Category Archives: Festivals

Cannes 2017 Preview

Cannes 2017

Cannes International Film Festival

17-28 May 2017

Cannes, France

Cannes website

The 70th anniversary editoion of the Cannes Film Festival promises to be as intriguing, fun and unpredictable as ever.

Opening on Wednesday 17 May with Arnaud Desplechin’s latest offering Ismael’s Ghosts, the Competition line-up continues to follow the slighter darker, more adventurous direction introduced last year, this time including exciting new films such as Sofia Coppola‘s The Beguiled, Todd Haynes‘ Wonderstruck, the Safdie brothers’ Good Time, and Snowpiercer-director Bong Joon-ho‘s Okja.

Yorgos Lanthimos follows up his acclaimed The Lobster with The Killing of a Sacred Deer, a Kubrickian version of a modern Greek tragedy starring Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman, while Michael Haneke has teamed up again with Isabelle Huppert for his latest offering Happy End . We also very much look forward to Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless, Fatih Akin’s thriller In the Fade and You Were Never Really Here, the new film by Lynne Ramsay, which sees Joaquin Phoenix’s killer protagonist plunging deep into conspiracy and crisis.

In comparison, this year’s Un Certain Regard strand looks somewhat pale at first sight. However, the two titles that stand out are Before We Vanish by veteran director Kiyoshi Kurosawa as well as Wind River, the directorial debut by Sicario and Hell or High Water writer Taylor Sheridan. Also worth checking out seems Western by German director Valeska Grisebach, who worked as a writer on last year’s Cannes favourite Toni Erdmann.

Out of Competition titles include Takashi Miike’s Blade of the Immortal and the new film by Hedwig and the Angry Inch director John Cameron Mitchell, How to Talk to Girls at Parties, while the Midnight Screenings strand seems to offer equally intriguing fare with Jung Byung-Gil’s The Villainess and Byun Sung-Hyun’s The Merciless. Plus, this year two episode’s of David Lynch’s upcoming season of Twin Peaks and two episodes of Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake will be screened, despite the fact that there is usually little television on show at Cannes.

As always, one must also take note of the usually excellent Directors’ Fortnight strand, which this year opens with Claire Denis‘ Un Beau Soleil Interieur, starring Juliette Binoche. However, the slate also includes new films from Abel Ferrara (Alive in France) and Sean Baker (The Florida Project), as well as Sundance frontrunner Patti Cake$ by Geremy Jasper, which serves as the closing film.

Pamela Jahn


Check out the full Official Selection line-up below.


Loveless – Andrey Zvyagintsev
Good Time – Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie
You Were Never Really Here – Lynne Ramsay
A Gentle Creature – Sergei Loznitsa
Jupiter’s Moon – Kornél Mundruczó
L’Amant Double – François Ozon
The Killing of a Sacred Deer – Yorgos Lanthimos
Radiance – Naomi Kawase
The Day After – Hong Sang-soo
Le Redoutable – Michel Hazanavicius
Wonderstruck – Todd Haynes
Rodin – Jacques Doillon
Happy End – Michael Haneke
The Beguiled – Sofia Coppola
120 Battements Par Minute – Robin Campillo
Okja – Bong Joon-ho
In the Fade – Fatih Akin
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) – Noah Baumbach

Un Certain Regard

Barbara – Mathieu Amalric
The Desert Bride – Cecilia Atan and Valeria Pivato
Closeness – Kantemir Balagov
Beauty and the Dogs – Kaouther Ben Hania
L’Atelier – Laurent Cantet
Lucky – Sergio Castellitto
April’s Daughter – Michel Franco
Western – Valeska Grisebach
Directions – Stephan Komandarev
Out – Gyorgy Kristof
Before We Vanish – Kiyoshi Kurosawa
The Nature of Time – Karim Moussaoui
Dregs – Mohammad Rasoulof
Juene Femme – Léonor Serraille
Wind River – Taylor Sheridan
After the War – Annarita Zambrano

For more information on the full line-up, visit the Cannes website.

London SadFest: A festival of sad films 3-5 March 2017

Elephant Man

SadFest 2017

3-5 March 2017

Genesis Cinema, London

SadFest website

Our friends are starting a new festival in London and it’s all about sadness. Here’s what they say:

London SadFest 2017: The Saddest Weekend You’ll Spend in London – Ever.
(And You’ll Love it!)

London SadFest is a unique film festival that celebrates and explores the world of sad films, music and poetry.

Blue Monday is the name given to the saddest day of the year. Some people say it is the last Monday in January, others argue that it’s actually later in February when winter is at its bitterest and the disappointments of Valentine’s Day have really started to sink in.

One thing though is for sure, the saddest weekend in London this year will be the first weekend in March, because that’s when the London SadFest 2017 will be taking place at the Genesis Cinema in Mile End.

Festival organiser Steve Todd says, “this is a festival for anybody that loves really sad and heart-breaking films. We’ve got a great line up of beautiful films and some really interesting speakers, live music performances and some sad poetry too. But above all, it is a place where you can come and cry your heart in out in great company!”

Why would anybody want to go to see so many sad films in one weekend?

Recent research by Prof. Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist at Oxford University, suggests that people might actually feel good after watching sad films. Higher endorphin levels leave people feeling more socially connected and stronger to deal with psychological pain.

“We seem to be scared of sadness as a society, we’re always running away from it. I think we need to stop running and instead face up to and even embrace sadness. It’s a big part of being human and I think it’s at the heart of our feelings of compassion.”, says Steve Todd.

Can a festival of sad films really be called a ‘festival’?

The organisers think so, “we’re hoping the talks and Q&A after the screenings as well as the live performance track and after show-events will really create a strong feeling of coming together as festival community. The celebration aspect is just as important as the sadness.”

The festival kicks off with a launch event on Friday 3rd March, showing “The Elephant Man” by David Lynch, chosen as the world’s most influential director by film critics. It is an extraordinarily beautiful and sad film and is set in the Whitechapel area where the festival is taking place. Dr Åsa Jansson from Queen Mary’s Centre for the History of Emotions will be giving a talk after the film with a Q&A, followed by a drinks reception and live music performances.

The festival runs until Sunday evening along with a full track of live music performances, poetry, talks and spoken word performances. The films include: Ken Loach’s “Kes”, a sad classic and number 7 in the BFI top 100 British Films list; Wong Kar Wai’s melancholy delight from 2000: “In the Mood For Love”; “Sophie’s Choice” with an amazing performance from Meryl Streep and Lee Daniels’ powerfully moving “Precious” from 2009.

Every ticket sold will also include a donation to the Samaritans charity to support their amazing work.


The festival consists of 5 sad films spread over three days along with performances of sad music and poetry in the bar area upstairs. Most of the films will be followed by a talk from a guest speaker. (More information on the talks and bar area performances coming soon).

Friday 3rd March – Launch Event
6pm – 10pm

The Elephant Man (David Lynch, 1980) Running Time: 118 minutes. Starting at 6pm.
Introduction: Steve Todd, Festival Organiser + a representative form the Central London Samaritans.
Guest Speaker: Dr Åsa Jansson, Centre for the History of the Emotions, Queen Mary University of London.
Followed by drinks reception and live performances in the bar area.

Saturday 4th March – “Love, Friendship and Vulnerability”
2pm – 10pm

2pm – Performances start in the bar area.
3.30pm – Kes (Ken Loach, 1969) Running Time: 112 minutes.
Guest Speaker: Sarbjit Samra
6pm – In The Mood For Love(Wong Kar Wai, 2000) Running Time: 96 minutes
8.30pm – 10pm Performances continue the bar area.

Sunday 5th March – “Tragic Decisions and Historical Forces”
2pm – 8.30pm

2pm – Performances start in the bar area.
3pm – Sophie’s Choice (Alan J. Pakula, 1983) Running Time: 144 minutes.
Guest Speaker: Dr. Jennifer Wallace
6pm – Precious (Lee Daniels, 2009) Running Time: 110 minutes
Guest speaker: Marcia Harris

Buy tickets for London SadFest 2017 – Sad Film Festival
Live Performances

The following performers and speakers have already confirmed for the live performance and spoken word track in the bar area of the cinema:

Music: Ana Zed and Lou Welby, Emmanuel Speaks, David Callahan (solo performance), Garden City Projects, Robert Paul, Kaya (Science of the Lamps), Joseph Paice, Chris Hodgkinson, Nappa

Poetry: Jeff Hilson, Brian Docherty

Performance: Dan Horrigan

Talks: “The Tyranny of Happiness and the Medicalisation of Misery”, Dr Angela Byrne; “Mad, Bad, Sad and Dangerous”, Raza Griffiths.

DJ Evil Elvis will be playing sad old songs from the 50s on his dancette record player.

More poetry and spoken word performers to be announced soon…

Times for the live performances in the bar area will be provided nearer the date.

For full programme details amd to book tickets go to the SadFest website.

Berlinale 2017 Preview

Berlinale 2017
Berlinale 2017

Berlin International Film Festival

9 – 19 February 2017

Berlin, Germany

Berlinale website

The line-up of the 67th Berlin International Film Festival promises a range of excting home-grown films amongst some big hitters and some hidden gems.

With 18 competing films out of 24 titles selected for the Competition strand, the 67th edition of the festival promises to be intriguing, fun and hugely exciting.

Opening with Etienne Comar’s first feature debut Django, this year’s Berlinale starts off moderately it seems, but only to wow critic and audiences alike later in the run with hotly anticipated titles such as Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting follow-up, Trainspotting: T2, and the world premiere of James Mangold’s Logan, the third in the growing ‘Wolverine’ franchise, starring Hugh Jackman.

We are particularly looking forward to the new film by Sabu, Mr. Long and other promising works by exciting new and established filmmakers such as Argentinian-born Chilean film director Sebastián Lelio (Una Mujer Fantástica), Romanian film director Calin Peter Netzer (Ana, Mon Amour), the much underrated Portugese auteur Teresa Villaverda (Colo) and Spanish film director Álex de la Iglesia, whose latest offering El bar will screen ‘out of competition’.

With Andres Veiel ( Beuys), Thomas Arslan (Helle Nächte) and Volker Schlöndorff (Return To Montauk), there are three German directors in Competition this year, while the Austrian actor and comedian Josef Hader will also make his directorial debut at the festival with Wild Mouse.

The Panorama and Forum sections are as always packed with titles from around the world, but the one stand out that seems to anchor all is I Am Not Your Negro from Raoul Peck, about the writer and civil rights activist James Baldwin.

The Berlin Film Festival’s annual retrospective will be devoted to science fiction films. Focusing on two themes – ‘the society of the future’ and ‘the strange and the other’ – the sidebar ‘Future Imperfect. Science · Fiction · Film’ will screen a total of 27 international features, including classics, cult films and largely unknown productions from countries including Japan as well as central and European Europe. Among the titles featured will be Richard Fleischer’s 1973 sci-fi Soylent Green starring Charlton Heston as a New York detective investigating the murder of a company CEO in a world ravaged by over-population and environmental pollution, along with the first big screen adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984, George Lucas’ THX 1138, Polish Piotr Szulkin’s nuclear holocaust survival picture O-bi, O-ba: The End of Civilization, Byron Haskin’s The War Of The Worlds and the 1918 Danish silent film A Trip To Mars.

For the third time, the ‘Berlinale Special’ strand will present a selection of TV series in the official programme. Six German and international productions will have their world premieres at the festival this year. Audiences will be able to see the first two episodes of each series.

For more information about the programme and how to book tickets visit the Berlinale website.

Pamela Jahn


Check out the full competition line-up below:

Ana, Mon Amour, Dir. Calin Peter Netzer

Bamui Haebyun-eoseo Honja (On The Beach At Night Alone) Dir. Hong Sangsoo

Beuys Dir. Andres Veiel

Colo Dir. Teresa Villaverde

The Dinner Dir. Oren Moverman

Django Dir. Etienne Comar

El bar (The Bar) Dir. Álex de la Iglesia – Out of competition

Félicité Dir. Alain Gomis

Final Portrait Dir. Stanley Tucci – Out of competition

Hao ji le (Have A Nice Day) Dir. Liu Jian

Helle Nächte (Bright Nights) Dir. Thomas Arslan

Joaquim Dir. Marcelo Gomes

Logan Dir. James Mangold – Out of competition

Mr. Long Dir. Sabu

The Party Dir. Sally Potter

Pokot (Spoor) Dir. Agnieszka Holland

Return To Montauk Dir. Volker Schlöndorff

Sage Femme (Midwife) Dir. Martin Provost – Out of competition

T2 Trainspotting Dir. Danny Boyle – Out of competition

Teströl és Lélekröl (On Body And Soul) Dir. Ildikó Enyedi

Toivon Tuolla Puolen (The Other Side Of Hope) Dir. Aki Kaurismäki

Una Mujer Fantástica (A Fantastic Woman) Dir. Sebastián Lelio

Viceroy’s House Dir. Gurinder Chadha – Out of competition

Wilde Maus (Wild Mouse) Dir. Josef Hader

BFI London Film Festival 2016 Preview


60th BFI London Film Festival

5 – 16 October 2016

London, UK

LFF website

Running from 5 to 16 October with screenings spread across central London, a brand new temporary venue at Embankment and a number of participating local cinemas, the 60th edition of the BFI London Film Festival opens lightly with Amma Assante’s romantic drama A United Kingdom and closes with a bang with Ben Wheatley’s action comedy thriller Free Fire, starring Cillian Murphy, Brie Larson, Michael Smiley and Armie Hammer in a twisted story about an arms deal going horribly wrong. In between those two opposing sides of the film spectrum, this year’s line-up is packed with a wealth of thrills, chills and oddities.

Our top picks this year include Park Chan-wook’s intriguing and masterfully shot new film The Handmaiden, social-SF drama The Untamed by Mexican filmmaker Amat Escalante, Ulrich Seidl’s latest documentary Safari, along with the French cannibal coming-of-age tale Raw and absurdist Russian fable Zoology, which screened at L’Etrange Festival and TIFF last month.

Other titles seen on the festival circuit include Boo Junfeng’s tense prison thriller Apprentice, Olivier Assayas’s underwhelming ghost drama Personal Shopper, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s latest offering Creepy, Na Hong-jin’s supernatural epic The Wailing, Pablo Larrain’s festival hit Neruda, and Nicole Krebitz’s new film Wild, about a young woman who finds herself drawn to a wolf and gradually breaks free from the conformist society that surrounds her.

We especially look forward to the packed ‘Cult’ strand, which this year includes a trip down memory lane with Peter Braatz’s Blue Velvet Revisited along with a rare screening of Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm: Remastered, next to a number of promising debuts by young filmmakers such as Lorca Finnegan’s Without Name and Liam Gavin’s first feature A Dark Song. There are also new and exciting works by more established filmmakers, including Billy O’Brien’s chilling and darkly humorous study of adolescent alienation I am Not a Serial Killer, and Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski’s brand new slice of retro terror, ‘The Void’.

This year’s archive screenings, which are always worth a look, include Cy Endfield’s superb low budget thriller Hell Drivers (1957) and the BFI National Archive’s latest silent film restoration The Informer (1929), based on Liam O’Flaherty’s novel about betrayal amidst the revolutionary environment of the newly independent Ireland in 1922.

Pamela Jahn

For more information about the programme and how to book tickets visit the LFF website.

Horror Channel FrightFest 2016 Review

The Love Witch

Horror Channel FrightFest 2016

25-29 August 2016

Vue Shepherd’s Bush, London

FrightFest website

The festival opened with the poetic and brutal Southern Gothic tale My Father Die, kicking off a father-child theme that bookended the festival, being also the focus of closing film Train to Busan. Although director Sean Brosnan went somewhat overboard with the Gothicness, My Father Die compellingly tells the tale of Asher, a deaf young man traumatised by the events of his childhood, who must fight off the ogre-like figure of his monstrous father (the child-eating Titan Kronos, father of Zeus, is referenced at the beginning).
At the other end of the festival, and in a completely different genre, Korean zombie action film Train to Busan was concerned with a career-obsessed father and his unhappy little girl. Representing everything that is wrong with capitalist big business, the father is forced to reassess his ruthless, selfish principles as the passengers of the train they are travelling in become infected with a virus that turns them into rabid zombies. The father-daughter relationship provides the emotional core of this efficient action horror film, but develops in a way that is far too sentimental. Surprisingly, this big Korean box-office success was directed by Yeon Sang-ho, who gave us one of the harshest, most harrowing films of recent years, high school animé The King of Pigs, which, although it centred on young boys, had not one ounce of sentimentality about it. Yeon Sang-ho also made another zombie film this year, this one in animation form, Seoul Station, which sounds closer to The King of Pigs in its themes and approach than Train to Busan.

Parental anxiety dominated the festival, with mothers taking centre stage in the disappointing Argentine thriller White Coffin (particularly marred by its puzzlingly ill-judged sound design), the atmospheric Danish pregnancy horror Shelley, and the excellent Iranian tale of evil Under the Shadow, which mixed political and otherworldly terrors in a tightly wound-up and emotionally charged feminist drama. A different type of feminist enquiry was found in The Love Witch, in which director Anna Biller plays the title character, who has fashioned herself into what men want using magic in order to find love. The film is a gorgeous-looking, meticulously designed throwback to 1960s cinema that revisits that period from a female angle, but its extremely self-conscious approach does not produce any truly challenging or fresh commentary on sexual politics.

From families to houses: another theme that emerged from this year’s festival was the mazes of the mind, with Laura Casabé’s convoluted plunge into the artistic mind Benavidez’s Case, Darren Lynn Bousman’s Abattoir and French TV mini-series Beyond the Walls. In Abattoir, a journalist begins to investigate when whole rooms where crimes have been committed are removed from houses recently purchased. The premise was very appealing, the idea of mixing up eras was nicely disorientating, but the hotch-potch of ingredients failed to cohere into a meaningful whole and the acting and direction had that lifeless, sanitized slickness that has become typical of American horror productions these days. By contrast, Beyond the Walls intelligently constructed an oppressive labyrinthine architecture of the mind that worked both as a psychological space and as a nightmarish world of dread.

Other types of confined spaces explored transgressive relationships, as in American psychological thriller Pet and psychedelic Mexican delirium We Are the Flesh. Pet had the merit to try to do something different but that was also the problem: it tried too hard and some of the twists in plot and characterisation were too self-consciously contrived. At the other end of the scale, Emiliano Rocha Minter’s debut, while inspired by literary masters of transgression, was made with the guts and delivered an intensely visceral punch that few films can equal. It was by far the most accomplished, imaginative, coherent and radical film of the festival.

Virginie Sélavy

Venice Film Festival 2016 Preview

Venice 2016 poster
Venice 2016

Venice Film Festival

31 August – 10 September 2016

Venice, Italy

Venice website

With a star-studded line-up but no opening night gala to present them (the event was cancelled at short notice in solidarity with the victims of the powerful earthquake that hit a stretch of central Italy on 24 August), the Venice Film Festivals puts the focus right on the films of this year’s promising selection.

The first film on show to ring in the 73rd edition of the festival on 31 August is La La Land, Damien Chazelle’s light-haerted musical follow up to Whiplash , while Antoine Fuqua’s remake of The Magnificent Seven will serve as the closing film on 10 September, following its world premiere at TIFF just two days before.

Among the 20 titles competing for the Golden Lion this year are Denis Villenueve’s Arrival , which stars Amy Adams as a linguistics expert recruited by the United States government after an alien spacecraft lands on Earth, and Tom Ford’s Noctural Animals, a thriller set in the L.A. art scene and the Texas criminal underworld. Ana Lily Amirpour’s highly anticipated second feature, the dystopian love story The Bad Batch, will also screen in competition along with The Light Between Oceans, Derek Cianfrance’s follow up to The Place Beyond the Pines, Francois Ozon’s foray into period drama with Frantz and Pablo Larrain’s Jackie, a biopic of sorts of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Also worth of note are Amat Escalante’s The Untamed, the Mexican director’s second feature after the critically acclaimed Heli which premiered in Cannes in 2013 and Brimstone by Dutch director Martin Koolhoven, hailed as a female empowerment Western about a woman falsely accused of a crime.

Wim Wenders is back on the Lido with his latest venture into 3D filmmaking called The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez, based on a play by his Wings of Desire co-writer Peter Handke, while Terence Malick presents his IMAX documentary Voyage of Time, which has been described as a ‘celebration of the universe, displaying the whole of time, from its start to its final collapse.’

The more cutting-edge Horizons sidebar, another competitive section that runs parallel to the main selection, features Kei Ishikawa’s Gukoroku, a promising debut feature about a multiple murder in Tokyo, alongside Bill Morrison’s Dawson City: Frozen Time, based on a collection of some 500 films dating from the 1910s and ’20s found buried in a sub-arctic swimming pool deep in the Yukon.

This year’s documentary offering is as strong as ever including Andrew Dominik’s Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds documentary One More Time with Feeling and Safari by Austrian maverick Ulrich Seidl, about trophy hunting in Africa. Screening in the Venice Classics strand is David Lynch The Art of Life, the third in a trio of documentaries about Lynch by filmmaker Jon Nguyen who collaborated on the last instalment with Victoria co-writer and editor Olivia Neergaard-Holm, while the Italien Horizons entry Liberami looks at the dramatic increase in exorcism in the contemporary Catholic Church.

The standout Italian offering in the official selection however is Paolo Sorrentino’s TV series The Young Pope, starring Jude Law as conservative, cigarette-smoking American pontiff Pius XIII, of which the first two episodes will be presented as a special event. Plus, we also look forward to Japanese manga movie Gantz:O by Japanese director Yasushi Kawamura which will play out-of-competition as a midnight movie.

Pamela Jahn

For more information about the programme visit the Venice website.

FrightFest 2016 announces line-up

Poster by Graham Humphreys

Horror Channel FrightFest 2016

25-29 August 2016

Vue Shepherd’s Bush, London

FrightFest website

Horror Channel FrightFest 2016 returns with a packed programme for the bank holiday weekend, 25-29 August, and this year the venue is the Vue Cinema in Shepherd’s Bush. Here’s the line-up announcement from FrightFest:

‘In its 17th year, the world renowned genre film festival will present 62 new feature films, embracing sixteen countries and bringing together established filmmakers, British first-timers and emerging international visionaries from six continents.

The opening night attraction is the European Premiere of MY FATHER DIE, Sean Brosnan’s brutal and beautiful feature debut – an ultra-stylish, uber violent revenge thriller that’s a calling card for Brosnan’s brilliant talents. And our closing night film is another breakneck paced masterpiece – the UK Premiere of TRAIN TO BUSAN, so join ‘The Commuting Dead’ as director Sang-ho Yeon takes you on a first class horror action thrill-ride, mixing slaughter, suspense and splatter with incredible visual élan.

In between these two banner titles are the scream of the crop from all over the globe, strongly represented in our line-up of World Premieres by the incredible Italian supercar tension-ratcheting MONOLITH, the gory Dutch treat THE WINDMILL MASSACRE, the stunning South African nightmare FROM A HOUSE ON WILLOW STREET, Tricia Lee’s creepy Canadian chiller BLOOD HUNTERS and three American shock absorbers KNUCKLEBONES, ENCLOSURE and the Eurotrashy radical BLOOD FEAST remake.

Reflecting a productive year for British horror, there are twelve UK World Premieres, including Shaun Robert Smith’s intensely powerful BROKEN, Jon Ford’s visceral revenge thriller OFFENSIVE, Wyndham Price’s dark fantasy CROW, Kate Shenton’s auto-satire EGOMANIAC, Ben Parker’s claustrophobic THE CHAMBER, Marty Stalker’s shock-doc HOSTAGE TO THE DEVIL and Andy Edward’s sun, sea and sex gore-fest IBIZA UNDEAD.

Five of the UK World Premieres make up the ‘First Blood’ strand, in which home-based directors are given a chance to shine with their debut efforts. These are: Phillip Escott’s harrowing CRUEL SUMMER, Brad Watson’s urban gang shocker HALLOW’S EVE, James Crow’s deadly HOUSE OF SALEM, Stewart Spark’s 666 Short Cuts To Hell entry THE CREATURE BELOW and Lawrie Brewster’s PTSD-inspired THE UNKINDNESS OF RAVENS.

Other festival highlights in the Main Screen strand include the European Premiere of Adam Wingard’s intense chiller of the moment, THE WOODS. destined to be one of the key horrors of 2016. We also have this year’s most ferocious possession movie in Cody Calahan’s LET HER OUT, as well as Todd William’s superb Stephen King adaptation CELL, starring John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson. Then there is the top box office Italian sensation THEY CALL ME JEEG ROBOT, Adam Rifkin’s tour-de-force DIRECTOR’S CUT, starring Penn Jillette, Rob Zombie’s ultra-violent grindhouse slasher 31, ‘Saw’ man Darren Lynn Bousman’s graphic novel inspired ABBATOIR, Simon Rumley’s latest visionary masterpiece JOHNNY FRANK GARRETT’S LAST WORD, Jackson Stewart’s supernatural switcheroo BEYOND THE GATES, the zombie theme park hell ride THE REZORT, the full-blooded cracker RED CHRISTMAS, the cryogenic chiller REALIVE, the home invasion twister MERCY, the darkly unpredictable PET, starring Dominic Monaghan and the beguilling THE MASTER CLEANSE, with The Big Bang Theory’s Jonny Galecki and Anna Friel.

South America is rapidly becoming a major genre player and FrightFest is proud to be presenting seven specialities from Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Mexico. Daniel de la Vega’s WHITE COFFIN is co-written by FrightFest favourite Adrian Garcia Bogliano, Laura Casbe’s BENAVIDEZ’S CASE stretches surrealist boundaries, Patricio Valladares’ DOWNHILL mines H. P. Lovecraft for inspiration, THROUGH THE SHADOW puts Henry James’ classic tale of terror ‘The Turn of the Screw’ through a south of the border filter, THE SIMILARS is pure ‘Twilight Zone’ inspiration, FRANCESCA a thrilling Buenos Aires take on giallo and WE ARE THE FLESH comes with serious artistic endorsements from fellow Mexican filmmakers Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro G. Iñárritu.

The Discovery Screen strand is as bold as ever and includes a restored version of Shelden Renan’s controversial documentary THE KILLING OF AMERICA, Anna Biller’s gloriously art-directed THE LOVE WITCH, the cursed silent movie FURY OF THE DEMON, the Berlin Film Festival break-out, SHELLEY, the visionary sci-fi fantasy LOST SOLACE and the darkly hilarious ghost-busting ANOTHER EVIL. Then there’s Julian T. Pinder’s chilling murder investigation POPULATION ZERO, Martin Owen’s High-tec underground thriller terror LET’S BE EVIL, Tim Reis’ slimy creature feature BAD BLOOD: THE MOVIE and Michael Boroweic’s acute study of alien paranoia, MAN UNDERGROUND.

Plus, you can witness the stag party from hell in THE UNRAVELLING, the bad taste shenanigans of NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE, , the viral thrills of THE EVIL IN US, the vehicular chills of PARANORMAL DRIVE, the die-hard dystopia of HERE ALONE, the eye-popping shocks of FOUND FOOTAGE 3D, and the ‘goriously’ insane ATTACK OF THE LEDERHOSEN ZOMBIES.

Ahead of its FrightFest Presents DVD release, there is an encore airing for ROAD GAMES, this time with a live interactive commentary with director Abner Pastoll and a London premiere for one of the most popular movies shown earlier this year at FrightFest Glasgow, Sean Byrne’s THE DEVIL’S CANDY.

The Duke Mitchell Film Club is back with the UK premiere of Kim Sang-Chan’s outrageously infectious KARAOKE CRAZIES and a first showing of all three episodes of the mesmerising French TV mini-series BEYOND THE WALLS.

This year’s special events, retrospective programme, the guest list and the Short Film Showcase entries will be announced in the coming weeks.’

Festival and day pass sales go on sale Sat 2 July at noon and are only available to buy on the FrightFest website.

Single tickets will go on sale on Sat 23 July.

For full programme details amd timetables go to the FrightFest website.

Cannes 2016 Preview

Cannes 2016
Cannes 2016

Cannes International Film Festival

11-21 May 2016

Cannes, France

Cannes website

With 20 filmmakers set to compete for the Palme d’Or this year, the 69th edition of the Cannes Film Festival looks like it’s going to be as intriguing, fun and unpredictable as ever.

Opening on Wednesday 11 May with Woody Allen’s latest offering Café Society, the Competition line-up takes on a darker tone with exciting new films by the likes of Jim Jarmusch, Nicolas Winging Refn, Jeff Nicholl, Park Chan-wook and Brillante Mendoza to name but a few.

Following up his brilliant Only God Forgives which screened in Cannes in 2013, we especially look forward to Nicolas Winding Refn’s new film The Neon Demon, which the Danish director has described as ‘a horror film about vicious beauty’. Back in Competition for an eighth time, Jim Jarmusch will premiere his bus-driver drama Paterson, and also present his Iggy Pop documentary Gimme Danger in a special screening slot.

After premiering his sci-fi thriller Midnight Special at the Berlinale in February, Jeff Nicholl has already completed his next film. Loving stars his long-term collaborator Michael Shannon alongside Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga as the inter-racial couple Mildred and Richard Loving, who were jailed in Virginia in 1958 for breaking state laws by getting married.

Set in colonial Korea in the 1930s, Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden is based on Sarah Waters’s novel Fingersmith. Other literary adaptations include Xavier Dolan’s star-studded Only The End of The World, an adaptation of Jean-Luc Lagarce’s play about a terminally ill writer who returns home after a long absence, and Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, based on a thriller by Philippe Djian and starring Isabelle Huppert as a businesswoman who is attacked at her home one night and decides to stalk her assailant back.

Olivier Assayas’s second English-language feature Personal Shopper has been described as ‘a ghost story set in the fashion world’ and plays alongside other promising titles such as Na Hong-jin’s The Wailing, a highly anticipated Korean blockbuster about a detective and a shaman, Scottish director David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water and Sierra-Nevada, the latest film from Romanian filmmaker Cristi Puiu.

In comparison, this year’s Un Certain Regard strand looks slightly weaker than usual, but there are two Japanese titles to look out for, Koju Fukada’s Harmonium and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s After The Storm as well as Singapore filmmaker Boo Jungeng’s Apprentice, described as a morbid prison drama that explores the relationship between the prison’s chief and a young correctional officer. Promising a vampire romance along the lines of Let the Right One In, Michael O’Shea’s debut feature The Transfiguration also looks worth checking out.

In the Directors’ Fortnight, Alejandro Jodorowsky will present Endless Poetry the second film of a trilogy that began with The Dance of Reality, while Pablo Larraín reunites with Gael García Bernal for political thriller Neruda.

Unfortunately, Ben Wheatley’s latest offering Free Fire didn’t seem to have made the selection, but there is still enough on offer to make this 69th edition a really exciting one.

Pamela Jahn

For more information on the full line-up, visit the Cannes website.

Berlinale 2016 Preview

Berlinale 2016
Berlinale 2016

Berlin International Film Festival

11 – 21 February 2016

Berlin, Germany

Berlinale website

Now in it’s 66th year, the Berlinale opens on 11 February 2016 with Hail, Caesar! , the latest offering by Joel and Ethan Coen, starring George Clooney and other Hollywood greats, which sets the tone for a star-studded festival that still promises to offer plenty of discoveries, some true gems and real treasures across the sidebars as well as in the main Competition line-up.

Screening in Competition, we particularly look forward to Midnight Special by Jeff Nichols, director of Mud and Take Shelter. Starring his long-time collaborator Michael Shannon in another leading role, the film centres on a father and son who go on the run after the dad learns his child possesses special powers. Also competing for a Golden Bear are Boris Without Béatrice, from Denis Côté, who presented his eccentric debut Vic + Flo Saw A Bear at the 2013 Berlinale, Bosnian director Danis Tanović’s Death In Sarajevo (aka Looking For Europe), a film based on the play by French philosopher and writer Bernard-Henri Levy, and Thomas Vinterberg’s The Commune, which centres on a Danish commune in the 1970s.

Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq, a modern day adaptation of the ancient Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes, will play out of competition, alogside Dominik Moll’s News From Planet Mars, his long-awaited follow-up to The Monk. Plus, we look forward to the latest from Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Creepy, which screens in the Berlinale Special strand.

Under the title “Hachimiri Madness – Japanese Indies from the Punk Years”, the Forum is showing a special programme of newly digitised and subtitled Japanese 8-mm films from 1977 to 1990 which breathe the rebellious spirit of that era, very few of them have ever been shown internationally. The series includes Sion Sono’s I am Sion Sono!!, in which the then 22-year-old introduced himself to audiences as a punk poet in nonchalant, self-confident style, and Shinya Tsukamoto’s The Adventure of Denchu-Kozo, a hugely creative, wild cyberpunk drama, while also taking in the largely unknown early works of directors such as Sogo Ishii (today Gakuryu Ishii) and Shinobu Yaguchi, alongside Masashi Yamamoto’s anarchic feature debut Saint Terrorism and Nobuhiro Suwa’s gangster ballad Hanasaseru Gang.

The Berlinale Classics section will open with Fritz Lang’s 1921 silent film classic Der müde Tod (Destiny), presented in a digitally restored version and with new music, which will be performed live by the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin. Also screening in the strand are John Huston’s classic Fat City (1972), The Road Back (1937) directed by James Whale, and Heiner Carow’s East German semi-autobiographical film Die Russen kommen (The Russians are Coming, 1968), which is set in the waning days of World War II and was originally banned before completion by the GDR authorities.

Pamela Jahn

For more information about the programme and how to book tickets visit the Berlinale website.

BFI London Film Festival 2015 Preview

LFF 2015

59th BFI London Film Festival

7 – 18 October 2015

London, UK

LFF website

Running from 7 to 18 October with screenings spread across central London and a number of participating local cinemas, the 2015 edition of the BFI London Film Festival opens with Sarah Gavron’s women’s rights drama Suffragette and closes with Danny Boyle’s biopic of Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender as the tech-wizard and former Apple CEO. In between, the line-up is packed with oddities, thrills and freaks, and some fine visceral horror.

Our top picks this year include festival hit The Forbidden Room, the latest offering from Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson, who co-directed this busy, chaotic and occasionally perplexing nightmare in which plot, characters and locations constantly flow into one another enigmatically. We also highly recommend Green Room, Jeremy Saulnier’s impressive follow-up to Blue Ruin, the dazzling 140-minute one-take-wonder Victoria, directed by German director Sebastian Schipper, and Eva Husson’s striking first feature Bang Gang, which premiered in Toronto last month.

Other titles seen on the festival circuit include Robert Egger’s underwhelming The Witch, Yorgos Lanthimos’s bizarre first English-language film The Lobster, Alex van Warmerdam’s twisted contract killer comedy Schneider vs Bax and Takashi Miike’s new action fantasy Yakuza Apocalypse.

We look forward to Sion Sono’s spaced-out Love & Peace, along with Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s novel High Rise and Evolution, the long-awaited second feature by Lucile Hadžihalilović (Innocence). Also worth checking out are German body horror Der Nachtmahr, Spanish necrophilia drama The Corpse of Anna Fritz, horror Western Bone Tomahawk, Danish chiller What We Become, and The Invitation, a disturbing chamber piece from Jennifer’s Body director Karyn Kusama. Plus, screening as part of ‘Sonic’ strand, we’ll be taking a look at Ruined Heart: Another Love Story between a Criminal and a Whore by punk filmmaker Khavn De La Cruz and John Pirozzi’s compelling documentary Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock’n’Roll.

The archive screenings include Make More Noise, a selection representing women on film in the first decades of the 20th century, alongside a restoration of Edward Dmytryk’s stylish 1959 Western Warlock, Jean Cocteau’s Gothic fantasy La Belle et la Bête (1946), Thorold Dickenson’s Gaslight (1940), and Joan Fontaine in her last big-screen appearance in the Hammer production The Witches (1966).

On 9 October 2015, there will be a special screening of three new 35mm prints of films by the Brothers Quay, alongside a new short by Christopher Nolan featuring the twin filmmakers ever inspiring work. Plus, in the Experimenta strand, Anthology Film Archives offer a sampler programme of an eclectic array of artists active in New York City from 1975-1990.

For more information about the programme and how to book tickets visit the LFF website.

Pamela Jahn