Matt Vesely’s intense ‘MONOLITH’ (2024) takes podcast storytelling to another realm.

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Monolith 2024 poster

One suspect article takes down a once respected journalist. Holed up in her wealthy parent’s estate while they are on holiday, our leading lady tries to revamp her image by creating a conspiracy theory podcast. While wading through emails, she spots one that is particularly eye-catching. Following up on the information, she continues down a path of potential otherworldly objects influencing people around the globe. But truth and lies are closer aligned than you might want to believe. Matt Vesely‘s SXSW 2023 sci-fi feature MONOLITH pulls you into oblivion.

Lily Sullivan in Monolith The film takes place in a single location where The Interviewer records her podcast. The secluded and expansive modern mid-century estate allows her to wander, but most of the action happens at a desk or in front of the wall of windows that contain her discoveries. Our journalist creates an episode of her first phone calls. Editing the calls at her will, the audience questions her culpability. This small moment puts your morality compasses in a tailspin. It is a slick move from writer Lucy Campbell. Podcasts are my nightly ritual, cleaning motivation, and my travel companion. Since SERIAL, the industry has exploded. In MONOLITH, the story goes viral. People begin contacting her directly with their stories, always warning her to stop.

Lily Sullivan in MonolithAt some point, the danger reaches the front door of our journalist’s secluded location when she receives a package related to the mysterious story. The darkness attached to the object feels slightly Faustian and not of this planet. No one remembers how they received their object, but each reaches a point in questioning where they feel compelled to hang up out of fear.

Lily Sullivan plays The Interviewer. Her emotional arc is mesmerizing, acting as a therapist to her callers, a manipulator for personal gain, and a target of the unknown. As the only onscreen actor in the film, her ability to carry such an intense and mysterious film is quite a feat. Sullivan owns the audience.

Matt Vesely's MonolithIs this a case of mass hysteria? In many ways, the plot mirrors today’s conspiracy groups like QAnon. Our leading lady goes down the rabbit hole, and the audience follows. MONOLITH boasts a jaw-dropping final ten minutes. This is one hell of a sci-fi thriller. It is a must-see.

IN THEATERS AND ON DIGITAL: February 16, 2024 

 

For more Well Go USA film reviews, click here!

 

Review: ‘LAST PARTY’ (2024) shines in its camera work.

LAST PARTY

In Nicolas Dozol‘s LAST PARTY, one final hoorah to celebrate high school graduation takes a weird turn when four of its attendees experience subtle hallucinations.

Last Party (2024)Cleverly choreographed camera work by Aurel Ganz makes us think the film is one long take. Just as impressive is the actual shot list. 28, to be exact. It is one hell of a visual feat. The flip side of these takes is the narrative feels draggy even at 110 minutes. The sci-fi element does not seem necessary to the plot. Ultimately, it goes nowhere.

Last Party (2024) final scenePerformance is solid from our four main leads, each one bombarded by misogyny, judgment, and outright hateful behavior. LAST PARTY might be more successful as a series. There is much needed in character development, although the breadcrumbs are there. It feels more like a treatment for a larger project than a stand-alone piece.


“Last Party” the feature film debut of Swiss and French filmmaker Nicolas Dozol will make its US debut at Laemmle Monica Film Center from February 9 -16th in Santa Monica.  The film is being distributed by LA-based Synergetic and is the first feature film produced by the young Swiss company Lights Rush.

 

A mystery coming-of-age story, part horror, part fantasy, part thriller, the film takes place during a high school graduation party where four teenagers in the midst of an existential crisis are confronted with their angst. When they suddenly find themselves locked up, they wonder if it might be their last night ever. The film is choreographed by 28 long takes, giving the illusion of a single real shot and was shot in just five days.

“Last Party”, a New Breed Entertainment production, is directed by Nicolas Dozol, written by Leah Ladoux, Paul Tomasini, Chloe Vittenet and Dozol, and produced by Mathilde Errand and Dozol.  The film stars breakout newcomers Lucie Cecchi, Remi Gerard, Uma Condolo and Teddy Hardy.  Cinematography is by Aurel Ganz.


For more French film reviews on RND, click here!

Slamdance 2024 review: Intimate and personal ‘ONE BULLET’ pierces the heart

slamdance 2024

ONE BULLET

ONE BULLET Poster

This story of female friendship forged amidst America’s longest war is told by a filmmaker who spent 18 years in-and-out of Afghanistan. In this war movie, the battlefield lies behind the curtains of an Afghan home as Bibi Hajji struggles to survive the loss of her youngest child, and the impact of a brother’s death on her remaining sons. A haunting image of that boy surviving a bullet wound prompted director Carol Dysinger to investigate, what happened to him, who fired the shot? “One Bullet” evolves from procedural to an excavation of the human experience, of loss and redemption. It asks: how might we make peace across vast social, cultural and religious divisions? Two women drinking one cup of tea at a time.

one bullet - Bibi Bibi Hajji

One Bullet- Bibi Hajji

Who shot Fahim? Filmmaker Carol Dysinger shares how one Afghan family’s loss in 2006 forged a surprising friendship. ONE BULLET utilizes footage from 2005 to 2020 to tell a tale of tragedy, war, and interconnectedness.

Following the incident, Colonel Elliot has the impossible task of finding out who shot Fahim. Although, at times, it appears that his job is more to prove that it wasn’t an American bullet that went astray. The deliberate mistakes by the original interpreter are haunting, promising Fahim he would walk again when we’ve just heard the doctors tell him he will most likely remain paralyzed. The US government promised he would receive fully paid care in Turkey. That is not exactly what went down. In 2011, Dysinger tracked down the family only to discover Fajim had died two years after the incident.

Carol and Fawad

Carol and Fawad

Dysinger does her best to respect Afghan culture, treading lightly, all while trying to make amends on behalf of the US. The evolution of Carol’s relationship with Bibi’s sons is fascinating, moving through anger, curiosity, and respect as the years pass. The passing conversation that goes untranslated ranges from innocuous to well-intended, intrusive to insulting. Bibi’s grace and hospitality are endless. You see, hear, and feel the protective nature of Carol. It is a tumultuous task, one that Bibi covers with food.

The particular ripple effect on one brother concerns Carol. Fawad’s mental and emotional decline intertwined with an eventual religious zealotry. The details from the night Fahim was shot slowly come to light over the years, despite the report essentially not existing in an official capacity today.

ONE BULLET is Fahim’s story. It is Bibi’s, Carol’s, and America’s story. Slamdance 2024 audiences should always keep this film in the not-too-far reaches of their minds.

(Unavailable for streaming in Afghanistan)

  • Director:
    Carol Dysinger
  • Screenwriter:
    Carol Dysinger, Steen Johannessen
  • Producer:
    Ashim Bhalla, Su Kim, Carol Dysinger
  • Year:
    2023
  • Runtime:
    93 minutes
  • Language:
    Dari/English
  • Country:
    Afghanistan
  • Genre:
    Documentary
  • Subtitle Language:
    English
This year’s festival runs Fri, Jan 19, 2024, 12:00 PM – Sun, Jan 28, 2024

 

For all of our previous Slamdance coverage, click here!

slamdance 2024

Sundance 2024 review: ‘And So It Begins’

Sundance 2024 logo

AND SO IT BEGINS

AND SO IT BEGINS

AND SO IT BEGINS at Sundance 2024

Amid Filipino elections, a grassroots movement emerges to protect truth and democracy from growing threats. People unite in joyful acts of resistance, kindling hope while autocracy expands.

Returning to Sundance four years after the premiere of A THOUSAND CUTS, director Ramona S. Diaz gives audiences a companion piece about the fragility of democracy. In the Philippines in 2016, the country elected a President and Vice President from opposite political spectrums. VP Leni Robredo is a compassionate, former NGO human rights attorney. She is articulate, funny, and fearless. If you took President Biden and combined him with Hillary Clinton, you might begin to understand Leni Robredo.

The passion of the people is evident in their cries for equality. Her supporters wear pink and come from every socioeconomic background and age group. She has a special bond with the LGBTQ community. Her extraordinary grassroots campaign still fights an uphill battle against the children and candidates of the former dictatorship.

Holy misogyny, Batman! The overt corruption of President Duterte looks familiar. The US had a tyrant appear in 2016. In 2021, Leni must contend with the attacks from the outgoing president and campaign against the son of former President Fernando Marcos, one of the country’s most notorious dictators. Under his reign, martial law pervaded the Philippines, and Marcos fled with billions of dollars. BongBong Marcos Jr wants to bring back the policies that destroyed democracy. To remind you, he is also Imelda Marcos’ son. A quote that hangs on the wall of Marcos’ former vacation home, now a museum, reads, “We must make this nation great again.” Hmmm. Where have we heard that before?

AND SO IT BEGINS is simultaneously a story about journalist Maria A. Ressa, the co-founder of the news outlet Rappler. Duterte falsely convicted her of breaking laws that never existed before her arrests. Ressa dared to challenge dictators and has since paid the price for years. Their relentless pursuit of quieting Rappler will make your blood boil. A wondrous moment happens in the film as Ressa receives a phone during a Zoom panel, informing her she’s just received the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. In her acceptable speech, she tells the world about the extensive online misinformation machine built by Marcos, Jr, once again reminding viewers how fragile any democracy is.

We cannot ignore the parallels in tactics. We would be foolish to think the playbook hasn’t gotten thicker as technology replaces knocking on doors. What can we learn from AND SO IT BEGINS? History revisionism threatens everything we hold dear, so pay attention, and don’t look away.

And So It Begins (2024) poster

And So It Begins (2024) poster

Available in person. Also available online for the public (January 25–28)

 

Meet the Artist

Ramona S. Diaz

Ramona S. Diaz

Ramona S. Diaz’s award-winning films — Imelda (2004), The Learning (2011), DSB: Everyman’s Journey (2012), Motherland (2017), and A Thousand Cuts (2020) — have screened at top-tier film festivals and been seen globally. Diaz is both a Guggenheim Fellow and a USA Fellow. In 2021, she was named the inaugural McGurn Family Trust Resident in Film by the American Academy in Rome.

Credits

  • DIRECTOR(S)

    RAMONA S. DIAZ

  • SCREENWRITER

    RAMONA S. DIAZ

  • PRODUCER

    RAMONA S. DIAZ

  • YEAR

    2024

  • CATEGORY

    FEATURE

  • COUNTRY

    UNITED STATES/PHILIPPINES

  • LANGUAGE

    ENGLISH, FILIPINO AND OTHER DIALECTS

  • RUN TIME

    113 MIN

For more information about Sundance 2024, click here!

 

You can read all of our Sundance coverage throughout the years here.

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Sundance 2024 review: AI advancements walk a fine line between healing and harmful in shocking doc ‘ETERNAL YOU’

Sundance 2024 logo

ETERNAL YOU

Sundance 2024 Eternal You

Sundance 2024 documentary ETERNAL YOU is deeply disturbing and endlessly intriguing. It is something straight out of a horror sci-fi film. Filmmakers Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck guide audiences through the latest technological advances in AI, where versions of your lost loved ones can interact with you in real-time. The moral and emotional gray area this tech exists in becomes the overarching ghost of this film (no pun intended).

First, we meet Joshua Barbeau, a man who lost his girlfriend, Jessica, and one of the early users of Project December. Founder Jason Rohrer works with the very little information Joshua provided from his viral experience, leading to thousands of requests. User Christi Angel speaks with her ex-boyfriend, Cameroun. Their chat gets darker and darker, and now she’s torn between continuing and walking away from the project altogether. Her journey is the perfect test case for and against afterlife AI.

Jason Rohrer is an open book. He’s transparent with negative reviews, going so far as to read a transcript that went completely off the rails. Interwoven into the narrative are clips from Senate hearings with Sam Altman, the creator of Open AI (ChatGTP), discussing safety. Rohrer admits his disconnection to the emotional impact of his clients while also confessing his intrigue in the eerie side effects. They don’t tackle the danger the VR jump presents. Justin Harrison, creator of YOV, believes in this technology so much that he chose it over his wife. His passion is evident. Harrison’s view on its expansion is, “Fuck death.”

There is no guarantee that a loved one’s data is safe forever. Could it be used to create porn? Ask the filmmakers of Another Body, where a college student found her face deepfaked on multiple sexually graphic videos created by one rejected classmate. Don’t even get me started on the political implications. Wait until you witness the production and results of a 2020 television series titled “Meeting You.” It will wreck you.

Gregor Keienburg and Raffael Seyfried‘s ethereal score makes your heart race and gives you goosebumps. A mix of disembodied voices and ominous strings fill you with dread. Bravo to editors Lisa Zoe Geretschläger and Anne Jünemann for hitting every emotional beat possible. Sundance audiences will undoubtedly feel the gravity of this doc. Is this concept a way to grieve and heal, or are we simply further monetizing the dead?


Check out this exclusive clip:

Remaining Screenings

January 25 – 1:45 PM MST – Holiday Village Cinemas – Park City

Online 
January 25, 7 AM PST – January 28, 10:55 PM PST


Panelist Name

Hans Block

Hans Block

Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck are German directors. Their debut film, The Cleaners, about the shadow industry of digital censorship, celebrated its world premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and has since been screened at more than 70 international festivals, in cinemas, and on TV worldwide. In their work, Block and Riesewieck question the impact of digital technologies on society.

Panelist Name

Moritz Riesewieck

Moritz Riesewieck

Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck are German directors. Their debut film, The Cleaners, about the shadow industry of digital censorship, celebrated its world premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and has since been screened at more than 70 international festivals, in cinemas, and on TV worldwide. In their work, Block and Riesewieck question the impact of digital technologies on society.

Credits

  • DIRECTOR(S)

    HANS BLOCK

    MORITZ RIESEWIECK

  • PRODUCERS

    CHRISTIAN BEETZ

    GEORG TSCHURTSCHENTHALER

  • EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS

    KATHRIN ISBERNER

    ANNA GODAS

    OLI HARBOTTLE

    CHRISTOPHER CLEMENTS

    JULIE GOLDMAN

    JENNY RASKIN

    KELSEY KOENIG

    LIZZIE FOX

    DAVIS GUGGENHEIM

  • CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

    MERYL METNI

  • CO-PRODUCER

    PATRICK M. MÜLLER

  • EDITING

    ANNE JÜNEMANN

    LISA ZOE GERETSCHLÄGER

  • DIRECTORS OF PHOTOGRAPHY

    TOM BERGMANN

    KONRAD WALDMANN

  • MUSIC

    GREGOR KEIENBURG

    RAFFAEL SEYFRIED

  • YEAR

    2023

  • CATEGORY

    FEATURE

  • COUNTRY

    GERMANY/UNITED STATES

  • LANGUAGE

    ENGLISH, KOREAN

  • RUN TIME

    87 MIN

  • COMPANY

    GEBRUEDER BEETZ FILMPRODUKTION

  • CONTACT

    L.RAITH@GEBRUEDER-BEETZ.DE


Sundance Film Festival 2024 runs Thu, Jan 18, 2024, 2:45 PM – Sun, Jan 28, 2024

Eastern Time

Sundance 2024 review: ‘SUJO’ explores childhood trauma and cyclical violence

Sundance 2024 logo

SUJO

Juan Jesús Varela in SUJO

Juan Jesús Varela in SUJO

Ominous, heartbreaking, and beautifully shot, the Sundance 2024 film SUJO, from Fernanda Valadez and Astrid Rondero (Identifying Features), examines cyclical violence and trauma through the lives of the family left behind by a murdered cartel member.

Nemesia hides her nephew Sujo with the help of Rosalia and her two young sons, Jeremy and Jai. During early childhood, the five exist in abject poverty in the middle of nowhere, entertaining themselves as best as they can, knowing someday the isolation may be too much. As the boys grow, curiosity puts them into increasingly more precarious situations, proving the danger of their familial sins lingers forever.

Young Kevin Aguilar, as four-year-old Sujo, is beguiling. The camera loves him. Juan Jesús Varela plays teenaged Sujo, left to carry the emotional burdens of his father’s past. Varela’s performance is magnificent, as are his onscreen cousins, Jairo Hernandez and Alexis Varela. Their chemistry is magic.

Yadira Pérez gives Nemesia an authentically grounded aura. Her practical and watchful approach to raising Sujo gives him an emotional stronghold. Nemesia literally translates as “Vengeance.” This small detail is as brilliant as her vital otherworldly abilities. Karla Garrido brings an entirely different level of motherly kindness playing Rosalia. She is a beautiful foil for Pérez.

The film comes from an almost entirely female creative team whose blood, sweat, and tears pour off the screen. SUJO is infused with empathy, fear, and care. The screenplay is a skillfully crafted tale that pulls you into Sujo’s center of gravity. As a Mother, witnessing the integration of protective instincts speaks volumes. The score is haunting. At times, the dialogue mirrors Sujo’s journey. It is undeniably impactful. Throughout the film, women look out for Sujo’s best interests. In a way, the film is an ode to invisible labor.


For more information on SUJO screenings fn Sundance 2024, click here!

Credits

  • DIRECTOR(S)

    ASTRID RONDERO

    FERNANDA VALADEZ

  • SCREENWRITERS

    ASTRID RONDERO

    FERNANDA VALADEZ

  • PRODUCERS

    FERNANDA VALADEZ

    ASTRID RONDERO

    DIANA ARCEGA

    JEWERL KEATS ROSS

    VIRGINIE DEVESA

    JEAN-BAPTISTE BAILLY-MAITRE

  • CINEMATOGRAPHER

    XIMENA AMANN

  • PRODUCTION DESIGNER

    BELÉN ESTRADA

  • EDITORS

    ASTRID RONDERO

    FERNANDA VALADEZ

    SUSAN KORDA

  • PRINCIPAL CAST

    JUAN JESÚS VARELA

    YADIRA PÉREZ

    ALEXIS VARELA

    SANDRA LORENZANO

    JAIRO HERNÁNDEZ

    KEVIN AGUILAR

  • YEAR

    2024

  • CATEGORY

    FEATURE

  • COUNTRY

    MEXICO/UNITED STATES/FRANCE

  • LANGUAGE

    SPANISH

  • RUN TIME

    126 MIN


     

Sundance 2024 review: ‘A NEW KIND OF WILDERNESS’ wades through grief with grace

Sundance 2024 black and white logo

A NEW KIND OF WILDERNESS

A life chronicled most intimately and authentically, the Payne family experiences physical and emotional upheaval after a family tragedy. Choosing to raise their family on a secluded farm in the woods of Norway, Maria and Nik wanted nothing more than to instill a love of nature into their children. Potentially forced to sell the beloved farm that holds all their memories, Nik, Freja, Falk, Ulv, and eldest daughter Ronja navigate unfathomable loss and fight to remain connected.

Through Maria’s striking photography, home videos, and extraordinary voiceover narration, throughout several years, filmmaker Silje Evensmo Jacobsen evokes visceral hope and sadness in A NEW KIND OF WILDERNESS. Exploring one family’s respect for the land, unique homeschooling, and off-grid lifestyle, Nik battles societal norms that Maria vowed to circumnavigate and financial limitations. The children are undeniably self-aware. Their openness with their emotions is breathtaking. When school thrusts technology upon them for the first time, they take to it like fish to water, much to the chagrin of Nik, but their wild essence never wanes as they long to hold onto their way of life. The film speaks to the resiliency of youth.

Witnessing the pure innocence and wonder of the Payne children hits you in the heart. It is easy to dismiss the genuine curiosity of your kids with the swirl of everyday chaos. Sundance 2024 audiences have the honor of joining together on an elegant meditation of grief and loneliness. A NEW KIND OF WILDERNESS reminds us to cherish each moment, the Earth, and one another.


Click here for more information on screenings and online availability for A NEW IND OF WILDERNESS


 

Silje Evensmo Jacobsen

Silje Evensmo Jacobsen, director of A New Kind of Wilderness

Silje Evensmo Jacobsen has directed award-winning documentary films and series for the past 15 years. Among others: Team Ingebrigtsen (2016, 2018) about an unconventional Norwegian family raising their children to be top runners, Faith Can Move Mountains (2021) about nuns breaking boundaries in rural Norway, and KRAFT/SPARK (2022) about young street dancers. A New Kind of Wilderness is her second feature.

 

Credits

  • DIRECTOR(S)

    SILJE EVENSMO JACOBSEN

  • PRODUCER

    MARI BAKKE RIISE

  • EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

    KIM CHRISTIANSEN

  • CINEMATOGRAPHY

    SILJE EVENSMO JACOBSEN

    KARINE FOSSER

    LINE K. LYNGSTADAAS

  • EDITORS

    KRISTIAN TVEIT

    CHRISTOFFER HEIE

  • COMPOSER

    OLAV ØYEHAUG

  • SOUND DESIGNER

    YNGVE LEIDULV SÆTRE

  • COLORIST

    TOM CHR. LILLETVEDT

  • FEATURING

    ULV VATNE PAYNE

    FALK VATNE PAYNE

    FREJA VATNE PAYNE

    RONJA BREDA VATNE

    MARIA GROS VATNE

    NIKOLAUS ITHELL PAYNE

  • PRODUCTION COMPANY

    A5 FILM

  • YEAR

    2024

  • CATEGORY

    FEATURE

  • COUNTRY

    NORWAY

  • LANGUAGE

    ENGLISH, NORWEGIAN

  • RUN TIME

    84 MIN


Sundance 2024 preview: A film for everyone at the festival’s 40th Edition.

Sundance Film Festival 2024 Color Logo
The Sundance Film Festival has launched the careers of indie film directors, writers, and actors now for 40 years. Back with in-person and online screening opportunities, this year’s iteration boasts new and bold storytelling from every genre. Here are a handful of films we’ll track in 2024.

 

For more information and tickets to Sundance 2024, click here! Be on the lookout for shared coverage with our good friend, Steve Kopian, at Unseen Films. To see all of his reviews and what he’s looking forward to this year, head over to his home base.

(World Cinema Dramatic Competition)
SUJO

S till from the Sundance film SUJO
When a cartel gunman is killed, he leaves behind Sujo, his beloved 4-year-old son. The shadow of violence surrounds Sujo during each stage of his life in the isolated Mexican countryside. As he grows into a man, Sujo finds that fulfilling his father’s destiny may be inescapable.

A movie about time and trauma, this beautifully acted and hauntingly written film from the directors of Identifying Features will be sure to captivate audiences. 

This film contains strobe effects.
Available in person. Also available online for the public (January 25–28)


40th Edition Celebration Screenings And Events

DIG! XX

DIG! XX tracks the tumultuous rise of two talented musicians, Anton Newcombe, leader of the Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Courtney Taylor, leader of the Dandy Warhols, and dissects their star-crossed friendship and bitter rivalry. Through their loves and obsessions, gigs and recordings, arrests and death threats, uppers and downers, and ultimately to their chance at a piece of the profit-driven music business, they stage a self-proclaimed revolution in the music industry.

DIG! premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. Documentary Competition, where it ultimately won the Grand Jury Prize in the documentary category. DIG! XX, which will premiere at the upcoming Festival, is not only a digitally enhanced, remixed, and remastered version of DIG!, but also a special 20th anniversary new edit of the film culled from footage shot over seven years, and brought to you by the original sibling team, Ondi and David Timoner.

*Digitally enhanced and featuring new footage


(Premieres)

And So It Begins

Amidst the traditional pomp and circumstance of Filipino elections, a quirky people’s movement rises to defend the nation against deepening threats to truth and democracy. In a collective act of joy as a form of resistance, hope flickers against the backdrop of increasing autocracy.

Available in person. Also available online for the public (January 25–28)


(World Cinema Documentary Competition)

Eternal You

Startups are using AI to create avatars that allow relatives to talk with their loved ones after they have died. An exploration of a profound human desire and the consequences of turning the dream of immortality into a product.

“I wanted to see if he was okay,” explains Christi, one of the users of Project December. With this innovative software, users can communicate with a virtual version of the deceased through a chatbot that simulates the dead person’s conversation patterns. Hers was an attempt to check on her first love. Others may simply miss someone, seek permission to move on, or want to rid themselves of guilt.

At this point, I think we’ve all seen the app that turns photos into moving images. The idea feels equally sentimental and disturbing. Eternal You takes this tech further, begging the question, “How far are we willing to go to feel connected to those we’ve lost, and how might that affect our brains?” 

Available in person. Also available online for the public (January 25–28)


World Cinema Documentary Competition

A New Kind of Wilderness

In a forest in Norway, a family lives an isolated lifestyle in an attempt to be wild and free, but a tragic event changes everything, and they are forced to adjust to modern society.

Silje Evensmo Jacobsen mixes home movies and a carefully intimate approach to the Payne family, whose isolated existence gets shaken up quite suddenly. This beautiful portrait of connection and resilience in the face of grief will touch your heart.

Available in person. Also available online for the public (January 25–28)


(NEXT)

REALM OF SATAN

An experiential portrait depicting Satanists in both the every day and in the extraordinary as they fight to preserve their lifestyle: magic, mystery, and misanthropy.

Filmmaker Scott Cummings is no stranger to Sundance, having edited many highly acclaimed festival premieres over the past decade, including Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Monsters and Men, and Wendy.

When I tell you that you aren’t ready for this doc, I mean it in the best way possible. Created to ruffle feathers and dispel right-wing hypocrisy, Scott Cummings titillates with gorgeous framing and a touch of tongue-in-cheek magical realism. 

This film contains graphic sexual content. Audiences must be 18 or older.

Available in person. Also available online for the public (January 25–28)


(Premieres)

My Old Ass

Maisy Stella and Aubrey Plaza in Sundance film MY OLD ASS

Maisy Stella and Aubrey Plaza in the Sundance film MY OLD ASS

The summer before college, bright-yet-irreverent Elliott comes face-to-face with her older self during a mushroom trip. The encounter spurs a funny and heartfelt journey of self-discovery and first love as Elliott prepares to leave her childhood home.

The concept alone should get your butt into a seat, but filmmaker Megan Park casting Aubrey Plaza is chef’s kiss in indie cinema.


(Midnight)

I Saw the TV Glow

Justice Smith and Brigette Lundy-Paine  in I SAW THE TV GLOW

Justice Smith and Brigette Lundy-Paine in I SAW THE TV GLOW

Teenager Owen is just trying to make it through life in the suburbs when his classmate introduces him to a mysterious late-night TV show — a vision of a supernatural world beneath their own. In the pale glow of the television, Owen’s view of reality begins to crack.

Writer-director Jane Schoenbrun’s We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (2021 Sundance Film Festival) gave us one of the coolest genre-bending films with a breakout performance from star Anna Cobb. I cannot wait to see how this one twists my sanity and senses. 

This film contains violence and gore.

This film contains strobe effects.


Sundace Film Festival 2024 Black and White logoTo find out more information on all things Sundance 2024, head to https://festival.sundance.org/

 

Review: Dark Star’s genre-bending ‘TROPIC’ shoots for the stars. Now on VOD & DVD

TROPIC

Twin brothers Tristan and Làzaro are aspiring astronauts. During a late-night swim, Tristan becomes infected with a mysterious physical and mental ailment when a bright green asteroid plummets into the water. Lazaro must understand his brother’s drastic changes as he tries to maintain an elite physical and psychological state.

Marta Nieto plays the twin’s mother, Mayra. Her performance is like a gut punch. Writers nail the invisible labor and isolation in motherhood and its inevitable breaking point. Nieto lives in the skin of Mayra and earns a standing ovation. Pablo Cobo and Loius Peres are magnificent. Cobo’s brooding anger equally matches his deep adoration for his twin. His performance as Làzaro is an emotional roller coaster, riddled with survivor’s guilt. Peres leans into palpable fear and trauma, giving audiences a complete 180 in physicality. TROPIC’s costume and makeup departments lend a hand here as they switch gears for Tristan from tailored clothes to ill-fitting outfits, as well as his elaborate facial fx. He is spectacular.

As a special needs parent, this is a brutal but honest watch. Feeling “othered” as an individual and a family is viscerally devastating. The cinematography, particularly the underwater footage, is mesmerizing. The sci-fi elements combined with a perfect synth score create a timeless feel. TROPIC defies a single genre category. The volatility of this unique story is riveting, but its gravity lies within its intimacy.


TROPIC.
Following its world premiere at Fantastic Fest, in competition play at Sitges, and theatrical release earlier this month, the film hits VOD and DVD on December 19.

Distribution Company: Dark Star Pictures
Theatrical Release Date: December 1, 2023
VOD/DVD Release Date: December 19, 2023
Director: Edouard Salier
Writers: Edouard Salier, Mauricio Carrasco
Starring: Pablo Cobo, Louis Peres, Marta Nieto
Synopsis: Lázaro and Tristán (19), twin brothers and best friends are training together for the Astronaut Academy entrance tests. One day, Tristán is contaminated with some mysterious residue which makes him monstrous physically and weakened mentally. This disaster forces Lázaro to let go of how he remembers his brother and learn to love him as he is now, in a world where there is no room for monsters.


Review: ‘FREUD’S LAST SESSION’ is a perfect storm for intellectuals, cinephiles, and theatre lovers alike

FREUD’S LAST SESSION

In his final days, Sigmund Freud, a recent escapee with his daughter from Nazi regime receives a visit from the formidable Oxford Don C S Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia). On this day, two of the greatest minds of the twentieth century intimately engage in a monumental session over the belief in the future of mankind and the existence of God.

Liv Lisa Fries delivers a stunning performance as Anna Freud, Sigmund’s intellectually accomplished daughter. The complexities of the role will undoubtedly touch a nerve with many viewers. Fries navigates the character splendidly. Matthew Goode plays C.S. Lewis. Coming to Freud for an impromptu therapy session, the audience learns about his childhood and the inspiration for his creative spark of genius. Goode effortlessly matches Hopkins’s energy. He once again establishes himself as a go-to casting choice. His raw vulnerability is captivating. Sir Anthony Hopkins remains at the top of his game. As Freud, he brings curiosity, wit, and curmudgeonly stubbornness all at once. It is yet another notch in Hopkins’s impressive career belt. This ongoing tennis match of masterful acting is perfection for historical drama lovers.

The cinematography and production design are luscious. The editing is lovely. Freud moves about his home, passing through doorways only to be transported through time and memories. Meaningful flashbacks fill the screen as each man shares their intimate history beginning in childhood and explores how it informed their development. The script, alongside the editing, has a dazzling theatricality. This makes more sense once you learn the screenplay was based on Mark St. Germain‘s play, adapted for the screen by Germain and director Matthew Brown. A West End production of FREUD’S LAST SESSION would be delicious. The references to literary figures and quotations are smirk-inducing for the well-read audience, while the overarching existential volley proves delightful.

FREUD’S LAST SESSION delves into moral and philosophical questions while simultaneously captivating with a whimsical and eclectic structure. The lines between doctor and patient constantly blur and shift. Wading through universal queries about religion, sexuality, war, co-dependency, trauma, and death, it is a fascinating must-see.


IN THEATERS DECEMBER 22, 2023

 

IN NEW YORK & LOS ANGELES

(National Roll Out to Follow)




Starring

Anthony Hopkins

Matthew Goode

Liv Lisa Fries

Jodi Balfour



Directed by Matthew Brown



Written by Mark St. Germain and Matthew Brown

Based on Mark St. Germain’s play Freud’s Last Session



Cinematography by Ben Smithard, BSC



Costume Design by Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh



Editing by Paul Tothill



Music by Coby Brown



Production Design by Luciana Arrighi



London, September 3rd, 1939. The world is on the brink of war.



In his final days, Sigmund Freud, a recent escapee with his daughter from Nazi regime receives a visit from the formidable Oxford Don C S Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia). On this day, two of the greatest minds of the twentieth century intimately engage in a monumental session over the belief in the future of mankind and the existence of God.



Runtime: 109 minutes

Review: ‘THE JOB OF SONGS’ brings light and legacy to adiences.

THE JOB OF SONGS

Tourists flock to the west coast of Ireland to take in the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher, but the real treasure lies in the soulful, acoustic sounds wafting out of pubs and living rooms of Doolin, County Clare. The denizens of this unspoiled coastal village of tight-knit neighbors and unlocked doors revel in the passion and history of their traditional folk songs, using music as a thread through generations to create community, connection, and joy.

Lila Schmitz brings audiences the magic of West Ireland through the melodies of the locals and the emotional pull of a tune. THE JOB OF SONGS is a toe-tapping, viscerally joyous film.

In Doolin, County Clare, Ireland, music is their heartbeat, their life breath. Ingrained in their blood and history, the musicians pass along tradition and history in their songs. It’s a personal look at the folks who bring their love of music to the community, thus creating one of their own. As any brand of artist, visual or performance, understands, sharing their gift with the world is survival of the soul. It is a cathartic experience of belonging and euphoria.

THE JOB OF SONGS explores the idea that songs convey truth, political messages, past lives, love, and lessons. It is a breezy celebration for music lovers and history buffs alike.


Gravitas Ventures will release the film on digital platforms on November 21, 2023.  The film has a running time of 74 minutes and will not be rated by the MPAA.

 

THE JOB OF SONGS was made by a crew of three women, who are first time feature filmmakers: LILA SCHMITZ (director, producer, editor), ANIKA KAN GREVSTAD (director of photography, producer), and FENGYI XU (producer).  The film was made with the support of acclaimed documentarians double Oscar-winning writer-producer-director Bill Guttentag and Emmy and Grammy Award winning documentarian Doug Pray.   The film has screened at numerous prestigious International Film Festivals including DOC NYC, Galway Film Fleadh, Newport Beach Film Festival, Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival, Milwaukee Film Festival, and many others.  It won Best International Documentary at the Galway Film Fleadh.


 

 

DOC NYC 2023 review: Henya Brodeker’s ‘THE THREE OF US’ perfectly captures the complexities of advocating for a special needs child

THE THREE OF US

In a society governed by tradition, a young Orthodox couple defies norms to integrate their autistic son. As they risk everything, their journey explores the delicate balance between love, faith, and self-discovery. Through their struggle, they challenge preconceived notions, embracing parenthood and searching for their place in the world.


Filmmaker Henya Brodbeker turns the camera on her, her husband, and their young autistic son, Ari. Through years of filming, we witness the evolution of relationships in her Orthodox community, her marriage, and with herself. This is one family’s story about belonging. 

THE THREE OF US is one of the most authentic depictions of what it feels like to parent an autistic child. Your unconditional love exists simultaneously with anger, despair, hope, and fear. Henya pulls no punches. Her unfiltered conversations with her husband hit hard. Their raw emotions and vulnerability allow us to sit in their shoes from the beginning. The insulting treatment Henya and Arale receive from their ultra-Orthodox community is infuriating. Arale and Henya invite us to their exhaustive fight for Ari’s integration into a neurotypical classroom setting. The often dismissive responses from community school administrations are outrageous. 

Anyone who follows my career as a film journalist knows I’m a Mom of a young autistic son. I talk about his diagnosis and navigating the complexities of existing in a primarily neurotypical environment. We are lucky in the grand scheme of ASD possibilities. Our son’s cognitive abilities are off the charts. He is loving, funny, friendly, and would not hurt a fly. Dealing with public meltdowns, particularly if those around you do not know or understand, can be a crushing, demoralizing, tear-filled experience. Nothing is easy. It’s undeniably isolating. It’s the outside world we fear most. THE THREE OF US is irrefutable proof of how equal opportunity changes the lives of families. 

The reality exposed in the film may take some viewers off guard. Arale and Henya’s bravery deserves applause and respect. To turn a camera on your lived-in chaos? Wow. I only write about it. THE THREE OF US triumphs in its unfettered honesty and in challenging any preconceived notions of raising a child on the spectrum. Disability representation in film is vital. As an advocate for my child, I thank Henya for making this film. I hope it changes some hearts and minds.


International Premiere of
‘The Three of Us’ at DOC NYC

Thursday, November 9 at 6:45 pm
Village East by Angelika
Director Henya Brodbeker in-person for premiere!
Plus online dates: November 10-26
https://www.docnyc.net/film/the-three-of-us/


 

About the Filmmakers

Henya Brodbeker, Director & Cinematographer
Israeli writer-director and pioneering filmmaker from the ultra-Orthodox community. Her first short film OUR SON (2022) screened at the Cinequest film festival, won the best film award at the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival, and participate in other festivals around the world. Her documentary THE THREE OF US (2023) won the Diamond Award for Best Documentary, Best Director & Best Editing at the Jerusalem Film Festival. The film will be broadcasted by IPBC in 2023. She is currently working on BODILY ENCOUNTERS, a feature film in development with the support of the Israel Film Fund.

Avigail Sperber Producer
Avigail Sperber is a documentary director, producer, and cinematographer originally from Jerusalem. After graduating from Ma’aleh Film School, Avigail has gone on to create award-winning films that have screened at prestigious festivals around the world. Her 2010 film THE HANGMAN received Special Mention at IDFA and went on to screen at Full Frame, Visions du Reel, and more. PROBATION TIME (2014) won the Best Israeli Film Award at Docaviv and screened afterwards at True/False and Krakow Film Festival, among others. In recent years, through her production company Pardes Productions, she has produced and shot several documentary films and series, including THE THREE OF US (Jerusalem FF 2023), Wedding Night (Docaviv 2023), IT’S A WRAP (Haifa FF 2022), COVERED UP (Docaviv 2018), and more.


 

Huge Genre News: NIGHTSTREAM is back in new form!

Digital Genre Film Fest NIGHTSTREAM Relaunched Yesterday as Year Round Curated TVOD Platform, Ft. Exclusive Title SUMMONERS, Films from Distros Including Oscilloscope, Utopia, Dark Sky & More


Christine Nyland and Larry Fessenden from Nightstream Exclusive SUMMONERS


(Brooklyn, NY | October 31, 2023) The Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, in association with the Boston Underground Film Festival and the Overlook Film Festival, announces today the re-launch of Nightstream. The former virtual film festival will re-launch as a transactional VOD platform that will showcase acclaimed genre films. Nightstream enables at-home audiences to have a one-stop-shop for their favorite (and new discovery) genre indies in lieu of scrolling through offerings buried in other more overarching platforms. Viewers can expect the lineup to continue to grow over time but always remain curated by the festival programmers.

Nightstream was initially launched in 2020 when film festivals were shuttered at the height of the pandemic. These major horror festivals joined forces to satiate their audiences’ appetites for new, exciting titles even while they were stuck at home. Despite the fact that the world is back in action, Nightstream will give genre fans the curated festival experience 24/7.

Terence Krey and Christine Nyland, the filmmaking team behind 2020’s indie gem An Unquiet Grave, unveil Summoners as the very first Nightstream Exclusive. The film made its world premiere at Brooklyn Horror Festival last year and debuts exclusively on the platform as a launch title. Co-starring indie icon Larry Fessenden, the film focuses on a former witch who is plunged back into a world of witchcraft far more dangerous than ever before after her childhood friend seeks her help in performing a dark spell.

Spearheading the relaunch is Justin Timms, Director of Brooklyn Horror Film Festival. “Finding a way to support new indie films along with keeping our collective festivals afloat during the pandemic was our priority and I’m thrilled that we can continue that for the long term,” says Timms. “Not only will we be sharing revenue with the films on the channel but a portion of the proceeds will also be split among the other founding festivals. We hope audiences around the country will see the value in supporting this effort and choose Nightstream when renting one of these standout titles.”

As of today’s Halloween launch day, the platform will feature over thirty titles, including those from indie distributors Oscilloscope, Dark Star, Dark Sky, Dekanalog, Utopia, Yellow Veil Pictures, and others. Titles include Jane Schoenbrun’s We’re All Going to World’s Fair (Utopia), Gaspar Noe’s Lux Aeterna (Yellow Veil), Joel PotrykusBuzzard (Oscilloscope), and much more. The full listing of film offerings is available at nightstream.org.

Prices will vary per title, and users will have the option to rent or buy most titles with a default pricing of $4.99 to rent and $12.99 to buy.

Full information is available at:
https://nightstream.org/

About Nightstream
In response to the many challenges impacting the film community amid the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing concerns of safety and security associated with physical exhibition and festivals in 2020 and 2021, the collaborative online event NIGHTSTREAM was launched by organizers of a number of American genre festivals across the country to present a dynamic and accessible virtual film festival.

NIGHTSTREAM will live on, continuing as a curated hub for genre films where audiences across the US will be able to rent, buy and discover the latest indie films.

About Brooklyn Horror Film Festival
Bringing the best of domestic and international genre cinema to New York City since 2016, the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival is a premier East Coast genre festival that embodies the eclectic spirit of its namesake.

Brooklyn Horror not only provides the nightmare fuel that audiences expect but also prides itself on challenging those expectations, spotlighting films that push the boundaries of what is normally deemed horror.

Taking place in venues throughout the borough every October, BHFF compliments its ambitious features and shorts programming with exciting and unique live events, crafting a must-attend festival experience for industry members and film fans alike.


 

Austin Film Festival 2023 review: ‘THE PROBLEM WITH PEOPLE’ brings familial chaos and charm.

THE PROBLEM WITH PEOPLE

Two distant cousins who’ve never met – one in NYC, the other in the smallest town there is in Ireland – come together to finally put an end to a generations-long family feud. It doesn’t go well. The Problem With People, set in the beautifully lush Irish countryside, is a heartwarming comedy about family, world peace … and sheep.


Director Chris Cottam brings Austin Film Festival audiences a charming transatlantic tale of fortune, forgiveness, and family.

Paul Reiser, who also writes the screenplay with Wally Marzano-Lesnevich, plays Barry. A real estate mogul from NYC, he receives a call from his distant cousin in Ireland, requesting his presence to heal a wound from generations past. The caller is Ciáran, played by Colm Meaney. The two proud, established men momentarily connect for the sake of their family. When Barry finds himself inheriting half of the family land, shenanigans ensue, dividing this small town between old and new ways.

This breezy film is perfect for the festival circuit. Jane Levy grounds the film as Barry’s daughter. While 95% of her appearances occur as phone calls from NYC, her brightness keeps Barry grounded for the viewer. Reiser is as great as ever. His big-city energy is a delicious foil for Meaney’s homegrown pride. Ciáran wavers between forgiveness and fight, and Meaney is a pro.

The landscape of the film is breathtaking. The sets are inviting. The script is heartwarming and silly. Frankly, THE PROBLEM WITH PEOPLE is a film we all need right about now. While it doesn’t break the mold, it makes you smile from beginning to end. I would easily watch a sequel of these two men navigating whatever comes next.


For more info on the Austin Film Festival 2023, click here!

 

Review: Switzerland’s official Oscar submission ‘THUNDER (FOUDRE),’ from director Carmen Jaquier, opens in NYC today.

THUNDER

After the sudden and mysterious death of her sister, a 17-year-old novitiate explores her God-given right to experience life to the fullest, during the summer of 1900 in Switzerland.

Akin to the musical Spring Awakening, THUNDER tells the tale of a young woman whose older sister’s mysterious death brings her back to her childhood home and in touch with three old friends. Religious zealousness, body autonomy, and freethinking take center stage in THUNDER. As Elisabeth heads the advice in Innocente’s hidden diary, her world, senses, and spirituality are open to new ideas and happiness. 

The look of the film is dreamy. Moody indoor shots juxtaposed with lush Swiss landscapes create a visually sumptuous experience. Lilith Grasmug‘s portrayal of Elisabeth is mesmerizing. It contains a palpable yearning. Her immediate defiance of the patriarchal social structure made me want to stand up and cheer. Formerly Catholic, or what my mother might call a heathen, the righteous overshadowing of Elisabeth’s awakening is maddening. Her triumphant exploration of sensation and life makes THUNDER a celebration.



Dekanalog is so very proud to be releasing Carmen Jacquier’s stunning period drama THUNDER (FOUDRE), which Switzerland has chosen as their official 2023 submission to The Academy Awards! This unbelievable piece of world cinema opens in New York City next Wednesday, October 25th, followed by a nationwide rollout.

Brooklyn Horror Film Festival short films: ‘MOSQUITO LADY’ & ‘ALICIA’

MOSQUITO LADY

Phillipino folklore Manananggal meets Catholic guilt in Kristine Gerolaga‘s short film, MOSQUITO LADY. When a young woman can no longer hide her pregnancy from her devout parents, she resorts to a legendary monster to assist her. The practical and Special FX are exquisitely gag-worthy. What a frightening jab at religious righteousness and an exploration of culture.


ALICIA

A little girl who lost her sight tries to convince her mother that an old woman haunts her. ALICIA is a standout short in story, production, and performance. The score is a perfect combination of high-intensity strings. The film hinges on the spectacular young lead, Naia Las Heras, as the titular character. There’s nothing more unsettling than experiencing the genuine fear of a child. Director Tony Morales and writer Cekis Casanova give us enough information to grow an entire franchise. I could see studios from Blumhouse to IFC Midnight snapping this up for development.


BHFF 2023

Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2023 shorts: ‘RIDE BABY RIDE’ & ‘THE WYRM OF BWICH PEN BARRAS’

RIDE BABY RIDE

Feminist companion for CARRIE lovers, Sofie Somoroff‘s short RIDE BABY RIDE finds a female mechanic in the new ownership of a possessed car. As the vehicle attempts to incapacitate and sexually assault her, she must fight for her life. Celina Bernstein effortlessly commands the viewer with what may amount to all five lines of dialogue. She acts her ass off. She is “final girl” magic. This metaphor for toxic masculinity and misogyny is as cathartic as it is bloody.

The Wyrm of Bwlch Pen Barras


Craig Williams slowly unravels the tale of the return of something mysterious. The townsfolk seem surprised at its appearance so soon after the last. They speak in vagaries, but it is made clear. Whatever it is cannot be good. The men gather to protect the land by offering a sacrifice.

A string-heavy, throwback slasher score plays over long, meandering, and scenic takes. The genius of this short lies within what we don’t see. Our imagination is our worst enemy.


BHFF 2023

Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2023 shorts: ‘THE QUEUE’ & ‘MY SCARY INDIAN WEDDING’

The Queue

Cole is a new online content monitor for the FBI. Upon discovering the final message of his predecessor, he finds a new meaning of “images seared into your brain.” Michael Rich‘s THE QUEUE is the physical manifestation of PTSD from vile online videos.

This superb film thrives on audio and the performance of Burt Bulos. There is a solid Mike Flannigan vibe to this film. When you see it, you’ll understand why I say that. It’s a solid addition to this year’s Nightmare Fuel Program.

My Scary Indian Wedding


Ramone Menon’s short plays on folklore and cultural superstition. Asha discovers she exists under the thumb of an ancient spirit, and only by performing six specific rituals can she survive the night.

In old-school horror, what would have been discovered in some ancient text (as in a book) now appears as a threatening, albeit informative, app. This campy little film echos 80s slashers with a modern twist.


BHFF 2023

Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2023 shorts: ‘STOP DEAD’ & ‘LEECH’

STOP DEAD

Director Emily Greenwood brings the short STOP DEAD to the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2023. Two officers get a flat tire as a blood-soaked young woman happens upon them. Clearly in distress, a taser leads to her immediate demise, or so they think.

The special FX reminds me of one of my favorite kills from the 1997 sci-fi classic CUBE. The editing creates jump scare after jump scare. Eight minutes got my horror juices flowing and left me wanting an entire feature. Greenwood and writer David Scullion show us just enough of an evil entity to keep us salivating for more. Even as the credits roll, you’re seeped in dread.

LEECH


Mary, an elderly blind woman, cycles through caregivers and doesn’t know why. She thinks she’s alone in her home. She is not.

Weirdly off-putting closeups immediately place the viewer on edge. Disturbing crayon drawings make you recoil. LEECH deserves a feature. It’s undeniably disturbing and shudder-inducing, yet you cannot look away. I have so many questions, and I’m begging filmmaker George Coley for answers.


BHFF 2023

LA’s Screamfest 2023 review: Banned in Russia, ‘EMPIRE V’ is an original and juicy re-vamping of lore.

EMPIRE V

Based on his novel, author Viktor Pelevin and director Victor Ginzburg deliver EMPIRE V, a twisted tale of succession, seduction, and social satire. Arriving at SCREAMFEST 2023, it sucks you in from the very first frame. Rama awakens to find a masked man holding him captive, briefly explaining that he is the new heir of something sinister. Our protagonist soon learns he is now a child of the night, a revered member of the vampire elite. But the rules of their society are not so simple, and life after death comes with certain sacrifices.

In EMPIRE V, the two primary notions of Vampirism are Glamour and Discourse. They essentially break down to look and influence. Blood holds all the memories of the human it comes from and arrives differently than we’ve become accustomed to.

The CGI transition pieces serve as history lessons and sexy vampire propaganda. I’ve never seen anything like it outside of high-tech, immersive video games. Even the closing credits have an elegance and visual splendor akin only to Netflix’s The Crown.

EMPIRE VThe fight choreography is Matrixlike. The entire film echoes Neo’s training. It holds equal complexities, no doubt captivating a similar audience. If I didn’t know any better, EMPIRE V would fit perfectly into the list of films featured in the new doc SO UNREAL. Had it not been for the pesky detail that it’s 22 years after the latest film in their lineup. With a delicious camp of The Fifth Element and all the hallmarks of an epic sci-fi franchise meets social satire, Ginzburg could seamlessly develop the film into a series or become the latest cult trilogy. Entirely original vampire canon melded with science fiction, EMPIRE V has a built-in audience filled with hungry genre fans waiting to sink their teeth into this story.


Russian-set sci-fi horror film EMPIRE V is set to hold its North American premiere at LA’s Screamfest. The controversial film is directed and written by Victor Ginzburg. 

EMPIRE V is a social parody of modern Russian society being controlled by vampires. The film was set to be released by Sony on several thousand screens across Russia in 2022, making it one of the most hotly anticipated Russian releases of the year. After the start of the Ukrainian war and one week prior to the film’s release, it was pulled from theaters by the Kremlin, effectively making it a film without a country. The film stars popular Russian rapper Oxxymiron, whose anti-war stance has recently led to him being declared a “foreign agent” by the Kremlin, a designation used to attack the government’s critics and journalists. 

Based on the satirical and incisive novel by Victor Pelevin, EMPIRE V was produced by Heartland Films/USA and Kvadrat/Russia, and Andrey Trubitsyn, Maria Kapralova, Alexei Tylevich and James Steele. The film also stars Pavel Tabakov, Taya Radchenko, Miron Fedorov and Vera Alentova. EMPIRE V recently held its world premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival in July and will debut to Los Angeles audiences at Screamfest this October.  
 
In the film, a 19-year-old Moscow nobody is turned into a vampire, and thereby becomes part of an elite and powerful echelon of society who have controlled humanity since time immemorial. EMPIRE V is an astounding visual feast, featuring innovative and propulsive visual effects sequences that enhance and elevate its timely social commentary.