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13 Tzameti

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Year: 2005 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Gela Babluani 
Starring: George Balbuni, Pascal Bongard, Aurelien Recoing, Fred Ulysse  
An image from 13 Tzameti

Sebastien works as a roofer, with little or no prospects. When his contractor dies shortly after receiving a letter promising a lot of money, Sebastian (Babluani) steals the letter and decides to follow the instructions. He ends up in an underground room where mysterious people place bets on other men's lives.

Eerie, tense and uncomfortable, 13 Tzameti is a form of torture different from that in the Saw franchise. Where Saw played on the blood and gory detail of the torture, 13 Tzameti is very much more playing on a psychological level. Jigsaw had his reasons, but here, the motives are much more mysterious. Here the torturers are indifferent: this is only a game to them. Life has no value whatsoever.

This unique feature makes 13 Tzameti creepy on many levels: because it considers that the life of the hero might be worthless, and that therefore so is yours. This brings the plot of 13 Tzameti very close to home. Secondly, those players remind us of an attitude that we try to bury. When the game starts, we want to know who loses. We are kept on the edge of our seat throughout the film: we are thrilled because of the very games that are being played, and thus become torturers ourselves.

Surprisingly enough, the monochrome film increases the relevance the film has to us: it anchors the story in the darkest recesses of our minds. Still, the actors are the power that drives the story, that will keep you hooked and thrilled throughout a film which will challenge you to the point of unease.

Pierre Schramm

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Screenings of this film:

2009/2010 Autumn Term (35mm)