Indie Buzz – Dark Circus Interview with Director Julia Ostertag

Angela Maria Romacher as Johanna
Angela Maria Romacker as Johanna

Dark Circus is an occult urban fantasy currently in production in Berlin, where the action slides between reality and the worlds of dream and nightmare. The ringmaster of Dark Circus is award-winning director, cinematographer and editor Julia Ostertag. True to the punk ethic we love so much here at the Horror Hothouse Julia has gathered a cast and crew of around 50 talented individuals to make Dark Circus happen.

I caught up with Julia between takes and asked her what Dark Circus was all about?

Dark Circus is the story of Johanna. She’s 20 years old and tortures herself with eating disorders and self-harming. Then she gets fired from her day job and starts having these visions of strange seductive figures. The next thing she knows is that she is abducted into this parallel world beneath the city, a place like a different time that is governed by its own rules – a world full of darkness, bizarre rituals and unknown pleasures.

The Misstress
Birgit Stauber is The Misstress

Johanna is initiated into this society where she is guided and inspired by a mysterious woman known as the Mistress. As part of her cult Johanna’s perception and self-confidence grow. She meets other fascinating characters, like Simon the Collector who she starts an obsessive affair with, and then there is the Dandy who lives in the stories of romantic literature; the Messenger, the cyberpunk who helps people move between both worlds; the eccentric pairing of the Inseparables and the Master of Ceremonies.


As Johanna grows stronger she leaves her old life behind her, becoming more and more involved in the occult world of Dark Circus while the world around her slowly collapses’

DARK CIRCUS is a story of transformation offering Johanna insight into her deepest desires as well as her darkest nightmares.’

Julia went on to tell us a bit about herself: ‘Having studied film as an art form I shot several experimental shorts, music videos and documentaries – mostly with myself as author, director, camera operator, editor and producer, a one person band – always shooting in the subcultural scene in and around Berlin.

In 2008 I shot my first award-winning fiction feature Saila with performance artists and befriended punks in the last abandoned industrial wastelands of East Berlin. I have always felt drawn to the darker side and edgy topics so I have for a long time been tempted to write a sort of horror script, but by horror I do not necessarily mean splatter or gore – I personally go more for the atmospheric dreamlike or nightmarish side of horror. I have studied the occult – or let´s say mystic things, I read Crowley’s and other author´s writings about magic practices from when I was 18, I can also give quite good tarot readings.

When I first saw Kenneth Angers Invocation of my Demon Brother in the late 80s those images seemed quite familiar and inspiring to me. I have watched a lot of 70s occult horror movies lately too and I’m a big fan of Alejandro Jodorowsky and Rob Zombie (except for his remakes).

Trish Tank singer from post-punk band Totenwald is The Messenger

DARK CIRCUS and its characters are the culmination of a lot of things that I have either experienced, dreamed or collected over the years and now for the first time I will try to materialize as much as I can in the film. The film works like an initiation, a journey to the darker parts of the inside. thinking about this script full of epic visions and mass scenes. I always like to invent strong female characters and figures. At the same time I’m also interested in creating seductive and disturbing images that provoke controversial sentiments and thoughts in the viewer. To me as a director and author, the mix between beauty and irritation is a challenge

I wondered where it was going to take us as we were starting out with barely any budget – but we now we have an amazing crew, a cast of experienced actors including Angela Maria Romacker, Birgit Stauber, Florian Gysin, Annika Strauss, Nikolai Arnold, Trish Tank and a lot of eccentric extras from the Berlin underground scene that are supporting the film – so I think we just have to get going. Please help us materialize this project and become a part of DARK CIRCUS

If any Hothouse Readers would like to help us make Dark Circus happen they can use the donate button on the Dark Circus website. Everyone who donates gets rewarded – guaranteed! With special surprises, updates, downloads, DVDs, film posters, prints or even a personal Tarot reading from me in person or by Skype.

Please help us materialize this project and become a part of DARK CIRCUS


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