For its 12th edition, the London Short Film Festival presents another exciting and jam-packed line-up, inluding 34 themed film programmes alongside a number of live shows and inventive events. Running from 9 to 18 January, the LSFF core programme of selected shorts will screen across Hackney Picturehouse and the ICA, where the festival kicks off in style with a screening of the British Council Best UK Short Award nominees, followed by the ever popular Funny Shit selection.
Other themed programmes include the ever popular Fucked Up Love, Lo-Budget Mayhem, Night of the Living Docs, Surreal Worlds, Teenage Girls Go Crazy! as well as new additions Tales of the Unexpected, WTF: Outside the Box, Gothic! and A Musical Box.
We are particularly excited about the music and film crossover event that sees Gazelle Twin working alongside experimental animator Carla MacKinnon to create a new live show at the ICA on 15 January. Also worth checking out is the London premiere of the Branchage Festival commission of Jersey-based band Semu Ca’s new score to outlandish silent documentary-fiction hybrid Häxan: Witchcraft through the Ages (in association with Filmphonics live scores at the Hackney Attic).
Other noteworthy events include analogue synthesizer obsessives documentary I Dream of Wires (in association with Dazzle London), followed by a live set by electronic duo Shitwife and analogue visual projections by Julian Hand; The Errorists‘ ‘The Ascendant Accumulation of Realism’ featuring live cello by Andreas Köhler and the videowork of Hilary Koob-Sassen; and the world premiere of Silver Shoes, the portmanteau feature by Jennifer Lyon Bell, who works with feminist erotic content.
Throughout the Festival Hackney Picturehouse will host DVD-Bang, a pop-up micro cinema based on the South Korean movie rental shops, as well as the industry programmes, including workshops and happy hour drinks. The ICA will screen LSFF’s experimental new short film programmes, including the regular Leftfield & Luscious, alongside Celluloid Traces and a showcase of the best of UK animation.
For more information and the full programme, please visit the LSFF website.
For many genre fans, a love affair with horror and the grotesque began early on, sometimes fueled by unlikely sources. One of these was the classroom safety film, which for many kids was their first time seeing other children threatened by true danger, being confronted with a combination of gore effects and actual accident footage, and being offered a pictorial glimpse at things their parents didn’t want to talk about. Thousands of these films were made in North America from the 1940s through the 1980s, when companies like Centron, McGraw-Hill, Coronet, Encyclopaedia Britannica Films, Avis Films, Crawley Films, Bell Labs, the NFB and others thrived on the burgeoning market for classroom or workplace educational films.
Subjects ranged from safety in and around vehicles, to drug abuse and venereal disease, teaching children scary lessons about everything from dental hygiene to how to spot a pedophile. The most memorable of these films deliberately used horror visuals to entice and/or shock children into paying attention – such as those by prolific producer Sid Davis (1916-2006) – and some were even made by directors with genre film pedigrees, such as Carnival of Souls’ Herk Harvey, a key figure in the industrial film scene.
This lecture and screening by Kier-La Janisse, founder of The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies, will present some of the most notorious educational films of the 40-year golden age of social hygiene onscreen. We’ll also briefly look at educational television PSAs, from the British Public Information Films through the incredibly grisly Australian drunk driving commercials of the 1990s.
The classic era of classroom films may be over, but viewed from today’s perspective, some of these films offer up a fascinating survey of changing social mores and cultural preoccupations (not to mention fashions!). Being safe has never looked so grim.
WARNING: This program contains graphic imagery, including real accident and casualty footage.
About the instructor:
Kier-La Janisse is a film writer and programmer, the founder of The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies and Owner/Editor-in-Chief of Spectacular Optical. She has been a programmer for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas, co-founded Montreal microcinema Blue Sunshine, founded the CineMuerte Horror Film Festival in Vancouver (1999-2005) and was the subject of the documentary Celluloid Horror (2005). She has written for Filmmaker, Shindig!, Incite: Journal of Experimental Media, Rue Morgue and Fangoria magazines, has contributed to The Scarecrow Movie Guide (Sasquatch Books, 2004) and Destroy All Movies!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film (Fantagraphics, 2011), and is the author of A Violent Professional: The Films of Luciano Rossi (FAB Press, 2007) and House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films (FAB Press, 2012). She co-edited Spectacular Optical Book One: KID POWER! with Paul Corupe, and is currently writing A Song From the Heart Beats the Devil Every Time, about children’s programming in the counterculture era.
The next course dates are 12 February, 12 March, 9 April, 14 May, 11 June. For the full details of the courses please check the Miskatonic website. For all enquiries, please email Miskatonic.firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE MISKATONIC INSTITUTE OF HORROR STUDIES – LONDON UNVEILS FULL JANUARY-JUNE LINEUP
The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies has revealed the full curriculum for the pilot season of its branch in London, which opens on January 8th, with intensive film classes on a wide range of topics from safety films to cannibals by some of the horror world’s most renowned critical luminaries.
Canadian founder Kier-La Janisse will make a brief UK appearance to launch the season with a lecture on classic classroom safety films and the shocks they deliver. She will be followed in February by Mark Pilkington, who will explore the exotic horrors of cannibal films. In March, Virginie Sélavy will look at 1960s-70s sado-masochistic erotica and the meanings of the various power games represented. The following month, Stephen Thrower will talk about Jesús Franco’s unique style of art, erotic and commercial filmmaking, marking the publication of his new book on the director. In May, Jasper Sharp will investigate the psychological and supernatural significance of landscapes, from Onibaba to Dust Devil. Closing the season, Kim Newman will discuss Gary Sherman’s 1972 Death Line the and the film’s use of cannibalism and political subtext.
Named for the fictional university in H.P. Lovecraft’s literary mythos, The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies is a non-profit, community-based organisation that started in Winnipeg and Montreal, Canada, founded by Kier-La Janisse in March of 2010. Miskatonic London operates under the co-direction of Kier-La Janisse and Virginie Sélavy.
All classes take place at the historic Horse Hospital, the heart of the city’s underground culture. Registration for the full season is £50. Individual class tickets are £10 advance / £11 on the door / £8 concessions and will be available 30 days in advance of each class.
For the full details of the courses please check the Miskatonic website. For all enquiries, please email Miskatonic.email@example.com.
Electric Sheep friend and contributor Jason Wood has announced that he is leaving Curzon to become Artist Director of Film at HOME, Manchester. Jason will programme the best in international contemporary cinema as well as commissioning, curating and encouraging cross-art form collaboration in conjunction with his co-artistic directors. The film programme at HOME will embrace the evolving the role of cinema space as an environment in which live performance and cross-art events can play an increasingly important role.
Jason takes the role following five years at Cuzon Director of Programming at Curzon. Curzon praised his service to the company, his passionate commitment to cinema, immaculate taste and wealth of expertise and thanked Jason for his contribution to all aspects of the group.
HOME is a £25m new cultural centre for Manchester, opening to the public in Spring 2015, which will produce and present an ambitious programme of contemporary visual art, film and theatre. Formed from the merger of two of Manchester’s cultural organisations, Cornerhouse and the Library Theatre Company, HOME’s programme will directly involve artists and audiences. The new building, designed by Dutch architects Mecanoo, will feature five purpose-built cinema screens as well as digital production and broadcast facilities, a 500-seat theatre; a 150-seat flexible theatre; a 500m2, 4m high gallery space; five cinema screens and a café bar and restaurant.
The 47th edition of the long-standing Catalan genre film festival offered an amazing selection of fantastical cinema, an impressive list of guests, fun midnight screenings and a great zombie parade, all in a beautiful seaside setting.
Among the highlights at Sitges this year were horrific post-Spanish Civil War sisterly drama Shrew’s Nest, produced by Alex de la Iglesia, Sergio Caballero’s sci-fi oddity La distancia, excellent neo-giallo The Editor, Marjane Satrapi’s acclaimed dark comedy The Voices, Dumplings director Fruit Chan’s latest film The Midnight After and intense Belgian serial killer thriller The Treatment.
Although this year’s edition opened with the disappointing fourth instalment of the [REC] franchise, excitement soon flared up again with the well-executed Belgian boyscout slasher Cub, which had an interesting multi-antagonist set-up and ingenious death traps. Also showing on the first weekend, the remarkably disturbing Creep was an American thriller about a terminally ill man who hires a cameraman to make a film for his unborn son. With sophisticated tone shifts and immaculate, taut direction, it was a deeply unsettling exploration of insanity and sexuality.
This year’s 58th edition of the BFI London Film Festival promises an exciting line-up filled, as ever, with a mixture of high-profile gala features, previous festival winners and hits, and a vast number of smaller gems that are unlikely to be coming to a cinema near you any time soon.
Running from 8 to 19 October 2014, the festival opens with the European premiere of The Imitation Game and closes with Brad Pitt tank-confined thriller Fury, with plenty of thrills on offer in between.
Featuring some of our favourites from this year’s Cannes and Etrange Festival, the line-up also includes Sion Sono’s Tokyo Tribe, Ana Lily Amirpour’s Iranian vampire tale A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Aleksei German’s final sci-fi epic Hard to Be a God, David Robert Mitchell’s creepy, intelligent thriller It Follows and Lisandro Alonso’s hallucinatory 19th-century meta-Western Jauja, starring Viggo Mortensen as a dizzy captain who follows his missing daughter into an existential void.
Straight from TIFF, we also recommend Mark Hartley’s Electric Boogaloo, which delivers a frenetic look at the rise and fall of 1980s action-exploitation studio Cannon Films, and Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s shocking The Tribe, whereas Abel Ferrara’s Pasolini, which attempts to recreate the last day in the life of the Italian director, is too elliptical and confounding to really satisfy.
Finally, for everyone who hasn’t had a chance to see it on the big screen yet, the LFF’s popular archive screenings will include a painstaking restoration of Sergei Paradjanov‘s 1968 masterpiece The Colour of Pomegranates, along with other treasures such as King Hu’s Dragon Inn and restored 1934 silent film The Goddess, starring the iconic Ruan Lingyu.
For more information about the programme and how to book tickets visit the LFF website.
The unique and wonderful Etrange Festival celebrated its 20th anniversary this year with a spectacular line-up, which, as always, defied categories with the latest offerings from Takashi Miike and Marjane Satrapi, special programmes picked by Godfrey Reggio, Jacques Audiard and Sion Sono, musical events, emerging talent, short films and an exhibition on Fumetti.
Older treasures included Sergei Paradjanov’s sumptuously poetic Sayat Nova, Jerry Schatzberg’s seminal 70s road movie Scarecrow, Jörg Buttgereit’s ingeniously disturbing The Death King and Blaxploitation rarity Dolemite while the Pere Ubu Film Group’s did a live score to Carnival of Souls.
Marjane Satrapi’s dark animated killer tale The Voices won the audience award and we were particularly excited to discover David Robert Mitchell’s fantastical take on American sexual puritanism It Follows, David Wnendt’s uninhibited erotic comedy Wetlands, Nacho Vigalondo’s found footage thriller Open Windows, Austrian Western The Dark Valley, Aleksei German’s last film Hard to Be a God, hallucinatory French nightmare Horsehead and Austrian experimental dance film Perfect Garden.
To mark its anniversary, the programme also included a selection of the best of 20 years of the festival, including Nikos Nikolaidis’s demented noir homage Singapore Sling, Ian Kerkhof’s avant-garde documentary Beyond Ultra Violence: Uneasy Listening by Merzbow, Harmony Korine’s Gummo, Clive Barker’s Lord of Illusions, the short films of the Quay Brothers, Duncan Jones’s Moon, Hungarian oddity Hukkle, Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo and Ben Wheatley’s Down Terrace.
For many years the Toronto International Film Festival has been as overwhelmingly big and thrilling as a film festival can be. But with every new edition, TIFF seems to get even bigger and better. This year’s event, which runs from 4 to 14 September, has a packed Midnight Madness selection that includes the world premiere of Matthew Kennedy and Adam Brooks’s The Editor, a loving tribute to, or parody of, the gory giallo thrillers of Mario Bava and Dario Argento, alongside Jonas Govaerts’s promising Belgium horror debut Cub, and Kevin Smith’s bizarre Tusk.
In addition, the line-up features Sion Sono’s Tokyo Tribe, David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows, Hal Hartley’s Ned Rifle and Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s The Tribe, all of which also screen at Etrange Festival in Paris, which takes place at the same time. Mark Hartley presents his latest documentary Electric Boogaloo, which chronicles the rise and fall of 1980s action-exploitation juggernaut Cannon Films, plus there will be another opportunity to catch the hilarious Vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, which arrives in UK cinemas in November.
James Franco’s latest Faulkner adaptation The Sound and the Fury, Abel Ferrara’s Pasolini and Jean-Baptiste Léonetti’s The Reach, the eagerly awaited follow-up to his 2011 debut feature Carré Blanc will receive a special presentation, plus the most promising big hitters in the official gala section come in the form of Shim Sung-Bo’s high-seas adventure Haemoo, co-scripted by Bong Joon-ho, and Andrea Di Stefano’s debut feature Escobar: Paradise Lost.
In addition to the many world and international premieres on show, there are of course this year’s earlier festival favourites to catch up on such as Cannes winner Winter Sleep, David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars, Xavier Dolan’s Mommy, Gabe Polsky’s Red Army about the Soviet Union’s dominance of ice hockey during the Cold War and Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, which also receives a gala screening at this year’s 58th BFI London Film Festival (8-19 October). Straight from Venice comes Ramin Bahrani’s superb dramatic thriller 99 Homes, atmospheric Austrian chiller Goodnight Mommy and The Look of Silence, Joshua Oppenheimer’s highly anticipated follow-up to The Act of Killing.
As a very special treat, the always exciting Cinematheque archive strand presents Winnipeg director John Paizs’ 1985 classic Crime Wave, which brilliantly apes the look of 1950s educational films and trashy crime movies, alongside Atom Egoyan‘s Speaking Parts and a painstaking restoration of Sergei Paradjanov‘s 1968 masterpiece The Colour of Pomegranates.
For more information about the programme and how to book tickets visit the TIFF website.
The first edition of Film4 FrightFest in its new venue on Leicester Square, the Vue, was a resounding success, with an impressive line-up of films, terrific guests such as John McNaugton, Alan Moore and Jörg Buttgereit, and a lively sense of community. Stylistically and thematically, the programme was diverse, ranging from witty horror comedies to emotionally weighty thrillers and mind-boggling science fiction. After years of zombie domination, the monster of predilection this year was the werewolf, while children in peril and dangerous lovers also featured heavily and there was an underlying current of concern with the medium of film itself.
The festival opened with Adam Wingard’s wildly entertaining homage to 80s slasher/action flicks The Guest, about a mysterious soldier who ingratiates himself into the lives of a family after bringing them a message from their dead son with whom he served in Afghanistan. After a tense, enigmatic first part, the story shifted into black comedy, turning into a fun popcorn horror movie – which was very enjoyable, but it would be nice to see Wingard return to the more serious territory of A Horrible Way to Die at some point. Following the opposite trajectory, Faults started as a comedy about a washed-out cult expert who attempts to de-programme a young woman controlled by a mysterious cult, but turned into an increasingly strange and riveting face-off between the characters, in which roles become reversed. Also of note among the more comedic offerings, the hilarious and bloody Housebound from New Zealand was a blast, with clever twists and hugely satisfying characters, led by delinquent ball of rage Kylie and her well-meaning but clueless chatterbox mother.
The greatest find of the festival was undoubtedly Jennifer Kent’s wonderfully creepy and poignant monster story The Babadook. There were more children in peril in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer director John McNaughton’s return to the big screen, The Harvest, a chilling autumnal fairy tale of sorts.
Fabrice Du Welz’s intense take on The Honeymoon Killers story Alleluia was another heavyweight of the festival and the most accomplished of the unsettling psycho-sexual thrillers in the programme. Ate De Jong’s Deadly Virtues used bondage to explore the bonds of marriage in a story of home invasion with a twist. Despite its flaws, it was a captivating film with ideas and originality. Marriage was also under scrutiny in simmering two-hander Honeymoon. The dark rape-revenge thriller Julia investigated violent catharsis and female empowerment in interesting, if rather muddled ways – director Matthew A. Brown did not seem entirely sure of where he was taking his story. On a lighter note, Hitoshi Matsumoto took a delirious approach to S&M in R100, an insane Japanese comedy about a middle-aged widower who gets more than he bargained for when he joins an underground club whose dominatrixes include The Queen of Spit in an eye-popping musical sequence and The Queen of Gobbling…
With a greater diversity of complex characters, in particular female, than in previous years, the programme also interestingly reflected a strong male anxiety. Deadly Virtues made a point about the wife earning more money than her husband, an important element in the shifting dynamic of their marriage. In the same way, Ivan Kavanagh’s The Canal added a twist to its familiar jealous husband story in that the wife is the one with the high-powered job while his job, seen as lowly, is dismissed by other characters. With physical castration featuring in a number of films in the programme (Julia being the most notable), there seemed to be a simmering unease about the place of men in marriage and society, and a fear of sexual and social emasculation.
The Canal was one of a handful of films concerned with its own medium, probing the ghostly quality of film itself. In R100, the story of the widower is a film being made within the film – and shown to flabbergasted executives. The excellent occult-tinged Hollywood ambition tale Starry Eyes focused on a would-be actress who sells her soul to a satanic production company for stardom. VHS Viral continued the found footage franchise with a great segment by Nacho Vigalondo while Jessica Cameron’s Truth or Dare took on reality TV with the same subtlety as the shows it satirizes. Among the documentaries, David Gregory’s fascinating Lost Soul – The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau was one of the most talked about films of the festival.
It was great to see werewolves used to dig into a variety of themes, even if the results were not always fully convincing. The Samurai, by German director Till Kleinert, was an intriguing, although heavy-handed take on queerness in a small town. It had a very memorable character in the transvestite sword-wielding lone wolf maniac who leads the solitary young local policeman into a journey of bloody self-discovery. Another interesting angle came from Adrian Garcia Bogliano in Late Phases, which stars the brilliant Nick Damici as a cranky blind veteran who moves into a retirement community terrorised by a mysterious creature. With most of its characters above the age of 60, it was a fairly brave, original and entertaining film about ageing, and how to face death with dignity.
Science fiction had a strong presence in the programme this year with Nacho Vigalondo’s mind-puzzler Open Windows, The Signal which closed the festival in beautiful, if somewhat mystifying manner, and James Ward’s convoluted chiller Coherence presented by the Duke Mitchell Film Club. For the first time, the Duke Mitchell brought their inimitable film party to FrightFest, invading one of the cinemas on the Saturday night with their anarchic mix of outlandish clips, excellent guests and wild shenanigans, which was much enjoyed by the packed auditorium.
Electric Sheep and Strange Attractor present All the Colours of the Dark (Tutti i colori dei buoi, Dir Sergio Martino Italy/Spain 1972 88 mins) on Wednesday 24 September 2014 at the Horse Hospital as part of Scalarama.
Hallucinatory satanists infest swinging London in this hard-to-find psychedelic giallo from one of its boldest proponents, Sergio Martino (The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh, Torso, Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I have the Key). All the necessary ingredients are here, including giallo queen Edwige Fenech as the troubled victim of a psychopathic stalker, exotic West London locations and a psyched-out sitar heavy theme from Bruno Nicolai.
Scalarama takes place from 1 to 30 September over 250 venues across the UK and Ireland. Among the 400 events already confirmed are screenings of Polyester in Odorama, The Last House on the Left on 35mm, Nekromantik, Daisies, Branded to Kill and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. For the full programme and to buy tickets, please visit the Scalarama website.