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: Peter Oh’s ‘LOVE AND WORK’ – a parallel what-if of haunting hilarity

slamdance 2024

LOVE AND WORK

Love And Work Slamdance 2024

Writer-director-editor-producer-cinematographer and obvious showoff Pete Ohs brings his latest genre buster, LOVE AND WORK, to Slamdance 2024. Reteaming with Will Madden and Stephanie Hunt from festival darling Jethica, this new film leans further into the absurd. Once again, gifting us with striking black-and-white cinematography, a voiceover hands us the immensely intriguing, near-future plot where AI has taken all the jobs and those seeking employment are outlaws.

Diane and Fox seek advice from a trusted local elder as he regales them with tales from his grandfather and the elusive concept of a weekend. Those who dare go against the grain find hobbies forced upon them as punishment. The backward nature of the plot sneaks up on you. It may not be so backward after all.

Stephanie Hunt plays Diane with an earned “cool girl” attitude that is infectious. Will Madden as Fox is a beautiful mix of awkward and charming. Their chemistry is electric.

Charles Watson‘s original songs are folksy bangers. There is a dry whimsy that I can only equate to British humor. A tongue-in-cheek look at societal norms and how humanity fumbles through the search for purpose and personal connection, LOVE AND WORK is a hilarious what-if and one terrifying step from reality.

  • Director: Pete Ohs
  • Screenwriter: Stephanie Hunt, Will Madden, Pete Ohs
  • Producer: Pete Ohs
  • Cast: Stephanie Hunt, Will Madden, Frank Mosley, Alexi Pappas, John S. Davies
  • Year: 2024
  • Runtime: 74 minutes
  • Language: English
  • Country: USA
  • Premiere: World Premiere
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Subtitle Language: English
Click for all our past Slamdance coverage
 
For all things Slamdance 2024 head here

slamdance logo


 

Sundance 2024: ‘SAY HI AFTER YOU DIE’ is perfect

Sundance 2024 logo

SAY HI AFTER YOU DIE

Say Hi After You Die Sundance 2024

Sundance 2024 short film SAY HI AFTER YOU DIE is a laugh-out-loud look at grief, mental health, and forever friendship. Following the unexpected passing of her best friend, Gloria finds herself talking to a porta-potty. It’s easy to see why the film won the Short Film Jury Award for U.S. Fiction. It is that wonderful. 

Writers Ruby Caster (who hilariously portrays Ruby in the film, and Kate Jean Hollowell, who also stars and directs the film, nail the Gen Z/ Millennial cusp banter and fashion. They are a fierce team of creatives.
Say_Hi_After_You_Die-Kate Jean HollowellGeorge Basil plays Dave, the construction foreman, with a life-affirming kindness. One of his lines perfectly sums up the film’s heart, hitting you square in the chest, “We’re just friends walking each other home.” Hollowell is outstanding as Gloria. Her comic timing is the stuff of the gods, but she also delivers authentic depth. She is a star.

SAY HI AFTER YOU DIE has a smirk-inducing musical sequence. The choreography from Kat Burns is inarguably spectacular. For a 17-minute film, Sundance audiences will laugh, dance, and tear up. This is one of the year’s best.

Sundance Screening Times
Screening as part of Short Film Program 4

World Premiere – January 21st, 12:15PM MST (Prospector Square Theatre)
Public Screening #2 – January 22nd, 5:30PM MST (Megaplex Theatres at The Gateway SLC)
Public Screening #3 – January 25th, 12:00PM MST (Redstone Cinemas)
Public Screening #4 – January 27th, 4:00PM MST (Megaplex Theatres at The Gateway SLC)
Public Screening #5 – January 28th, 1:30PM MST (Holiday Village Cinemas)

Kate Jean HollowellKate Jean Hollowell is a multi-hyphenate director, comedian and musician, who honed her humor, storytelling and visual style by making her own music videos, showcased at SXSW in 2022 and 2023, as well as her short film Are They Smiling?, which premiered at the 2020 Portland Film Festival and won several awards. Taking on narrative, Kate has managed to find a unique voice that balances humor and heart through all her work. Finding ways to insert unexpected musical numbers in everything she does is a trademark all her own.


Director: Kate Jean Hollowell
Screenwriters: Kate Jean Hollowell, Ruby Caster
Cast: Kate Jean Hollowell, Ruby Caster, George Basil
Producer: Miranda Kahn
Executive Producers: Mindy Goldberg, Jacki Calliero, Melissa Culligan
Production Designer: Jenna Tooley
Choreography: Kathryn Burns
Cinematography: Jordan Black
Costume Design: Jordy Scheinberg
Edited by: Talia Pasqua
VFX Artist: Alex Thomas

Year: 2023
Category: Short
Country: US
Language: English
TRT: 17 min

Sundance 2024’s full lineup can be found here!

 

Don’t forget to check out all our Sundance coverage throughout the years

Sundance Color logo 2023

Sundance 2024 review: Cheeky documentary ‘REALM OF SATAN’ gives the middle finger to haters.

Sundance 2024 logo

REALM OF SATAN

Realm Of SatanFilmmaker Scott Cummings brings Sundance 2024 audiences into the everyday lives of Satanists. The Church of Satan boasts innumerable followers around the world. REALM OF SATAN introduces us to members from all backgrounds in this part experimental, part cinema verité documentary that both challenges and pokes fun at any preconceived notions we may have had in the past.

As a forced Catholic from birth to age sixteen, my parents exposed me to some of the wackiest ideological notions simply because their parents had done the same to them. Anyone who knows me well has heard the story of my 8th-grade religion class epiphany. My teacher, in trying to explain that sin has levels of severity, touched upon homosexuality. I could not believe what I was hearing. I could not possibly be correct. In a class of 18 students, I stood upon my chair and asked, “So you’re telling me that if I told my mother that I was gay, it would be the equivalent of me telling her I had murdered someone?! That’s it. I’m out.” A quote from the Satanist text says all you need to know; “I favor the just and curse the rotten.” With a focus on individualism, it all sounds good to me.

REALM OF SATAN features strategically placed, in-your-face scenes but also mundane ones. It does not give a shit what you think. The tongue-in-cheek approach to some of the moments feels like curated bait for Christofascist audiences, which, as a liberal who embraces witchcraft, these choices are simply delicious fodder. You have to laugh.

Aside from some stereotypical wardrobe choices and a pentagram here and there, the subjects in the film could believe in anything or nothing at all. Their text is no more shocking than that of every other sect of religion. Have you read The Bible? The glorious theatricality of some rituals and eclectic decor create beautifully gothic tableaus that mesmerize, particularly for a self-proclaimed “Spooky Girl” like me. The visual trickery is fun as hell. The final camera sweep will look familiar to fans of Tales From The Crypt, right down to the gate squeak. It’s a clever touch. In all, REALM OF SATAN isn’t trying to convert anyone. It’s simply giving audiences a peek behind the curtain to dispel misinformation but with dramatic flair.


Credits

  • DIRECTOR(S)

    SCOTT CUMMINGS

  • SCREENWRITER

    SCOTT CUMMINGS

  • PRODUCERS

    CAITLIN MAE BURKE

    PACHO VELEZ

    MOLLY GANDOUR

  • EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS

    JOE POLETTO

    SAM ROSEME

    CATHY TANKOSIC

  • CINEMATOGRAPHER

    GERALD KERKLETZ

  • PRINCIPAL CAST

    PETER GILMORE

    PEGGY NADRAMIA

    BLANCHE BARTON

  • CO-PRODUCERS

    ELIZA HITTMAN

    GERALD KERKLETZ

    ASHER LEVINTHAL

    JACK A. LIECHTUNG

    GABRIEL MERKIN

  • YEAR

    2024

  • CATEGORY

    FEATURE

  • COUNTRY

    UNITED STATES

  • LANGUAGE

    ENGLISH, SPANISH, GERMAN, SWEDISH

  • RUN TIME

    80 MIN

  • COMPANY

    VITAL EXISTENCE LLC


    For more info on Sundance 2024 click here!

     

    Festival Dates: Thu, Jan 18, 2024, 2:45 PM – Sun, Jan 28, 2024

     

    Stay tuned for more Sundance 2024 coverage, and don’t forget to head to Unseen Films for even more! For past Sundance reviews click here.

     

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/

 

Now streaming and out on Blu-ray today, Shem Bitterman’s ‘DISTANT TALES’ tackles the good, the bad, and the ugly of humanity and isolation

DISTANT TALES

In a near-future dystopia, when a worldwide event means people can no longer meet face to face, four stories — PLACEBO, PLEASE LOG ON, TOUCH, and R NOUGHT — unfold with unexpected revelations as the screens through which they connect hide the twisted reality of their lives.


Writer-director Shem Bitterman

Writer-director Shem Bitterman taps into human nature with four stories that capture the echoes of the Covid lockdown. The dialogue is theatrical. DISTANT TALES could easily transition from screen to stage. The real-time, intensely intimate vulnerability would be electric. It already pours off the screen.


TOUCHCo-workers surreptitiously connect over late-night Zoom calls. Once discovered by their partners, Ben and Seraphina show their true colors. Samuel Martin Lewis gives Ben a relatable longing. The performance from Tiffany Wolff is chilling.


PLEASE LOG ON
A job interview goes off the rails when the effects of prolonged isolation rear their ugly head. Liz Fenning gives Beth an irritable edge and desperation we all recognized during lockdown. Rupak Ginn is Rohit, a character in the opposite headspace. This segment presents the viewer with an awkward moral dilemma.


PLACEBOThe head of a clinical trial and one of her subjects find common ground through culture and shameless flirting but clash over social distancing protocols and the trial’s progress. Amen Igbinosun plays Ese as a jovial spirit. His physical and emotional journey is heartbreaking. Carolyn Michelle Smith balances skepticism and kindness. It is a nuanced turn.


R NOUGHTThis intense piece explores online extremism and conspiracy theories with phenomenal performances from Ben Bowen and Christoper Curry. An online talking head pushes a grieving husband to take up arms against the government. Can he battle his emotions and resist the influences in his life?


As a whole, DISTANT TALES tackles all the chaos of lockdown in complex ways. Each story gets under the audience’s skin for vastly different reasons. If nothing else, Bitterman’s keen observation of human desperation will undoubtedly have people talking.


“Distant Tales” trailer:


 
IS NOW AVAILABLE ON iTunes, AMAZON.COM, and VUDU
COMING OUT ON BLU-RAY ON DECEMBER 12


The dark psychological thriller, DISTANT TALES, a 4-part anthology from writer/director, award-winning playwright, Shem Bitterman (who, as a young screenwriter, wrote HALLOWEEN 5) and executive produced by Oscar-winner, Tom Schulman (Academy Award – Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen “Dead Poet’s Society”), will be released on Blu-ray December 12.


What’s Your Story?



Los Angeles, CA (November 30, 2023) – After a two-month exclusive run on Cable TV OnDemand with Xfinity, Spectrum, and Contour, DISTANT TALES, from acclaimed playwright and screenwriter writer/director Shem Bitterman and executive producer and Oscar-winner Tom Schulman (“Dead Poet’s Society”), is now available on iTunes, Amazon.com, and Vudu. The film will be available on additional streaming platforms later in December. Pre-orders are now available for the December 12 Blu-Ray release on Amazon.com.


DISTANT TALES, a dark, four-part dramatic anthology where desire, madness and a struggle for love erupt in a dystopic future after a worldwide event prevents people from meeting face to face, was filmed in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.


In DISTANT TALES four individual stories set during a worldwide pandemic unfold with unexpected twists and revelations: an extramarital affair, cut short by a pandemic and continued online; a mysterious job interview, overseen by an unseen judge; a vaccine trial, where a burgeoning love leads to some bad decisions; a grieving dad who finds sympathy from an online advocate for violence.


 

Year Two is a Go! Dances With Films NYC 2023 announces lineup with 64 world premieres

2nd Annual Dances With Films – NYC 

announces films and events

(November 30-December 3)

 

The celebrated true indie-focused film festival returns to New York City
with three times as many films as last year’s debut. 
 
64 World Premiere Screenings Featured
  
Dylan K. Narang’s TAPAWINGO is the Opening Night 
selection, and Nicholas Gyeney’s THE ACTIVATED MAN 
will make its World Premiere as the Closing Night selection.

   

TAPAWINGO

 

New York, NY (November 9, 2023) – Dances With Films announced the film lineup for the return of what has become LA’s largest purely indie film-focused film festival over the past 26 years to New York City (November 30-December 3) for the second time featuring a film lineup nearly three times the size of last year’s NYC debut. DWF alum Dylan K. Narang’s Tapawingo is the Opening Night selection, and Nicholas Gyeney’s psychological thriller The Activated Man will make its world premiere in the Closing Night slot.

 

Among DWF NYC’s lineup of 136 films, including 20 narrative features, 9 documentary features, 19 television and streaming pilots, and 88 short films (73 narrative and 15 documentaries), are an impressive number of world premieres. All screenings will take place at Regal Union Square (850 Broadway).

THE ACTIVATED MAN

 

Among the 64 world premieres are Gyeney’s The Activated ManEtana Jacobson’s Advanced Chemistry, Kevin Interdonato’s The Bastard SonsMichael Groom’s Between The Lights, Isaac Hirotsu Woofter’s Bound, Sara Katarina Burke and Aaron Andrew Keene’s Can’t Seem to Make You Mine, Ryan Moore’s Influence, Michelle Bossy’s Nobody’s Home, Brendan Boogie’s Tallywacker, Micah Khan’s The Zombie Wedding, Justin Best’s Sheryl, and Wynette Yao’s District Of Second Chances. Hanna Vastinsalo’s Palimpsest will make its North American Premiere at Dances With Films NYC.

 After becoming the leading beacon for true indie films and filmmakers in Los Angeles over the past 26 years, this will mark Dances With Films’ return to New York City for the second year. Dances With Films’ Founders and Directors Leslee Scallon and Michael Trent, said, “This year’s theme is “the color of imagination” and that imagination, by its various definitions, exemplifies what Dances With Films will be highlighting this December. We could not be more excited to return to NYC and debut so many wonderful films and help provide a platform for all our indie filmmakers and their projects under the spotlight of this great city.”

 Thursday, November 30 will feature the Opening Night presentation of DWF alumni Dylan K. Narang’s Tapawingo. Previously at DWF with his feature All I Need (2016), Narang’s Tapawingo is a lighthearted coming-of-age comedy stars Jon Heder as an eccentric young man who lives with his mother and works in a mailroom. However, when he must pick up his boss’ son from school, he discovers the kid is the subject of relentless bullying. at school, Naturally, he assembles a team of misfits to ensure the boy’s safety, but the good deed takes an unexpected turn when they discover that the network of bullies they are guarding against wields more power and influence than they initially thought. The film also stars Gina Gershon, Billy Zane, John Ratzenberger, and Amanda Bearse.

 As part of DWF NYC’s dedicated programming of horror, thrillers, and genre films, the Closing Night selection also comes from the film festival’s Midnight section. Sunday, December 3, Nicholas Gyeney’s The Activated Man will make its world premiere as it officially closes the film festival. In the film, a man, struggling with the grief from losing his best friend and beloved dog to cancer, begins to have strange visions only he can see. While he questions whether his mind has fractured or if it’s real, a mysterious rise in murder-suicides takes hold of the city, and he becomes haunted by images of a shadowy figure known as ‘The Fedora Man’. To survive, he must face his fears and confront ‘The Fedora Man’ as he uncovers dark secrets from his past, while finally embracing who he really is, and what he is meant to do.

ADVANCED CHEMISTRY

Additional feature films making their world premieres are Etana Jacobson’s Advanced Chemistry about a scientist whose attempt in the lab to help his lesbian best friend stop cheating on her wife backfires when the wife falls for him. Kevin Interdonato’s The Bastard Sons is a story of revenge by a group of men, when the man who raised them – the family boss – is murdered. Michael Groom’s British romantic drama Between The Lights follows askeptical scientist who falls for a reluctant medium, leading them on an odyssey of love, loss and discovery that turns her world upside down. Isaac Hirotsu Woofter’s Bound focuses on a young introvert who flees with her pet pocket squirrel to New York in order to escape her drug-dealing controlling stepfather. Making its North American Premiere is Vardan Tozija’s M. A multi-national production including            

Macedonia, Croatia, Kosovo, France, and Luxembourg, the film centers on a young boy who lives in the forest under the watchful eye of his overprotective and mysterious father. Their sheltered existence is all he knows until an encounter with a kind-hearted, helpless boy may open up a whole new world to him.

 Also making their world premieres at DWF NYC are Sara Katarina Burke and Aaron Andrew Keene’s Can’t Seem to Make You Mine about a recent parolee who tries to make amends with his ex and become a father to his little boy while staying with a stripper he met on a pen-pal website. Ryan Moore’s Influence focuses on a struggling female filmmaker who kidnaps a famous social media influencer to convince them to play the lead role in her latest project. Michelle Bossy’s Nobody’s Home follows the mind-bending journey of a young man after he is released from the psychiatric hospital with his girlfriend who may or may not be telling him the truth about what he is experiencing. Brendan Boogie’s buddy comedy Tallywacker takes us on a trip with 2 bandmates whose relationship gets tested when one of them gets a gig touring with a major rock star. Micah Khan’s outlandish comedy The Zombie Wedding illustrates the challenges one can have at a New Jersey wedding when the groom is a zombie, and the bride is not. Another film in the Midnight Features section making its world premiere is Justin Best’s Sheryl about a woman who goes on a bloody quest to create the perfect face after she’s dumped by her serial killer boyfriend for not being “hot enough”.

Highlights among the documentary section include one feature-length film making its world premiere, and a second making its U.S. Premiere. Making its world premiere is Wynette Yao’s District Of Second Chances, which follows the journeys of three men – all sentenced to life in prison during the 1990s – who have the possibility of being released and starting a new life thanks to sentencing reform. Making its U.S. premiere will be Emilio Di Stefano’s Denim Hunter. The road movie documentary follows a man whose obsession with really old jeans leads him through the deserts of California, Arizona, and Nevada as well as up the snowclad Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Marc Saltarelli’s Studio One Forever is the untold story of America’s iconic gay disco, a kaleidoscopic excursion into LGBTQ+ history through the lens of Studio One and its adjoining live music venue, The Backlot during the 70s and 80s. Hoag Kepner’s Torched – The Story of Austin Torch tells the story of the Austin Torch, a wild and fiery group of women/non-binary athletes in Austin who are trying to legitimize and professionalize their fringe sport of Ultimate Frisbee.

 The television, web series pilots, and episodics also have a healthy number of world premieres. Those include Federica Marchese and Vinusha Sundaresan’s Chinese series pilot The Blind Zone about a faceoff between two teenage sociopaths after they set their eyes on the same target, David Antonio Martin’s absurd comedy The Selectman where two men are trapped in a picturesque world where the forces of learned behavior, arrested adolescence, and the quest for power forever collide, and Henk Pretorius’ British animated series pilot Travel Foxwhich follows the inquisitive Travel Fox and Bogie the Tortoise as they race across the world, chasing rainbows in search of a legendary pot of gold.

 Additional world premieres include Jon Da’s Ülom: The Primary Experiment is centered on a desperate scientist who undertakes a labyrinthian experiment he believes will locate his missing daughter. Jonathan Chao’s Xander teams a lonely high school student with a Genie. However, the student might lose his new best friend if he makes his one wish. Making its North American premiere will be Aaron Lewis’ Moments, a gripping 9-episode digital series, offering intimate glimpses into characters on the brink. Clarissa De Los Reyes’ Hot Angry Mom about a people-pleasing mom who must face her rage, as a video of her epic meltdown goes viral, and Dana Marisa Schoenfeld’s East about a New York City Corporate attorney who suddenly loses her job and catches her boyfriend cheating, forcing her to reevaluate everything and pursue her childhood dream of being an actress.

Highlights among the short films showcased at DWF NYC include the world premiere of Luke Black’s I Keep Bumping Into Candy Maldonado in which a man keeps bumping into the famous baseball player who is his childhood ideal each day until he’s inspired to make some life changes.

Rj Collins’ thrilling Dropping follows a young woman going through the rigorous “dropping” training which may just turn into a fight for survival. Actor Cynthia Gibb takes a turn behind the camera, directing Lux Freer, about a non-binary teen whose humiliating job of delivering a pizza to bully and aspiring prom queen Arabella Astor’s mansion sets in motion a plot to upend the social stratosphere at her high school. Nazrin Choudhury’s Red, White And Bluestars Brittany Snow as a single parent forced to cross state lines in search of an urgent and necessary abortion. Eleanor Morrison’s You Need To Process This stars Mary Holland and Matt Peters as a married couple who must discuss a sexual assault.

 DWF NYC will also present a series of filmmaker panels focused on current real world issues faced by today’s indie filmmakers at The Stand (116 E. 16th Street) Panels will include “Distribution: Navigating the Marketplace as Well as Forecasting the Future”, which will be moderated by Scott Macauley (Filmmaker Magazine), and is slated to include executives from Magnolia Pictures, IFC, and STX Entertainment, “Making the Sale: The Producer/Sales Agent Dynamic” moderated by Kate Erbland (Indiewire), and includes Carylanna Taylor (Head of Sales Film Sales Corp), Josh Braun (Founder & President, Submarine), and Jason Ishikawa (Sr. Exec. & Co-head of Sales, Cinetic Media), and “The Casting Director/Producer Dynamic” moderated by Michael Sladik (SAGindie New York), and includes casting directors Shayna Markowitz, Bernie Telsey, and Paul Schnee.

 

For more information about the Dances With Films NYC film lineup, events, passes, and tickets, go to: https://danceswithfilms.com/.

 

The 2023 Dances With Films NYC official selections:

 

OPENING NIGHT SELECTION

Tapawingo

Director: Dylan K. Narang

Country: USA; Running Time: 109 min

An oddball becomes the bodyguard for a misfit teenager and finds himself in the crosshairs of the town’s family of bullies.

 

CLOSING NIGHT SELECTION

The Activated Man World Premiere

Director: Nicholas Gyeney

Country: USA; Running Time: 115 min

As Ors Gabriel struggles with the grief from losing his best friend and beloved dog to cancer, the trauma brings on strange visions only Ors can see. While he questions whether his mind has fractured or if it’s real, a mysterious rise in murder-suicides takes hold of the city, and Ors becomes haunted by images of a shadowy figure known as ‘The Fedora Man’. Through torments and terror, Ors must face his fears and confront ‘The Fedora Man’ as he uncovers dark secrets from his past, while finally embracing who he really is, and what he is meant to do.

 

 ADDITIONAL NARRATIVE FEATURES

 

Advanced Chemistry                                                            World Premiere

Director: Etana Jacobson

Country: USA; Running Time: 96 min

A scientist injects his lesbian best friend with a compound he’s created to make her stop cheating on her wife (who is bi), but when the wife finds her new monogamous fixation suffocating, he injects the wife too, which backfires when she falls for him.

 

BASTARD SONS

The Bastard Sons World Premiere

Director: Kevin Interdonato

Country: USA; Running Time: 90 min

Life for a crew of organized criminals is disrupted when Vincent Damiano’s father, the family’s boss, is murdered. Vincent’s ‘bastard’ brothers (UFC legend Frank Edgar, Chicago Med star Malik Whitfield), a group of orphaned souls he raised together, have an idea of who killed their father…his partner Rome (TV/Film veteran Al Sapienza). In a valiant and calculated attempt to regain the business and enact vengeance on Rome over the course of one day, the Bastards wage an all-out war to get their pound of flesh.

 

Between The Lights                                                             World Premiere

Director: Michael Groom

Country: UK; Running Time: 104 min

When skeptical scientist Alice falls for reluctant medium Jay, she’s taken on an odyssey of love, loss and discovery that will turn her world upside down. Between the Lights is a romantic drama with a liberal dose of the supernatural, in which we visit our characters over three consecutive Christmases. It is set within the ancient walls of York and the stunning natural beauty of the Lake District.

 

Bound                                                                                    World Premiere

Director: Isaac Hirotsu Woofter

Country: USA; Running Time: 101 min

To escape her drug-dealing controlling stepfather, a young introvert flees to NYC with only her pet pocket squirrel. After successfully reinventing herself, she realizes she must confront her dark past, to truly be free.

 

Can’t Seem to Make You Mine                                            World Premiere

Directors: Sara Katarina Burke, Aaron Andrew Keene

Country: USA; Running Time: 102 min

A man who was just released from prison tries to make amends with his ex and become a father to his 6-year-old son while staying with a stripper he met on a pen-pal website.

 

Daruma

Director: Alexander Yellen

Country: USA; Running Time: 104 min

Patrick (bitter wheelchair user) must enlist the help of his cantankerous neighbor (double amputee veteran) to transport the daughter he never knew he had to live with her maternal grandparents on the other side of the country. 

 

Grounded

Director: Justin Chan

Country: USA; Running Time: 84 min

William Lee, a 30-something Chinese-Filipino American, introduces his Caucasian girlfriend to his overbearing, immigrant parents when a mysterious cosmic force takes hold of their day.

 

Home Free

Director: Aaron Brown

Country: USA; Running Time: 98 min

In 1997, a group of college misfits invite an unhoused professor to crash on their porch.

Home Free is a Trojan horse, a bold coming-of-age comedy aimed at reaching a mass audience, but also intended to be a catalyst for serious social change sharply focused on one of the most pervasive problems across America—the homelessness epidemic. Humor is our spoonful of sugar. 

 

Influence World Premiere

Director: Ryan Moore

Country: USA; Running Time: 83 min

A female filmmaker struggling with her career and her mental health reaches a breaking point and decides to kidnap a famous social media influencer in an attempt to coerce them into playing the lead role in her latest project.

 

Katie’s Mom

Director: Tyrrell Shaffner

Country: USA; Running Time: 111 min

A heartfelt comedy influenced by The Graduate but told from the perspective of a protagonist inspired by Mrs. Robinson. Set in modern-day Pasadena, California. Nancy Rosenfeld (Dina Meyer), a nurturing mom and recent divorcée, whose beloved Jewish/Christmas mashup holiday celebration with her adult children is derailed when she falls for Alex Rojas (Aaron Dominguez (Only Murders in the Building), her daughter’s charming new boyfriend. Their electrifying affair upends her status quo and sets her on a path to becoming who she was meant to be.

 

M                                                                                             North American Premiere

Director: Vardan Tozija

Countries: Macedonia/Croatia/Kosovo/France/Luxembourg, Running Time: 99 min

In a secluded forest, young Marko lives under the watchful eye of his overprotective and mysterious father. Their sheltered existence is all he knows. Marko seeks solace in his cherished picture book, finding comfort and answers within its pages. One day, an encounter with a kind-hearted, helpless boy named Miko, brings a glimmer of warmth and connection into Marko’s isolated world. As his curiosity grows, Marko yearns to uncover the secrets that lie beyond the confines of the wilderness. But, a cruel turn of events grants him his wish sooner than he expects…

 

Nobody’s Home World Premiere

Director: Michelle Bossy

Country: USA; Running Time: 83 min

When Luca is released from the psychiatric hospital where he and his girlfriend Theodora live, she escapes with him. To remain in control, she takes him to his childhood home, the root of his trauma. Time lapses. Consciousness is distorted. A dead body is discovered. Theodora insists Luca committed the murder in his sleep. Is she telling the truth? A knock on the door suddenly diverts them. Angelica and Jeremy show up, high on acid. Theodora invites them in to test Luca’s loyalty. Her jealousy increases to the point of danger. In the end, nothing is what it seems. Everyone has darkness inside.

 

Palimpsest North American Premiere

Director: Hanna Vastinsalo

Country: Finland; Running Time: 109 min

Two elderly roommates are selected for a medical trial that makes them younger. Given a second chance at life, with the memories of their past life intact, they realize that growing young is not just fun.

 

Space Baby

Director: Rex Dean

Country: USA; Running Time: 99 min

Three friends fight fascist Nurse Nancy to rebuild the holy grail and get a new soul for the earth. Each friend is different. 8-year-old Sam (“Mental Man”) is a mad scientist and inventor; 6-year-old Sophia (“Nature Girl”) is a caretaker of the earth; 300-year-old Blue (a great ballplayer like Satchel Paige) was the keeper of the holy grail in Africa before he and his siblings were captured as slaves. With help from a squadron of ladybugs, they fight the “greed, intolerance, and just plain cruelty” that Nurse Nancy and her demonic crow inhabit. A story of courage, friendship, and love.

 

Tallywacker World Premiere

Director: Brendan Boogie

Country: USA; Running Time: 90 min

A rock and roll buddy comedy about 2 bandmates whose relationship gets tested when one of them gets a gig touring with a major rock star.

 

The Zombie Wedding World Premiere

Director: Micah Khan

Country: USA; Running Time: 99 min

A young Cumberland County, NJ couple decides to go through with their wedding – during the Zombie Apocalypse. Unfortunately, he’s a zombie and she’s not. Both families are fearful, but the humans’ behavior is brutish. When the Zombies begin feeling brain-deprived, the ceremony takes a turn for the weird. Weekly World News reporters are there to cover this wild wedding – while trying to get out alive!

 

 DOCUMENTARY FEATURES

 

44 Lights: Music from Ground Zero                                   

Director: Barbara Blackburn Tuttle

Country: USA; Running Time: 68 min

A musical journey to healing in the aftermath of 9/11. A story of pain, loss, and ultimately rebirth through music.

 

American Pot Story: Oaksterdam

Directors: Dan Katzir and Ravit Markus

Country: USA; Running Time: 97 min

This award-winning documentary is a decade-long follow-up of the underdogs who put their blood, sweat, and tears to overturn a 100-year-old policy, proving in the process that “a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world,” to quote Margaret Mead).

 

Brothers Broken

Directors: Geoff Levin, Lily Richards

Country: USA; Running Time: 86 min

This is the story of brothers Geoff and Robbie Levin, who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area as part of the 60’s music scene including Jerry Garcia, the Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin. The brother’s band PEOPLE! had the hit record “I Love You” in 1968 and toured with The Who; then Scientology entered their lives destroyed their band and split up the brothers. After 46 years Geoff despite losing his children and friends to the cult, left the church and reunited with his brother and band. It’s a tale of breaking free from a modern-day prison of belief.

 

Denim Hunter                                                                        U.S. Premiere

Director: Emilio Di Stefano

Country: Sweden; Running Time: 87 min

In the road movie documentary Denim Hunter, we meet Viktor – a regular guy from Sweden but with a burning passion for really old jeans. The film follows Viktor on his wild journey through the deserts of California, Arizona, and Nevada as well as up the snowclad Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where he hunts for denim treasures in hazardous run-down gold mines from the 1880s. On his journey, Viktor comes across an array of unlikely desert characters, like Indiana Jeans, Dynamite Dan, and Redneck-Mike. In various ways, they all lead Viktor from one failure to the next.

 

The Depths of My Despair

Director: Elizabeth Lawrence

Country: USA; Running Time: 68 min

The Depths of My Despair is a visceral rabbit hole toward the authentic self. Filmmaker Elizabeth Lawrence takes an emotional, first-person detour inward. Oscillating through saneness and psychosis; debris and lucidity, the film stares at depression dead-on.

 

District Of Second Chances                                                World Premiere

Director: Wynette Yao

Country: USA; Running Time: 76 min

District of Second Chances follows the journeys of three men from Washington, D.C., all sentenced to life in prison during the 1990s. Now, because of sentencing reform, they have a rare chance at release and new lives.

 

Meet Me Where I Am

Director: Grant Garry

Country: USA; Running Time: 86 min

Meet Me Where I Am explores the topic of grief through individual stories of loss, love, and hope. The film aims to normalize grief in our culture and explores how we can actively participate in helping others through grief. By accepting grief and its impact, we hope to help individuals find new meaning as they move forward with their grief.

 

Studio One Forever

Director: Marc Saltarelli

Country: USA; Running Time: 86 min

The untold story of America’s iconic gay disco, a kaleidoscopic excursion into LGBTQ+ history through the lens of this groundbreaking club. From 1974-1994, Studio One and its adjoining live music venue, The Backlot, became symbols of hope and community for gay men during tumultuous times. Amidst the rise of gay rights, disco’s heyday, and the devastating AIDS crisis, the club offered sanctuary from rampant homophobia and police oppression.

 

Torched – The Story of Austin Torch

Director: Hoag Kepner

Country: USA; Running Time: 66 min

Torched tells the story of the Austin Torch, a wild and fiery group of women/non-binary athletes in Austin who are trying to legitimize and professionalize their fringe sport of Ultimate Frisbee in a historically male-dominated sports industry. As we follow the Torch on the road and at home during their 2022 season, we realize that though the Torch might not always win, they never really lose, because it’s more than a team: it’s a movement.

 

 MIDNIGHT FEATURES

 

Sheryl                                                                                     World Premiere

Director: Justin Best

Country: USA; Running Time: 72 min

After she’s dumped by her serial killer boyfriend for not being “hot enough”, a beauty-obsessed woman goes on a bloody quest to create the perfect face, all while navigating her new relationship with the cop investigating the murders.

 

Wild Eyed and Wicked

Director: G.S. Foxwood

Country: USA; Running Time: 99 min

Lily Pierce is sick of being haunted. She decides to reconnect with her estranged father, a disgraced history professor, and learn how to draw upon a time of steel and blade when armor-clad knights rode out and dueled their monsters to the death.

 

 TELEVISION AND WEB SERIES PILOTS

A Killer Service

Director: Gio Randazzo

Country: USA; Running Time: 25 min

The hapless daughter of an incarcerated con-artist finds she has inherited a substantial debt to a dangerous crime boss. Forced into a corner, Elliott discovers how to take control of her life while helping empower other women. 

Awesome

Director: Paul Munger

Country: USA; Running Time: 16 min

Every night, 20-year-old Joy gets a glimpse of the future. But with a dad on parole, a pill-popping boyfriend, and a recent lay-off, that doesn’t mean she can stop it from being shitty. That is until she foresees an event that will ruin the lives of her loved ones forever. She’ll have to figure out how to change her future–or live with the consequences.

The Blind Zone                                     World Premiere 

Directors: Federica Marchese, Vinushu Sundaresan

Country: China; Running Time: 32 min

Battle of wits and violence ensues when the separate worlds of two teenage sociopaths collide after they set their eyes on the same target.

 

East

Director: Dana Marisa Schoenfeld

Country: USA; Running Time: 32 min

When Ella Goldman, a New York City Corporate attorney, gets engaged to her longtime boyfriend, Josh, she is ecstatic to embark on the next stage of her life. With a wedding to plan and a blossoming career, Ella thinks she has it all. But when she suddenly loses her job and catches her boyfriend cheating, her world comes crashing down. This devastating turn of events forces her to confront the truth about her life – and what it is she really wants. Convinced that this is a “wake-up call,” Ella pursues her childhood dream of being an actress. 

Events At Hemlock Manor

Director: Katie North

Country: USA; Running Time: 15 min

At its core, this is a series about underdogs: a ragtag group of spooky weirdos with nowhere else to go. Hemlock Manor is not only a year-round haunted house with a terrible business model; it’s also a home. But what do you do when the thing you love is in trouble? You fight for it. Even when that means throwing a baby shower for a group of rich ladies who thought “the historic Hemlock Manor” was a charming country villa, not a haunted house open in July.

 

For Years to Come

Director: Micah Stuart

Country: USA; Running Time: 27 min

An irreverent and heartfelt romantic dramedy about a gay man who falls in love with his dead mother’s hospice nurse, while struggling to reconnect with his elderly father…who’s secretly a porn director.

Hit Man: Secrets Of Lies

Director: Elias Plagianos

Country: UK; Running Time: 19 min

A reflective hitman from New York City travels to small towns around the country trying to find meaning in his seemingly inconsequential life as he fulfills his contracts and eliminates his targets. 

Hot Angry Mom                                   

Director: Clarissa De Los Reyes

Country: USA; Running Time: 34 min

A people-pleasing mom must face her rage, as a video of her epic meltdown goes viral.

I Could Eat

Director: Rick Bedrosian

Country: USA; Running Time: 28 min

A new TV/Web Series showcasing the cuisine & music that unites diverse cultures. Host, Rick Bedrosian (“George” in a Beatlemania stage show for 7 years, leader of Celtic music powerhouse, Hair Of The Dog, since 1993 and an international tour guide) spans the globe seeking out the finest food and the most interesting music makers.

L.I.F.E.: It’s Wonderful

Director: Dathan Smith

Country: USA; Running Time: 22 min

L.I.F.E. is an anthology series set in the near future where citizens receive a hand-delivered card notifying them the day they will die. Rose feels trapped in her new “home”. Emilia feels trapped by her daughter’s recent news. Bob is forced to deliver a card he has been dreading since joining L.I.F.E. Corp. as Diane adjusts to her new job.

Moments                                         North American Premiere 

Director: Aaron Lewis

Country: USA; Running Time: 23 min

Moments is a gripping 9-episode digital series, each under 13 minutes, offering intimate glimpses into characters on the brink. Driven by black trauma and mysticism, it unravels mind-reading and hidden truths through therapist Dr. Winston. An enigmatic narrator, Rutina Wesley, introduces time travel, adding layers of self-discovery. Momentshints at an expanded episodic journey, diving deeper into characters’ histories and relationships, while authentically addressing themes of healing and transformation within the mystical. Boasting a stellar ensemble cast and profound storytelling.

 

Morse Code

Director: Travis Nicholson

Country: USA; Running Time: 37 min

In the eccentric community of modern-day East Nashville, Simon, a talented but flawed thirty-something indie folk singer finds himself at a crossroads as he struggles to strike a balance between family and career.

Off The Menu

Director: Daniele Sestito

Country: USA; Running Time: 37 min

“Chef” is a perfectionist, Italian cook who works for an unordinary institution. Typically stern and grandiose, a new side of Chef is revealed when he is forced to make a meal that’s beyond his grasp. 

Q Train

Directors: Dionne Van Den Berg, Samantha Tran

Country: USA; Running Time: 10 min

A Brooklyn based DJ explores the queer dating scene.

Roboto

Directors: Mari Madrid, Keone Madrid

Country: USA; Running Time: 18 min

Ky loses his entire career as a highly successful choreographer when AI takes over the dance industry and the world by storm. This throws Ky into suicidal ideations until Mikah, a bright and optimistic 12-year-old boy, decides to disregard the latest craze of dancing with Roboto and instead asks Ky to choreograph for his school performance. While at first Ky reluctantly decides to help the kid, he begins to find a bit of light in his life again. And when it’s revealed that Mikah had a battle with cancer Ky’s perspective is completely shifted.

The Selectman                                       World Premiere 

Director: David Antonio Martin

Country: USA; Running Time: 26 min

In the wake of Selectman Joseph Allenby’s untimely death, this absurd comedy begins amid a memorial service in the small town of Picasquiddy, Maine. Subverting the idyllic nature of small-town New England, our protagonists are trapped in a picturesque world where the forces of learned behavior, arrested adolescence, and the quest for power forever collide. As two unlikely successors emerge as candidates for the Board of Selectmen, the town’s fate hangs in the balance. Does anybody have what it takes?

Travel Fox                                         World Premiere 

Director: Henk Pretorius

Country: UK; Running Time: 5 min

Get ready for a wild adventure in Travel Fox, the pilot episode of an animated series tailor-made for curious kids. Follow the inquisitive Travel Fox and Bogie the Tortoise as they race across the world, chasing rainbows in search of a legendary pot of gold. But here’s the twist – instead of gold, our friends discover something even more precious: a treasure trove of unique characters and unforgettable experiences.

 

Ülom: The Primary Experiment                        World Premiere 

Director: Jon Da

Country: USA; Running Time: 25 min

In Ülom, one can find anything, even meaning. A desperate scientist undertakes a labyrinthian experiment he believes will locate his missing daughter. Journeying ever deeper into the labyrinth, he must confront an invasive, fictional reality. Remember: what feels real, is real. Ülom is here.

Xander                                           World Premiere 

Director: Jonathan Chao

Country: USA; Running Time: 11 min

When lonely high school student Luke befriends Xander the Genie, he’s forced to consider if making his one wish is worth losing his new genie best friend.

 

 NARRATIVE SHORTS

 

(In)Convenience

Director: Alexandra Greenspan

Country: USA; Running Time: 12 min

 

#Pizzagate World Premiere

Director: Danny Piñeros

Country: USA; Running Time: 8 min

 

The 1971 Kitchen Grand Brie

Director: Ian Beckman

Country: USA; Running Time: 11 min

 

Bisected                                                                                 World Premiere

Director: Danny Piñeros

Country: USA; Running Time: 8 min

 

Black Silk                                                                               World Premiere

Director: Patrick Michael

Country: USA; Running Time: 16 min

 

Blight                                                                                      World Premiere

Director: Markus Hoeckner

Country: USA; Running Time: 15 min

 

Bloodworm                                                                            World Premiere

Director: Kai Wen

Country: USA; Running Time: 13 min

 

Bounce House

Directors: Callie Bloem, Christopher Ewing

Country: USA; Running Time: 16 min

 

Burraco                                                                                  World Premiere

Director: Isabella Tagliati

Country: Italy; Running Time: 14 min

 

Candice

Director: Tyler Martin

Country: USA; Running Time: 15 min

 

Career Day

Directors: Jason Robinson, Chris Hooper

Country: USA; Running Time: 10 min

 

Chauncey                                                                               World Premiere

Director: Reilly Anspaugh & Daniel Rashid

Country: USA; Running Time: 11 min

 

Cheol                                                                                      World Premiere

Director: Yeajoon Cho

Country: USA; Running Time: 19 min

 

Church Camp

Director: Andrew Bourne

Country: USA; Running Time: 14 min

 

The Chat                                                                                World Premiere

Writer/Dir/Prod: Artie Brennan

Country: USA; Running Time: 6 min

 

Clownfish

Director: Clayton Henderson

Country: USA; Running Time: 11 min

 

Dear Owner

Director: Jing Ai Ng

Country: USA; Running Time: 17 min

 

Delta World Premiere

Director: Jonathan Coleman

Country: USA; Running Time: 9 min

 

Detox

Director: Alex Hanno

Country: USA; Running Time: 19 min

 

Dropping

Director: Rj Collins

Country: USA; Running Time: 10 min

 

Echoes Of My Father                                                            World Premiere

Directors: Junko Kajino, Ed M Koziarski

Country: USA, Japan; Running Time: 18 min

 

The Electro-Rocker

Director: Chris Edgar

Country: USA; Running Time: 17 min

 

Entrainment

Director: Bill Prokopow

Country: USA; Running Time: 12 min

 

Esperance To Fremantle                                                     World Premiere

Director: William Sebastian Turner

Country: Australia; Running Time: 18 min

 

Everything Goes Dark                                                          International Premiere

Director: Alex Casimir

Country: USA; Running Time: 15 min

 

Fate Vs. Elena                                                                       World Premiere

Director: Laura Sedlak

Country: USA; Running Time: 23 min

 

From The Dark                                                                      North American Premiere

Director: Erika Sanz

Country: USA; Running Time: 7 min

 

Hot Soda

Director: Nello Digiandomenico

Country: USA; Running Time: 15 min

 

How To Disappear                                                                World Premiere

Director: Milton Woods

Country: USA; Running Time: 20 min

 

I Keep Bumping into Candy Maldonado                            World Premiere

Director: Luke Black

Country: USA; Running Time: 11 min

 

In The Quiet                                                                           World Premiere

Director: Merle Dandridge

Country: USA; Running Time: 5 min

 

Interracial Couple In A Cheerios Ad

Director: Christine Lakin

Country: USA; Running Time: 4 min

 

The Invaders

Director: Erin Doyle Cooper

Country: USA; Running Time: 4 min

 

Itch                                                                                         World Premiere

Director: Mohammad Anwerzada

Countries: Pakistan/Canada; Running Time: 9 min

 

Letters To the Wind                                                              World Premiere

Director: Terrence Shu

Country: USA; Running Time: 13 min

 

Lux Freer

Director: Cynthia Gibb

Country: USA; Running Time: 21 min

 

Man Baby                                                                               World Premiere

Director: Aaron Murtagh

Country: USA; Running Time: 10 min

 

Music For A While                                                                World Premiere

Director: Kelvin Z. Phillips

Country: USA; Running Time: 6 min

 

Nearly Never                                                                          North American Premiere

Director: Peter Franklyn Banks

Country: UK; Running Time: 15 min

 

Newbie

Director: James Skinner

Country: UK; Running Time: 8 min

 

Portrait Of a Cowboy

Director: Devon Wycoff

Country: USA; Running Time: 17 min

 

Pretty As a Picture                                                               World Premiere

Director: Ryan Nielsen

Country: USA; Running Time: 8 min

 

The Pros And Cons Of Killing Yourself                             World Premiere

Director: Ravi Steve Khajuria

Country: Canada; Running Time: 21 min

 

Piano Man                                                                              

Director: Jay Zaretsky

Country: USA; Running Time: 20 min

 

Purgy’s

Director: Robbie Bryan

Country: USA; Running Time: 16 min

 

Rattled                                                                                    World Premiere

Director: Adam Linkenhelt

Country: USA; Running Time: 14 min

 

Red, White And Blue

Director: Nazrin Choudhury

Country: USA; Running Time: 23 min

 

Revelation                                                                             World Premiere

Director: Libe Barer

Country: USA; Running Time: 16 min

 

Room 107                                                                              World Premiere

Directors: Steve Anderson, Leandro Imaz

Country: USA; Running Time: 17 min

 

Sane Men

Director: Jess Fritz

Country: USA; Running Time: 15 min

 

Skateboard                                                                            World Premiere

Director: Peyton Michelle Edwards

Country: USA; Running Time: 7 min

 

Sonshine                                                                                International Premiere

Director: Corey Podell

Country: USA; Running Time: 15 min

 

Speak Up Brotha!

Director: Wes Andre Goodrich

Country: USA; Running Time: 15 min

 

Sugar                                                                                      World Premiere

Director: Alyssa Brayboy

Country: USA; Running Time: 6 min

 

Three Ways Out                                                                    World Premiere

Director: Lizzie Morgan

Country: USA; Running Time: 13 min

 

Tips Up!                                                                                 World Premiere

Director: Leah Claire Borrie

Country: USA; Running Time: 7 min

 

Tossou                                                                                   World Premiere

Directors: Melisande Mclaughlin, Sika Stanton

Country: USA; Running Time: 3 min

 

Used Chairs For Sale                                                           World Premiere

Director: Dylan Paffe

Countries: USA/Canada; Running Time: 14 min

 

We Love You Ray                                                                 World Premiere

Director: John Hays

Country: USA; Running Time: 14 min

 

You Need To Process This

Director: Eleanor Morrison

Country: USA; Running Time: 14 min

 

 DOCUMENTARY SHORTS

 

13 Driver’s Licenses

Director: Ryoya Terao

Countries: USA/Germany; Running Time: 27 min

 

Brothers For Life World Premiere

Director: Alon Juwal

Country: Israel; Running Time: 17 min

 

The Dancer: The Beautiful and Tragic Life Of Gerard Alexander

Directors: Ryon Horne, Tyson Horne

Country: USA; Running Time: 35 min

 

Family Trip                                                                            World Premiere

Director: Sean Dunne

Country: USA; Running Time: 26 min

 

Finding Fate

Director: Beth Toni Kruvant

Country: USA; Running Time: 28 min

 

How I Roll                                                                              World Premiere

Directors: Brianne Berkson, Miguel Gluckstern, BriGuel

Country: USA; Running Time: 13 min

 

I Can’t Give You Anything But Love World Premiere

Director: Susan Morgan Cooper

Country: USA; Running Time: 34 min

 

Kristin Dan Kuching Kuchingnya

Director: Michael Kam

Country: Singapore; Running Time: 6 min

 

Living Loud                                                                           World Premiere

Directors: Carin van der Donk, Isabella Vega, Sarah Teale

Country: USA; Running Time: 40 min

 

Paper Boats

Director: Jessica Pons

Country: USA; Running Time: 5 min

 

Rebirth                                                                                   World Premiere

Director: Olivia Burgess

Country: USA; Running Time: 11 min

 

Revealing The Impossible World Premiere

Directors: Tony Chong and Marlene Millar

Country: Canada; Running Time: 29 min

 

 

This Is Why We Train: The Sea Girt Beach Patrol            World Premiere

Director: Kevin Nulty

Country: USA; Running Time: 20 min

 

Tracing Imperfection World Premiere

Director: Chehade Boulos

Country: USA; Running Time: 8 min

 

Where Is America the Beautiful?

Director: Fr3der1ck

Country: USA; Running Time: 30 min

 

 MIDNIGHT SHORTS

 

Bastard                                                                                  World Premiere

Directors: Haley Elise Pehrson, Gretta Wilson

Country: USA; Running Time: 14 min

 

The Custodian

Director: Colin J. Mason

Country: USA; Running Time: 9 min

 

D.O.D.

Director: Paul Davis

Country: USA; Running Time: 18 min

 

Dedly Wagons                                                                       World Premiere

Director: Martin Balaguer

Country: USA; Running Time: 4 min

 

Good Girls Get Fed

Director: Kelly Lou Dennis

Country: USA; Running Time: 21 min

 

Hevel                                                                                      World Premiere

Director: David Grace

Country: USA; Running Time: 14 min

 

Inner Demons                                                                        World Premiere

Director: Jasmine J, Johnson

Country: USA; Running Time: 11 min

 

The Mantis

Director: Wylie Rush

Country: USA; Running Time: 10 min

 

Mattress Express

Director: Noah Morse

Country: USA; Running Time: 18 min

 

Night Shift

Director: Karlee Boon

Country: USA; Running Time: 28 min

 

Pee Pee Platter

Director: Jon Conklin

Country: USA; Running Time: 11 min

 

The Spirit Became Flesh                                                     World Premiere

Writer/Director: Jesse Aultman

Country: USA; Running Time: 18 min

 

The Worm                                                                              World Premiere

Director: Cameron A. Tubbs

Country: USA; Running Time: 14 min

 

 

 ABOUT DANCES WITH FILMS

Now in its 26th year, Dances With Films champions the unflinching spirit at the very core of the independent film scene. With most film festivals relying heavily on celebrity, we have relied on innovation, talent, creativity, and sweat equity that revolutionized the entertainment industry. And that reliance continues to prove successful with alumni moving on to write, direct, and produce celebrity-studded vehicles, star in blockbuster movies, and television series, produce multi-million-dollar film and create hot TV shows. 

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.


 

Review: Festival favorite ‘QUANTUM COWBOYS’ continues to wow wordlwide.

QUANTUM COWBOYS

A mixed media extravaganza, Geoff Marslett‘s genre-obliterating QUANTUM COWBOYS is an indie film fan’s dream. Two drifters find themselves in a time warp as they attempt to help a local woman reclaim her land and right a wrong.

Various animation styles change from scene to scene, from hand-drawn to greenscreen, live-action to stop motion layer and mesmerize, forcing the audience to sit up and pay attention. QUANTUM COWBOYS‘ narrative timeline loops and shifts to give our protagonists a chance at redemption. Butterfly effects cling to each of them as “Memory” plays the storyteller and provides second chances disguised as a mysterious stone arc. This clever device keeps the audience enthralled, wondering how this might end.

The cast boasts faces familiar and iconic. Kiowa Gordon and John Way shine alongside David Arquette and Lily Gladstone ( a near-future Oscar winner IMHO). This one-of-a-kind film will undoubtedly delight with its wacky and meta climax. QUANTUM COWBOYS is an ambitious film that, while currently planned as a trilogy, could easily transition to a series at a major studio. Marslett gives audiences a choose-your-own-adventure-style story whose possibilities are endless.

Quantum Cowboys STREAMING TRAILER from Geoff Marslett on Vimeo.

The movie stars Lily Gladstone (about to break big in Killers of the Flower Moon), Kiowa Gordon (Twilight, Dark Winds), John Way (A Love Song), David Arquette (Scream), Frank Mosley (Upstream Color), and supporting roles by Neko Case (musician), Gary Farmer (Reservation Dogs, Dead Man), Alex Cox (Repo Man, Sid and Nancy), Trieste Kelly Dunn (Banshee, Loves Her Gun), John Doe (X, Roadhouse), Anna Karina (Alphaville, French New Wave), Patrick Page (Broadway star of Hadestown), Devon Wycoff, Antonio Jeffries, Geoff Marslett, Jesse Lee Pacheco and Howe Gelb (musician).

The film has played over 40 international film festivals (including Annecy, Fantastic Fest, Vancouver, Champs Elysees and Atlanta) and won awards at 9 festivals and runner ups and nominations at 6 more.

TRT: 99 minutes
Completion date June 2022


Filmed in 16mm film, 8K digital, Hand Drawn Animation, Paper Cutl Outs, Oil Paintings,
Digital Collage, CGI and Computer Painting

On set for QUANTUM COWBOYS with David Arquette and director Geoff Marslett.

Directors Bio:
Geoff Marslett (born in Texas) is an animator, director, writer, producer and actor. His work
often revolves around the romance of connection and the way exploring your universe changes
you and the place you explore. He grew up a cowboy with an interest in physics, and has
worked in both construction and science before becoming a filmmaker. He adores feral cats and
still genuinely loves making things.
He splits his time between teaching at the University of Colorado and making his own films.

Animators and Artists:
ARTLESS MEDIA
Anna Bradley McCall
Hannah McSwiggen
Russell Schaeffer

MINNOW MOUNTAIN
Nathan Bayless
Inaya C. Bialik
Blue Bliss
Rachel Dendy
Dean Hsieh
Christopher S. Jennings
Leyla Mamedova
Annie B McCall
Craig Staggs
Steph Swope
Lindsey Taylor
Julia Zipporah

SWERVE PICTURES
Myles Aquino
JD Arredondo
Sebastian Bisbal
Javier Bonafont
Madeleine Capen
Gina Marie Cercone
Sarah Connor
Joana Correia
Maxine Curva
Owen DeGroot
Stephan Fonseca
Amanda Julina Gonzalez
Alex Grey
Conner Hagan

Kiera Hagen-Brenner
Mitchell Hawley
Shunsaku Hayashi
Tazio Hilbert
Claire Hsieh
Natalie Johns
Jacq Kirkman
Nic Koller
Michelle Li
Geoff Marslett
Gen Mbesi
Holiday McAllister
Jefferson Melo
Rachel Merrill
Ailin Mo
Xuan Nguyen
Tim Nolte
Rhea Patel
Lucy Scherrer
Leon Simone
Laura Spicer
Sean Tredway
David Vieira
Matthew Wade
Rosie Di Wu
Isaias Yetemegn

MYSTERY MEAT MEDIA
Ri Crawford

All Compositing, Animation Design and
Direction by
Geoff Marslett


 

Review: Corey Stanton’s ‘TRADER’ is the ultimate disruptor.

TRADER

Trader posterA manipulative sociopath armed with a dangerously ambitious spirit, her wits, and an affinity for snorting wasabi voyages into the high-intensity game of stock market trading and wages war against the financial world. When she stumbles upon news of a monumental pharmaceutical trade, she risks everything to complete her ultimate success story no matter the cost.


The script is structured like chapters of a commerce self-help book, not unlike the ones my husband consumes, even ten years deep into the IB world in Manhattan, now top of the food chain. Day trading is grittier, riskier, and with your own dollars, not those of an often faceless whale. TRADER understands the real-life dynamics and injects a magical realism that plays as the trader’s innermost thoughts and motivation. It also directly tackles market manipulation. It’s nothing short of ingenious.

Kimberly-Sue Murray owns every second of screen time. Her manic energy drives the narrative like a runaway freight train. The character is slick, interested only in the genuine long con. Murray masters everything from various accents to grounded emotional release through interpretive dance. She truly is the smartest person in the room. Filmmaker Corey Stanton gives the trader a backstory that slowly reveals itself, adding a new level to the complexity of TRADER. Just when you think you’ve got the story pegged, think again. TRADER is relentlessly tense. It is a conspiracy theorist’s wet dream. 

TRADER is a one-woman show. I would love to see this live onstage, to feel the energy in person. TRADER is an indictment of capitalism and how, with the aid of the internet, the combination of the two may be the undoing of society. This twisted film is a one-of-a-kind ride. It’s an ever-evolving endgame that sucks you in. Don’t forget to unclench your jaw and draw a breath while you watch. TRADER is the ultimate disruptor.

The New Thriller from Filmmaker Corey Stanton

TRADER

Hits U.S. VOD Nationwide on August 10th!


 About XYZ Films 
XYZ Films is an independent studio whose mission is to empower visionary storytellers from every corner of the planet. XYZ was founded in 2008 by Nate Bolotin, Nick Spicer, and Aram Tertzakian and has expanded in recent years into documentary, talent management, and distribution. Some of the company’s classic titles include THE RAID franchise, 2017 Sundance winner I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE, and Panos Cosmatos’ psychedelic revenge thriller MANDY.


 

Fantasia 2023 shorts program review: The biting brilliance in ‘BORN OF WOMAN’ wows again.

Fantasia Festival 2023 logo

BORN OF WOMAN

(2023 shorts program)

Born of Woman 2023 banner

Fantasia’s top-tier showcase of intimate auteur genre visions returns with eight works from six countries that will leave you shaken and amazed. 


Sayani

A crashed pilot seeks a way out of her unfamiliar and harsh surroundings. As her hopes of rescue fade, memories become her saving grace and doom. This beautifully lit short takes advantage of its pace. A final reveal shocks.


Se Dit D’un Cerf Qui Quitte Son (Said of a Deer That Sheds Its Antlers)

A black comedy version of The Lottery, this film kills off its eldest family members, and everyone is cool with it. This laugh-out-loud absurdist short had me grinning uncontrollably. Salomé Crickx has a real winner here.

Only Yourself To Blame

In a sharp look at rape trauma and its eternal demons, filmmaker Noomi Yates‘ 8-minute short creates a powerful statement that speaks volumes.

Sweet Tooth poster 2023Les Dents Du Bonheur (Sweet Tooth)

What begins as a bring your daughter to work story quickly spirals to a darkly absurdist commentary on class. The production design and cinematography have you believe this short is a timeless French narrative drama. Director Joséphibe Darcy Hopkins takes us down the rabbit hole of deranged power structure, revenge, and respect.

The Taster

A near-future scenario plays the backdrop for director Sophia Bierend‘s Fantasia short. A young woman becomes the official taster for a high-ranking general. Learning about the recent demise of her predecessor, her insight into the fearmongering of her new environment grows clearer. Mandy Peterat‘s production design is top-notch. THE TASTER is one hell of a treatment for a feature. It screams franchise development.

Madeline Brewer in PRUNING
PRUNING

Nian

Racism and folklore come together for a sweet tongue-in-cheek revenge tale from Michelle Krusiec. It is a satisfyingly smirk-inducing addition to the program.

Mancha

Writer-director Nicole Mejia‘s visual metaphor for generational trauma comes to life through a beautiful combination of Seth Macmillian’s camerawork, Alain Emile’s music, and performances. Its inevitability haunts you.


Fantasia 2023 review: ‘PIAFFE’ is a surprising tale of obsession, sexual awakening, and otherness.

Fantasia Festival 2023 logo

PIAFFE

Piaffe posterEva takes over as a Foley artist for her hospitalized sibling Zara. With no knowledge or self-esteem for the task, Eva endures shockingly abusive behavior from every angle; Zara, her boss, and the hospital nurse. When threatened with dismissal from Zara’s position, she becomes obsessed with the assigned commercial clip.

The video features a horse. Upon visiting a stable for research, Eva’s determination to perfect the audio ignites an immersive approach. Her relentless work ethic causes Eva to grow a horsetail. As she embraces her newfound appendage, Eva becomes entangled with a Botonist who opens her eyes to different forms of pleasure, increasing her confidence and sparking her sexual awakening.

PIAFFE gives audiences a fever dream of imagery and sound. Music is an eclectic Giallo-inspired mix of ominous cello and techno. The color Red features symbolically in lipstick, a telephone, tinsel, roses, and lighting. Simone Bucio is fearless as Eva. Her palpable anxiety and social awkwardness pour off the screen, making her relatable in the most unexpected ways.

The real star of PIAFFE is Robert Hefter and Jonas Vincent‘s jarring augmented sound mixing. As a viewer with Sensory Processing Disorder, PIAFFE is equal parts hair-raising nightmare and auditory orgasm. The sparse dialogue contributes to the focus on the heightened sound. Writer-director Ann Oren celebrates otherness in all its forms. Fantasia 2023 audiences experienced a sensory explosion with an unpredictable complexity.

Oscilloscope Labs will release PIAFFE on August 25th


Shot on lush 16mm, PIAFFE is a visceral journey into control, gender, and artifice.

The film will open in New York on August 25th at The Quad Cinema and in Los Angeles on September 15th at Landmark’s Nuart Theatre.

DIRECTED BY ANN OREN

STARRING SIMONE BUCIO, SIMON(E) JAIKIRIUMA PAETAU,

and SEBASTIAN RUDOLPH

SCREENINGS:
Mon August 07, 2023
2:15 PM

Salle J.A. De Sève

Fantasia 2023 review: ‘HOME INVASION’ is one of the year’s most upsetting films.

HOME INVASION

Home Invasion stillUtterly fascinating, this documentary horror hybrid effectively puts the fear of God into the audience. The film begins by sharing the history of each incarnation of what we now refer to as the “Ring” security camera, each inspired by a recurring nightmare. Historical recounting gets the creepy treatment with a random subject’s security footage playing in its fisheye lens version behind the storytelling text. There is no formal dialogue. This voyeuristic nightmare is unlike anything we’ve seen before, featuring videos of everything from natural disasters to doorstep theft and animal encounters to delivery people behaving badly and creatively.

The score is bone-chilling, with its piano cords striking. It’s something straight out of hell. But, the film is even scarier than it initially appears when we learn the global and societal impact of advancing technology. Cinematic tropes alone reflect the world’s potential terror. Fantasia 2023 audiences get a taste of a film that would be a perfect Fall statement at MoMA. HOME INVASION is exceedingly disturbing. If anything, it reminds you how quickly the scales of good and evil tip. It will haunt you.


Official selection – Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival 2023
Berlin International Film Festival 2023
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria 2023

DIRECTOR

Graeme Arnfield

PRODUCER

Graeme Arnfield

WRITER

Graeme Arnfield

SOUND DESIGNER

Sarah Naylor, Baudoin Oosterlynck

EDITOR

Graeme Arnfield

Fantasia 2023 review: ‘RESTORE POINT’ is life and death against progress and profit.

Fantasia Festival 2023 logoRESTORE POINT

It’s the year 2041, and humanity has reached the point where it can cheat death. Anyone who dies an unnatural death has the right to be brought back to life. All you have to do is to create a backup of your personality – a restore point – at least every forty-eight hours. But there exists a movement of people who try to sabotage this concept. “Agent Em” finds herself drawn into a case that is not as simple as it first seemed and the consequences of which reach to the highest levels of politics.


A wildly original premise and magnificent worldbuilding send Fantasia audiences headfirst into Robert Hloz‘s sci-fi crime thriller RESTORE POINT. It is 2041, and citizens have gained the right to resurrection if they die an unnatural death, as long as they have backed up their personalities and memories within 48 hrs. This information remains in the cloud. Following the murder of one of the lead scientists and his wife, a detective with a vendetta comes on board to discover corruption on every level.

I kept thinking about the franchise potential of this story. RESTORE POINT’s visual epicness from production designer Ondrej Lipensky is stunning. More reminiscent of Total Recall and Minority Report and less punk rock neon than Blade Runner. Aside from the overarching and mind-blowing plot device, it feels like a logically progressing technological surrounding. Costuming is beautifully subtle, punctuated by small angular details, predominantly around the collars and tailoring.

Matej Hádek plays David with an intentional glitchiness. The physical and emotional choices draw you into the mystery. Andrea Mohylová brings humanity that grounds her performance. You can see the gears turning, the struggle between the personal and principles of the case. Mohylová is badass, effortlessly carrying the action. She is extraordinarily watchable. As a duo, they are inarguably compelling.

The film is a commentary on automation and morality, progress, and profitability. It makes you think. It is a carefully crafted tale filled fueled by both greed and the greater good of humanity. RESTORE POINT will wow Fantasia 2023 audiences, forcing them to answer more than one “what if” long after the credit roll.



Fantasia 2023 review: Run to see the powerful Ukrainian drama ‘STAY ONLINE.’ It will rock you to your core.

Fantasia Festival 2023 logo

STAY ONLINE

Stay Online poster

Best served on the biggest movie screen possible, STAY ONLINE takes us on a real-time journey of political mayhem through the eyes and laptop screen of one Ukrainian resister. Switching from tab to app to window, Katya places us inside the war via news popups, video calls, and chats while air raid sirens blare in the background. This coordinated chaos forces you to sit up and pay attention. Following the action takes focus, and there isn’t a moment of downtime.

Stay Online - Ukrainian thrillerThe narrative flips when Katya becomes entangled with the son of the laptop owner. Her online sleuthing would put the cops to shame. It is millennial cyberstalking at its best. Liza Zaitseva gives a heart-stopping performance as Katya. Her relentless emotional investment is a rollercoaster ride. She is simply magnificent.

STAY ONLINE speaks directly to the power of information sharing in a time when news media outlets gloss over images of war in tightly edited clips that run every hour. Grisly is profitable, and so is fear-mongering. The human aspect often becomes a political pawn. Ukrainian filmmaker Yeva Strelnikova‘s feature-film debut leaves your heart in your throat. The film’s premiere comes at a particularly auspicious time, with Ukraine throwing its hat in the ring at NATO. STAY ONLINE is gripping, devastating, and entirely brilliant. It is one of the most powerful films of the year.



Mon July 24, 2023
2:05 PM

Vampires, Werewolves, Frankenstein, Time Travel, and Fever Dreams. Oh, is that all? Nope. What to Watch at Fantasia Festival 2023, coming this week!

Fantasia Festival 2023 logo

Fantasia 2023 is almost upon us, or as we like to say, “It’s Christmas in July, Motherf*ckers!” But, we usually keep that on the inside. Now that you have a taste of how demented we naturally are, here is a handful of films we are stoked to check out at this year’s fest. It’s the stuff we’ll undoubtedly be buzzing about for the remainder of the year. We have been lucky enough to have seen a few of the titles already making the rounds. You can catch our reviews for the following films:

With Love and a Major Organ

Suitable Flesh

Satan Wants You

Paiffe

Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls

Talk To Me

Molli and Max in the Future


Now, onto the films that we cannot wait to get our eyeballs on for the first time…

 

LOVELY, DARK, AND DEEP

lovely dark and deep poster


LOVELY, DARK AND DEEP is the hotly anticipated directorial debut of Teresa Sutherland, screenwriter of THE WIND and a writer on MIDNIGHT MASS. Laced with stunning visuals, this ominously beautiful, deeply frightening nightmare is anchored by a captivating lead performance from BARBARIAN’s Georgina Campbell. Campbell plays a park ranger in an isolated forest outpost, the site of multiple mysterious disappearances, and she is plagued by visions blending the past and present with something even more sinister. This transfixing film oozes an immersive, fever-dream atmosphere. Also starring Nick Blood, Wai Ching Ho, and Edgar Morais. World Premiere. 

You had us at Georgina Campbell and the woods. Teresa Sutherland understands how to create atmospheric chaos, both physically and emotionally. We’re betting on this one.



APORIA

Sophie’s (Judy Greer, HALLOWEEN) life takes a sudden hard turn when either fate or a terrible chance of circumstance sees her husband Mal (Edi Gathegi, THE HARDER THEY FALL) killed in a drunk-driving accident. Left to parent her grief-torn teenaged daughter (Faithe Herman, SHAZAM!) on her own while trying to keep things together with an emotionally taxing nursing job, her breaking point might be coming up fast and it takes every bit of her remaining strength not to fall apart. One day, her husband’s best friend (Payman Maadi, A SEPARATION), a brilliant former physicist, approaches her with an experimental machine that he’s secretly been working on for years. One that’s capable of bending time in specific ways. A device that could — perhaps — bring a version of Sophie’s old life back to her. She understands that by taking a chance with this, the consequences will be entirely unforeseeable. It’s an impossible choice to make. And a lifeline that’s all but impossible to resist.

As a self-proclaimed Whovian, time-bending is my jam. Add in Judy Greer, whose career is a delicious buffet of eclectic tastes, and you’ve got my eyeballs for however long you want them.


STAY ONLINE

Stay Online poster

STAY ONLINE, the feature-film debut of Ukrainian filmmaker Eva Strelnikova, follows Katya (Liza Zaitseva), a volunteer from Kyiv who is fighting against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While using a laptop donated to the resistance, she comes into contact with the original owner’s superhero-obsessed son, who is looking for his lost parents. In an effort to make a positive change in this boy’s life and pull herself out of a destructive cycle, Katya risks all that she holds dear to locate his parents.

If your heart isn’t pumping, palms sweating while watching this film, check your pulse. Told through the lens f a laptop screen, this political thriller set during the early days of the war in Ukraine will have you on edge from start to finish.


BLACKOUT

A still from Larry Fessenden's Blackout

In a small upstate New York town, artist Charley Barrett (Alex Hurt) checks out of the motel that’s been his recent home and sets out on a series of personal missions. These include exposing the corruption of ruthless developer Hammond (Marshall Bell), and reconciling with former lover Sharon (Addison Timlin), Hammond’s daughter. Another is connected to his tragic secret: Charley is a werewolf, recently infected with the curse and responsible for a series of gruesome murders. The local residents have scapegoated one of the Latino workers on Hammond’s construction site for the killings, and as a full moon rises, their desire for justice hits a fever pitch while Charley succumbs to his transformation once more.

Larry Fessenden, Ladies and Gentlemen, and All Genre Fans. This horror legend not only appears in every single instant cult classic but writes and directs slick horror through his production company Glass Eye Pix. Fessenden’s Monster Mania takes a new turn in werewolf form this go around. 


WHERE THE DEVIL ROAMS

Darkest prayers will be answered, in sawdust and sacrilege, when Fantasia goes WHERE THE DEVIL ROAMS. This astonishing new feature from cult favourites The Adams Family (Toby Poster, John Adams, Zelda Adams), follows a family of traveling sideshow performers as they traverse Depression-era America on a bloody search for eternal life. As in THE DEEPER YOU DIG and HELLBENDER, both Fantasia World Premieres, the gifted filmmaking family’s latest creation continues their inspired explorations of familial power dynamics through the prism of horror. Haunting, poetic, sometimes funny, frequently freakish, and told with conviction through a deeply personal lens. World Premiere. 

Filmmaking phenoms The Adams Family has been rocking my world for years with their uniquely smart storytelling and jarring imagery. Fellow born and bred New Englanders, I love them and their work on a deeply personal level. If you check Twitter notes, they have publicly accepted me into the family. They can do no wrong in my book.


EMPIRE V

EMPIRE V

A disaffected student (Pavel Tabakov) follows an invitation to join “the elite” and finds himself forcibly transformed into a vampire, joining a supernatural ruling class who exercise an anonymous dictatorship over humans. Celebrated Russian-American director Victor Ginzburg (GENERATION P) demonstrates a striking visual imagination, perfectly complementing a story that reinvents nearly every aspect of vampire lore in clever and fantastical ways. This is the MATRIX of vampire cinema. Years in the making, EMPIRE V is both next-level blockbuster storytelling and megabudget anti-Oligarch satire, electrified with breathtaking visuals from the great Aleksei Rodionov (COME AND SEE). Co-starring Miron Fedorov, AKA rap star Oxxxymiron, whose anti-War benefit concerts led the Russian justice ministry to condemn him as a “foreign agent.” EMPIRE V itself has been banned by Russia’s Ministry of Culture, ensuring that the citizens of its home country may never see the film. World Premiere. 

I don’t care how many vampire films we’ve seen, I’m a Child of the Night, an Anne Rice, Stephen King lover. And yes, even Twilight, baby. Vampires will get me through the door every single time. Empire V looks slick as hell, and I’m all for satire. Especially when it involves Russia and all forms of revolt. This new take clearly has teeth.


BIRTH/REBIRTH

Rose (Marin Ireland, THE DARK AND THE WICKED) is a morgue technician with little patience for the living. Brilliant and obsessively driven, she also has a personal side-project that’s consumed much of her waking energies: The reversing of physical death. Celine (Judy Reyes, SCRUBS) is a hardworking maternity nurse who gives her all to patients shift after shift, the emotional intensity of her work only finding reprieve when she comes home to her effervescent six-year-old daughter, Lila (A.J. Lister). Fates take a horrific turn that smashes the lives of both women into each other, dropping them down a gruesome rabbit hole of desperate choices and ascending moral compromise that will shake you to your core. We’ll reveal no more.

Female-driven horror storytelling with motherhood at the center, Birth/Rebirth may connect with childbearing audiences that don’t usually go for this kind of fare. Risky, visceral, and unafraid to shock, audiences cannot prepare for what they are about to witness. Mary Shelley approves. 


WHITE NOISE

white noise short film still

Ava’s debilitating hyper-sensitivity to sound is becoming unliveable. Her doctor’s prescription of exposure therapy backfires as she descends into a fit of panic in both her class and the subway. When her attempt at suicide fails, she pleads with her doctor to enrol her in an experimental trial involving an anechoic chamber: the world’s quietest room. The doctor has his reservations, but Ava is convinced this is the ticket to her salvation. In this soundless space, her euphoria quickly mutates into madness when she begins to hear the inner workings of her own body.

Drawing on producer Christina Saliba’s experiences, this short film from director Tamara Scherbak made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Suffering from the same affliction, this brilliantly torturous short places the viewer inside the body of someone with constant sensory overload. *Shiver and wince*


Last but not least, the annual goodness that is BORN OF WOMAN 2023 shorts program. Every year I look forward to the brutal, genius, angry, gorgeous, bloody storytelling from a handpicked group of female filmmakers. 130 mins, 8 films, from the United Kingdom, USA, Belgium, France, Germany, and Argentina. 

For all things Fantasia Festival 2023, click here.

 

Reviews will be rolling out as fast as we can watch and type!


 

Tribeca Festival 2023 Curtain raiser: Films we are putting on our must-see lists before the festival begins

TRIBECA FESTIVAL 2023 brings thrills, mystery, comedy, fantasy, you name it, there is something for everyone. This year’s lineup features Joe Lynch‘s latest, Suitable Flesh, Gabriela Cowperthwaite‘s I.S.S., and David Duchovny‘s Bucky F*cking Dent. Let’s get into a few of the films we are dying to get our eyeballs on this year.

 

THE LISTENER – North American Premiere – Spotlight Narrative 
Directed by: Steve Buscemi
Written by: Alessandro Camon
Produced by: Wren Arthur, Steve Buscemi, Oren Moverman, Lauren Hantz, and Tessa Thompson
Executive Producers: John Hantz, Eddie Vaisman, Julia Lebedev, and Suzanne Warren
Co-Producers: Billy Mulligan, Kat Barnette, and Joyce Pierpoline
Associate Producer: Brian Miele
Starring: Tessa Thompson


An understated drama about a night in the life of a mental health helpline volunteer, The Listener is a stirring testament to the power of empathy.

Tessa Thompson continues her Tribeca greatness in a role that could easily translate from film to stage. This is a character study.


MAGGIE MOORE(S) – World Premiere – Spotlight Narrative 

In Theaters & On Demand June 16th

Directed by John Slattery
Written by Paul Bernbaum
Produced by John Slattery, Vincent Garcia Newman, Dan Reardon, Santosh Govindaraju, Nancy Leopardi, and Ross Kohn
Starring Jon Hamm, Tina Fey, Micah Stock, Nick Mohammed, Happy Anderson, and Mary Holland

When two women with the same name are murdered days apart, small-town police chief Jordan Sanders (Hamm) finds himself wading through an unlikely collection of cheating husbands, lonely hearts, nosy neighbors and contract killers in an effort to put the pieces of the case, and his life, together. The film is inspired by actual events.

The cast alone should get you through the door. This bizarre tale, based on real-life events, is a wacky we-know whodunit, but it doesn’t lessen the impact.



THE MIRACLE CLUB – World Premiere – Spotlight Narrative Category (Sony Pictures Classics)



Directed by Thaddeus O’Sullivan (Vera, Call the Midwife)

Written by Jimmy Smallhorne, Timothy Prager, and Joshua D. Maurer

Produced by Joshua D. Mauer, Alixandre Witlin, Chris Curling, Larry Bass, Aaron Farrell, John Gleeson and Oisín O’Neill


Three close friends who have never left the outskirts of Dublin (much less Ireland) get the journey of a lifetime — a visit to Lourdes, the picturesque French town and place of miracles.

An absolute charmer about healing old wounds and forgiveness set in the gorgeous French countryside. Laura Linney and Dame Maggie Smith? That’s an instant yes.

Check out the trailer below:


SOMEWHERE QUIET– US Narrative Competition

Director/Writer: Olivia West Lloyd

Producers: Emma Hannaway, Taylor Ava Shung, and Eamon Downey

Cast: Jennifer Kim, Kentucker Audley, Marin Ireland, Michéal Neeson

Running Time: 98 minutes

In the ominous and tense Somewhere Quiet, a woman readjusts to normalcy after surviving a traumatic kidnapping — but her grounded sense of reality soon starts to deteriorate when she travels with her husband to his wealthy family’s isolated compound.

This solid thriller will catch you off guard, making you second-guess your sanity along the way.


OUR SON– Spotlight Narrative

Director/Co-Writer: Bill Oliver

Co-Writer: Peter Nickowitz 

Producers: Fernando Loureiro and Eric Binns

Key Cast: Luke Evans, Billy Porter

Running Time: 104 Minutes

Nicky (Luke Evans), a book publisher devoted to his work, lives with his husband Gabriel (Billy Porter), a former actor and stay-at-home dad, and their eight year-old son, Owen. Gabriel loves Owen more than anything; Nicky loves Gabriel more than anything. Despite appearances, Gabriel has been dissatisfied with their marriage for some time and files for divorce, leading to a custody battle that forces both of them to confront the changing reality of their love for each other and for their son.

This beautifully complex story of the growing pains of changing love.


I.S.S. – Spotlight Narrative

Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite

Writer: Nick Shafir

Producers: Pete Shilaimon and Mickey Liddell

Cast: Ariana DeBose, Chris Messina, Pilou Asbæk, John Gallagher Jr., Maria Mashkova, Costa Ronin

Running Time: 95 Minutes

Tensions flare in the near future aboard the International Space Station as a worldwide conflict occurs on Earth. Reeling from this, the astronauts receive orders from the ground: take control of the station by any means necessary.

A stunning look at loyalty. This intense sci-fi thriller captivates you with Ariana DeBose holding you in the palm of her hand.


SUITABLE FLESH –  Midnight (World Premiere)

Director: Joe Lynch
 
Screenwriter: Dennis Paoli
 
Producers: Barbara Crampton, Bob Portal, Inderpal Singh, Joe Wicker
 
Cast: Heather Graham, Judah Lewis, Bruce Davison, Barbara Crampton, Johnathon Schaech
 
Running Time: 100 Minutes
 

After murdering her young patient, a once-esteemed psychiatrist helplessly watches her life spiral into a nightmarish maelstrom of supernatural hysteria and gruesome deaths, all linked to a seemingly unstoppable ancient curse.

Let Joe Lynch direct all the Lovecraftian weirdness. Honestly, as a genre fan, you had me at Barbara Crampton.


BAD THINGS – US Narrative Competition 

DIRECTOR: Stewart Thorndike
 
PRODUCER: Lizzie Shapiro, Lexi Tannenholtz
 
SCREENWRITER: Stewart Thorndike
 
 
CAST: Gayle Rankin, Hari Nef, Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Rad Pereira, Jared Abrahamson, Molly Ringwald
 
A weekend getaway for a few friends at a snowy resort becomes a psychological tailspin and bloody nightmare. Long-deceased guests and the space itself come to life in this haunting thriller.
 

There is always something to be said for a film that gets snapped up by Shudder before its premiere. The platform’s ability to spot great genre storytelling goes head-to-head with the major studios. Gayle Rankin‘s ability to live in whatever role she takes on is astounding. I have no doubt that she’ll kill it. *wink, wink*

**COMING TO SHUDDER (US, UK, IRELAND, AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND) 
AND AMC+ (US, CA, ANZ) ON AUGUST 18TH, 2023**


BUCKY F*CKING DENT – Spotlight Narrative

DIRECTOR: David Duchovny
 
PRODUCER: Jordan Yale Levine, Jordan Beckerman, Tiffany Kuzon, David Duchovny
 
SCREENWRITER: David Duchovny
 
CAST: David Duchovny, Logan Marshall-Green, Stephanie Beatriz, Jason Beghe, Evan Handler, Pamela Adlon, Daphne Rubin-Vega
 
Follows Ted who moves in with his father Marty when he develops a fatal illness. To keep him happy and alive, Ted enlists Marty’s grief counselor Mariana and friends to fake a Red Sox winning streak.
 
As a born and bred Red Sox fan, Bucky Dent felt like the modern-day equivalent of “He Who Shall Not Be Named,” long before that reference was a pop-culture reference. I grew up sitting against The Green Monster. You can clock my age in successive photographs. Based on his novel, David Duchovny brings this father-son story to the big screens at Tribeca. I couldn’t be more excited. I’m pretty sure that for true fans, this one is destined to be a home run. 
   OF NIGHT AND LIGHT: THE STORY OF IBOGA AND IBOGAINE – Spotlight Documentary

DIRECTOR:Lucy Walker
PRODUCER:Julian Cautherley, Lyn Davis Lear, Laurie Benenson, Lucy Walker
CINEMATOGRAPHER:Sebastian Denis, Lorenzo Hagerman, Aaron Phillips
EDITOR:Parker Laramie

Of Night and Light: The Story of Iboga and Ibogaine tells the astounding unknown story of what might be the scientific discovery of our generation. Back in 1962, a teenage psychonaut in New York City named Howard Lotsof experimented with an obscure psychedelic from the root bark of a West African shrub and recognized its unique therapeutic potential. Together with his African-American wife Norma, a pair of outsider NYU film students, they dedicated their lives to convincing the scientific community and government agencies to research it, certain that it would be of great medicinal benefit, despite it sounding too good to be true – like the textbook definition of snake oil – and being written off as con artists.

Sixty years later, their dream is now materializing as clinics spawned from their original test sites have treated more than 100,000 people with opiate use disorder and now over 1,000 US Special Forces veterans, who have experienced dramatic relief from a spectrum of problems including traumatic brain injury, depression, anxiety, ptsd, addictions, and physical disabilities through the use of ibogaine. Now jaw-dropping new research, about to be published, is revealing that ibogaine is the most powerful therapeutic ever observed for the human central nervous system.

Psychedelics have a complicated past, but their present-day use is more prevalent than most people know. I can’t wait to dig into the history of this life-changing medicine because that’s what it is. I have family members in the medical industry who use them, and audiences will have family members with PTSD, so this one has the potential to be more personal than anyone expected.


THE FUTURE– International Narrative Competition (World Premiere)

WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY Noam Kaplan
STARRING Dar Zuzovsky, Samar Qupty, Reymonde Amsellem
PRODUCED BY Yoav Roeh, Arit Zamir
CINEMATOGRAPHY BY Shark de Mayo
EDITED BY Effi Cohen Vertes
MUSIC BY David Klemes

At 42, Dr. Bloch (Reymonde Amsellem), a profiler, wants a child. A future. Her only way is to find a surrogate mother. At the same time, her groundbreaking algorithm designed to identify individuals planning to carry out terror attacks fails and a young Palestinian woman (Samar Qupty) assassinates the Israeli minister of Space and Tourism. In order to ‘fix the bugs’ in her algorithm, Nurit faces the assassin in person. The sessions between these two brilliant women raise questions about their past, while the sessions between Bloch and the potential surrogate (Dar Zuzovsky) challenge Bloch’s decision about her future.

This near-future femme-centric drama from Noam Kaplan gives brilliant women the chance to challenge one another at every turn.  A futuristic collision within the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, THE FUTURE has more nuance than you are prepared for.


TO MY FATHER – Shorts (World Premiere)

DIRECTOR: Sean Schiavolin
PRODUCER: John Papola, Troy Kotsur, Justin Bergeron
SCREENWRITER: Sean Schiavolin
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Brody Carmichael 
EDITOR: Josh Meyers, Sean Schiavolin
COMPOSER: Hanan Townshend
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: Jessi Bennett
CAST: Troy Kotsur

 

To My Father depicts Deaf actor Troy Kotsur’s journey to winning an Oscar and his father’s inspiring influence on him, despite a tragic accident.

Grab the tissues and be prepared for the beauty presented by Sean Schiavolin. If you haven’t been living under a rock then you are familiar with the extraordinary Troy Kotsur. This twenty-minute short pierces your heart, once again, as we learn more about the deaf actor’s inspiration. Do Not Miss It.


CHASING CHASING AMY – Viewpoints (World Premiere)

DIRECTOR: Sav Rodgers
PRODUCER: Alex Schmider, Carrie Radigan, Lela Meadow-Conner, Matthew C. Mills, Sav Rodgers
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Bill Winters, Bradley Garrison
CAST: Kevin Smith, Guinevere Turner, Joey Lauren Adams, Scott Mosier, Sav Rodgers, Andrew Ahn, Kevin Willmott, Trish Bendix, Princess Weekes, Regina “Riley” Rodgers

 

12-year-old Sav Rodgers watched the film Chasing Amy, and his life was forever changed. Developing a kinship — and maybe a slight obsession — with it as he grew into his queerness, he decides to fund and direct a documentary that examines its role in LGBTQ+ film culture. He makes significant progress, even garnering the support and collaboration of its director, Kevin Smith. However, as the production of the documentary continues, Rodgers realizes that the legacy of the film and his relationship with it might be changing. So where does that leave him?

Chasing Amy was a sexual awakening for more of us than we might like to admit. It felt like a narrative shock to the system in the most welcome way for audiences obsessed with Clerks and Mallrats. We were open-minded Kevin Smith nerds and we were ready to listen. This timely look at LGBTQAI+ issues is sure to spark conversation.


For all things Tribeca Festival, click here!

Keep your eyes peeled for shared coverage from us, Unseen Films, and AWFJ.org!


 

NEWS- FANTASIA ANNOUNCES A BLISTERING FIRST WAVE OF TITLES FOR ITS 27th EDITION

FIRST WAVE OF TITLES FOR ITS 27th EDITION


A spotlight on South Korean cinema, a Canadian trailblazer Award for underground legend Larry Kent and World Premieres of new works from Larry Fessenden, Xavier Gens, Jenn Wexler, Jared Moshe, The Adams Family, and Victor Ginzburg + International Premieres of Tsutomu Hanabusa’s blockbusters TOKYO REVENGERS 2 – PART 1 & 2 headline the first wave of titles announced for Fantasia’s 27th edition!

Thursday May 11, 2023 // Montreal, Quebec — The Fantasia International Film Festival will be celebrating its 27th edition with a whiplashing program of screenings, workshops, and launch events running from July 20 through August 9, 2023, taking place at the Concordia Hall Cinema, with additional screens at the Cinémathèque québécoise and Cinéma du Musée.

The festival’s full lineup will be announced in early July. In the meantime, Fantasia is excited to reveal a selected first wave of titles and happenings.


BRIGHT SPOTLIGHTS ON SOUTH KOREAN CINEMA ILLUMINATE FANTASIA’s 27th EDITION

Since the selection of Kang Je-gyu’s GINGKO BED at Fantasia’s 1998 edition, the festival has become one of the premiere destinations for South Korean cinema. Over the years, Fantasia’s audience has had the opportunity to discover several essential Korean auteurs: Bong Joon-ho (BARKING DOGS NEVER BITE), Park Chan-wook (SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE), Kim Ji-woon (THE QUIET FAMILY), Hwang Dong-hyuk (MISS GRANNY), and Yeon Sang-ho (THE KING OF PIGS) among many others. These filmmakers are now mainstays of the international film scene, lighting up the big screen and streaming platforms alike.
image.png

Celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations between Canada and the Republic of Korea, the Fantasia International Film Festival –in collaboration with the Korean Cultural Center Canada and the Cinémathèque québécoise– is proud to showcase this unique national cinema. The festival will emphasize the vitality of current works and the versatility of South Korean creators, who work in a multitude of genres ranging from action to arthouse, breathtaking thrillers to outlandish musical comedies. The festival will also present a retrospective highlighting several significant works that led to the revival of Korean cinema in the 2000s, an effervescence that hasn’t stopped since.

image.png

Fantasia will host the North American premiere of NEW NORMAL by Jung Bum-shik (GONJIAM: HAUNTED ASYLUM), a cynical and timely one-man horror anthology. The festival will also host the Canadian premieres of An Tae-jin’s period acupuncturist thriller THE NIGHT OWL; the violent and boisterous THE ROUNDUP: NO WAY OUT by Lee Sang-yong, featuring Don Lee once again; the 4K restoration of Jeong Jae-un’s coming-of-age TAKE CARE OF MY CAT (2001) and a screening of the unmissable THE PRESIDENT’S LAST BANG (2005) by master Im Sang-soo. More titles will be announced soon.

image.png

In recognition of the spotlight, this year’s poster art was created by Montreal visual artist Donald Caron as an interpretation of the mythical nine-tailed fox, a fantastical creature that appears in the folktales of East Asia and legends of Korea. 

image.png

FEAR RUNS LOVELY, DARK, AND DEEP

LOVELY, DARK AND DEEP is the hotly anticipated directorial debut of Teresa Sutherland, screenwriter of THE WIND and a writer on MIDNIGHT MASS. Laced with stunning visuals, this ominously beautiful, deeply frightening nightmare is anchored by a captivating lead performance from BARBARIAN’s Georgina Campbell. Campbell plays a park ranger in an isolated forest outpost, the site of multiple mysterious disappearances, and she is plagued by visions blending the past and present with something even more sinister. This transfixing film oozes an immersive, fever-dream atmosphere. Also starring Nick Blood, Wai Ching Ho, and Edgar Morais. World Premiere. 

image.png

A SUPPRESSED AND SPECTACULAR REINVENTION OF VAMPIRE LORE: EMPIRE V

A disaffected student (Pavel Tabakov) follows an invitation to join “the elite” and finds himself forcibly transformed into a vampire, joining a supernatural ruling class who exercise an anonymous dictatorship over humans. Celebrated Russian-American director Victor Ginzburg (GENERATION P) demonstrates a striking visual imagination, perfectly complementing a story that reinvents nearly every aspect of vampire lore in clever and fantastical ways. This is the MATRIX of vampire cinema. Years in the making, EMPIRE V is both next-level blockbuster storytelling and megabudget anti-Oligarch satire, electrified with breathtaking visuals from the great Aleksei Rodionov (COME AND SEE). Co-starring Miron Fedorov, AKA rap star Oxxxymiron, whose anti-War benefit concerts led the Russian justice ministry to condemn him as a “foreign agent.” EMPIRE V itself has been banned by Russia’s Ministry of Culture, ensuring that the citizens of its home country may never see the film. World Premiere. 

image.png

THE TOKYO REVENGERS SAGA REVEALS HIGHER STAKES AND LOADS OF EMOTIONS

Tekemichi gets another blast from the past when his beloved Mio perishes again before his eyes in a freak accident… Or was it? Tekemichi must go back in time to save her, and find out how his involvement with the Tokyo Maji Gang ruined his real life once more. Nothing can prepare you for the amount of action, suspense and emotion TOKYO REVENGERS 2 – PART 1 and TOKYO REVENGERS 2 – PART 2 bring to the big screen! Director Tsutomu Hanabusa surpasses himself with two riveting new chapters in this beloved saga, whose legions of fans break Japan’s box office at every occasion. Come see this acclaimed manga-turned-anime in its ultimate incarnation as a star-studded live-action juggernaut. International Premiere. 

image.png

A HEARTBREAKING, TIME-BENDING MASTERPIECE OF SPECULATIVE SCIENCE-FICTION: APORIA

Since losing her husband Mal (Edi Gathegi, FOR ALL MANKIND) in a drunk-driving incident, Sophie (Judy Greer, HALLOWEEN) has struggled to manage crippling grief, a full-time job, and the demands of parenting her devastated teenage daughter (Faithe Herman, THIS IS US). When her husband’s best friend (Payman Maadi, A SEPARATION), a former physicist, reveals he and Mal had been building a time-bending machine that could restore her former life, Sophie will be faced with an impossible choice.This riveting character-driven sci-fi work from award-winning writer/director Jared Moshe (THE BALLAD OF LEFTY BROWN), imaginatively grapples with the ripple effects of morally fraught choices made in the name of love and raises timely questions about ethics in technological innovation.  World Premiere. 

image.png

THE ADAMS FAMILY TAKE YOU WHERE THE DEVIL ROAMS

Darkest prayers will be answered, in sawdust and sacrilege, when Fantasia goes WHERE THE DEVIL ROAMS. This astonishing new feature from cult favourites The Adams Family (Toby Poster, John Adams, Zelda Adams), follows a family of traveling sideshow performers as they traverse Depression-era America on a bloody search for eternal life. As in THE DEEPER YOU DIG and HELLBENDER, both Fantasia World Premieres, the gifted filmmaking family’s latest creation continues their inspired explorations of familial power dynamics through the prism of horror. Haunting, poetic, sometimes funny, frequently freakish, and told with conviction through a deeply personal lens. World Premiere. 

 

image.png

© Thanaporn Arkmanon

XAVIER GENS BRINGS SHATTERING FISTFULS OF MAYHEM!

Xavier Gens (FRONTIER(S), GANGS OF LONDON) is back! Sam, (Nassim Lyes) a professional boxer recently released from prison, breaks probation, flees to a faraway island in Thailand, and starts a family there. But when he’s blackmailed by a fierce local Godfather (Olivier Gourmet) into becoming a drug smuggler, things go straight to hell.. and then some! A blood-soaked revenge roller coaster, MAYHEM! starts slow and seething before exploding off the screen with tendon-snapping tension and unbelievably ferocious fight choreography of the sort that’s seldom seen in modern film. Also starring Loryn Nounay, Vithaya Pansringarm, Mehdi Hadim and Kenneth Won. World Premiere. 

image.png

LET IT ALL OUT WITH PEOPLE WHO TALK TO PLUSHIES ARE KIND.

When sophomore student Nanamori joins the Plushies Club, he is encouraged to share his feelings with stuffed animals. You could call it an introvert’s paradise, or better yet, a safe space. And while for some it’s a natural fit, for others it’s an insular distraction. Adapted from a novella by rising literary star Ao Omae and directed by up-and-comer Yurina Kaneko (Fantasia 2019 selection 21ST CENTURY GIRL), PEOPLE WHO TALK TO PLUSHIES ARE KIND enchants with a gently provocative exploration of sexuality, gender, kindness and tolerance in Japanese society. A thought-provoking update on the youth film, for when the world feels like entirely too much. North American Premiere. Camera Lucida section.

image.png

LYCANTHROPIAN CHILLS FROM FROM LARRY FESSENDEN: BLACKOUT

At last, acclaimed horror auteur Larry Fessenden has fulfilled his long-held desire to make a werewolf film, rounding out the triptych begun with his vampire drama HABIT (1997) and FRANKENSTEIN variation DEPRAVED (2019). Fessenden, as always, makes BLACKOUT a very human story as well as a gripping horror show while weaving in his traditional focus on socio-political themes, from his long-held ecological concerns to very modern issues of suspicion and paranoia. Starring Alex Hurt, Addison Timlin, Marshall Bell, James LeGros, Barbara Crampton and Joe Swanberg. World Premiere. 

image.png

FROM SOUTH KOREA, COMES MOTHER LAND AN ARCTIC STOP-MOTION ADVENTURE

When the health of Krisha’s mother takes a turn for the worse, the village shaman offers her wisdom: follow the North Star to the Ancient Forest and find its guardian and master, the great red bear of legend. The first South Korean stop-motion feature film in almost half a century, director Park Jae-beom’s animated adventure MOTHER LAND is an exquisitely crafted snowbound fantasy with a potent emotional warmth at its core. It explores the lives and lore of the nomadic, indigenous reindeer herders of the sparse and unforgiving Siberian tundra. North American Premiere. Axis Section

image.png

FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS AND BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

A chef with gambling problems (Nick Stahl) flees to the Latin American villa of an old friend who appears to be living an extraordinary life. Envy soon turns to greed and then to something more unsettling for the chef when he assumes his friend’s life. A Hitchockian, edge-of-your-seat descent into moral compromise with generous servings of dark humour, shock and surprise, WHAT YOU WISH FOR is the gripping sophomore feature of writer/director Nicholas Tomnay (THE PERFECT HOST). Grounded by a career best performance from Stahl, the film co-stars Tamsin Topolski, Randy Vasquez and Penelope Mitchell. From the producers of THE FLORIDA PROJECT. World Premiere. 

image.png

A GUT-WRENCHING REFLECTION ON MODERN SLAVERY TAKES PLACE IN RICHELIEU

When Stéphane (Marc-André Grondin, RAVENOUS, C.R.A.Z.Y.) hires Ariane (Ariane Castellanos) to act as an interpreter for his Guatemalan workers, he expects nothing more than a messenger. But after witnessing the horrifying abuse the men are subjected to, Ariane will be pushed to choose between their lives and her own. A stunning debut feature from Québécois director Pier-Philippe Chevigny, RICHELIEU delivers a raw and emotional portrait of a system in which we are all  complicit unless we are willing to bear the cost of standing up for justice. Canadian Premiere. 

SUPERNATURAL POWERS AND SCHOOL GIRLS WITH SECRETS KICK OFF THE 2023 SEPTENTRION SHADOWS SECTION LINEUP! 

image.png

A NOSTALGIC, SUPERNATURAL ROAD TRIP LEADS TO DAUGHTER OF THE SUN

Take a supernatural journey with Sonny, a man with Tourette Syndrome, and his daughter Hildie as they forge their path across the country. They hide a powerful secret but join a community of friendly nomadic strangers whose kindness conceals a darker intention. The World Premiere of DAUGHTER OF THE SUN is Sonny’s next chapter and a continuation of director/actor Ryan Ward’s award-winning SON OF THE SUNSHINE. This deeply personal journey reflects aspects of Ward’s life with cosmic imagery, stunning cinematography shot in Ward’s home province of Manitoba, and stellar performances from teens Nyah Perkin and Lennox Leacock. World Premiere

image.png

JENN WEXLER DARES YOU TO BLEED FOR THE SACRIFICE GAME!

Jenn Wexler’s THE RANGER, a high-octane punk rock banger, exploded onto the genre landscape in 2018, and now she’s back with her sophomore feature THE SACRIFICE GAME. Filled with gore and lore, indie filmmaker Wexler penned this gripping and stylish ‘70s-set chiller involving school girls, power-mad killers and occult prophecy with partner Sean Redlitz. Shot in Quebec, this breakneck horror film stars Mena Massoud (EVOLVING VEGAN and ALADDIN), Olivia Scott Welch (LUCKY HANK, FEAR STREET Trilogy), Gus Kenworthy (AMERICAN HORROR STORY), Georgia Acken, Madison Baines and features the return of THE RANGERS’ Chloë Levine. You won’t want to miss a second of THE SACRIFICE GAME! World Premiere co-presented with Les Fantastique Week-ends.

image.png

A CANADIAN TRAILBLAZER AWARD FOR LARRY KENT

Fantasia is proud to be giving our 2023 Canadian Trailblazer Award to our country’s legendary first underground filmmaker, Larry Kent, with World Premieres of Canadian International Pictures’’s new 4K restorations of his landmark Vancouver Trilogy and additional screenings and events. 

Cited by David Cronenberg as “a heroic figure,” Larry Kent made films “so ahead of their time” (to quote Atom Egoyan) that they eventually fell out of official circulation. 

Situated somewhere between the vivid indie dramas of John Cassavetes and the lurid melodramas of Doris Wishman, Kent’s films brought new vitality to Canadian cinema — and time has only added to their potency. 

Even as his 90th birthday approaches, he continues to make singular and gutsy independent features: his most recent works, EXLEY (2011) and SHE WHO MUST BURN (2015)  both World-Premiered at Fantasia, the latter winning Spectacular Optical’s 2015 Barry Convex Award for Best Canadian Feature at the festival. 

Whether audiences have caught up with Kent’s boldly uncompromising vision or not, CIP  is working on an ambitious restoration initiative that aims to resurrect his most seminal films, starting with The Vancouver Trilogy: THE BITTER ASH (1963), SWEET SUBSTITUTE (1964), and WHEN TOMORROW DIES (1965), each of which will be unveiled at Fantasia this summer.

The original camera negatives for all three films have been newly scanned in 4K and restored by CIP, giving these enduring works of underground Canadian cinema a chance to be discovered (and re-discovered) by adventurous cinephiles. 

In addition, Fantasia will also be presenting a rare 35mm print of YESTERDAY (1981) and a special screening of SHE WHO MUST BURN (2015). 

Join us in celebrating the career of one of Canadian Film’s most courageous originals!

Presented in association with Canadian International Pictures and the Cinémathèque québécoise.


Panic Fest 2023 review: Evan Marlowe’s ‘ABRUPTIO’ is mind-bending nightmare fuel.

ABRUPTIO

SYNOPSIS:
Les Hackel is a guy down on his luck who wakes to find an explosive device has been implanted in his neck.


Writer-director-producer-DP-and editor Evan Marlowe brings Panic Fest 2023 audiences, hands down one of the most twisted films in recent history with ABRUPTIO. A maniacally bizarre and wholly disturbing film, this story of coping mechanisms, humanity’s darkness, and unrelenting guilt will knock you off your feet.

If Genesis‘ 1986 music video ‘Land of Confusion’ and the Michael Douglas film The Game had a lovechild, you might begin to imagine the otherworldly visual experience of ABRUPTIO. Marlowe creates a killer script adding discomfort with his lead players in the form of life-sized puppets. The voice cast is out of this world. Christopher McDonald voices Police Chief Richter with the confident bravado that makes him an icon. His puppet bares a striking likeness to McDonald, and aside from Mom and Les, has the most realistic human appearance. Jordan Peele is Danny, Les’ smooth-talking best friend. He provides an awesomely creepy performance, in the quirkiest sense.

Rich Fulcher portrays Dummkopf with weaselly energy. It’s reminiscent of a Dick Tracy comic book character, and while brief, it is an unforgettable turn. Sid Haig plays dry comedian Sal Cheek. He is pitch-perfect in his final roles. Truly a master. He is already sorely missed. Hana Mae Lee is Chelsea, a family friend’s daughter visiting home. She brings a much-needed innocence to balance the absolute chaos.

Robert Englund plays Mr. Salk, an OCD accountant dressed entirely in white. A genius move on Marlowe’s part to include his vocal stylings. Darren Darnborough gives Clive a perfectly sinister intonation. I would happily watch a spinoff following his character’s shenanigans. BUFFY loves of my life James Marsters voices Les. He is outstanding. His subdued nature makes you all the more uncomfortable.

Horror homages arrive not only on the iconic voice casting but in echoes from films like Don’t Look Now, The Shining, Saw, and Beetlejuice, as the plot digs further into the freakishly weird. Lead puppet designer and fabricator Jeff Farley pulls us further into the story with his jarring creations. Part sex doll and all nightmare, our cast of life-sized puppets intrigues and terrifies to no end. The blinking might be the unsettling visual of all. Your brain is already trying to process what you are looking at, and then the puppets’ eyes close sporadically, and it is eerie as hell.

Disturbing and sadistic, ABRUPTIO is a real-time, mind-bending car crash fever dream of the fantastic. It’s a must-see for genre fans looking for something beyond what their imagination or nightmares could ever provide.


 

Abruptio trailer from Evan Marlowe on Vimeo.

After years in production, Abruptio is screening at festivals around the world. The film will next screen in a hybrid format at Panic Fest: in person on April 15 and streaming virtually from April 19 to April 23.
Festival details:
 
 
Abruptio screens at Fantaspoa on April 28 and April 30.

Evan Marlowe


Evan Marlowe

Stars
James Marsters (voice)
Christopher McDonald (voice)
Hana Mae Lee  (voice)
Jordan Peele  (voice)
Robert Englund (voice)
Sid Haig (voice)


Review: Festival favorite ‘A LIFE ON THE FARM’ is a weirdly moo-ving doc. Yup.

A LIFE ON THE FARM

Somerset, England, and a mysterious VHS tape of a local farmer named Charles Carson. A LIFE ON THE FARM is a documentary feature that has had genre festivals buzzing since last year. Well, the chickens have come to roost, as they say, because the film finally arrives in theaters. You are not ready.

Carson’s tape provides viewers with so much unwanted information and detail. Most notably, a distasteful closeup of a bovine afterbirth and a dead cat. That is only the first taste of weirdness, as images get much darker the longer you watch. Carson’s nonchalant attitude toward everything on the farm feels jarring. His nervous laughter echoes throughout the film and viewers are disturbed. A LIFE ON THE FARM is one of the most bizarre home movies ever discovered. It feels wrong to watch, and yet you cannot look away!

Director Oscar Harding happened upon the tape as a child but had only had the pleasure of watching until his father hit stop on the VCR. It isn’t until the VHS reemerges in his adulthood that he feels compelled to dig deeper into the man beyond the vast amount of background provided by Charles along the way.

Carson’s neighbors and fans of the tape share their confusion, fascination, and shock at the tape’s contents, but I stopped in my tracks and took a step back when I realized the deeper meaning behind Charles’s actions. The films are part of his coping mechanism for loneliness, loss of purpose, grief, and, eventually, dementia. Friends honor Carson’s memory with understanding and respect for his complicated circumstances.

A new chapter to the mystery of Charles Carson occurred in 1996 when a new video appeared on YouTube. Harding and his peers are astounded by the short film’s artistry, story, and editing. Carson’s view of mortality is astonishing. A LIFE ON THE FARM is a creepy, enchanting, unusual, and extraordinary chronicling of a particular life.


** Theatrical tour at Alamo Drafthouse theaters throughout the US
starts April 13th (schedule below); both films available On Demand May 9th **


Fan Favorites from Fantastic Fest 2022, CHOP & STEELE, and A LIFE ON THE FARM will be screened as a double feature, with a theatrical rollout starting on April 13th at Alamo Drafthouse theaters throughout the country. The above special screenings will all precede live comedy shows with Found Footage Festival founders Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher, as well as filmmaker Q&As for A LIFE ON THE FARM in select cities. This double feature will screen as part of the theater chain’s fan-favorite “Fantastic Fest Presents” series and will expand further with additional shows in the weeks following.