Tag Archives: Sion Sono

L’Etrange Festival 2015 Preview

21st Etrange Festival poster by Dom Garcia

L’Etrange Festival

3-13 September 2015

Forum des Images, Paris, France

Etrange Festival website

The outlandish Parisian genre and fantasy festival returns from September 3 to 13 with another line-up bulging with wild, unhinged and lost treasures. The festival opens with Simon Pummel’s schizophrenic sci-fi thriller Brand New-U and closes with Bollywood epic Baahubali: The Beginning, with a full range of sleazy subversiveness and avant-garde strangeness in between, from Marcel L’Herbier’s restored 1924 art deco femme fatale tale L’inhumaine to Rolph de Heer’s grotesque family tale Bad Boy Bubby, not to forget a zombie all-nighter.

Highlights include the latest from three Japanese heavyweights: Takashi Miike’s Yakuza Apocalypse, Hideo Nakata’s Ghost Theater and Sion Sono with two films, Tag and Love and Peace. Also screening are The Blaine Brothers’ original and moving Nina Forever, Steve Oram’s category-defying Aaaaaaaah! and Ulrich Seidl’s exploration of Austrian cellars In the Basement.

We’ll be checking out Alex Van Varmerdam’s absurdist thriller La peau de Bax, Raúl Garcia’s Edgar Allan Poe animation film Extraordinary Tales, Michael Madsen’s speculative alien invasion documentary The Visit, experimental Afghanistan-set sci-fi Ni le ciel ni la terre directed by artist Clément Cogitore, and Jason Bognacki’s slick giallo-influenced tale of possession Another.

This year, the guest curators are Guy Maddin (also included in the main programme with his own The Forbidden Room), whose selection includes Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Teuvo Tulio’s Sensuela and George Kuchar’s The Devil’s Cleavage; Benoit Delepine, co-director of Aaltra and Mammuth, will present Tim Burton’s Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and hopeless Russian road movie The Joy; and Ben Wheatley has chosen Frantisek Vlacil’s sumptuous medieval fable Marketa Lazarova and Michael Mann’s legendary murky Nazi nightmare The Keep.

Documentaries include Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World, B-Movie: Lust and Sound in West Berlin (1979-1989), which features Blixa Bargeld and Nekromantik 2’s male lead Mark Reeder, as well as an exploration of the Turkish golden age of low-budget Hollywood remakes, Remake, Remix, Rip-Off, part of a focus on alternative Turkish cinema.

This year’s musical performance is truly exceptional: legendary masked industrial collective The Residents will play a new version of Shadowland as well as presenting a programme of films and documentary Theory of Obscurity: A Movie about The Residents.

As always, the line-up includes a vast and dynamic selection of shorts, ranging from Can Evrenol’s hard-hitting, gut-punching Baskin and Javier Chillon’s inventive, intelligent Die Schneider Krankheit to classics by Jaume Balaguero, Jonathan Caouette and Bill Morrison.

For the full programme and to book tickets plesae visit the Etrange Festival website.

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 2015 Review

KVIFF 2015

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

3 – 11 July 2015

Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

KVIFF website

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival turned 50 this year, but it showed no signs of ageing. Quite the contrary, in fact: with an average age of 39 for filmmakers in the main festival section, Karlovy Vary presented the youngest competition line-up in its history, while the East of the West strand has already proven in the past to be a great forum for young filmmakers from Central and Eastern Europe, and this year was no exception.

What makes Karlovy Vary such an exciting place to go is the fact that it remains a festival where discovery and surprise are always guaranteed. We were particularly looking forward to the Midnight Screenings, which included a couple of titles from this year’s FrightFest line-up, Rodney Asher’s latest documentary The Nightmare, which explores the phenomenon of sleep paralysis, and Benni Diez’s bloody killer-wasp horror Stung. Other titles included in the section were Sion Sono’s festival favourite Tokyo Tribe, contemporary Czech horror The Greedy Tiffany (Nenasytná Tiffany) and Kiah Roache-Turner’s apocalyptic zombie flick Wyrmwood, along with two timeless classics: Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth and George A. Romero’s The Crazies.

Among the many guests who attended the festival to celebrate its special anniversary were horror legend George A. Romero and Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn, who we had the pleasure to speak with while they were in town. Mendelsohn, who has made a name for himself over the past few years as one of the best supporting actors in American and Australian independent cinema, with films such as The Place beyond the Pines, Lost River and Animal Kingdom, is in peak form as the lead in 70s-style road movie Mississippi Grind, directed by American indie writer-director duo Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. As for Romero, he was there to present a special screening of one of his favourite films of all time, the newly restored The Tales of Hoffmann.

Karlovy Vary is also a perfect place to catch up on highlights from Cannes and Berlin, and the selection this year included Radu Jude’s historical road-movie-cum-Western Aferim!, Miguel Gomes’s beautifully ambitious Arabian Nights trilogy and Chilean director Pablo Larraín’s disturbing slow-burner The Club, to name only a few. Also worthy of note were Marcin Koszałkaʼs psychological thriller The Red Spider, inspired by mass murders committed in the 1960s, and Dietrich Brüggemann’s Heil, a light-hearted, satirical spin on the rise of neo-Nazism in Germany.

But one of our favourites this year was a small film produced by Ulrich Seidl and directed by Austrian duo Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz: offering a disturbingly twisted new take on Haneke’s Funny Games, Goodnight Mommy (Ich seh, Ich seh) concerns two boys who suspect that their mother, who has just undergone reconstructive facial surgery, is an imposter. The modern home and its rural Austrian surrounding set the tone as the twins are determined to discover the truth about the mysterious woman behind the bandaged face. Notions of identity and motherly love are questioned with shrewd cleverness and brutal consequences in this carefully crafted debut. Subversive humour, impressive performances especially from the young cast and clean production design help maintain a cruel atmosphere throughout, while measured and occasionally bold narrative strokes make the film inherently captivating and visceral at heart.

Pamela Jahn

Flatpack 2015 Preview

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Flatpack 9

19-29 March 2015

Birmingham, UK

Flatpack website

We are very proud to be presenting Ana Lily Amirpour’s wonderful A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night at the Flatpack Film Festival in Birmingham on March 27. A stylish, melancholy tale about a chador-wearing skateboarding vampire girl unfolding in an Iranian dreamland, set to an Italian Western-inspired score and shot in magnificent widescreen black and white, it is an absolute treat that must be seen on a big screen.

Running from 19 to 29 March, the always excellent Flatpack once more offers a unique, inventive mix of features, shorts, exhibitions, installations, workshops, walks and performances in a variety of venues across Birmingham, ranging from cafes to a cathedral.

Among the highlights, Flatpack pays homage to the Japanese tradition of Benshi, the art of live film narration with Japanese silent film screenings, Ghostbusters and workshops. There is also cut-out animation with Paper Cinema’s take on The Odyssey, a cine-journey through a city with Vicki Bennett’s Citation City, an Edwardian Horror Show, interactive animation exhibition Amusement Park from Finland, a participatory dinner installation from Denmark using Oculus Rift technology, and a Roy Andersson retrospective.

Feature films include Electric Sheep favourites Sion Sono’s delirious yakuza musical Tokyo Tribe, Miroslav Slaboshpitsky’s powerful sign-language drama The Tribe. In the documentary programme, we highly recommend Tim Grabham and Jasper Sharp’s exploration of the strange world of slime mould The Creeping Garden, and look forward to Tim K. Smith’s documentary Sex and Broadcasting, about the listener-funded independent US radio station WFMU and Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova’s Uncle Tony, The Three Fools and the Secret Service, which questions the official history of 70s Bulgarian animation.

For the full programme and to book tickets please go to the Flatpack website.

Read our previous Flatpack coverage.

BFI London Film Festival 2014 Preview

LFF 2014 festival identity

BFI London Film Festival

8-19 October 2014

London, UK

LFF website

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.

Our top picks include The Duke of Burgundy, Peter Strickland’s follow-up to his eerie Berberian Sound Studio and eccentric Berlinale winner Black Coal, Thin Ice.

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.

Among the films we look forward to are The World of Kanako, a new stylish and provocative thriller from Confessions director Tetsuya Nakashima, Ning Hao’s racy Spaghetti Western homage No Man’s Land and the Misery-style Spanish thriller Shrew’s Nest, as well as a 40th anniversary screening of Tobe Hooper’s restored horror masterpiece The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

And we will definitely be checking out In the Basement, the new documentary by Austrian enfant terrible Ulrich Seidl, in which he investigates the many strange things his fellow countrymen do in their cellars. Also worthy of note are Gregg Araki’s White Bird in a Blizzard, Damián Szifrón’s Wild Tales, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s Spring and the Nordic werewolf fantasy When Animals Dream.

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.

Pamela Jahn

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

20th Etrange Festival

preview_EtrangeFestival 2014
20th Etrange Festival poster by Dom Garcia

L’Etrange Festival

4-14 September 2014

Paris, France

Etrange Festival 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.

Among the freaky treats on offer, we loved Kim Ki-Duk’s extreme castration drama Moebius, Bill Morrison’s elegiac The Miners’ Hymns, the Mo Brothers’ action thriller Killers, Fabrice du Welz’s staggeringly intense take on the Honeymoon Killers story Alleluia, atmospheric Irish ghost story The Canal and offbeat Iranian vampire tale A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.

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.