My calendar year now isn't broken up by months in the way it used to be. Instead, I think of everything in terms of festival schedules. We're done with Sundance now, which means it's time to start thinking about South By Southwest.
And now the festival caps off its announcements with the release of the line-up for the Midnighters, SXFantastic, and the complete short film schedule as well. Last year's midnight line-up at the festival offered both "Monsters" and "A Serbian Film," and this year's list looks equally eclectic. I'm so excited to be heading to Austin at the start of March, and now is the time when I start going through the entire schedule, looking at what I've seen already, what I'd like to see, and what I might even try to see for a second time.
Yes, "Bellflower," I mean you.
I'm going to do a thorough SXSW preview piece this weekend, and that's when I'll also start contacting filmmakers about screeners for things I'm afraid I might not be able to see during the festival. Unlike Sundance or Toronto or Comic-Con, I end up doing these Austin-based festivals as the one and only HitFix representative, and that means juggling many more demands on my time than when we're on the ground as a full team. For now, let's look at what just got announced today.
First up, there's the Midnighters, programmed by Jarod Neece, a man who loves a good taco:
Scary, funny, sexy, controversial – provocative after-dark features for night owls and the terminally curious.
Films screening in Midnighters are:
Attack The Block (UK-England)
Director & Writer: Joe Cornish
A funny, frightening action adventure movie that pits a teen gang against an invasion of alien monsters. It turns a tower block into a sci-fi playground. It’s inner city versus outer space. Cast: Jodie Whittaker, John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones, Simon Howard, Luke Treadaway, Jumayn Hunter and Nick Frost (World Premiere)
The Divide (US-Canada)
Director: Xavier Gens, Writers: Karl Mueller & Eron Sheean
To survive the end of the world...you must first survive each other. Cast: Michael Biehn, Milo Ventimiglia, Lauren German, Rosanna Arquette, Courtney B. Vance (World Premiere)
Hobo With a Shotgun
Director: Jason Eisner, Writer: John Davies
A Hobo finds himself in an urban hell. When he witnesses a brutal robbery, he realizes the only way to deliver justice is with a shotgun. Cast: Rutger Hauer, Gregory Smith, Molly Dunsworth, Brian Downey, Nick Bateman
Director: James Wan, Writer: Leigh Whannell
Dark spirits have possessed the home of a family whose son has fallen into a coma. Trying to save him, the family moves only to realize that it was not their house that was haunted. Cast: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Ty Simpkins, Barbara Hershey (U.S. Premiere)
Phase 7 / Fase 7 (Argentina)
Director & Writer: Nicolas Goldbart
Coco just moved to his new apartment with 7-month pregnant wife. When the building is in quarantined for a deadly flue. The neighbors became unexpected enemies. Cast: Daniel Hendler, Federico Luppi, Jazmin Stuart, Jose "Yayo" Guridi (North American Premiere)
Oh, my. "Hobo With A Shotgun" and "Insidious" are both stone cold gems, movies I'm already in love with. I'm seeing "Insidious" again for sure. I think it's a great horror film, scary and fun and surprisingly bloodless. Xavier Gens directed "Frontier(s)," a grim little horror film, as well as the big-budget mayhem of "Hitman," and I'm intrigued by the description of his new one. I like the synopsis for "Phase 7" as well, and know almost nothing about it, but am always up for a thriller from an area of the world that we don't get thrillers from on a regular basis. But for me, the big title here is "Attack The Block." Joe Cornish is best known to UK viewers as part of "The Adam and Joe Show," but he's also the co-screenwriter, with Edgar Wright, of both "The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn" and "Ant-Man," and "Attack The Block" represents his feature debut as a writer/director. It's a great script, funny and thrilling and as smart about genre as Wright's "Shaun Of The Dead," and if he pulled off what he wrote, it's going to be amazing to be in the room for the world premiere of the film.
Next up, there's the SXFantastic section, programmed by the twisted masterminds of Fantastic Fest:
Mind-bending Midnighters, hand-selected by our friends at Fantastic Fest.
Films screening in SXFantastic are:
Cold Sweat / Sudor Frio
Director: Adrián Garcia Bogliano, Writers: Adrián Garcia Bogliano, Ramiro García Bogliano, Hernán Moyano
What do you do if you are a right-wing Argentinean terrorist and your state-sanctioned organization is disbanded? We can’t say, but it involves chat rooms, bare breasts and a generous slathering of nitro-glycerine. Cast: Facundo Espinosa, Marina Glezer, Camila Velasco, Omar Musa, Noelia Vergini (International Premiere)
George the Hedgehog / JeÅ¼ Jerzy (Poland)
Director: Wojciech Wawszczyk, Writer: RafaÅ‚ SkarÅ¼ycki
Jez Jerzy is a skateboarding hedgehog who likes to drink beer and fondle breasts. He finds it hard to pursue his passions, however, while being tormented by neo-nazi skinheads, mad scientists and a drooling, flatulent clone of himself. Cast: Borys Szyc, Maria Peszek, Maciej MaleÅ„czuk, SokóÅ‚, MichaÅ‚ Koterski (International Premiere)
KILL LIST (UK)
Director: Ben Wheatley, Writers: Ben Wheatley & Amy Jump
A dark and twisted horror from the mind of director Ben Wheatley. Cast: Neil Maskell, Michael Smiley, MyAnna Buring (World Premiere)
Little Deaths (UK)
Directors & Writers: Sean Hogan, Andrew Parkinson & Simon Rumley
A psychosexual horror anthology comprised of three separate stories dealing with the twin themes of sex and death. Cast: Kate Braithewaite, Daniel Brocklebank, Brendan Gregory, Siubhan Harrison, Jodie Jameson (North American Premiere)
Directors & Writers: Jason Trost & Brandon Trost
For years an underground war has raged for dominance over the town of Frazier Park between two clans. Dominance isn't determined through fistfights or petty brawls, but the dancing video game Beat-Beat Revelation. Cast: Jason Trost, Lee Valamassy, Caitlyn Folley, Art Hsu, Nick Principe (World Premiere)
You know what I love about that list? I don't recognize anything. I know Ben Wheatley's name from his lovely 2009 film "Down Terrace," and I really dug Andrew Parkinson's film "Dead Creatures" as well as Simon Rumley's "Red White And Blue." But I've heard nothing out these films, and I'm going to walk in just trusting the taste of the Fantastic Fest guys.
I'll round this out with a full list of the shorts program, including a Spike Jonze collaboration with The Arcade Fire, a new documentary short from Jay Duplass, and about two dozen descriptions that have me intrigued:
A selection of original, well-crafted films that take advantage of the short form and exemplify distinctive and genuine storytelling. The winner of our Grand Jury Award in this category is eligible for a 2012 Academy Award nomination for Best Narrative Short.
Director: Kire Paputts
Before Sammy, all his best friends were stuffed animals.
Director: Joshua Funk
A woman makes a big announcement to her friends.
Director: Bryan Gaynor
Two young men find themselves at a precarious crossroads during a typical afternoon of horseplay.
Director: Topaz Adizes
A 10 year old experiences a rite of passage that will forever change him.
Director: Martina Amati
Two teenage professional gymnasts are competing in a national training camp, when their friendship is put to the test.
Director: Janicza Bravo
After being locked out of her apartment, a young woman seeks the help of her lonely neighbor.
Director: Michael Mohan
He broke her heart. Then she broke his.
Director: Soham Mehta
Sparks fly as a family reunites.
Director: Christina Choe
An odd young woman paralyzed by severe OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), discovers dance as way to deal with her rituals.
Director: Eric F. Martin
A woman learns that she may have been switched at birth.
The Good Neighbor
Director: Jacob Vaughan
A man tries to surprise his neighbor with dinner and wine, but her pet guinea pig ruins everything.
Director: Michael Langan
This short documents the parallel goals of man and nature, through the most primitive and sophisticated means, to simply stay in the light.
Howling at the Moon
Directors: Jason Tippet & Elizabeth Mims
Matt's grandmother believes that man has never set foot on the moon. Matt got a telescope for Christmas and intends to show her otherwise.
Directors: Josh Safdie & Benny Safdie
He is punch drunk (not with love) but something far more strange and lost. One can only say John's Gone.
Join the Dots
Director: Jessica Lux
A new girl at St. Andrews University discovers a world of preppy girls who dream of strategically seducing fellow student Prince William. Isolated, she finds hope in a mysterious boy who wears a silver jacket.
Director: Edawrd Housden
Richard's sister Millie wants to be a world famous body builder. What happens when she is a better boy than he is?
Director: Leanne Welham
Unable to sleep one night, Jody goes to the local gas station and meets a passionate young couple that will turn her night, and her life, upside down.
Directors: Carolina Giammetta & Schuman Hoque
Danielle loves her friends, but they are very, very different from anybody else’s…
Director: David Lowery
A father tells his son the most epic bedtime story ever.
Directors: Celia Rowlson Hall & Jae Song
Prom night is ritual, disco balls, expectation, corsages, dresses, holding, sweating, status, entering in twos, balloons, school gyms, dancing slow and fast.
Roosevelt's Big Deal
Director: Craig Elrod
Don't lose your shirt on a dinner with the coach.
Scenes From The Suburbs
Director: Spike Jonze
Director Spike Jonze teams up with Arcade Fire to create a thirty-minute short film inspired by their critically acclaimed album, The Suburbs, and its themes of war and coming of age in suburbia.
A SHORE THING
Director: Jess Manafort
A couple spends a lovely day at the beach arguing about love.
Director: Joe Cobden
A stunning slow-motion bar brawl. A woman has to literally fight her way through a Montreal ballroom just to get to a man she might want.
Director: Sean Rourke Meehan
A young woman works another night at her strange and intimate job.
The Strange Ones
Directors: Christopher Radcliff & Lauren Wolkstein
A man and a boy, traveling to an unknown destination, find respite in a motel swimming pool. On the surface all seems normal, but nothing is quite what it seems to be.
The Third One This Week
Director: Felix Thompson
A doctor only has one chance to deliver bad news... or does he?
Director: Antoine Bourges
A middle-aged woman is faced with poverty. As she struggles to find help within the system, her only option is to wait.
Director: Eric Dinkian
A man is mortally wounded by a woman. As the remaining minutes of his life keep ticking, he examines his conscience.
Unfiltered slices of life, from across the documentary spectrum.
39-A: Een Reisverhaal Van Eindeloos (A Travel Tale of Interminable)
Director: Evan Mather
In this insightful autobiographical mashup of Super-8 home movies, vibrant animated cartography, and Dutch pidgin-speak, a family’s 1981 vacation to the Kennedy Space Center is chronicled in exquisite detail.
100 Bands In 100 Days
Directors: Shout It Out Loud Music & Nick Sonderup
Come along as one music fan endures 100 consecutive nights of live music, beer and self-discovery. Let's go binge gigging.
Director: Wing-Yee Wu
Join Wesley Pentz, a.k.a. DJ Diplo and part of Major Lazer sound system, for one day behind the scenes at the annual Philadelphia block party of record label Mad Decent.
Director: Austin Wilson
Living proof that time travelers are among us.
The High Level Bridge
Director: Trevor Anderson
Trevor drops his camera from Edmonton's High Level Bridge in memory of those who've jumped.
Director: Jay Duplass
Kevin Gant was an inspired and beloved Austin musician, but in 1995 he disappeared from the scene. Who is Kevin? What happened to him? And, can he get back what he lost?
Library of Dust
Directors: Ondi Timoner & Robert James
Death becomes art when a photographer captures images of deceased patients at a mental hospital.
Director: Nadia Hallgren
This short is the story of Shoshanna, a young mother from NYC. Told through late-night phone calls on public radio, she awaits the fate of Felix, her children's father, incarcerated and on trial.
Man & Machine: A Naked Robotic Love Story
Directors: Jesse Roesler & Jonathan Nowak
Explores the challenges and delights found in sustaining a creative identity within a romantic relationship and the controversial “new music” generated by an unconventional pair of artists in Ghent Belgium.
Director: Jason Jakaitis
A personal documentary that explores the filmmaker’s ambivalent relationship to his mother’s physical disabilities and chronicles his attempts to be at peace with her suffering and disfigurement.
My Big Red Purse
Director: Giancarlo Iannotta
In this three-minute experimental documentary, the director's mother reminisces about a childhood memory involving her prized big red purse.
Noc u Tane ní (Night at the Dance)
Director: Annie Silverstein
A profile of the last days of a Czech dance hall in rural Texas—and the old-timers who come there to polka.
Director: Skylar Nielsen
Metal-fabricator Neil Youngberg never planned on taking over his grandfather's business and is now faced with passing on his legacy.
RUN AND RETURN
Directors: Michael Thelin & Jose Louis Rios
This film, taken from Live at Stubb’s Vol. II, explores the Grammy-nominated artist Matisyahu’s creative philosophy and passion for music during his 2010 summer tour with his band Dub Trio.
Satan Since 2003
Director: Carlos Puga
Richmond, VA becomes a battleground for moped gangs.
Director: Jessica Edwards
An ode to the hardest working boats on the waterways and the people who pilot them.
You Cannot Learn How To Be Honest
Director: Jason Oppliger
Confronting the disturbing and incoherent Hi-8 footage he's agreed to edit, a filmmaker attempts to find a catharsis amongst the chaos by turning the images loose on himself and his apartment.
A showcase for cutting-edge documentary shorts from around the world.
IL CAPO (Italy)
Director: Yuri Ancarani
This short describes the extraordinary way of communication used by the chief in a marble quarry: a non-conventional language of gestures and signs.
Lost Every Day (UK-Scotland)
Director: Michelle Coomber
This is a film about a woman who has a medical condition and when she wakes each morning, her walls seem to have moved overnight.
My Dream (UK-Bangladesh)
Director: Md. Rezwan Ali Khan
Sumon, a shrewd businessman, makes a decent living as a disabled beggar. He doesn't just keep it for himself though. He has a dream.
PS Your Mystery Sender (UK-Scotland)
Director: Ben Wigley
Finding the meaning behind the unwrapped and unusual objects that Paul Smith, the fashion designer, has been receiving in the post for the last 20 years, from a mystery person.
SCREENING AT THE TATRY CINEMA (Poland)
Director: Igor Chojna
Dariusz Ambroszczyk runs one of the oldest cinemas in ÅódÅº – Tatry.
Shave and a Haircut (Hong Kong)
Director: Lavina Tien
A coming-of-age portrait of a visit to the barber by an old man and a little boy.
Skateistan: To Live And Skate Kabul (UK)
Director: Orlando von Einsiedel
Skateboarding in Kabul.
Director: Murad Nassar
The daily routine of Wajeh, the coffee seller in Qalandiya checkpoint.
Wood If (Canada)
Director: J.B. Sugar
A cinematic meditation on the works and process of whimsical furniture designer Judson Beaumont.
An assortment of stories told using a mix of traditional animation, computer-generated effects, stop-motion, and everything in-between. The winner of our Grand Jury Award in this category is eligible for a 2012 Academy Award nomination for Best Animated short.
The Beaufort Diaries
Director: Alex Petrowsky
When you're a dying breed in Hollywood, sometimes it's tough to go with the floe.
Director: Leah Shore
A secretary types with her boobs.
Director: Daniel Fickle
Pily, a lovable crustacean of mixed origin struggles to escape his underwater home when it becomes threatened by pollution.
Director: Ross Butter
A short animation, showcasing the grace and poise of our prehistoric forerunners.
The Eagleman Stag
Director: Mikey Please
If you repeat the word ‘fly’ for long enough it sounds like you're saying ‘life’. This is of no help to Peter. His answers lie in the brain of a beetle.
Get With The Program
Director: Jennifer Drummond Deutrom
The complacent inhabitants of this near-future society devise ways to adapt to the constant demands of the techno dystopia they have created.
Director: Erick Oh
An exploration of transcendence. This short presents questions through abstract metaphors and symbols, illustrated by the human heart.
A LOST AND FOUND BOX OF HUMAN SENSATION
Directors: Martin Wallner & Stefan Leuchtenberg
When his father dies unexpectedly, a young man seeking to cope with his grief goes on a powerful emotional journey through time and space.
Paths of Hate
Director: Damian Nenow
A short tale about the demons that slumber deep in the human soul and have the power to push people into the abyss of blind hate, fury and rage.
Director: Alan Dickson
Not everyone loves Christmas.
Director: Rob Munday
In a post-apocalyptic world a lemon called Teddy finds his legs.
Director: Olivia Taussig
A catalogue of nine headlines, illuminating apocalyptic undercurrents. Headlines become ironic expositions, highlighting fantastical variables and animals play.
The Wonder Hospital
Director: Beomsik Shimbe Shim
A surreal journey through a mysterious hospital that alters the perception of physical beauties.
Bite-sized bits for all of your sex, gore, and hilarity needs.
Director: Adam White
When Harold discovers he has a brain tumor he is unaware that the tumor is an independent world of it’s own, fighting to survive.
Director: Thomas Wohlford
It's Billy's Birthday.
Director: Brandon LaGanke
When a young child walks home from school he encounters a strange-looking man in a full bunny costume.
Directors: Natalia Provatas & Valerian Zamel
The story of five canaries, that just couldn't take it anymore.
Christeene, "Bustin' Brown"
Director: PJ Raval
In “Bustin’ Brown,” the fourth installment of the CHRISTEENE Video Collection, CHRISTEENE confronts the ever-present bastardization of anal sex from mainstream bourgeois heterosexuals by returning “da buh-hole” to its rightful owners.