sensitive performances with very little dialogue to work with.
The visual presentation and sound design work together to provide a sense of realness and earthiness and a very strong feeling, more than any other film in this year’s competition, of being uniquely and authentically Portuguese.”
Bad Seed tells the story of a couple who ploughs a seemingly barren land and one day uncover a dark seed in the ground that becomes a strange influence in their behavior. This is the second time the director Guilherme Daniel wins this award, after 2018’s The Strange House in the Mist. The jury further decided to give a Special Mention to Häuschen, by Paulo A. M. Oliveira
and Pedro Martins, “a well-constructed and sometimes funny classic dark fairy tale in a modern mode”. They said: “Häuschen was very strong in every respect, but in particular we felt that its ending was well-devised and carefully constructed to both disturb and delight, with a trail of breadcrumbs leading the audience to a satisfying conclusion.”
The MOTELX Award for Best Portuguese Horror Short Film/Méliès d’Argent gives the biggest money prize for shorts in Portugal, 5000€. Since its creation in 2009, over one hundred Portuguese horror short films have had their world premiere at the Festival, thus achieving one of MOTELX’s main objectives: to encourage the production of horror films in Portugal. By winning the Award, Bad Seed is automatically nominated for the Méliès d’Or Award, given by the European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation (EFFFF) in a ceremony that will take place on October 6 in Sitges.
In the international competition, Why Don’t You Just Die! by Kirill Sokolov won the MOTELX Award for Best European Horror Feature / Méliès d’Argent 2019. A “difficult choice” that the jury – David Gregory, Miguel Gonçalves Mendes and Rita Anjos – justified by the “wild freshness and audacity” of the film, which stands out for its “multiple twists and black humour”. Why Don’t You Just Die! is the first feature by the 29-year-old Russian director and had a successful festival run before screening at MOTELX (where it was a Portuguese premiere, like all the other films in this competition). It is a “roaring rampage of revenge with a biting comic tone” (Hollywood Reporter), with a caustic commentary on the contradictions of modern Russian society, about a detective (and world’s most horrible father) who brings together a terrible group of people in his apartment: his resentful actress daughter, her boyfriend, an angry thug, and a cheated cop.
The jury also awarded a Special Mention to The Hole in the Ground by Irish director Lee Cronin, praising its “precision” and its “exceptional acting and suspense”.
The Best European Horror Feature Award was given for the first time in 2016 and this year there were 8 films in competition. Why Don’t You Just Die! succeeds Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse by Lukas Feigelfeld, and is nominated for the Méliès d’Or Award together with the winning short, Bad Seed.
Midsommar, one of the year’s most anticipated films, won the Audience Award. It was chosen from the 26 features shown in the Room Service section. Ari Aster, the director, was a guest of honour of MOTELX’s 13 th edition, and presented the Portuguese premiere of the film, which opens nationwide on 26 September.