As we end the Summer of 2010, we leave a series of box office bombs behind us, and look forward to an incredible film festival season this fall. With such film festivals as Toronto, New York, and Venice to look forward to, this year may still be saved for the cineastes of the world. One film festival in particular that may not be on your radar, but deserves to be placed alongside those others, is Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, taking place September 23-30.
Last month they announced their first wave of films (listed below), and this morning, they’ve announced their second wave, a total of 16 more films. It is an incredible line up of horror, martial arts, sci-fi, and other genre films. I’ve listed the films announced below, and while I won’t be able to make it to Austin next month to attend, I can tell you that if you are going, and are a Criterion fan, there will be events that you will not want to miss.
While I’m not the biggest horror fan, I definitely want to catch films like the sequel to 30 Days of Night, Dark Days, and I definitely would love to be able to catch both versions of The Housemaid in one sitting. The festival is lining up to be a pretty incredible experience, both in and out of the screening room. There will also be lots of parties, and an entire video game festival, happening near the Drafthouse, in conjunction with the film festival.
If you don’t already have your film badge, I believe the full passes are currently sold out, but there may still be chances for you to pick up single day passes before the festival hits.
Will you be at Fantastic Fest this year? What are you most excited about? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Second Wave of Films:
US Premiere, USA, director: John Curran
Director John Curran and Edward Norton live in attendance.
A seasoned corrections official and a volatile inmate find their lives dangerously intertwined in STONE, a thought-provoking drama directed by John Curran and written by Angus MacLachlan. STONE features powerful performances by Academy Award ® winner Robert De Niro and Oscar ® nominee Edward Norton, and a startlingly raw, breakout performance from Milla Jovovich as the sexy, casually amoral woman they both desire.
As parole officer Jack Mabry (De Niro) counts the days toward a quiet retirement, he is asked to review the case of Gerald ‘Stone’ Creeson (Norton), in prison for covering up the murder of his grandparents with a fire. Now eligible for early release, Stone needs to convince Jack he has reformed, but his attempts to influence the older man’s decision have profound and unexpected consequences for them both. STONE skillfully weaves together the parallel journeys of two men grappling with dark impulses, as the line between lawman and lawbreaker becomes precariously thin. Golden Globe ® winner Frances Conroy completes the superb ensemble as Madylyn, Jack’s devout, long-suffering spouse. Set against the quiet desperation of economically ravaged suburban Detroit and the stifling brutality of a maximum security prison, this tale of passion, betrayal and corruption examines the fractured lives of two volatile men breaking from their troubled pasts to face uncertain futures.
30 Days of Night: Dark Days (2010)
World Premiere, USA, director: Ben Ketai
Director Ben Ketai, Kiele Sanchez & Steve Niles (co-writer, author) in attendance (schedules permitting).
It’s been almost a year since the Alaskan town of Barrow’s population was decimated by vampires during its annual month-long sunset. Riddled with grief over the death of her husband, bound by nightmares and void of all emotions beyond hate and sorrow, Stella (Sanchez) has spent the past months traveling the world, trying to convince others that vampires exist. Met with skepticism and laughter, Stella is ready to throw in the towel when a group of lost souls (Coiro, Baird and Perrineau) offers an incredible opportunity: the chance to exact revenge upon Lilith (Kirshner), the vampire queen responsible for the assault on Stella’s sleepy Alaskan town. With nothing remaining to live for, and nothing left to fear, Stella joins their mission and ventures into the uncharted underbelly of Los Angeles where she pushes herself to the most extreme limits to stop the evil from striking again.
Regional Premiere, Argentina, director: Pablo Trapero
Ambulance drivers and ambulance chasers, dirty police and corrupt doctors, fraudulent insurance brokers and some truly desperate people are the players in a wildly original and occasionally brutal thriller set on the streets of Buenos Aires.
Regional Premiere, USA, directors: Amber Bensen and Adam Busch
Directors Amber Bensen and Adam Busch as well as stars Angela Bettis and Kevin Ford will be in attendance.
When Brian discovers an improbable secret about his best friend and OmniLink coworker, everything in his world changes and his safe life of workplace detachment is no longer an option. Close encounters of the office kind, like sales or intergalactic war, is an uncertain business.
Fire of Conscience (2010)
US Premiere, Hong Kong, director: Dante Lam
A slick cops-and-robbers film that coats melodrama with a thick layer of blood and gunpowder. Dante Lam has emerged as one of the most exciting Hong Kong action directors with films like THE BEAST STALKER (2008) and SNIPER (2009). His latest work delivers the goods with chases, fisticuffs, massive fire fights; exploding bodies and more.
Hatchet 2 (2010)
North American Premiere, USA, director: Adam Green
Director Adam Green, Kane Hodder and Danielle Harris live in person!
Witness the resurrection of bayou-dwelling psycho-killer Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder), who terrorized a party of witless New Orleans tourists in Adam Green’s 2006 cult hit HATCHET. After emerging as the sole survivor of Crowley’s comically over-the-top murder spree, Marybeth (Danielle Harris) learns the secrets of the madman’s origins and returns to the Louisiana swamps to avenge her family’s death. Also featuring genre fan fave Tony Todd as Reverend Zombie and FRIGHT NIGHT director Tom Holland as Bob.
The Housemaid (1960)
South Korea, director: Kim Ki-young
Celebrated as one of the greatest Korean films of all time, THE HOUSEMAID tells the story of a composer who invites chaos into his home when he begins an affair with the family’s mysterious new maid, a disturbed woman with a penchant for catching rats with her bare hands. The print featured at this year’s Fantastic Fest has been restored by the Korean Film Archive with the support of Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of films from non-Western countries.
The Housemaid (2010)
Regional Premiere, Korea, director: Im Sang-soo
A reimagining of the Korean classic of the same name, the 2010 version of THE HOUSEMAID turns the tables on the story. This time around a perfectly normal servant enters the home of a truly dysfunctional wealthy family who beat her down with an array of psychological, sexual and sometimes physical trauma. With strong performances, lush design and an exceptional story, this update serves as a worthy companion to the original classic and makes for a truly unique double bill.
I Spit on Your Grave (2010)
Austin Premiere, USA, director: Steven R. Monroe
A remake of the controversial 1978 cult classic of the same title, Steven Monroe’s I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is a shock-fest that revisits the story of a young writer’s horrifying sexual assault at the hands of a backwoods gas-station attendant and his knuckle-dragging cronies while on sabbatical in the countryside. After being brutally attacked and left for dead, she returns for vengeance. Trapping her male attackers one-by-one, she inflicts acts of physical torment upon them with a ferocity that surpasses her own ordeal. When the carnage clears, victim has become victor.
North American Premiere, Spain, director: Miguel Ãngel Vivas
Jaime (Fernando Cayo) and Marta (Ana Wagener) are a middle-aged couple with a teenage daughter named Isa (Manuela Vellés). The family is in the process of moving into a big new house. Marta wants to gather the family for dinner at home to celebrate. Isa has her own plans; she wants to go out with her boyfriend. Jaime is stuck in the middle of it all. Everyone’s evening is ruined when a gang of masked hoodlums pay a visit to the home.
Legend of the Fist (2010)
US Premiere, Hong Kong, director: Andrew Lau
Life in Japanese-occupied Shanghai in the 1920s was no picnic. Military warlords and criminal henchmen ruled the streets. The city’s one ray of hope was the young martial artist Chen Zhen (Donnie Yen), whose legendary showdown against a dojo full of Japanese warriors ended with his apparent death, though his body is never found. Seven years later, a wealthy entrepreneur called Koo returns from abroad and makes a grand entrance on the Shanghai social scene by befriending the city’s most notorious mafia boss. Could this be the return of Chen Zhen?
Ong Bak 3 (2010)
North American Premiere, Thailand, director: Tony Jaa
The legend of ONG BAK 3 begins after Tien (Tony Jaa) has lost his fighting skills and his beloved step-father from the raid led by Jom Rachan (Saranyu Wonggrajang). Tien is brought back to life with the help from the Kana Khone villagers. Deep into the meditation taught by Phra Bua (Nirutti Sirijanya), Tien finally is able to achieve ‘Nathayut’. His talents are put to the test again when his rivals including the Golden-Armored King’s Guard (Supakorn ‘Tok’ Kijusuwan), the mysterious killers in black, and Bhuti Sangkha (Dan Chupong) return for the final massive showdown.
North American Premiere, Japan, director: Takeshi Koike
Rev your engines, adrenaline junkies! REDLINE is a new feature from famed Madhouse Studios that reunites animator Takeshi Koike (NINJA SCROLL, ANIMATRIX) with his long-time collaborator Katushito Ishii, the genius behind FUNKY FOREST: THE FIRST CONTACT. This meeting of warped minds results in a mind-melting psychedelic assault that is easily the wildest animated Japanese film to surface in years.
Stake Land (2010)
US Premiere, USA, director: Jim Mickle
Director Jim Mickle, Connor Paolo, Nick Damici and Danielle Harris live in person!
Following a political-economic meltdown of unexplained origins, the world has been overrun by humanoid creatures who feed off human blood. A disparate group of survivors band together to weave their way through the communities of both vampires and equally dangerous religious cultists in search of an alleged sanctuary in the north. The cast includes Nick Damici, Connor Paolo, Kelly McGillis, Danielle Harris and Michael Cerveris.
World Premiere, USA, director: Chris Peckover
Director Chris Peckover and cast members live in person!
A small group of documentary filmmakers chronicle the trials and inequities faced by Mexican illegal immigrants. When they join a group of families illegally crossing the border to record the experience firsthand, their truck is pulled over and detained. What happens next plunges their group into unimaginable horror.
We Are What We Are (Somos Lo Que Hay) (2010)
US Premiere, Mexico, director: Jorge Michel Grau
When the patriarch of the family passes away, the teenage children must take responsibility for the family chores: the preparation of the rituals, the hunting and putting the all-important meat on the table. These newfound responsibilities are even more daunting, however, when you live in the city and happen to be a family of cannibals.
First Wave Of Films:
Director: Cheol-soo Jang, South Korea, 115 minutes
If you beat, brutalize, dehumanize and torment a country girl for her entire life, take note: when she reaches the breaking point, you’d best hide the farm implements.
Directors: Johan Lundborg & Johan Storm, Sweden, 80 min
Lonely medical student Frank is pleased with his flat, a quiet place to focus on his coming exams. But when he meets the girl upstairs, his peace and quiet, his sanity and possibly even his life become jeopardized.
The Dead (2010)
Directors: Howard J. Ford and Jonathan Ford South Africa, 100 min
After his plane crashes in the South African bush, Rob Freeman (SAVING PRIVATE RYAN) joins forces with Prince David Osei (a superstar actor in his native Ghana) to cross the vast desert by any means necessary. A daunting task under normal circumstances becomes particularly challenging after the zombie apocalypse.
Directors: Derek Kwok & Clement Cheng, Hong Kong, 98 minutes
The funniest, most ass-kicking, hard-rocking, pedal-to-the-metal movie of the year. It’s COCOON with kung fu! (New York Asian Film Festival)
Golden Slumber (2010)
Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura, South Korea, 139 minutes
Last year, Yoshihiro Nakamura’s FISH STORY saved the world from certain annihilation and became the word-of-mouth hit of the festival. This year, Nakamura’s back with another ode to the human connection, GOLDEN SLUMBER, a brain-melting thriller send-up that’s two parts THE BIG CHILL, three parts BOURNE IDENTITY and a million parts awesome. (New York Asian Film Festival)
Ip Man 2 (2010)
Director: Wilson Yip, Hong Kong, 108 minutes
It’s a rousing Canto-fable, a Hong Kong empowerment movie, a return to old school martial arts filmmaking with AVATAR-era production values, and on its opening weekend in Hong Kong it beat IRON MAN 2 at the box office like a redheaded stepchild. (New York Asian Film Festival)
Life and Death of Porno Gang (2009)
Director: Mladen Djordjevic, Serbia, 90 minutes
Adult movie director Marko steals money from his mobster producer Cane to create his masterpiece: an experimental black and white erotic horror film. When the film bombs and he can’t repay his boss, he slips away with the cast and crew to produce live porno-theater in the Serbian countryside. Then it gets weird.
Director: Takeshi Kitano, Japan, 109 minutes
Takeshi Kitano is back in classic form, directing and starring in the genre God intended for him: a ruthless, bloody and very violent yakuza crime thriller.
Director: Marvin Kren, Germany, 59 minutes
Hoping to rekindle the sparks with his ex-girlfriend, Michael makes a surprise visit to her apartment in the city. Bad timing. As luck would have it, this is also the same day the zombie outbreak hits Berlin.
Red Hill (2010)
Director: Patrick Hughes, Australia, 95 minutes
On his first day on the job as a rural Australian constable, Shane Cooper (TRUE BLOOD star Ryan Kwanten) has a daunting assignment: face off against an escaped-convict Aboriginal tracker whose current prey is the entire Red Hill police department.
Director: Quentin Dupieux, France/USA, 85 minutes
Quentin Dupieux (the real name of legendary DJ Mr. Ozio) has directed my hands-down favorite film of Cannes 2010. Robert, a very disgruntled psychokinetic automobile tire explodes the heads of birds, beasts and humans alike on a high-desert killing spree like no other.
Sound of Noise (2010)
Directors: Ola Simonsson and Johannes StÃ¤rne Nilsson, Sweden, 102 minutes
Musical terrorists have launched a full-scale musical attack using the city ‘“ its buildings, its machinery and its ceaseless noise ‘“ as their instrument. The group’s leaders are the ‘Bonnie and Clyde of underground rock,’ hell-bent to dismantle the harmony of the world with their anarchic performances.
The Violent Kind (2010)
Directors: The Butcher Brothers, USA, 95 minutes
What starts as a biker bash gone awry first gets unfathomably bloody before finally transcending into truly bizarre territory.