Oh, boy... just as I'm getting ready for the madness of Comic-Con, this happens and I find myself suddenly looking at the first announcement of titles for Fantastic Fest in September. I love that the year is basically broken up into one giant thing to anticipate after another. Certainly keeps it interesting.
This is the very first announcement of titles, so this is not the "BIG STUFF" designed to get maximum press attention. Instead, this is the foundation that they're building this year's festival on, and the line-up is already appealing. Rather than try to re-describe a bunch of films I haven't seen, I'm going to let you just read the full line-up as announced, with some commentary at the end.
"Fantastic Fest is proud to announce our first wave of programming for the sixth edition of Fantastic Fest, happening September 23-30 in Austin, Texas.
This batch of 13 feature films includes bloody revenge from Korea and Australia, South African and German zombies, Swedish musical terrorists, a renaissance of action heroes from Hong Kong, more disturbing images from Serbia, aging Yakuza from Japan and a psychokinetic automobile tire from France.
Fantastic Fest is scouring the globe for the very best in action, horror, science fiction, fantasy to the truly bizarre in contemporary cinema for your viewing pleasure. Look for many more announcements in the weeks to come, including information on our gala events, parties and AMD Next Wave filmmakers in attendance.
Fantastic Fest is the film festival with the boring parts cut out. Miss this one and your regrets will agonize you for years to come. You have been warned.
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.
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.
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.
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 Stärne 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."
You see why I love Fantastic Fest? That line-up speaks to me. I've wanted to see "Rubber" since the moment Tim League started Tweeting his reactions from Cannes this year. A new film from the director of "Fish Story" is a very, very good thing, indeed. After this year's SXSW experience, I'm game for any crazy films from Serbia that Tim League wants to program. And after you read that description of "Sound Of Noise," check out this earlier short from the same filmmakers, which gives you an idea of what the film's going to be:
Toronto has a great Midnight Movie line-up each year, and Sundance has been flirting with the midnight movies in recent years, but nothing compares to a full festival of the esoteric. There's something about the way it rewires your brain that is a particularly fulfilling festival experience for me.
And I'll be there for every second of it this year, and hope to see many of you there as well. We'll have more on Fantastic Fest as further titles are announced, and we'll have bell to bell coverage at the end of September.
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