Film Festival Keeps Its Audience Under Hypnosis

Catching up with friends, working out at the gym, or going out to see a movie are just some of the practices we turn to when we need to relax. But because of the pandemic, much of our (let’s call it) relaxation therapy has changed. We connect via Zoom, exercise indoors, and get ourselves comfortable in front of the TV to watch a movie. While these are some nice ways to keep ourselves entertained and away from our mundane lives, we can all agree that they aren’t exactly the “full” experience.

With the increasing popularity of the movie streaming platforms, it is likely for the audiences to find it difficult to disconnect from their daily routine and completely connect to the wonderful story they are following. Sure, a great film can catch anyone’s attention, but in letting your thoughts synchronize with the plot of a film you might want to try watching it the old-fashioned way: At the cinema.

Back in the days of early film history, people usually found the incredible experience delivered within a movie theater as being something similar to hypnosis. “Watching a film in the cinema can be extremely hypnotic. At home, with a tablet, it is much harder to maintain the focus you need to get really absorbed by a film. Now, as Göteborg Film Festival returns to theaters, we add another hypnotic layer,” says Jonas Holmberg, Artistic Director at Göteborg Film Festival, about a “mind-bending experiment” set to be conducted while the event unfolds (28 January – 6 February ).

Through “The Hypnotic Cinema,” designed by the creative minds at Stendahls agency, the largest film festival in the Nordic countries addresses one question to cinephiles: “Do you dare to lose control?” Those brave enough to do it will let their minds in the hands of hypnotist Fredrik Praesto, who will perform a mass hypnosis from the main stage at Stora Teatern in Gothenburg right before three of the chosen films: “Land of Dreams,” “Memoria, and “Speak No Evil.”

According to the festival, these movies are “all suggestive and, in different ways, they bring the audience on an emotional journey where different states of consciousness are explored.” Via the hypnosis session, the movie-goers’ state of mind will transform in line with the specific film’s vibes and theme. Once the screening ends, so does the trans-like state of the mind.

“The rules and restrictions of the past year have illuminated how to maintain order in society and what really governs people’s thoughts and behaviors. Maybe we don’t make decisions as independently as we like to think? With The Hypnotic Cinema we want to raise questions about submission, transgression, and control,” explains Holmberg.

The festival’s experiment seeks to establish whether there is a possibility to enhance the cinematic experience for those courageous enough to let themselves be hypnotized. The campaign took shape to reflect this year’s festival focus, Disorder, a concept through which the festival wants to delve into order and disorder, in our society and within ourselves, and explore the boundary between the two.

“The Hypnotic Cinema is both a tribute to and an extension of the experience of watching films at the movie theater,” Holmberg continues. This isn’t the first time the festival brings up a new way of watching movies. For one of its previous events, the Göteborg Film Festival attracted cinephiles to “The World’s Most Claustrophobic Cinema” using coffins. Last year though, the festival reached out to movie aficionados by luring them to “The Isolated Cinema.” Which of these adventures do you think suits you best?


Client: Göteborg Film Festival

Agency: Stendahls

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