Jan Ijäs’s House of the Wickedest Man (2023) was awarded with Escola das Artes Silvestre Award for Best Short Film at IndieLisboa, held from April 27 – May 7 2023 in Portugal. The jury states: “Faithful to its topic and made in the spirit of three mystic icons of the 20th century, this film shows great insight into and respect for its subjects. With remarkable technical skill with the celluloid material and ingenuity to its approach, the director manages to skillfully tie together the past and future through legends and documentations. The result is both entertaining and terrifying, championing both humor and horror.”
House of the Wickedest Man in the World is the story of a ruined building near the city of Cefalú in Sicily. In the early 1920s, Aleister Crowley, the most famous occultist of his time, lived in the building, practicing magical rituals, and using hard drugs to heighten their intensity. Crowley also painted frescoes on the rituals of the Abbey of Thelema in his temple in the style of Paul Gauguin, whom he admired. Benito Mussolini expelled Crowley from the country in 1923. The frescoes were whitewashed, and the house was sealed. In the summer of 1955, experimental filmmaker Kenneth Anger found the building, got permission to open the seals, and turned it into a residence as a researcher. Anger cleaned a large part of the house’s walls from the whitewash and was planning to shoot a film about Crowley’s frescoes and time in Cefalú. The Thelema Abbey film was never released. Nowadays, the building is deserted and is located next to the city’s football stadium. The building has been allowed to disrepair because it is still believed that “evil forces” stayed in it.
House of the Wickedest Man in the World is distributed in collaboration with AV-arkki – Centre for Finnish Media Art and Raina Film Festival Distribution.
Media artist and film director Jan Ijäs (b. 1975) studied documentary film making at the Department of Film, Television and Scenography at the Aalto University in Helsinki. His work can be described as a blend of avant garde, experimental media art and documentary film making. His films have been screened at more than 200 Finnish and international film festivals and as installations in museums and art galleries. He has won numerous awards, including the Finnish Risto Jarva Prize in 2011 for SWEET MOV(I)E, Raft of the Médusa, film about immigration won Amnesty International Award 2018 at the IndieLisboa film festival in Portugal.
IndieLisboa, April 27 – May 7 2023, Portugal
More information: IndieLisboa
AV-arkki has promoted and distributed Finnish media art since 1989. AV-arkki’s promotional efforts have made the artists’ participation in this event possible.