Lloyd Kaufman creator of The Toxic Avenger with film mascot at the Grossmann Fantastic Film and Wine Festival 2007
The Grossmann Fantastic Film and Wine Festival is a specialised competitive festival focusing on contemporary genre film production, mostly on those of horror and fantasy films. It was launched in 2005 on the 100th anniversary of Slovene cinema and is dedicated to Dr. Karol Grossmann (1864–1929), the pioneer of Slovene cinema who made the first film shots in 1905. The Festival takes place annually in July in different locations in the city of Ljutomer and was named one of the "30 Bloody Best Genre Fests in the World", according to MovieMaker Magazine. The call for eligible films is usually open from January till May.
The 2020 edition is held in Ormož (10-12.7.), then in Ljutomer (14-18.7.).
The Grossmann Fantastic Film and Wine Festival was initiated by Filmska praksa PLAN 9 and the Development Agency of Prlekija, and put on the map with help of European Structural Fund. Today the festival is run by the recently established KTD Festival Ljutomer organisation in collaboration with the above mentioned partners.
Since then, it has become one of the regular meeting points for professionals and fans of genre film production, especially horror and fantasy films, in the Balkan region and beyond. The Festival's focus on genre film production doesn't include blockbusters and mainstream films but rather the new digital guerrilla, independent and low budget films, destined to become cult. The official festival policy is guided by the wish to present those films that are trying to escape the "mediocrity, political correctness and pathetic desire for mass appeal" of the contemporary genre films and to bring some fresh blood and danger into the festival scene.
The festival includes not just film screenings but also the promotion of local wines – "the pride and joy of the Prlekija region" – and other gastronomical pleasures.
The programme of the Grossmann Festival is divided into 9 sections and 3 of those are competitive: the Vicious Cats section of feature length films, the Slak's Vicious Cats section (named in honour of film director Franci Slak (1953–2007)) of short films and the Noisy Cats section of music documentaries. Retrospectives are one of the strongest sections since in past years they have managed to invite many cult and legendary directors, actors and producers like Christopher Lee, Roger Corman, Jörg Buttgereitt, George A. Romero, Ruggero Deodato, Jan Harlan and Sam Firstenberg.
The Grossmann Festival has 6 official festival awards as each of the 3 main festival sections has its own award – for details see, the Vicious Cat Awards. Since the Grossmann Festival is also a festival of wine, the Vicious Cat Wine Champion award is conferred. Sometimes the number of awards can change, as the Grossmann Festival is also unorthodox in that regard and so new awards are sometimes introduced.
Workshops and special events
The Grossmann Festival has many parallel events to the main film programme, from book presentations and exhibitions to concerts. Although they are not traditional, a great deal of attention goes to the workshops, as they are usually led by visiting artists or professionals. For example, the Make Your Own Damn Movie! workshop in 2007, an intensive master class on the shooting and promotion of low-budget films, was led by Lloyd Kaufman. Every year, the Little Workshop of Horrors is also organised, during which participants have to finish their short horror film during the duration of the Festival.
The Grossmann Festival also regularly organises special events like the "Zombie Walk" – a procession of the undead (make-up is done by professionals attending the Festival) through the streets of Ljutomer, and a traditional festival of wine (with wine road tours, exhibitions, lectures, wine tastings and presentations).
The Festival is a member of the Méliès International Festivals Federation (MIFF), a network of 25 festivals from 19 countries, promoting European fantastic film across the globe. Upon the invitation by the Slovenian Film Centre, the Grossmann Festival frequently presents their activities at the Marché du Film in Cannes. Its programme has also been hosted post-festum in Zagreb, Belgrade and Lyon. The Festival programme regularly screens selected films from the MIFF network and partner festivals: the Australian A Night of Horror, the Festival of Serbian Fantasy Films, the Croatian Trash Film Festival.