Horror classic The Exorcist will be shown inside the protestant church of Saint Guillaume, Strasbourg on Thursday September 20 as part of the annual Festival Européen du Film Fantastique de Strasbourg.
Known for its spine-tingling soundtrack and haunting story, the film is based on a real life exorcism carried out by a Roman Catholic priest in the US and the festival organisers have chosen the church in order to deliver an immersive viewing experience. In 2016, the public swimming baths formed the backdrop to Spielberg’s shark thriller Jaws (titled Les Dents de Mer in French.)
The festival’s choice of venue goes hand in hand with the church’s campaign to raise funds for its restoration, entitled #SauvonsGuillaume. Part of the revenues generated by the screening will go towards the structural restoration of the church.
Christophe Kocher, the pastor of the Lutheran church which dates back to the 14th century, says it will also show the church to be a place of life and cultural exchange.
“It’s about cinema, fiction and entertainment,’ added the pastor, ”but also about discussion, exchange and meeting people.
“It may be the first time in the world that The Exorcist has been shown in a church. If at first the idea seemed out of place, it has quickly garnered support from the presbyterian council.”
The Connexion spoke to Daniel Cohen, the festival’s artistic director about the project. “We chose the church for its open-minded reputation, which we felt immediately when meeting the pastor. We choose places that correspond to the theme of each film; for The Exorcist, a church was the natural choice.”
“A large part of the festival is about making cultural links with Strasbourg and this screening will help the church in its #SauvonsGuillaume project.”
This year marks the 11th edition of the film festival, which showcases fantasy, science-fiction and horror films alongside virtual reality and video games of the same genre. 161 films will be shown in total this year and the guest of honour is American film director John Landis, who most famously directed Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ video in 1983.
The festival runs from September 14 - 23, in the capital of the Grand Est region. A zombie parade at 2pm on Saturday September 15 in the town centre hopes to attract participants who are encouraged to dress up. Zombie hunters and fake weapons are forbidden in the interest of security however, said Mathieu Cahn, deputy Mayor of Strasbourg.
In 2016, 27,000 people attended the event, which showed 64 features and 27 short films from over 22 countries.
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