Fantastic Fest

Sunday, July 15, 2007

New Batch of titles released for Fantastic Fest 2007

As promised, we have a new crop of thoroughly engaging, incredibly fun new films to announce today. We have a BUNCH of cool stuff that we are not yet at liberty to divulge; these we will unleash in the August 15 announcement. For now, whet your appetite on the following cinematic treats:

Exte: Hair Extensions

"Exte is transgressive art/horror genius Sion Sono’s (Strange Circus, Suicide Club) entry into big-budget, star-fronted Japanese studio filmmaking, and neither his signature nor his spirit have been washed away by the influx of yen." (Mitch Davis, Fantasia). Customs agents stumble across a giant crate of human hair, destined to be used as extensions for trendy Japanese civilians. They are disgusted, but revulsion is eclipsed by horror when they discover, in the centre of this mountain of hair, a single dead girl, whose organs and even an eye have been removed, presumably for black market sale. This premise sets the tone for one of the most unexpectedly bizarre, subversive and yet still effective J-horror masterpieces ever made.

A Dirty Carnival
A beautifully shot, multi-layered story of a mid-level charismatic gangster and his attempted rise to greater power within the organization. Punctuated by moments of tender emotion as well as visceral violence, A Dirty Carnival is a "total package" film, blending an engaging story and characters, beautiful cinematography, and wild, brutal action sequences. Andrew O’Hehir from says Dirty Carnival “elegantly repurposes bits and pieces of various mob classics… might be this season's must-see for fans of Asian genre film.”

End of the Line

Director Maurice Devereaux live in person!
WINNER: Audience Award: DEAD BY DAWN FILM FESTIVAL (Edinburgh, Scotland)
In this unsettling and creepy thriller, Karen (Ilona Elkin), a young nurse who works in a psychiatric ward, boards the last subway train of the night only to have it stop suddenly in the middle of the tunnel. As those around her are brutally murdered, Karen and a handful of survivors must face supernatural forces, homicidal religious cult members, as well as their own fears and suspicions of Armageddon, in order to survive.

Finishing the Game
Following his groundbreaking indie hit BETTER LUCK TOMORROW as well as studio ventures ANNAPOLIS and THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT, director Justin Lin returns to his roots with FINISHING THE GAME, a rollicking comedy spoof about this egregiously exploitative search for Bruce Lee’s stand-in. Documentarians capture the absurd, hilarious and sometimes disturbingly true-to-life (but decidedly fictional) audition process as a motley assortment of candidates vie for the role: a former-TV-star-turned door-to-door salesman, a Bruce Lee knockoff named Breeze Loo and some guys who don’t even look Chinese, much less like Lee.

Sex And Death 101

Roderick Blank (Simon Baker) is a successful modern man, content with his personal and professional life. However, a week before his wedding to a suitably stuffy fiancée, Roderick’s perfectly planned existence is upended by a mysterious e-mail containing the names of every woman he has had sex with and, eerily, every woman he will have sex with in the future. He is stopped in his tracks when he meets a femme fatale (Winona Ryder) who targets men guilty of sex crimes against women. Co-staring Patton Oswalt and directed by Daniel Waters, writer of the cult hit HEATHERS!

Wrong Turn 2

Director Joe Lynch live in person!
First-time helmer Joe Lynch directs the eagerly anticipated follow-up to the 2003 sleeper WRONG TURN! Taking place shortly after the events of the original film, a group of six contestants are thrown together for six days in a simulated post-apocalyptic wasteland due to their participation in a reality television show called The Ultimate Survivalist: The Apocalypse, hosted and produced by former marine Dale Murphy (Henry Rollins), in which the winner will walk away with $100,000. Located in a remote part of West Virginia, the contestants soon discover that what they really are fighting for is their survival — against a family of hideously deformed inbred cannibals who plan to ruthlessly butcher them all.

The Last Winter
The Last Winter is a visually breathtaking, wholly nightmarish ecological horror film that is smart, informed and frightening. When one of its protagonists questions whether the act of drilling for fossil fuel is any different from graverobbing, it’s impossible not to get shivers by the ramifications, nor is it a stretch when the oil team find themselves haunted, hunted and cursed for their actions. Award-winning writer/producer/editor Larry Fessenden continues on the unique path he’s carved for himself with such previous philosophically provocative quasi humanist horror features as No Telling, Habit and Wendigo.

Aren't we all sick of J-horror by now? From The Ring to Ju-On and beyond it doesn't matter how good these movies may be, there are just too many of them and they just aren't scary anymore. Is there anything anyone can do that's new with this genre? Yes, actually. Leave it to Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Pulse, Cure, Doppelganger) to dredge up the bloated, water-logged corpse of the J-horror trend from the bottom of the river and to chop it up into something evil that slithers into your brain like a maggot worming its way into your brain. (New York Asian Film Festival)

Hell's Fever
Winner of the Melies d'Argent at the Rome Fantafestival 2006
Christmas time. A group of students steal a considerable amount of money from the local Campus. They flee through the snowy woods, in what the locals refer to as the "heartland of the Beast". They seek shelter in an abandoned mine only to end up facing a gruesome threat.

One evening, Octave, a doll repairman of about 30, is at a country fair and discovers ANGE (Angel), a girl born without a spine and thus condemned to spend her life as a circus freak in a steel scaffolding. This chance meeting is destined to upset the young man's life and force him to confront the voices that haunt him day and night...

In a work-driven world where time is the ultimate dictator, a mysterious sandman spreads chaos and confusion. Even the best employees of the system get infected by his wondrous dream powder and lose sight of the once so dominating clock. Alex Deprins, future employee of the year, becomes one of those ‘victims’. In his dreams he comes into contact with a strange new world, where a lady in red captivates his heart. Once awake he has to make a difficult decision. Does he stay in his familiar, but deadly rule-bound world or does he seek the road to salvation in his dreams?

The Fantastic Fest website has been updated with trailers, photo stills, links and more comprehensive write-ups for each of these films. We will be announcing the final slate of films on August 15, with the screening schedule, party list and guest roster to follow in early September. Be sure to log in to our website and set up your account. Once the festival begins, you can write reviews, create a schedule, rate films and communicate with filmmakers and festival programmers. We highly encourage everyone to become a part of the Fantastic Fest B-side community.

Festival badges are still available, but we expect them to be sold out before the festival begins. If you know someone who is considering attending, hustle them along, or they may miss out!

In other news, we announced this month our induction into the esteemed Melies European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation (see for more details). We are also one of the three founding members of NAFFA, the North American Fantastic Festival Alliance, along with Dead Channels in San Francisco and Fantasia in Montreal.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Fantastic Fest Enters the Méliès Federation

We've known about this news for a little while now, but to seeing it pop up on a Google News Alert makes it all that much more real. For those who don't know, the Méliès European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation is the defining force in genre film programming. With 22 festivals worldwide, the Federation roster boasts some of the most powerful players in the scene: Sitges, Pifan, Brussels and Fantasia to name just a few. The federation was formed to be a network of like-minded festivals, all of whom are dedicated to promoting badass films coming out of Europe.

We applied to become a member of the federation last year, and some of you may have met Méliès ambassador/investigator Christian Hallman at last year's festival. He wasn't just there to present Frostbite, he was there to evaluate Fantastic Fest on behalf of the federation.

All of the voting members met at Cannes this year, and we are very happy to report that Fantastic Fest has been accepted as a supporting member of the Méliès Federation. In our third year of existence, this is really the highest honor imaginable. Fantastic Fest joins L.A.'s Screamfest as only the second U.S. Méliès festival and Fantasia as the third in North America.

Here's the story as reported by Film Threat:

by Jay Slater
Fantastic Fest founder and all-round top guy, Tim League, has reasons to be cheerful. Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, has been accepted as part of the prestigious Méliès Federation brushing shoulders with renowned international festivals such as Sitges and Fantasporto. A multitude of top-quality movies are exhibited at the wonderful Alamo Drafthouse cinema – a Mecca for moviegoers. League also runs a slew of themed movie nights (often exploitation flicks with Tarantino as regular attendee) as well as premieres such as "Apocalypto" and "The Fountain" with directors Mel Gibson and Darren Aronofsky as guests who are actively encouraged to mingle and converse with the audience. League knows how to treat his audience and crew (as a Film Threat and Hotdog journo, we were on the jury and day trips to barbeque houses, the house in the original "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" film and a set report on "Grindhouse" were impeccably arranged) with respect. The Alamo literally riffs with energy and raw power – there’s nothing quite like it. Trust me.

“We started the process of joining the Méliès Federation at the 2005 Porto Fantastic Film Festival (incidentally the scene of much drunken revelry and hijinks involving rogue journalist Jay Slater). A year and a half later, we have joined ranks with the infamous band of European genre festivals,” League beams. “When we first decided to create a Fantastic Film event in Austin, we were modelling ourselves after Sitges, Brussels and the other Méliès festivals. To be joining their ranks as a supporting member in our third year is the highest honour I can imagine. The Méliès Federation Festivals set the bar for what we are trying to do in Texas and we will do everything we can to live up to their reputation,” League adds, smiling like the cat that got its cream.

And what really stands out is Fantastic Fest’s groundbreaking stance – from conception to being internationally recognised on the festival circuit within two years. Amazing, eh? And Méliès contender within three years. Even Superman on Viagra and a bottle of vodka couldn’t pull it off, but League and company did just that. And Film Threat makes a humble forecast and state that it’s within reason that Fantastic Fest will go onto higher and better things to be one of the most acclaimed genre festivals in America, if not the world. High praise indeed!

Link to Article