Slamdance 2023 Unseen Films review: ‘Where is the Lie?’

Where is the Lie?

WHERE IS THE LIE is a really good film. A look at love in the modern age it’s based on a true story film where a woman named Jazen breaks up with her boyfriend. Turning to a dating app she meets the perfect guy who ends up ghosting her. However, what is going on is something else entirely.

I don’t know all of the details of the actual events, and I don’t really care because what is on screen in WHERE IS THE LIE is really good. A look at life and dating in today’s world shines a light on a lot of places that we may not be contemplating, such as catfishing games set up by people with too much time on their hands. It’s the sort of thing that makes me glad I’m too old for those sorts of games.

I really liked WHERE IS THE LIE. The cast headed up by EJ Jallorina is super. We really like pretty much everyone and they pull us into all the mystery of what is going on. I was hooked early and when it was done I wanted to go back and take another ride.

One of the things that I loved was that this film which is very much tied to technology and apps actually manages to use the cinema screen to replicate what we the characters are seeing on their phones and devices. This may not sound like much but more and more in films, we are flashed visuals that are supposed to be a phone or tablet or computer screen, and more often than not the filmmakers don’t manage to make it movie friendly. Yes, we are seeing what the characters are doing but it’s not cinematic. It’s intrusive with a lot of stuff we don’t need. Here director Quark Henares designs the shots so that we both get a sense of what is on the screens the characters are looking at but we also get something that works cinematically. That may sound like a small thing but it’s not, because too often the technology shots simply don’t blend into the film as a whole.

This is a super film. I had a good time. It made me laugh and it made me think about love, the madness of these times, and the crazy things people do.

I want to say more but I don’t want to give anything away. There are a couple of turns I didn’t see coming and I don’t want to spoil anything.

This is a gem.


 

Review: Devotion and deceit go hand in hand in Liz Fania Werner and Carlos Montaner’s ‘WAKING KARMA’

WAKING KARMA

High school senior Karma and her mother Sunny are on the run from her father, an infamous cult leader. Trapped inside a remote wooded compound, her already complicated reality is about to crumble.

The film begins with intriguing flashbacks of a cult murder, newspaper clippings, and a hauntingly saccharine song. The setup immediately captured my attention. A sudden shift in style and time reveals Karma and Sunny living in fear and relying on the kindness of former cult members for protection. Small crumbs of cult life are just enough to keep you invested in Karma’s fate.

Michael Madsen is vile. His iconic voice serves him well as Paul, giving him an effortless presence. He could have been made more menacing with a few tighter shots overall. Kimberly Alexander plays Sunny with extraordinary nuance. This roller coaster ride of a role spans every emotion; adoration, cruelty, and unadulterated honesty. Alexander goes for it.

As Karma, Hannah Christine Shetler is the definition of wide-eyed vulnerability. She navigates chaos and confusion with equal parts innocence and fearlessness. Waking Karma is a terrific vehicle for her talents. 

It takes a solid 25 mins to get to any action, but then it is pretty much maniacal from there on out. The plot gets more sick and twisted as we roll along, both physically and psychologically. WAKING KARMA shines brightest in the scenes between mother and daughter. The shockingly devastating dialogue by director Liz Fania Werner with co-director Carlos Montaner‘s DP work almost demands an in-depth prequel. I have so many questions, and I’d love to see more about the beginnings of this cult. That’s the story we need now.


WAKING KARMA is now available on VOD

 

Review: ‘ALICE, DARLING’ finds Anna Kendrick in a role that vibrates.

ALICE, DARLING

Anna Kendrick plays Alice, a woman at the end of her emotional and physical rope. Her toxic relationship comes to the forefront when she lies to attend a week-long vacation with her best friends. As her personality becomes increasingly manic, her secretive behaviors and stories of Simon raise red flags for those closest to her.

Simon’s psychological manipulation appears in many forms. The constant beratement, the gaslighting, the incessant need to control Alice’s appearance, her whereabouts, what she eats, and when she communicates with him.

Simultaneously frightening and punchable, Charlie Carrick plays Simon with loathsome energy. Kaniehttio Horn, as Tess, brings tough cookie energy. It’s a wonderful balance for Wunmi Mosaku playing Sophie. She arrives with a genuine mother-hen vibe. As tensions rise, Mosaku serves as a mediator and mender. These three women complement each other perfectly. It was a joy to watch such grounded performances.

Anna Kendrick is captivating as Alice. Writer Alanna Francis hands Kendrick a gift by giving the character the hair-pulling disorder, Trichotillomania. She is the physical embodiment of anxiety. Her naturally petite frame and stature lend themselves to heightened physical frailty. But it is Kendrick’s idiosyncracies that place you inside the mind of a woman consumed by terror.

The script’s structure occurs in three distinct acts. The subplot of a local missing woman presents the viewer with a myriad of emotional and narrative possibilities. The gravity of female friendship and the innate protective instincts we carry loom large. The fear women face on a day-to-day basis feels weighty in the narrative. ALICE, DARLING is a keen reclamation of power through the love and support of their fellow sisters.


 

 ALICE, DARLING will be exclusively in AMC Theatres Nationwide January 20, 2023. 
 
 
DIRECTOR: Mary Nighy
WRITER: Alanna Francis
CAST: Anna Kendrick, Kaniehtiio Horn, Charlie Carrick and Wunmi Mosaku 
SYNOPSIS:  In the taut thriller ALICE, DARLING, Oscar® nominee Anna Kendrick (Best Supporting Actress, Up in the Air, 2009) stars as a woman pushed to the breaking point by her psychologically abusive boyfriend, Simon.  While on vacation with two close girlfriends, Alice rediscovers the essence of herself and gains some much-needed perspective. Slowly, she starts to fray the cords of codependency that bind her. But Simon’s vengeance is as inevitable as it is shattering – and, once unleashed, it tests Alice’s strength, her courage, and the bonds of her deep-rooted friendships.
RATING: R
GENRE: Thriller 
RUN TIME: 90 minutes
DISTRIBUTOR: Lionsgate

Review: Ric Maddox’s directorial debut ‘THE STALKING FIELDS’ arrives on VOD today.

A group of civilians runs for their freedom when they find themselves caught in the middle of a Black Ops program designed to cure PTSD.


First-time director Ric Maddox, alongside writers Sean Crampton and Jordan Wisely, brings the story of an elite ex-Navy seal with PTSD placed in a top-secret government rehabilitation program. Using criminal civilians as bait, can our soldier in question be saved? A twist on The Most Dangerous Game (1931) meets Universal Soldier (1992), THE STALKING FIELDS is an action-packed entry into a potential new franchise.

The dialogue has a uniquely poetic perspective at times but quickly becomes contrasted by innumerable F-bombs. I say this as a person who has a sailor’s mouth, and this felt excessive. The quick-take editing has all the horror genre elements. From the lighting to the angles, it is visually intriguing. I must applaud the creativity in location design. Besides the woods, the military behind the scenes could easily take place in a cleverly lit warehouse walled off entirely with plastic sheeting. That budget must have been astronomical. I have to hand it to the CG team for some legit graphics on each monitor. They had my eyes darting from screen to screen. Bravo for the detail.

Performances are solid as hell. Angela Nordang, Adam J. Harrington, and Rachel Markarian all impress. Jake Davidson plays an eager young soldier, Jason Rawlings Jr. He brings a firey spirit, and I wanted to see more. Michael King nails the role of Price. He is naturally alpha but has ceaselessly charming energy to his delivery. He is a true standout. I think Sean Crampton needed more dialogue. I’d love to see more of his backstory in a second film. Taylor Kalupa‘s delivery is solid, as well. I invite Crampton and Wisely to explore more of her past, as well. These two need a weightier redemption. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention William Gabriel Grier’s performance. I could not take my eyes off him. There is another story worth exploring in flashbacks or a spinoff. The final moments of the script have a classic franchise set up as there is not one twist but two. Overall, THE STALKING FIELDS has all the elements you look for in an action thriller; intrigue, fight sequences, guts, and glory.


Gravitas Ventures will release THE STALKING FIELDS on digital platforms on January 17, 2023.

 

The film has a running time of 90:27 minutes and will not be rated by the MPAA.

THE STALKING FIELDS was written by Sean Crampton and Jordan Wiseley and directed by first-time filmmaker and Army veteran Ric Maddox. The film stars Crampton in a breakthrough performance, as well as Taylor Kalupa, Adam J. Harrington, Rachael Markarian, Jordan Wiseley, and Richard O. Ryan.

Drawing from personal experience, both Crampton and Wisely grew up in military families and felt it was important to make a film about the ramifications of PTSD.


 

DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES TO OPEN SXSW 2023!

SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST ANNOUNCES OPENING NIGHT FILM, COMPETITIONS, AND SELECT FILM & TV PROGRAM TITLESDUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES TO OPEN FEST



Austin, Texas, – South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conference and Festivals (March 10-19, 2023) announced the Opening Night film, Feature and Short Competitions, Midnighters, select titles from other categories, and XR Experience for the 30th edition of the SXSW Film & TV Festival. The rest of the lineup will be announced in early February. SXSW Film & TV will open with Paramount Pictures and eOne’s Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, directed and co-written by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley. In the film a charming thief and a band of unlikely adventurers embark on an epic quest to retrieve a lost relic, but things go dangerously awry when they run afoul of the wrong people. The movie brings the rich world and playful spirit of the legendary roleplaying game to the big screen in a hilarious and action-packed adventure starring Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Chloe Coleman, Daisy Head, and Hugh Grant.

“We are thrilled to announce the first wave of our incredible lineup for SXSW 2023,” said Claudette Godfrey, VP Film & TV. “It’s an amazing collection of films, TV series and XR experiences that promise to inspire, entertain and challenge our audiences. We’re also proud to open with Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, a raucous and engaging fantasy adventure, and look forward to welcoming everyone to Austin in March for what promises to be an unforgettable event.”

SXSW draws thousands of fans, film and television creators, press, and industry leaders to immerse themselves in the smartest, most innovative and entertaining new films, TV and XR projects of the year, as well as giving access to hundreds of Conference Sessions, Music and Comedy Showcases, Creative Industry Exhibitions, Mentoring, Meetups and Special Events that define the cross-industry event. The 2023 Film & TV Festival will be in-person only.

Feature films in the SXSW 2023 lineup screen in the following categories: Headliners; Narrative Feature Competition presented by Panavision; Documentary Feature Competition; Narrative Spotlight; Documentary Spotlight; Visions; Midnighters; Global presented by MUBI; 24 Beats Per Second; Festival Favorites, and Special Screenings. The TV program consists of TV Premieres, TV Spotlight, and the Independent TV Pilot Competition. The SXSW 2023 Shorts Film Program presented by IMDbPro will present seven competitive sections. XR Experience Competition, XR Spotlight and XR Special Events programming round out the Film & TV Festival program. All Categories with the exception of Special Screenings and TV Spotlight will be eligible for section-specific Audience Awards.

Global, Visions, 24 Beats, Festival Favorites and additional titles across all other sections will be announced in early February.


HEADLINERS
Big names, big talent: Headliners bring star power to SXSW, featuring red carpet premieres and gala film events with major and rising names in cinema.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
Directors: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Producers: Jeremy Latcham, Brian Goldner, Nick Meyer, Screenwriters: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Michael Gilio
A charming thief and a band of unlikely adventurers undertake an epic heist to retrieve a lost relic, but things go dangerously awry when they run afoul of the wrong people. Cast List: Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Chloe Coleman, Daisy Head and Hugh Grant (Opening Night World Premiere)

Evil Dead Rise
Director/Screenwriter: Lee Cronin, Producer: Rob Tapert
Evil Dead Rise tells a twisted tale of two estranged sisters, played by Sutherland and Sullivan, whose reunion is cut short by the rise of flesh-possessing demons, thrusting them into a primal battle for survival as they face the most nightmarish version of family imaginable. Executive Producers include Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. Cast List: Lily Sullivan, Alyssa Sutherland, Morgan Davies, Gabrielle Echols, Nell Fisher

Problemista
Director/Screenwriter: Julio Torres, Producers: Emma Stone, Dave McCary, Ali Herting
Alejandro (Torres) is an aspiring toy designer from El Salvador, struggling to bring his unusual ideas to life in New York City. As time on his work visa runs out, a job assisting an erratic art-world outcast (Swinton) becomes his only hope to stay in the country and realize his dream. From writer/director Julio Torres comes a surreal adventure through the equally treacherous worlds of New York City and the U.S. Immigration system. Cast List: Julio Torres, Tilda Swinton, RZA (World Premiere)

Flamin’ Hot
Director: Eva Longoria, Producer: DeVon Franklin, Screenwriters: Linda Yvette Chávez, Lewis Colick
Flamin’ Hot is the story of Richard Montañez, the Frito Lay janitor who channeled his Mexican American heritage and upbringing to turn Flamin’ Hot Cheetos into a snack that disrupted the food industry and became a global phenomenon. Cast List: Jesse Garcia, Annie Gonzalez, Dennis Haysbert, Emilio Rivera, Tony Shalhoub, Matt Walsh, Pepe Serna, Bobby Soto, Jimmy Gonzales, Brice Gonzalez (World Premiere)


NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION Presented by Panavision
Panavision, the global provider of optics, cameras, and end-to-end services that power the creative vision of filmmakers, is sponsoring the Narrative Feature Competition. Eight world premieres, and eight unique ways to celebrate the art of storytelling.

I Used To Be Funny (Canada)
Director/Screenwriter: Ally Pankiw, Producers: James Weyman, Jason Aita, Breann Smordin
Sam, a stand-up comedian struggling with PTSD, weighs whether or not to join the search for Brooke, a missing teenage girl she used to nanny. Cast List: Rachel Sennott, Olga Petsa, Jason Jones, Sabrina Jalees, Caleb Hearon, Ennis Esmer, Dani Kind (World Premiere)

Late Bloomers
Director: Lisa Steen, Producers: Alexandra Barreto, Taylor Feltner, Sam Bisbee, Screenwriter: Anna Greenfield
An aimless 28-year-old Brooklynite lands in the hospital after drunkenly breaking her hip being stupid. An encounter with a cranky elderly Polish woman who speaks no English leads to a job caring for her. Neither likes it, but it’s time to grow up. Cast List: Karen Gillan, Margaret Sophie Stein, Jermaine Fowler, Kevin Nealon, Talia Balsam (World Premiere)

Mustache
Director/Screenwriter: Imran J. Khan, Producers: Christina Won, Jessica Sittig, Christopher Storer, Tyson Bidner
It’s the mid-90s and 13-year-old Pakistani-American Ilyas is forced out of his cushy Islamic private school and thrown into public school with non-Muslim kids, all while suffering daily through life with his inescapable pre-pubescent Mustache. Cast List: Atharva Verma, Rizwan Manji, Alicia Silverstone, Hasan Minhaj, Meesha Shafi, Ayana Manji (World Premiere)

Parachute
Director: Brittany Snow, Producers: Jordan Yale Levine, Jordan Beckerman, Brittany Snow, Lizzie Shapiro, Screenwriters: Brittany Snow, Becca Gleason
Riley is determined to recover from her addictions to food and body image when she soon falls for another addiction, Ethan. Cast List: Courtney Eaton, Thomas Mann, Francesca Reale, Gina Rodriguez, Joel McHale, Scott Mescudi, Dave Bautista, Jennifer Westfeldt, Kathryn Gallagher, Chrissie Fit, Kelley Jakle (World Premiere)

Pure O
Director/Screenwriter: Dillon Tucker, Producers: Ricky Fosheim, Dillon Tucker, Ray Lee
A young screenwriter/musician grapples with Pure O, a lesser-known form of OCD, while juggling his recent engagement and his day job at a high end Malibu drug rehab. Inspired by the filmmaker’s own personal true story. Cast List: Daniel Dorr, Hope Lauren, Landry Bender, Jeff Baker, Candice Renee, Breon Gorman, Tim Landfield, Isaac Nippert, Devon Martinez, Clint James (World Premiere)

Raging Grace (United Kingdom)
Director/Screenwriter: Paris Zarcilla, Producer: Chi Thai
A bold coming-of-rage story where Joy, a Filipino immigrant, and her daughter Grace encounter a darkness that threatens all they have worked for. Cast List: Maxine Eigenman, Leanne Best, David Hayman (World Premiere)

Scrambled
Director/Screenwriter: Leah McKendrick, Producers: Gillian Bohrer, Jonathan Levine, Brett Haley, Amanda Mortimer
A broke, single millennial unleashes an existential shitstorm when she freezes her eggs. Cast List: Leah McKendrick, Ego Nwodim, Andrew Santino, Clancy Brown, Laura Ceron, Yvonne Strahovski, June Diane Raphael, Adam Rodriguez, Brett Dier, Sterling Sulieman (World Premiere)

Story Ave
Director: Aristotle Torres, Producers: Lizzie Shapiro, Datari Turner, Jamie Foxx, Aristotle Torres, Screenwriters: Bonsu Thompson, Aristotle Torres
After running away from home, a teenage graffiti artist holds up an unsuspecting MTA worker in a robbery gone right that changes their lives forever. Cast List: Asante Blackk, Luis Guzmán, Alex Hibbert, Melvin Gregg, Coral Peña, Cassandra Freeman, Hassan Johnson (World Premiere)




DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
Eight world premieres: Eight non-fiction stories that demonstrate integrity, energy and unique voices.

Angel Applicant
Director/Screenwriter: Ken August Meyer, Producers: Ken A. Meyer, Jason Roark
A sick man discovers empathetic wisdom on how to cope with his deadly autoimmune disease within the colorful expressive works of the late Swiss-German modern artist, Paul Klee. (World Premiere)

Another Body (United Kingdom, U.S.)
Directors: Sophie Compton, Reuben Hamlyn, Producers: Elizabeth Woodward, Sophie Compton, Reuben Hamlyn, Screenwriters: Sophie Compton, Reuben Hamlyn, Isabel Freeman
Another Body follows a college student after she discovers deepfakes of herself circulating online. (World Premiere)

Geoff McFetridge: Drawing a Life
Director/Producer: Dan Covert, Screenwriters: Erik Auli, Dan Covert, Amy Dempsey, Tara Rose Stromberg
What defines a life? The iconic work of artist Geoff McFetridge is everywhere. But this film is more than a primer on his career—it’s about the choices we confront in trying to lead meaningful lives, and how we use our most precious resource: time. (World Premiere)

Join or Die
Directors/Producers/Screenwriters: Rebecca Davis, Pete Davis
A film about why you should join a club—and why the fate of America may depend on it. Follow the story of America’s civic unraveling through the work of Robert Putnam, whose legendary Bowling Alone findings light a path out of our democracy’s crisis. (World Premiere)

Pay Or Die
Directors: Rachael Dyer, Scott Ruderman, Producers: Rachael Dyer, Scott Ruderman, Yael Melamede
3 American families are on the receiving end of a ransom note. Their journeys reflect how lives are being threatened and taken by the soaring price of insulin, and reveal the harrowing reality of life with illness in the richest country in the world. (World Premiere)

Queendom (France, U.S.)
Director: Agniia Galdanova, Producers: Igor Myakotin, Agniia Galdanova
Gena, a queer artist from a small town in Russia, dresses in otherworldly costumes and protests the government on the streets of Moscow. She stages radical performances in public, which becomes a new form of art and activism – and puts her life in danger. (World Premiere)

Riders on the Storm (Austria)
Directors/Producers: Jason Motlagh, Mark Oltmanns
A young horseman battling to make his name and keep a family tradition alive in the ancient sport of buzkashi learns that fame is a gift and a curse as the Taliban take control of Afghanistan and threaten his life. (World Premiere)

You Were My First Boyfriend
Directors: Cecilia Aldarondo, Sarah Enid Hagey, Producer: Ines Hofmann Kanna
In this high school reunion movie turned inside out, filmmaker Cecilia Aldarondo relives her tortured adolescence, wondering if she remembered it all wrong. (World Premiere)



NARRATIVE SPOTLIGHT
High profile narrative features receiving their World, International, North American, or U.S. premieres at SXSW.

Bloody Hell (Canada)
Director/Screenwriter: Molly McGlynn, Producers: Jennifer Weiss, Liane Cunje
A teenage girl gets diagnosed with a reproductive condition that upends her plans to have sex and propels her into exploring unusual methods to have a sex life, challenging her relationships with everyone in her life, but most importantly, herself. Cast List: Maddie Ziegler, Emily Hampshire, Djouliet Amara, Ki Griffin, D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai (World Premiere)

Deadland
Director: Lance Larson, Producers: Elizabeth Avellan, Bob Bastarache, Jas Shelton, Lance Larson, Tara Pirnia, Chris Wilks, Screenwriters: Lance Larson, Jas Shelton
A U.S. Border Patrol Agent tries to apprehend the ghost of his father, a grave decision that will haunt him forever. Cast List: Roberto Urbina, McCaul Lombardi, Julieth Restrepo, Kendall Rae, Luis Chavez, Julio Cesar Cedillo, Manuel Uriza, Chris Mulkey (World Premiere)

Down Low
Director: Rightor Doyle, Producers: Ashley Fox, Lucas Wiesendanger, Ross Katz, Screenwriters: Phoebe Fisher, Lukas Gage
Down Low is an outrageous comedy about one wild night, a deeply repressed man, the twink who gives him a happy ending, and all the lives they ruin along the way. Cast List: Zachary Quinto, Lukas Gage, Simon Rex, Sebastian Arroyo, Christopher Reed Brown, Audra McDonald, Judith Light (World Premiere)

Frybread Face and Me
Director/Screenwriter: Billy Luther, Producer: Chad Burris
An 11-year-old city boy is sent to his grandmother’s ranch on the Navajo reservation against his will. He is introduced to a new way of life, and an unexpected guest teaches him the importance of family, tradition, and what it means to be a man. Cast List: Kier Tallman, Charly Hogan, Martin Seinsmeir, Kahara Hodges, Ryan Begay, Sarah Natani (World Premiere)

If You Were the Last
Director: Kristian Mercado, Producers: Andrew Miano, Dan Balgoyen, Britta Rowings, Dennis Masel, Gabrielle Nadig, Jessamine Burgum, Kara Durrett, Jon Levin, Sean Woods, Screenwriter: Angela Bourassa
Adrift in their broken-down space shuttle with little hope of rescue, a male and female astronaut argue over whether they’re better off spending their remaining days as friends or something more. Cast List: Anthony Mackie, Zoë Chao, Natalie Morales, Geoff Stults (World Premiere)

Self Reliance
Director/Screenwriter: Jake Johnson, Producers: Jake Johnson, Ali Bell, Joe Hardesty
Given the opportunity to participate in a life or death reality game show, one man discovers there’s a lot to live for. Cast List: Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Andy Samberg, Natalie Morales, Christopher Lloyd, Wayne Brady, GaTa, Emily Hampshire, Mary Holland, Boban Marjanović (World Premiere)

Upon Entry (Spain)
Directors/Screenwriters: Alejandro Rojas, Juan Sebastián Vásquez, Producers: Carles Torras, Carlos Juárez, Xosé Zapata, Sergio Adrià, Alba Sotorra
Upon their arrival at Newark’s airport with their approved residence visas, Diego and Elena are unexpectedly held and subjected to an interrogation by border agents who attempt to discover whether the couple may have something to hide. Cast List: Alberto Ammann, Bruna Cusí, Ben Temple, Laura Gómez (North American Premiere)



DOCUMENTARY SPOTLIGHT
Shining a light on new documentary features receiving their World, International, North American or U.S. premieres at SXSW.

A Disturbance in the Force
Directors: Jeremy Coon, Steve Kozak, Producers: Jeremy Coon, Steve Kozak, Kyle Newman
Travel back to a galaxy far, far away—the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special. Dive into the mystery of how it happened and why 45 years later it has become, much to the chagrin of George Lucas, the ultimate cult classic among Star Wars fans. (World Premiere)

The Arc of Oblivion
Director: Ian Cheney, Producers: Meredith Desalazar, Manette Pottle, Rebecca Taylor
The Arc of Oblivion illuminates the strange world of archives, record-keeping, and memory through a filmmaker’s quixotic quest to build an ark in Maine. (World Premiere)

Being Mary Tyler Moore
Director: James Adolphus, Producers: Lena Waithe, Debra Martin Chase, Ben Selkow, Rishi Rajani, Andrew C. Coles, Laura Gardner
Being Mary Tyler Moore explores Mary’s vanguard career, who, as an actor, performer, and advocate, revolutionized the portrayal of women in media, redefined their roles in show business, and inspired generations to dream big and make it on their own. (World Premiere)

Confessions of a Good Samaritan
Director: Penny Lane, Producer: Gabriel Sedgwick
Director Penny Lane’s decision to become a “Good Samaritan” by giving one of her kidneys to a stranger turns into a funny and moving personal quest to understand the nature of altruism. (World Premiere)

Great Photo, Lovely Life
Directors: Amanda Mustard, Rachel Beth Anderson, Producers: Amanda Mustard, Rachel Beth Anderson, Luke Malone, Screenwriters: Amanda Mustard, Rachel Beth Anderson, Tyler H. Walk, Josef Beeby
A photojournalist turns her lens on the decades of sexual abuse her family and community experienced at the hands of her grandfather in this unflinching portrait of intergenerational trauma, family secrets, and redemption. (World Premiere)

The Herricanes
Director: Olivia Kuan, Producers: James Lee Hernandez, Brian Lazarte, Lisa France, James Short, Olivia Kuan, Justin Baldoni, Andrew Calof
The Houston Herricanes were a women’s full-tackle football team from the 1970’s whose fight to play the game continues to resonate with female athletes today. (World Premiere)

The Lady Bird Diaries
Director: Dawn Porter, Producers: Kim Reynolds, Dawn Porter
From award-winning filmmaker Dawn Porter comes The Lady Bird Diaries, a groundbreaking documentary film that uses Lady Bird’s audio diaries to tell the story of one of the most influential and least understood First Ladies in history. (World Premiere)

Last Stop Larrimah
Director: Thomas Tancred, Producers: Sean Bradley, Rebecca Saunders
Nestled deep in the Australian Outback is the town of Larrimah and its 11 eccentric residents. When one of them mysteriously disappears into thin air, the remaining residents become suspects and a long history of infighting is unveiled. (World Premiere)

The New Americans: Gaming a Revolution
Director/Screenwriter: Ondi Timoner, Producers: Ondi Timoner, David Turner
The New Americans is a visceral, meme-driven journey at the intersection of finance, media, and extremism, which uncovers the connection between the Gamestop squeeze and the Jan 6th Insurrection and reveals explosive possibilities of our digital future. (World Premiere)

Periodical
Director: Lina Lyte Plioplyte, Producer: Pegah Farrahmand
Periodical is an eye-opening documentary that examines science, politics, and mystery of the menstrual cycle, through the experiences of doctors, athletes, movie stars, journalists, activists, and everyday people. (World Premiere)

Who I Am Not (Romania)
Director/Screenwriter: Tünde Skovrán, Producers: Andrei Zinca
There is male, there is female, and then there is I. Born male and female within one single body, a beauty queen and a male-presenting activist break the intersex taboo through a personal and intimate exploration of truth, faith, and belonging. (North American Premiere)



MIDNIGHTERS
Scary, funny, sexy, controversial – eight provocative after-dark features for night owls and the terminally curious.

Aberrance (Mongolia)
Director: Baatar Batsukh, Producers: Trevor Doye, Alexa Khan, Angarag Meguun, Screenwriters: Baatar Batsukh, Byambasuren Ganbat
An estranged couple takes a retreat in the woods. Foreboding neighbors, frivolous friends, and dark unseen forces lead to a shocking conclusion. Cast List: Erkhembayar Ganbat, Selenge Chadraabal, Yalalt Namsrai, Oyundary Jamsranjav, Sukhee Ariunbyamba, Bayarsanaa Batchuluun, Badamtsetseg Batmunkh (North American Premiere)

Brooklyn 45
Director/Screenwriter: Ted Geoghegan, Producers: Seth Caplan, Michael Paszt, Pasha Patriki, Sarah Sharp
In the months following World War II, five old military friends are talked into an impromptu séance, which brings to troubling light each of their haunted pasts. Cast List: Anne Ramsay, Ron E. Rains, Jeremy Holm, Larry Fessenden, Ezra Buzzington, Kristina Klebe (World Premiere)

It Lives Inside
Director: Bishal Dutta, Producers: Raymond Mansfield, Sean McKittrick, Screenwriters: Bishal Dutta, Ashish Mehta
An Indian-American teenager struggling with her cultural identity has a falling out with her former best friend and, in the process, unwittingly releases a demonic entity that grows stronger by feeding on her loneliness. Cast List: Megan Suri, Neeru Bajwa, Mohana Krishnan, Betty Gabriel, Vik Sahay (World Premiere)

Late Night With the Devil (Australia, United Arab Emirates)
Directors/Screenwriters: Colin Cairnes, Cameron Cairnes, Producers: Derek Dauchy, Steven Schneider, Roy Lee, Adam White, Mat Govoni
A live television broadcast of a popular late night talk show in 1977 goes horribly wrong during a demonstration of demonic possession, unleashing evil into the nation’s living rooms. Cast List: David Dastmalchian (World Premiere)

Monolith (Australia)
Director: Matt Vesely, Producer: Bettina Hamilton, Screenwriter: Lucy Campbell
All you have to do is listen. A disgraced journalist turns to podcasting to try and rebuild her career – but her rush to generate headlines soon uncovers a strange artifact, an alien conspiracy, and the lies at the heart of her own story. Cast List: Lily Sullivan (International Premiere)

Talk To Me (Australia)
Directors: Danny Philippou, Michael Philippou, Producers: Samantha Jennings, Kristina Ceyton, Screenwriters: Danny Philippou, Bill Hinzman
Lonely teenager Mia gets hooked on the thrills of conjuring spirits through a ceramic hand, but when she is confronted by a soul claiming to be her dead mother, she unleashes a plague of supernatural forces. Cast List: Sophie Wilde, Miranda Otto, Alexandra Jensen, Joe Bird, Otis Dhanji, Zoe Terakes, Chris Alosio (Texas Premiere)

The Wrath of Becky
Directors/Screenwriters: Matthew Angel, Suzanne Coote, Producers: Raphael Margules, JD Lifshitz, Tracy Rosenblum, Russell Posternak, Chadd Harbold
After living off the grid for two years, Becky finds herself going toe to toe against Darryl, the leader of a fascist organization, on the eve of an organized attack. Cast List: Lulu Wilson, Seann William Scott, Matt Angel, Courtney Gains, Aaron Della Villa, Michael Sirow, Denise Burse-Fernandez, Jill Larson, Kate Siegel (World Premiere)




TV PROGRAM

TV PREMIERES
Presenting world premieres of prestige serials slated for release.

I’m A Virgo
Showrunner/Director/Screenwriter: Boots Riley, Producers: Boots Riley, Michael Ellenberg, Lindsey Springer, Tze Chun, Jharrel Jerome
This is a fantastical coming-of-age joyride about a 13ft-tall young Black man who lives in Oakland, CA. It’s called I’m A Virgo. The series stars Jharrel Jerome, Brett Gray, Kara Young, Allius Barnes, Olivia Washington, Walton Goggins, Mike Epps, and Carmen Ejogo.
(World Premiere)

Mrs. Davis
Showrunner: Tara Hernandez, Directors: Owen Harris, Alethea Jones, Screenwriters/Producers: Tara Hernandez, Damon Lindelof
Mrs. Davis is the world’s most powerful Artificial Intelligence. Simone is the nun devoted to destroying Her. Who ya got? Cast List: Betty Gilpin, Jake McDorman, Andy McQueen (World Premiere)

Slip
Showrunner/Director/Screenwriter: Zoe Lister-Jones, Producers: Zoe Lister-Jones, Ro Donnelly, Dakota Johnson, Katie O’Connell-Marsh, David Fortier, Ivan Schneeberg
Restless inside a marriage that totally works, Slip follows Mae through a fantastical journey of parallel universes as she enters new relationships, trying to find her way back to her partner, and ultimately, herself. Cast List: Zoe Lister-Jones, Tymika Tafari, Whitmer Thomas, Amar Chadha-Patel, Emily Hampshire (World Premiere)



TV SPOTLIGHT
Presenting world premieres of new seasons of prestige series.

Blindspotting Season 2 Premiere
Showrunner/Director: Rafael Casal, Producers: Rafael Casal, Daveed Diggs, Jess Wu Calder, Keith Calder, Emily Gerson Saines, Ken Lee, Tim Palen
Ashley was nipping at the heels of a middle-class life in Oakland until Miles, her partner and father of their son, was suddenly incarcerated, forcing her to move in with his mother and sister as she attempts to navigate the chaos of her life while trying to be a fun mom for her son…with mixed results. Cast List: Jasmine Cephas Jones, Helen Hunt, Benjamin Earl Turner, Atticus Woodward, Jaylen Barron, Candace Nicholas-Lippman, Rafael Casal, Margo Hall, April Absynth, Lance Holloway (World Premiere)



INDEPENDENT TV PILOT COMPETITION
A pilot showcase introducing fresh work from bright new talent, many with an eye towards finding production, completion funds, or a release platform.

A Guide To Not Dying Completely Alone
Showrunner/Screenwriter: Kevin Yee, Director: Yen Tan, Producer: Bekah Sturm
After a near death experience, a queer Asian writer decides to change his life for the better and chronicles his journey in a book. Cast List: Kevin Yee, Brittani Nichols, Alex MacNicoll, Betsy Struxness, Paul Wong (World Premiere)

Chuchi & Adaliz
Showrunner: Ashley Soto Paniagua, Directors: Dani Adaliz, Lance Cameron Holloway, Screenwriters: Ashley Soto Paniagua, Dani Adaliz, Jocelli Paniagua, Producers: Jocelli Paniagua, Heidi Williamson
After losing her job for insider trading, Adaliz moves in with her childhood bestie Chuchi who teaches her how to be poor. Cast List: Ashley Soto Paniagua, Dani Adaliz, Andrea Bashe, Kathryn Peters, Jocelli Paniagua, Selorm Kploanyi, Dariany Santana, Jeremy Habig, Jullian Farris (World Premiere)

Grown
Showrunner/Director/Screenwriter: Jocko Sims, Producers: Jocko Sims, Christophers Santiago, Chaz Hazlitt, Andrew Zolot
After sneaking into a strip club, 14 year old Rogelio, learns a few hard lessons about being man — all thanks to the aid of his older sister Chelly. Cast List: Josiah Gabriel, Giovanni Cristoff, Tristan-Lee Edwards, Angela Mejia-Loggia, Eliza Ramos, Kevin Rodriguez, Nixon Cesar (World Premiere)

Harbor Island
Showrunner/Director/Screenwriter: Calvin Lee Reeder, Producers: Carlos A.F. Lopez, Megan Leonard
A dad joke comic wanders the industrial zone at night. Cast List: Josh Fadem, Sidney Jayne Hunt, Matt Olsen (World Premiere)

Marvin? (Netherlands)
Showrunners/Screenwriters: Anton van der Linden, George Gottl, Director: Anton van der Linden, Producers: Anton van der Linden, Daan Geuke
Two young friends struggling to get ahead in life stumble onto a magical fridge that literally makes their dreams come true and soon learn that their shiny materialistic world is not what they expected. Cast List: Cameron Tharma, Sarah Rose, Sven Ironside, Jay Reaper, Cendy Barlag (World Premiere)

Metal Man
Showrunner: Tomas Pais, Directors: Laurel Parmet, Tomas Pais, Screenwriters: John Patton Ford, Tomas Pais, Laurel Parmet, Producer: Kaelan Housewright
A heavy metal handyman gets called to fix a tub but gets pulled into the drama/life of his customer and must handle more than he signed up for. Cast List: Tomas Pais, Lily Du, Andrew Walke, Da’Vone McDonald, David Massil (World Premiere)

Notarize Me
Director: Erika Rankin, Screenwriters/Producers: Erika Rankin, Brigitte Valdez
BFFs and mobile notary publics, Jackie and Louise, find themselves in intimate situations with wacky strangers as important legal documents get signed. Cast List: Brigitte Valdez, Erika Rankin, Sarah Cornell, Harley Tarlitz (Texas Premiere)



SHORTS PROGRAM Presented by IMDbPro

IMDbPro, the essential resource for entertainment industry professionals, is sponsoring the lineup of short films across six competitive sections. The SXSW 2023 Shorts Film Program presented by IMDbPro will include a selection of original, well-crafted films that take advantage of the short form and exemplify distinctive and genuine storytelling. The membership-based IMDbPro service empowers entertainment professionals with information and tools designed to help them achieve success throughout their career and is a service of IMDb, the world’s most popular and authoritative source for information on movies, TV shows and celebrities.


NARRATIVE SHORTS COMPETITION
A selection of original, well-crafted films that take advantage of the short form and exemplify distinctive and genuine storytelling.

Breaking Fast with a Coca Cola
Director/Screenwriter: Amy Omar, Producers: Karine Benzaria, Jordan Hart, Amy Omar
After growing up in the secular households of their Turkish immigrant parents in the Midwest, Özlem and Ada are desperate to celebrate a tradition of their own. For the first time, they embark on a day of fasting and a night of feasting for Ramadan. (World Premiere)

The Breakthrough
Director/Screenwriter: Daniel Sinclair, Producers: Kate Chamuris, Valerie Steinberg
Jane and Teddy are on the brink of divorce – but when their marital problems come to a sticking point, they have an unexpected breakthrough. (World Premiere)

Closing Dynasty
Director/Screenwriter: Lloyd Lee Choi, Producers: Jon Hsu, Lloyd Lee Choi
On a school day, a 7 year-old hustles strangers for money on the streets of New York City. (North American Premiere)

Deliver Me
Director/Screenwriter: Joecar Hanna-Zhang, Producers: Noam Argov, Jorge Sistos, Joecar Hanna-Zhang
A billionaire’s long-awaited delivery threatens to upend his already tense relationship with his identical husband, who is having an identity crisis of his own. (World Premiere)

Endless Sea
Director/Screenwriter: Sam Shainberg, Producer: Rachel Walden
Carol begins a normal day only to find out that her heart medication has doubled in price. Afraid, but not without hope, she sets out to find a solution, but her journey doesn’t lead to salvation, only a desperate act of revolution. (Texas Premiere)

The Family Circus
Director/Screenwriter: Andrew Fitzgerald, Producer: Josh Cohen
A Vietnamese-American family’s plan to cover up a drunk driving accident begins to unravel as their emotional baggage spills out in front of the police. (Texas Premiere)

Flores del Otro Patio (Colombia, Switzerland)
Director: Jorge Cadena, Screenwriters: Jorge Cadena, Li Aparicio Candama, Producers: Yan Decoppet, Gabriela Bussmann
In north Colombia, a group of queer activists use extravagant performative actions to denounce the disastrous exploitation by the country’s largest coal mine. (International Premiere)

Fuck Me, Richard (Australia, U.S.)
Directors: Lucy McKendrick, Charles Polinger, Screenwriter: Lucy McKendrick, Producers: Jenna Grossano, Lucy McKendrick, Charlie Polinger
Recovering from a broken leg, a romance-obsessed loner finds herself swept up in a passionate long-distance love affair. Richard is perfect in every way, except that he may be a scammer. (World Premiere)

Graveyard of Horses (China)
Director/Screenwriter: Xiaoxuan Jiang, Producer: Zhulin Mo
A frigid winter on the Mongolian steppe, an untimely snowstorm led a pregnant herder and her 8-year-old daughter to places they’ve never been. (North American Premiere)

I Probably Shouldn’t Be Telling You This
Director/Screenwriter: Emma Weinswig, Producers: Emma Weinswig, Will Noyce
When an oversharing, compulsive-lying e-girl is caught in the web of her own lies on her (secretly) favorite podcast, she must finally get off her bullshit. (World Premiere)

It Turns Blue (Iran)
Director/Screenwriter: Shadi Karamroudi, Producers: Shadi Karamroudi, Mehran Noori, Mina Dreki, Theodora Valentis
Pari covers up domestic violence when her brother beats up his 3-year-old daughter. (World Premiere)

The Key (Belgium, France, Palestine, State of)
Director/Screenwriter: Rakan Mayasi, Producers: Frank Barat, Rakan Mayasi, François de Villers, Laura Jumel, Nadine Naous, Patrizia Roletti
An Israeli family’s equilibrium gradually disintegrates as a mysterious sound is heard every evening at the door of their apartment. (North American Premiere)

Leonetty
Director/Screenwriter: Logan Jackson, Producer: Dante Sims
No longer able to live with his mother, young Leonetty is sent to live with his aging grandmother. (World Premiere)

Les Battues (The Fading) (Canada)
Director/Screenwriter: Rafaël Beauchamp, Producer: Léonie Hurtubise
In a small Quebec village, three hunters take possession of the tragedy of a young mother to put their own verdict on it. (World Premiere)

Never Fuggedaboutit
Director/Screenwriter: Dustin Waldman, Producers: Dustin Waldman, Nicholas Nazmi, Sariel Hana Friedman
Amid the high anxiety of post-9/11 NYC, a struggling post-production house is hired to remove a shot of the Twin Towers from the intro to a hit TV show. (World Premiere)

Rest Stop
Director/Screenwriter: Crystal Kayiza, Producers: Jalena Keane-Lee, Brit Fryer
On a bus ride from New York to Oklahoma, Meyi, a young Ugandan-American girl, realizes her place in the world through her mother’s ambitious effort to reunite their family. (Texas Premiere)

Scotty’s Vag
Director/Screenwriter: Chaconne Martin-Berkowicz, Producers: Cailin Lobb-Rabe, Chaconne Martin-Berkowicz, Gia Rigoli, Vero Kompalic
The night of a sorority hazing event, a college freshman learns just how far she’s willing to go to impress an older girl. (World Premiere)

Sisters of the Rotation (Lebanon)
Directors: Michel Zarazir, Gaby Zarazir, Screenwriters: The Zarazir Brothers, Producer: Madame Le Tapis
At the Sisters of the Rotation’s convent, the Earth doesn’t spin by itself. (North American Premiere)

Slick Talk
Directors: Courtney Loo, David Karp, Screenwriter: Courtney Loo, Producer: Katie Mykrantz
Feeling the pressure of an important meeting with a potential music manager, Kiki struggles with her identity as an outsider in the Chinese-American community, a culture vulture in the hip-hop world, and a potential sellout for mainstream success. (World Premiere)

Take Me Home
Director/Screenwriter: Liz Sargent, Producer: Minos Papas
After their mother’s death, an intellectually disabled woman and her estranged sister must learn to communicate in order to move forward. (Texas Premiere)



DOCUMENTARY SHORTS COMPETITION
Slices of life from across the documentary spectrum.

Ball People
Director: Scott Lazer, Producer: Tripp Kramer, Talia Cohen
Behind the scenes of the US Open Ball Crew tryouts. (World Premiere)

Birdsong (United Kingdom)
Directors: Omi Zola Gupta, Sparsh Ahuja, Producers: Sparsh Ahuja, Omi Zola Gupta, Dorn Bouttasing
Birdsong is an intimate portrait of the dying whistled language of the Hmong people in northern Laos. (International Premiere)

The Bus (Spain)
Director: Sandra Reina, Screenwriters: Sandra Reina, Fran Menchón, Producer: Valérie Delpierre
This is a round-trip bus ride, which takes passengers on Friday mornings towards the weekend, and picks them up on Sunday afternoons to take them back to the place where they came from. (World Premiere)

The Dads
Director/Screenwriter: Luchina Fisher, Producers: Shan Shan Tam, Luchina Fisher
When five fathers of trans kids join Dennis Shepard, the father of slain gay college student Matthew Shepard, for a weekend fishing trip in rural Oklahoma, they find common purpose across races, generations, and experiences. (World Premiere)

El Bastón (Colombia, U.S.)
Director: Nemo Allen, Producers: Nemo Allen, Aditi Natasha Kini, Hanna Wallis, Juan Blanco García
Two filmmakers, one mother and one son, find answers and strength as they document the struggles of Colombia’s Indigenous Nasa, decades apart. (Texas Premiere)

Margie Soudek’s Salt and Pepper Shakers
Director: Meredith Moore, Producer: Jonna McKone
An artist and VFX instructor connects with her aging grandmother, Margie, in a documentary short on collecting, artmaking, and obsessiveness as a way to enhance our realities. (Texas Premiere)

Mother of the Dawn
Director: Janell Shirtcliff, Screenwriters: Angie Simms, Tommy Savas, Producer: Tommy Savas
In the early 1950s in a remote corner of Brazil, a female truck driver named Tia Neiva started having visions of extraterrestrial spirits; shortly after, she began to gain a following called Vale do Amanhecer (Valley of the Dawn). (World Premiere)

Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó (Grandma & Grandma)
Director: Sean Wang, Producers: Sean Wang, Sam Davis
Nǎi Nai (奶奶) is my grandma. Wài Pó (外婆) is also my grandma. Together, they are my grandmas. Meet my grandmas. (World Premiere)

Puffling (United Kingdom)
Director: Jessica Bishopp, Producers: Alice Hughes, Gannesh Rajah, Ada Benjamínsdóttir
On a remote Icelandic island, teenagers Birta and Selma take it upon themselves to counteract society’s harmful impact on nature, exchanging night-time parties for nocturnal puffin rescues in a coming-of-age story for young adults and puffins alike. (World Premiere)

Roger J. Carter: Rebel Revolutionary
Director: Justin Fairweather, Producers: Zachary Kingham-Seagle, Johnny Starke
Roger J. Carter: Rebel Revolutionary follows the Chicago portrait artist as he creates staggering images of black revolutionaries using hundreds of toy soldiers, representing the wars the marginalized face as they dismantle an established system. (World Premiere)

Suddenly TV (Qatar)
Director/Producer: Roopa Gogineni
A group of young Sudanese create an imaginary television station at a besieged sit-in. Interviewing protestors from around the country, they confront the violence of the regime and conjure a new Sudan. (North American Premiere)

Where the Sun Always Shines (United Kingdom)
Director: Rosie Baldwin, Producer: Lucy Draper
The residents of a quintessential but neglected British seaside town grapple with research suggesting that their home could disappear within their lifetimes due to the climate crisis. (World Premiere)



ANIMATED SHORTS COMPETITION
An assortment of stories told using traditional animation, computer-generated effects, stop-motion, and everything in between.

A Tiny Man (France)
Directors: Aude David, Mikaël Gaudin, Screenwriters: Mikaël Gaudin, Aude David, Producer: Jérôme Blesson
With a delicately penciled animation style, A Tiny Man tells a moral tale of nefarious schemes gone awry. As a husband faces the consequences of his actions, he perhaps begins to realize that maybe size does in fact matter. (Texas Premiere)

Ashkasha (Argentina, Spain)
Director/Screenwriter/Producer: Lara Maltz
Ashkasha is a living being guided by curiosity. This causes her to lose her head and get trapped in the depths, where she is submerged on a discovery journey. (US Premiere)

Beyond The Fringe (Spain)
Directors: Han Tang, Costanza Baj, Screenwriter/Producer: Han Tang
A story about a little paper figure’s journey of finding the strength to leave its home, the notebook where it was born, to explore the great world beyond. (World Premiere)

Christopher at Sea (France, United Kingdom, U.S.)
Director: Tom CJ Brown, Screenwriters: Tom CJ Brown, Laure Desmazières, Producers: Emmanuel-Alain Raynal, Pierre Baussaron, Amanda Miller, Hanna Stolarski, Nick Read, Emily-Jane Brown
Christopher goes to sea. (Texas Premiere)

The Debutante (United Kingdom)
Director/Screenwriter: Elizabeth Hobbs, Producer: Abigail Addison
A spirited young woman persuades a hyena from London Zoo to take her place at a dinner dance being held in her honour. (Texas Premiere)

Ice Merchants (Portugal)
Director/Screenwriter: João Gonzalez, Producers: Bruno Caetano, Michaël Proença
Every day, a father and his son jump with a parachute from their vertiginous cold house, attached to a cliff, to go to the village on the ground far away where they sell the ice they produce daily. (Texas Premiere)

Remove Hind Legs Before Consumption (Switzerland)
Directors: Lukas Wind, Finn Meisner, Leslie Herzig, Producer: Gerd Gockell
In an insect food farm, one lucky cricket survives its certain death. (International Premiere)

Sandwich Cat (Spain)
Director/Screenwriter: David Fidalgo, Producers: Daniel Rodriguez, Laura Doval
David lives alone with his kitty, Sandwich Cat. It seemed like an ordinary day, but an unexpected visit will lead him to a crucial reflection to humanity. (International Premiere)

Spring Roll Dream (United Kingdom)
Director: Mai Vu, Screenwriter: Chloe White, Producer: Thijme Grol
Linh is a Vietnamese single mother who’s successfully forged a life for herself and her son in America. But she is confronted with the past and culture she left behind and the question of where it belongs in her family’s new life. (Texas Premiere)

Sprout
Director/Screenwriter/Producer: Zora Kovac
After an agoraphobic scientist accidentally creates a baby-like plant creature, their connection threatens to upend his reclusive way of life. (World Premiere)



MIDNIGHT SHORTS COMPETITION
Bite-sized bits for all of your sex, gore, and hilarity cravings.

Dead Enders
Directors: Fidel Ruiz-Healy, Tyler Walker, Screenwriters: Fidel Ruiz-Healy, Tyler Walker, Jordan Michael Blake, Conor Murphy, Producers: Raven Jenson, Amanda Crown, Gregory Barnes, Conor Murphy, Nico Alvo, Jordan Michael Blake, Eduardo Ruiz-Healy
A disaffected gas station clerk finds out why they call it the “graveyard shift” after oil drillers set loose an ancient race of mind-controlling parasites.(World Premiere)

Every House is Haunted
Director/Screenwriter: Bryce McGuire, Producer: Isaiah Smallman
A struggling couple moves into a haunted house… on purpose. (World Premiere)

The Flute (Ireland, U.S.)
Director: Nick Roney, Screenwriters: Nick Roney, Ed Leer, Producers: Brendan Garrett, Ryland Burns
Fleeing a long-term relationship, a young man seeks refuge with his best friends. After discovering their strange instruments, he’ll learn the bachelor lifestyle is not as sweet as it sounds. (World Premiere)

Kodama
Director/Screenwriter: Brian M Tang, Producers: Penny Lin, Brendan Bennett, Norrie Palmer, Brian M Tang
Arthur, a member of an elite SWAT Samurai team, embarks on a rescue mission into the spirit world in order to recover his father from vengeful Japanese Yokai spirits. (World Premiere)

The Mundanes
Directors/Screenwriters: Nicole Daddona, Adam Wilder, Producers: Eric Hendricks, Nicole Daddona, Adam Wilder
Get to know the Mundanes, a faceless suburban family with an unusual appetite. (World Premiere)

Pennies from Heaven
Director: Sandy Honig, Screenwriters: Sandy Honig, Annabel Meschke, Sabina Meschke, Producer: Jake Honig
Pennies from Heaven is a short comedy about two eccentric twin sisters who stumble upon a pickup truck full of pennies and follow the adventure wherever it takes them. (World Premiere)

Pussy Love (Germany)
Director/Screenwriter/Producer: Linda Krauss
Hey Puss! Still playing hard to get? Let me be your pussycat. (World Premiere)

Run
Director/Screenwriter: Alex Prager, Producers: Vincent Landay, Alex Prager, Lisa Lou Ziven
Run celebrates the absurdity of being alive today.

Vibrator Girl
Director: Kara Strait, Screenwriters: Morgane Ciot, Zoe Mintz, Producers: Morgane Ciot, Zoe Mintz
A young woman suffers the eerie consequences of her compulsive vibrator use. (World Premiere)

We Forgot About The Zombies
Director/Screenwriter: Chris McInroy, Producers: Kris Phipps, Jarrod Yerkes, Stacey Bell
Two dudes think they found the cure for zombie bites. (Texas Premiere)

You’re Not Home (Ireland)
Director/Screenwriter: Derek Ugochukwu, Producer: Gregory Burrowes
When an ominous mould appears in their room, two African brothers seeking asylum are faced with a dark entity lurking within their direct provision centre. (Texas Premiere)



TEXAS SHORTS COMPETITION
An offshoot of our regular shorts program, composed of work shot in, about, or somehow relating to the Lone Star state.

Breaking Silence
Directors: Amy Bench, Annie Silverstein, Producers: Monique Walton, Amy Bench
A portrait of a Deaf activist and his formerly incarcerated daughter who build new bonds through their experiences in the criminal justice system. (Texas Premiere)

Call Me Mommy
Directors: Haley Alea Erickson, Taylor Washington, Screenwriter: Haley Alea Erickson, Producers: Brittany Reeber, David Tenczar
A pedantic mother-to-be hires a stranger to role-play as her unborn daughter. (World Premiere)

Dressed
Director/Screenwriter: Bethiael Alemayoh, Producer: Noam Argov
A former bride-to-be attempts to sell her wedding dress. (World Premiere)

Exit 238
Director/Producer: Henry Davis
In the fall in Austin, TX, the extraordinary roosting display of the Purple Martin attracts people of many walks of life to the Capital Plaza shopping center. (Texas Premiere)

Eyestring (Argentina, U.S.)
Director: Javier Devitt, Screenwriters: Javier Devitt, Alena Chinault, Producer: Alena Chinault
With a mysterious string growing from her eye and questionable advice from a hotline service, Veronica is led on a strange quest for answers. (World Premiere)

Funny Face
Director: Jude Hope Harris, Screenwriters: Krista Fatka, Jude Hope Harris, Producers: Genevieve Jones, Nick Vitale
When country singer Randy travels to take care of his sister Sophie as she recovers from facial feminization surgery, he meets her girlfriend, Morgan, for the first time. The three bond over family history, love, and an extremely chaotic home nurse. (World Premiere)

La Cosecha
Director: Samuel Díaz Fernández, Screenwriters: Ái Vuong, Samuel Díaz Fernández, Producer: Ái Vuong
As one of many residents who lack access to fresh food in Austin, Nolvia Castillo takes the driver’s seat and distributes vegetables to her neighbors. When filmmaker Ai Vuong rides along, they speak the language of immigrants: memories of food. (World Premiere)

When You Left Me On That Boulevard
Director/Screenwriter: Kayla Abuda Galang, Producers: Alifya Ali, Kayla Abuda Galang, David Oconer, Udoy Rahim, Samantha Skinner
Teenager Ly and her cousins get high before a boisterous family Thanksgiving at their auntie’s house in southeast San Diego in 2006. (Texas Premiere)

Wüm
Director/Screenwriter: Anna Margaret Hollyman, Producers: David Hartstein, Seana Flanagan, Shelby Hadden
Bennett, a nonbinary new parent, joins a Mommy Group called Wüm. What is supposed to be a supportive space turns into a Hipster-Stepford-Wife nightmare with Bennett being smothered in the middle of white lady “wokeness.” (World Premiere)



MUSIC VIDEO COMPETITION
A range of classic, innovative, and stylish work showcasing the scope of music video culture.

alt-J – ‘The Actor’ (United Kingdom) / Director: Saskia Dixie

Amanda Sum – ‘Different Than Before’ (Canada) / Director/Screenwriter: Mayumi Yoshida

Arlo McKinley – ‘Stealing Dark from the Night Sky’ / Director: Matt Reynolds

Ben Abraham – ‘If I Didn’t Love You’ / Director: Jillian Bell

Diplo feat Miguel – ‘Don’t Forget My Love’ / Director: Kinopravda, Screenwriters: Viktor Horvath, Zoltan Aprily

Doechii – ‘Crazy’ / Director: C Prinz

Drew Ashby – ‘Her’ / Directors: Chris Scholar, Bevin Brown

Kuba Kawalec – ‘I Died’ (Poland) / Director/Screenwriter: Zuzanna Plisz

Little Simz – ‘Point and Kill’ (United Kingdom) / Director: Ebeneza Blanche

Mac Miller – ‘Colors and Shapes’ / Director: Sam Mason

Michael Kiwanuka – ‘ Beautiful Life’ / Director: Phillip Youmans

Mick Jenkins – ‘Truffles ‘ (United Kingdom, U.S.) / Director: Andre Muir

Mothermary – ‘Coming for You Remix’ / Directors/Screenwriters: Larena Danielle Winn, Elyse Winn

Number One Popstar – ‘Dance Away the Pain’ / Director/Screenwriter: Kate Hollowell

Pearl Derringer – ‘Little Baby (feat. Margo Price)’ / Director: Kimberly Stuckwisch, Screenwriters: Pearl Derringer, Kimberly Stuckwisch

Pranav Bhasin, Rohini Maiti – ‘Screaming on the Fly’ (India) / Director/Screenwriter: Pranav Bhasin

Residente – ‘This is Not America ft. Ibeyi’ / Director: Gregory Ohrel

S+C+A+R+R – ‘Never Give Up’ (France) / Director: Jack Antoine Charlot

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – ‘Wolf’ / Director: Allie Avital

Zolita – ‘Somebody I F*cked Once’ / Director/Screenwriter: Zolita



XR EXPERIENCE

The immersive arts are redefining how we experience the world around us. The projects presented in our XR Experience Competition, XR Experience Spotlight, and XR Experience Special Event sections emphasize storytelling, ingenuity, and also showcase how artists of all types are embracing this new medium.

XR Experience Competition
World Premieres of exciting immersive work.

Aespa VR Concert at Kwangya (Republic of Korea, U.S.)
Director: Soo-man Lee, Producer: Junyoung Park
“Aespa’s first concert at Kwangya, the artists’ virtual existence coexisting with the future.” – SM Culture Universe. (World Premiere)

Body of Mine VR
Director/Producer/Screenwriter: Cameron Kostopoulos
Experience gender dysphoria and trans identity with Body of Mine VR, an intimate experience that takes you inside the body of another gender. (World Premiere)

Consensus Gentium (United Kingdom)
Director/Screenwriter: Karen Palmer, Producers: Tom Millen, Thalia Mavros, Jackson Lapsley Scott, Tuyet Huynh
Consensus Gentium is an emotionally responsive film app designed to be experienced on a mobile phone. Set in a near future of surveillance and bias AI that watches you back. (World Premiere)

The District VR (Germany)
Directors: Dennis Lisk, Ioulia Isserlis, Max Sacker, Producers: Dennis Lisk, Fabian Vogelsteller, Ioulia Isserlis
Welcome to The District VR, a music-driven 3D world full of vibrant games and virtual live entertainment. Put on a VR headset and dive into a virtual twin of Berlin. Be the DJ, use provided equipment, and mix music live in front of a virtual crowd. (World Premiere)

El Beat (Colombia)
Directors: Irene Lema, Sergio Bromberg, Producers: Rafael Ospino, Irene Lema, Screenwriter: Irene Lema
El Beat is a cross-platform experience (interactive film and VR), telling the story of Benkos Biohó, enslaved African and founder of the first free town in the Americas. It is a tribute to the African diaspora and the Black Power of Latin America. (World Premiere)

Find WiiLii – Ep.1 The Gate-Crasher (Republic of Korea)
Directors: Mina Hyeon, Sooyoung Choe, Producer: Sohee Kim, Screenwriters: Sooyoung Choe, Mina Hyeon
On the first day as a newcomer at the Teleportation Service Company IIOIIG, the ordinary mission flows unexpectedly, meeting a stranger. (World Premiere)

Forager: Immersive Multi-sensory Experience (Canada, U.S.)
Directors: Winslow Porter, Elie Zananiri, Producers: Winslow Porter, Casta Zhu, Screenwriters: Winslow Porter, Elie Zananiri, Adam Lerman, Daniel Perlin
In this immersive, multi-sensory experience guests will experience the complete life-cycle of mushrooms. Starting as a spore floating to the forest floor, you become an integral part of this essential, live-giving process. (World Premiere)

Fresh Memories: The Look (Czechia, Ukraine)
Directors/Screenwriters: Ondřej Moravec, Volodymyr Kolbasa, Producers: Ondřej Moravec, Robin Pultera
Look into the eyes of Ukrainian people whose home has been taken away by war. (World Premiere)

The Invited (United Kingdom)
Directors: Davy McGuire, Kristin McGuire, Producers: Davy McGuire, Nesta Nelson, Dan Tucker, Screenwriters: Ben Steiger-Levine, Richard Hurford
The Invited reimagines the gothic story of Dracula in a solitary séance in which a handcrafted fine art pop-up book comes to life with vivid augmented reality animations to serve as a conduit for Dracula’s curse to re-enter the modern world. (World Premiere)

Jailbirds- The Eye of the Artist (Belgium, France)
Director/Screenwriter: Thomas Villepoux, Producers: Griselda Gonzalez Gentile, Francois Klein
Jailbirds takes place in a modern hell prison ruled by a vicious Chief Warden. But in this living nightmare, one guy, Felix, is always happy. It enrages the Chief Warden who will do everything he can to discover Felix’s secret. (World Premiere)

JFK Memento (France, U.S.)
Director: Chloé Rochereuil, Producer: Victor Agulhon
JFK Memento is a VR documentary chronicling JFK’s assassination. Narrated by the last living witnesses of the events, it explores the defining moments of the investigation as archive photos and films remastered in 3D come to life in the historic sites. (World Premiere)

Once a Glacier
Director/Screenwriter: Jiabao Li
Once a Glacier is a VR film about a girl and her relationship with a glacier. As the girl grows older, the piece of ice is threatened. The viewer is taken on a journey through her seemingly futile efforts to protect what was once an entire glacier. (World Premiere)

Rockets, by Pillow (Brazil)
Director/Producer/Screenwriter: Lucas Rizzotto
The world’s first VR narrative designed for lying down in bed. Control a brave little rocket named Crimson through a number of mind-bending puzzles as you attempt to save the Universe from a terrible evil you set free. (World Premiere)

Stay Alive, My Son (Chapters 1 & 2) (Greece, U.S.)
Director/Producer/Screenwriter: Victoria Bousis
Stay Alive, My Son takes players on a fantastical, interactive, and powerful journey through the mind and heart of Pin Yathay as he relives a tragic past and loss of his son during the Cambodian genocide, but eventually finds his salvation and heals. (World Premiere)

Whipped Cream “The Dark” (Canada)
Directors: Caroline Cecil (aka Whipped Cream), Will Selviz, Producer: Brenda Medina Carmona, Screenwriter: Caroline Cecil
The Dark, featuring Monstercat artists Whipped Cream, Jasiah, and Crimson Child, presents a VR experience that blends EDM and opera music with photorealistic holographic performances in an emotion-oriented story about a toxic relationship. (World Premiere)



XR Experience Spotlight
Shining a spotlight on acclaimed immersive projects.

Behind The Dish (France, U.S.)
Director: Chloé Rochereuil, Producers: Victor Agulhon, Jonathan Gleit
Behind the Dish is a virtual reality docu-series that dives into the world of gastronomy. Through three 10-minute episodes in 360° film, meet extraordinary women chefs revolutionizing the food industry and watch their cuisine in super-sized macro 3D.

Eggscape (Argentina)
Director: German Heller, Producers: German Heller, Lucila Trobbiani, Screenwriters: German Heller, Federico Heller, Jorge Tereso
An MR experience about terrified little eggs struggling to stay alive in a world full of enemies. Play in an unprecedented way with the physical world, and build your own adventure with friends mixing the digital with the real. (North American Premiere)

The Eye and I Vol. I (Taiwan)
Directors: Hsin-Chien Huang, Jean-Michel Jarre, Producer: Hsiao-Yue Tsao, Screenwriter: Hsin-Chien Huang
The Eye and I is a VR experience that illuminates the surveillance crisis with music from legendary electronic musician Jean-Michel Jarre and visuals from award-winning VR director Hsin-Chien Huang. (International Premiere)

Figural Bodies (United Kingdom)
Directors: Clarice Hilton, Neal Coghlan, Producers: Susanna Dye, Kat Hawkins
Figural Bodies challenges and reimagines the normative and ableist ways the body is understood and represented through immersive technology. This dance mocap performance explores fantastical interaction and embodiment beyond the humanoid avatar form (World Premiere)

In Pursuit Of Repetitive Beats (United Kingdom)
Director/Screenwriter: Darren Emerson, Producers: Ashley Cowan, Dan Tucker
A multi-sensory joyride into the heart of a revolution in dance. Grab your friends and plug into a virtual reality adventure that transports you into the early days of the Acid House movement. Share in an experience that shaped a generation. (North American Premiere)

Lou (Canada)
Directors: Martine Asselin, Annick Daigneault, Producers: John Hamilton, Sebastien Gros, Screenwriters: Annick Daigneault, Martine Asselin, Louis-François Archambault-Therrien
Experience the world with the sensitivity of a person with autism. (U.S. Premiere)

Mrs Benz (United Kingdom)
Director: Eloise Singer, Producer: Siobhan McDonnell, Screenwriters: Eloise Singer, Jedidjah Noomen
Travel back in time to 1886 with Bertha Benz and discover how her journey changed the course of history. (North American Premiere)

Shib the Metaverse
Directors: Marcie Jastrow, Sherri Cuono, Producer: Brandie Konopasek
The Metaverse is the culmination of our history as a community, virtually displayed, in a layer of beautiful visuals that showcase our innovation and unity with a place to truly call home. (World Premiere)

Spring Odyssey (France)
Director: Elise Morin, Producer: Lucid Realities, Screenwriter: Sabrina Calvo
Tangible, material sculptures await the digital in the exhibition space. The display invites a reversal of our apprehension of the relationship between reality and the digital by completing the gaps of one and the other. (International Premiere)

Temporal World: A Haptisonic Virtual Reality Memory World (Germany)
Director/Producer: Chloé Lee
Temporal World is a haptisonic VR experience inspired by the artist’s memories in a place where she has no personal history. Visitors explore and shape a landscape that is as fragmented and fickle as memory itself while wearing a custom haptic coat. (International Premiere)

UnEarthed (United Kingdom)
Director: Jamie Davies, Producer: Jennifer Mortimer, Screenwriters: Jamie Davies, Phil Porter
UnEarthed is a spectacular interactive adventure into the natural world, inspiring people to respect, protect, and restore our planet’s biodiversity, through impactful learning and entertainment. (North American Premiere)

You Destroy. We Create. (Germany)
Directors/Producers: Felix Gaedtke, Gayatri Parameswaran
Witness how Ukrainian art and culture have become targets of the ongoing war, and meet the inspiring people on the frontlines protecting it.

Yuki MR (Brazil)
Director: Kako, Producer: Lia Pinheiro, Screenwriters: Kako, Flavio Mattos, Lia Pinheiro, Marcelo Nery
Yuki MR is an upbeat mix of bullet-hell in Mixed Reality! Take your favorite toy in your hand to defeat evil creatures in a multidimensional universe. (Texas Premiere)



XR Experience Special Events

Neo-Wulin: The Era of Black Ark (China)
Director/Screenwriter: Guanyu, Producers: Chenchenchen, Bingbing Wang
Neo-Wulin is the first virtual performance series IP in China created by the OXYZ3 team.
Each musician will have a unique music world that combines performance, exhibition, and social interaction, and can be constantly extended. (International Premiere)



COMPETITION AWARDS
The Narrative Feature Competition, the Documentary Feature Competition, Poster Design, and Special Awards will be announced on Tuesday, March 14 along with all the Short Film Program winners, which are eligible for Jury Awards within their respective screening categories. All film categories, except Special Screenings and TV Spotlight, will be eligible for category-specific Audience Awards, which will be certified by the accounting firm of Maxwell Locke & Ritter and announced via sxsw.com the following week.

SXSW is proud to be an official qualifying festival for the Academy Awards® Short Film competition. Winners of our Best Animated, Best Narrative and Best Documentary Short Film categories become eligible for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards (Oscars). Any British Short Film or British Short Animation that screens at SXSW is eligible for BAFTA nomination. Films are also eligible for the Independent Spirit Awards, more information on eligibility here.

In addition to film festival screenings, registrants also have access to the full range of content available during SXSW including Conference Keynotes, Featured Speakers, Mentor Sessions, Networking Meet Ups, Music Showcases, Comedy Festival Showcases, Exhibitions and Professional Development. For more information on everything SXSW Online has to offer, please visit sxsw.com.

About SXSW Film Festival
Now in its 30th year, SXSW Film & TV Festival brings together creatives of all stripes over nine days to experience a diverse lineup and access to the SXSW Music and Comedy Festivals plus SXSW Conference sessions with visionaries from all corners of the entertainment, media, and technology industries.

About SXSW
SXSW dedicates itself to helping creative people achieve their goals. Founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas, SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of tech, film, music, education, and culture. An essential destination for global professionals, the annual March event features sessions, music and comedy showcases, film screenings, exhibitions, professional development and a variety of networking opportunities. SXSW proves that the most unexpected discoveries happen when diverse topics and people come together. SXSW 2023 will take place March 10 – 19, 2023. For more information, please visit sxsw.com. To register for the event, please visit sxsw.com/attend.

SXSW 2023 is sponsored by White Claw, Volkswagen, Itaú, and The Austin Chronicle


Review: ‘MAKE PEOPLE BETTER’ pits science against ethics in Cody Sheehy’s new docu-thriller. It’s one hell of a conversation starter.

MAKE PEOPLE BETTER


A Film by Cody Sheehy

Scientists, tech journalists, ethicists, and filmmaker Cody Sheehy navigate the genome technology space of genetic tailoring. In 2018, world-renowned Chinese geneticist He “JK” Jiankui ignited a controversial firestorm when his edited embryos produced twin girls without the public support of the scientific community. MAKE PEOPLE BETTER is the story of the martyr for the scientists who thought this was a great idea until the negative PR did not serve them.

Understanding the global uproar the Covid 19 vaccine caused, the idea of an “embryonic vaccine” might cause mass hysteria. But what if we would prevent the existence of disease before birth? With scientific timelines displaying those who laid the framework of genetic modification, playing God is slowly becoming a reality.

“Ryan” takes an emotionally invested approach as JK’s publicist. He speaks in disguise, understanding the sensitive nature of everything he is about to reveal. Since Ryan has a sister with a painful genetic disease, his interest lies in protecting the children and JK’s bold innovation. Politics, science, government regulations, and public opinion clash as JK’s work is exposed before publication. The Chinese government rescinds its promise of protection.

The title of the film speaks volumes. “Make People Better” has innumerable interpretations. If we can stop disease, isn’t that what we want? On the other hand, choosing the attributes of a child, blue eyes and blonde hair, feels like a slippery slope on numerous levels. But, MAKE PEOPLE BETTER does an excellent job of putting scientific advances into perspective. Though instantly, the notion of socioeconomic comes to mind. What makes any of this technology available to those whose communities already struggle to receive rudimentary medical care? Weighing the positives and negatives will be an ever-evolving discussion. MAKE PEOPLE BETTER is a stunning continuation of a complex conversation. Ethical or not, it will not stop.


 

MAKE PEOPLE BETTER is available on TVOD Now!

In 2018, the Chinese scientist Dr. He Jiankui crossed a Rubicon in human evolution by altering the genetic structure of embryos to produce the world’s first genome-edited babies. This controversial experiment, supported by China’s government and top U.S. scientists, led to an
international uproar and swift moves by Chinese authorities to disappear not just Dr. He, but the twin girls whose genes he had edited. The documentary thriller MAKE PEOPLE BETTER reveals the unknown story behind this historic scientific event from the perspectives of those who were there including a whistleblower’s testimony, never-before-seen interviews with He Jiankui, and the depiction of a world being awakened to a future where rival governments and corporations compete to make designer babies the new normal.



Directed By: Cody Sheehy

Produced By: Cody Sheehy, Samira Kiani, Mark Monroe


https://makepeoplebetterfilm.com/


 

Review: Who’s sorry now? ‘THE APOLOGY’ will be in theaters and streaming simultaneously on Shudder and AMC+ this Friday.

present


THE APOLOGY

Anna Gunn plays Darlene, a woman whose daughter went missing 20 years ago. After a long day of preparations to host Christmas Day with the help of her adoring neighbor and best friend, Gretchen, a knock on the door changes the trajectory of her night and life. Darlene enters a fight for truth and revenge. Writer-director Alison Star Locke challenges audiences to contemplate grief, unresolved trauma, and guilt in an explosive confrontation of a survivor’s deepest fantasies.

Locke’s script sets a solid pace, with details of her daughter’s disappearance slowly revealing themselves, unrequited love, past regressions, and secrets boiling over. Darlene’s ex-brother-in-law lands on her doorstep under the guise of a surprise family reunion, but his ulterior motive involves a revelation in Sally’s case. The information he’s been sitting on as Darlene relentlessly searched for Sally, became an advocate for other families, and got her alcoholism under control. The rage and fear evolve into a knockdown, drag-out fight between redemption and revenge. 

Compounded by the raging snow outside, any turmoil coming from the house is more than muffled. This simple device proves to be a wonderful segway for Gretchen to reenter the story. Janeane Garofalo nails this role. She’s funny, down to earth, and perfectly wonderful. Her iconic snark lies underneath the surface of a woman whose love for Darlene surpasses all things. Linus Roache plays Jack with a presumptuous air that comes off as slimy immediately. His arrogance and bulldozing persona make him punchable, which is how Locke meant for him to come off. The smugness makes your blood boil. Anna Gunn‘s turn as Darlene is rife with hurt and drenched in melancholy. Her scenes with Roache are tense. 

Here is where I felt like The Apology missed the mark. The film hinges on Jack and Darlene’s dynamic. Locke gives them a juicy backstory. Somehow the level of intensity from Gunn and Roache was at an 8 when it needed to be at a 10. That extra oomph of passion and terror (or lack thereof) kept me with one foot in disbelief and one foot firmly intrigued. I wanted to jump over that threshold, but I never got there. The screenplay had all the makings of the success of films like An Eye For An Eye. I’m not sure why this happened. We all know Gunn is a spectacular actress, but it didn’t go far enough. I hate it when my bullshit meter lights up.

THE APOLOGY will surely capture your attention. Those who live and breathe true crime these days will undoubtedly wish this scenario on every family member left to wonder what happened to their loved one. Hopefully, the story is enough to keep audiences satisfied.


THE APOLOGY will be in theaters and streaming simultaneously on Shudder and AMC+ on December 16th.



DIRECTOR: Alison Star Locke
WRITER: Alison Star Locke
CAST: Anna Gunn, Linus Roache, Janeane Garofalo
SYNOPSIS: Twenty years after the disappearance of her daughter, recovering alcoholic Darlene Hagen (Anna Gunn) is preparing to host her family’s Christmas celebration with her best friend Gretchen (Janeane Garofalo). Late Christmas Eve, Darlene’s estranged ex-brother-in-law, Jack (Linus Roache) arrives unannounced, bearing nostalgic gifts and a heavy secret. Soon, Darlene finds herself caught between reason and ruthless instinct. Trapped together by a dangerous storm, a battle of wits escalates to a violent game of revenge.
RUN TIME: 91 minutes
RATING: Not Rated
GENRE: Thriller
DISTRIBUTOR: RLJE Films/Shudder


 

Review: In Joe Dietsch and Louie Gibson’s ‘Manifest West,’ Milo Gibson goes off-grid to escape family turmoil.

MANIFEST WEST

Dave moves his wife, Alice, and two young daughters, Riley and Mary, to a remote cabin in the American wilderness. Where guns and boredom meet the desire to push society away, MANIFEST WEST sees tensions rise when Dave’s new way of living shirks the norms.

Tim Heidecker plays against type as gun-wielding hyper-conservative neighbor Steve Danik. Michael Cudlitz counters Heidecker with his performance as neighbor Eric Lind. He is kind and thoughtful with his actions and words.

Annet Mahendru gives Alice palpable manic desperation. Her ability to jump from one emotion to another in the same breath is impressive. It is one hell of a turn. Milo Gibson is Dave Hayes. His character arc almost feels like the audience is witnessing a slow-motion car crash. Gibson brings not-so-subtle anger and protective alpha energy.

Lexy Kolker plays Riley with perfect corruptable innocence. She gives a performance that is nothing short of captivating. Kolker takes in each beat with precision. Her slow burn of resentment is a ticking time bomb.

MANIFEST WEST addresses a myriad of current and alarming themes in America. The score is melancholy and ominous. Writer-directors Joe Dietsch and Louie Gibson use the girls’ history text as a smart foreshadowing device. Antigovernment sentiment compounds the simmering chaos. Add Alice’s deteriorating bipolar disorder, and you have a powder keg. Children learn from their parents, for better or for worse. MANIFEST WEST runs head-on with its relevance to a shocking conclusion.


Trailer: 

Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films
Release Date:  The film is now in theaters and VOD/Digital!
Writer/Directors: Joe Dietsch, Louie Gibson
Starring: Annet Mahendru, Milo Gibson, Lexy Kolker, Tim Heidecker, Michael Cudlitz




NYFF60 review: ‘Master Gardener’ withers on the vine.

MASTER GARDENER

Paul Schrader’s latest film, Master Gardener, confounded me. The plot revolves around Narvel, a straight-laced, committed gardener with an oddly slicked-back haircut and a penchant for journaling. When the mistress of the grounds he cares for asks for a personal favor, he is quick to relent. The request requires him to take her estranged grandniece as an apprentice to ensure the gardens’ legacy and to fill a sense of familial responsibility. Once Maya arrives, so too does trouble from her past. 

Here is where we slowly get insight into Narvel’s background. Through various flashbacks, meetings with a witness protection officer, and some large-scale tattoos, things get complicated when attraction grows between teacher and student. 

Sounds relatively straightforward in the way I’ve described it. In reality, Master Gardener is a jumbled mess. Sigourney Weaver plays Mrs. Haverhill, a role I can only assume is meant to be an old-school Southern grandam. Instead, she is a racist elite taking advantage of Narvel, throwing a hissy fit when something doesn’t go her way. Weaver is a legend. Somehow this performance is horrendous. It’s an overblown theatrical version of a person. It’s unlikely this was her own doing. 

Joel Edgerton plays Narvel with an understated aura. His chemistry with co-star Quintessa Swindell feels bizarre, not to mention the egregious age difference. That has everything to do with Schrader’s script. I’m sure the film is supposed to be a redemption story. I’m sure of it. But the way it goes about that narrative feels half-baked. 

While watching the film in a room full of NYFF60 critics and patrons, the groans were audible. The laughs at the absurdity were embarrassing. No one seemed to understand what Schrader was thinking other than an out-of-touch attempt at tackling socially relevant themes in a tacky manner. The editing doesn’t do the film any favors, either.

The best aspect of Master Gardener is the grounded performance from Quintessa Swindell. Her raw openness reads as natural as can be. Brave to her for committing to dialogue that was all over the place. No doubt she’s a star. 

In the end, Master Gardener had me shaking my head. Bury this one in the ground. 


For more information on NYFF60 click here


Review: THE VISITOR’s core mythology overcomes challenging script.

Have you ever heard that joke about the old man facing the end of days? He’s given multiple escalating opportunities to escape (in the version I’ve heard, potential rescuers come by first with a car, then a boat, then a helicopter) Through it all, the old man stays steadfast in his belief that God will save him. When he inevitably perishes, he confronts God and demands to know why his faith wasn’t rewarded. God laughs and says, “You idiot! I tried to send you a car, a boat, and a helicopter!”

Justin P. Lange‘s The Visitor is an immensely enjoyable horror film populated by a protagonist who has certainly never heard this joke. Things pretty quickly go amiss when Robert (Finn Jones) relocates from London to his wife’s small town. While settling into her childhood home, Robert finds a mysterious portrait in her attic. It is of a man referred to only as “The Visitor”, and he bears a striking resemblance to Robert.

While Maia (Jessica McNamee) laughs this off as a coincidence, this and other factors about town set Robert on edge. Jones does a good job of telegraphing Robert’s slowly deepening dread, but he’s fighting a losing battle against the film’s script. Things are obviously amiss in this town. Everyone is way too friendly, and certainly too grateful that Robert and Maia have moved back to town. I thought of Jordan Peele’s superb Get Out, where the protagonist similarly squirms against the discomfort of his circumstances. In that film, the audience was made to question their instinctual doubts and allegiances. Here, the red flags are far less subtle.

There is still much to like in The Visitor. The core performances are uniformly strong. Jones and McNamee have nice unforced chemistry, and I wished the film had given us more time with them. It is effectively paced (86 minutes!) and contains several genuinely frightful and inventive scares. I especially loved the way the film leveraged the biblical plagues without feeling the need for too much supporting exposition.

While I found some of The Visitor’s narrative beats obvious, I also found the core mythology of The Visitor somewhat irresistible. It could offer franchise potential. If someone is willing to paint another portrait, I’d be willing to take another look.


Paramount Home Entertainment will release the psychological horror/thriller filmTHE VISITOR on Digital and On Demand on October 7, 2022 and it will stream on EPIX in December 2022. The film is part of the Blumhouse Television and EPIX deal to produce eight original films together. Building on Blumhouse Television’s success with the Welcome to the Blumhouse movies slate for Amazon and Into the Dark anthology series for Hulu, the deal is the first-of-its-kind for EPIX, which is adding films to its growing slate of premium original content.

THE VISITOR stars Finn Jones (“Game of Thrones”), Jessica McNamee (Mortal Kombat), Dane Rhodes (Where the Crawdads Sing) and Donna Biscoe (“Saints & Sinners”). The film was written by Adam Mason (Songbird) & Simon Boyes (Songbird) and directed by Justin P. Lange (The Seventh Day). The film was Executive Produced by Bradley Pilz, Greg Gilreath, Adam Hendricks, Jeremy Gold, Chris McCumber, David Grove Churchill Viste and Jason Blum.


Review: ‘MK Ultra’ is a Dark Moody Dreamscape  


Mind control. CIA operatives. Clandestine government operations. MK Ultra has it all in this slow-burning thriller written and directed by former intelligence officer Joseph Sorrentino. The film artfully explores a real CIA program that ran illegal human experiments on American citizens on the fringes of 1960s society. Hoping to discover a way to weaken individuals during interrogations, the CIA administered a range of drugs like LSD, hoping to find a way to secure confessions through brainwashing and psychological torture. Are these MK Ultra experiences cutting-edge science? Or needless unethical torture? Where is the line? Who gets to make the call? 

 Highly stylized and set in a moody mid-century dreamscape, the filmmakers tell an intriguing story that raises questions of medical ethics, informed consent, and the responsibility of a government to its citizens. Notably, the film weaves fascinating facts about the program into the darkly compelling narrative through a series of voiceover explainers that may have felt choppy or disjointed with a less skilled hand. Here, the background and context of the program within US history are spliced in seamlessly through beautiful cinematography and creative accents that keep the film from coming off as merely a documentary. Impactful performance across the board– and by Jen Richards in particular– raise the stakes to a startling crescendo in its final act.

Cinedigm To Release The Mind-Bending Thriller,
MK ULTRA
In Theaters & On Demand October 7

 Starring Anson Mount, Jaime Ray Newman, Jason Patric, Jen Richards
Alon Aboutboul and David Jensen
Written and Directed by Ex-Intelligence Officer Joseph Sorrentino


Based on the infamous CIA drug experiments from the early 1960s, this psychological thriller follows a brilliant psychiatrist (Anson Mount) who unknowingly becomes entangled with a dangerous government entity fixated on mind control.

Under Project MK Ultra, the CIA ran an illegal human experimentation program intended to develop procedures and identify drugs such as LSD that could be used in interrogations to weaken individuals and force confessions through brainwashing and psychological torture.


October Programming on MUBI – thrills and chills for everyone.

October Programming on MUBI

Includes exclusive streaming premiere of Martine Syms’ art-school satire The African Desperate, Julie Ha and Eugene Yi’s rousing documentary Free Chol Soo Lee, Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s Lynchian horror, Earwig

Plus a month-long Halloween programming with George A. Romero, Michio Yamamato’s Bloodthirsty Trilogy, and more!

EXCLUSIVELY ON MUBI

Tuesday, October 4

Invisible Demons, directed by Rahul Jain

[Viewfinders] A visually immersive exploration of the global threat of climate change, Invisible Demons (Cannes ‘21) is the stunning sophomore film from filmmaker Rahul Jain. Told through striking images and eye-opening accounts from everyday citizens, Jain delivers a visceral journey through the stories of just a few of Delhi’s 30 million inhabitants fighting to survive, as he offers a deeply experiential and new perspective on the clear and present climate reality. A MUBI Release.

 

Friday, October 7

Free Chol Soo Lee, directed by Julie Ha and Eugene Yi

[Viewfinder] A highlight of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Free Chol Soo Lee finds award-winning journalists Julie Ha and Eugene Yi excavating the largely unknown yet essential history of the case of Chol Soo Lee, a 20-year-old Korean immigrant who, in the 1970s, was racially profiled and convicted of a Chinatown gang murder in San Francisco. A stirring testament to the power of local journalists and the collective political action, this breathtaking true story ignited an unprecedented push for social action that would unite Asian Americans and inspire a new generation of activists, and serves as an urgent reminder that his legacy is more relevant than ever. A MUBI Release. 

Wednesday, October 12

Rosa Rosae. A Spanish Civil War Elegy, directed by Carlos Saura

[Brief Encounters] Legendary Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura (Cria Cuervos) recovers and manipulates more than thirty images, drawings and photographs to recreate the Spanish Civil War in his new animated short Rosa Rosae: A Spanish Civil War Elegy (2021). The montage of images set to the music of singer-songwriter José Antonio Labordeta pays tribute to those childhoods stolen by the Spanish Civil War, reflecting the horrors of universal warfare and resonating with the urgent topic of conflict in today’s world. A MUBI Release. 

 

Saturday, October 15

Earwig, directed by Lucile Hadzihalilovic

[MUBI Spotlight] Loosely adapted from Brian Catling’s novella of the same name, Lucile Hadžihalilović (EvolutionInnocence) conjures a surrealist Lynchian nightmare in her first English-language feature Earwig – a macabre tale of a young girl with melting teeth and her cadaverous caretaker who molds and refits her dentures each day. Sumptuously-produced and fitted with a hypnotic soundtrack by Augustin Viard (in collaboration with Nicolas Becker & Warren Ellis), Hadžihalilović’s latest beguilingly hermetic world captures the same elusive and hallucinatory fixations on isolation and the horrors of adolescence as her previous work.

 

Friday, October 21

The African Desperate, directed by Martine Syms

[Debuts] The electrifying feature debut from renowned artist Martine Syms, The African Desperate (2022) brings her razor-sharp satire and vivid aesthetic invention to a riotous coming-of-age comedy. Tracking one very long day for Palace Bryant (an expertly deadpan Diamond Stingily), a newly minted MFA grad whose final 24 hours in art school become a real trip, the result is a shocking original vision that becomes a hazy, hilarious, and hallucinatory night-long odyssey, stumbling from academic critiques to backseat hookups while revealing Martine as a major new voice in American independent filmmaking. A MUBI release. 

 

Wednesday, October 26

Spectre: Sanity, Madness and The Family, directed by Jean-Baptiste de Laubier

[Debuts] The debut feature from music producer and longtime Céline Sciamma collaborator Jean-Baptiste de Laubier (Para One), Spectre: Sanity, Madness and the Family (2021), is an intimate docudrama inspired by De Laubier’s own family history. Following the youngest son of a large family whose childhood was dominated by intense spiritual fervor, who receives a mysterious package from his sister that leads to the awakening of long dormant memories, this kaleidoscopic work mixes real and fictional archival footage with a mesmerizing electro soundtrack to reveal the power of buried personal histories. A MUBI Release. 

Thrills, Chills and Exquisite Horrors

This Halloween, MUBI presents Thrills, Chills and Exquisite Horrors, a new series covering the vast range of genre cinema, from classic films to recent arthouse sensations and everything in between. From gothic frights in James Whale’s essential classic The Old Dark House, to the matriarchal anxiety of Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala’s and Austrian sensation Goodnight Mommy, and the haunting technological paranoia of Japanese master Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s cult classic, Pulse, these gems provide an opportunity to come together and celebrate the autumnal ritual of coming together to enjoy the many thrills that the cinema can offer us.

Goodnight Mommy (Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala, 2014) – October 1

Pulse (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2001) – October 5

When a Stranger Calls (Fred Walton, 1979) – October 13

The Old Dark House (James Whale, 1932) – October 23

Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975) – October 31

George A. Romero: Double of the Dead

Legendary horror master George A. Romero returns to MUBI with a gruesome double feature with a generous amount of blood, guts, and sociopolitical allegory to satisfy any zombie movie cravings. From the final two chapters of Romero’s epic five-decade long Dead series: the “found-footage” shot Diary of the Dead (2007) is riddled with media anxieties as a group of film students document their way through a zombie apocalypse, while Survival of the Dead (2009) chronicles two families warring over whether the dead and the living can coexist. 

Diary of the Dead (2007) – October 5 

Survival of the Dead (2009) – October 30

From the Land of Fire and Ice: An Icelandic Double Bill

This October, as the days grow shorter and the air grows colder, MUBI presents a double feature celebrating some of the very best of contemporary Icelandic cinema, which has recently experienced a resurgence of sorts in the international festival circuit. In Rams (Prix Un Certain Regard, Cannes ‘15), Grímur Hákonarson crafts a hilarious and heartbreaking portrait of two warring brothers whose lifelong animosity explodes when confronted with a new disease on their farm, while in Hlynur Palmason’s critically acclaimed A White, White Day, an off duty sheriff begins to suspect a local neighbor of having an affair with his recently deceased wife which spirals into obsession in this singular story of grief, revenge and unconditional love.

Rams (Grímur Háknarson, 2015) – October 9

A White, White Day (Hlynur Palmason, 2019) – October 10

Fears and Fangs in Japan: Michio Yamamoto’s Bloodthirsty Trilogy

To celebrate the Halloween spirit, this October MUBI presents Michio Yamanto’s aptly titled Bloodthirsty Trilogy. Presented here are three tails sure to delight, with The Vampire Doll, which follows a woman and her boyfriend in search of her missing brother in a creepy mansion with a dark history, Lake of Dracula, which finds a young woman’s adolescent nightmares revealing a hellish prophecy, and Evil of Dracula, which sees Yamamato relocating his vampiric frights into an all girls school. Inspired by the British and American gothic horror films of the 1960s, this series represents Toho’s answer to Hammer Studios, with an emphasis on atmospheric thrills and chills that help bridge the gap between gothic classics and Japanese genre cinema.

 

The Vampire Doll (1970) – October 11

The Lake of Dracula (1971) – October 20

Evil of Dracula (1974) – October 27

Artist Focus: Morgan Quaintance

British experimental artist, critic, and writer Morgan Quaintance explores cinema as collective memory. Through his texturally rich short films, Quaintance focuses on hidden or forgotten history through the reconstruction of archival materials, moving image, photographs, written text and disconnected sounds. This month MUBI presents a double bill of his most recent work: Surviving You, Always (2020), contrasting the proposed metaphysical highs of psychedelic drugs versus the harsh actualities of concrete metropolitan life in 1990s London, and A Human Certainty (2021), playfully following the neurotic ramblings of a death-obsessed romantic in the throes of post-breakup blues.

 

A Human Certainty (2021) – October 24

Surviving You, Always (2020) – October 25

Glitch Zone: Films by Martine Syms

To celebrate the release of The African Desperate, Martine Syms’ acclaimed feature debut, this month MUBI spotlights two essential shorts from one of the most exciting new voices in filmmaking. Part of her ongoing series She MadBitch Zone takes us to an empowerment program for teenage girls founded by supermodel and business mogul Tyra Banks, while Soliloquy finds the artist delivering a scathing anti-capitalist manifesto that touches on questions the possibility of change in a society dominated by social media.

She Mad: Bitch Zone (2020) – October 17

Soliloquy (2021) – October 19 

The African Desperate (2022) – October 21

I Don’t Like You Either: A Pialat Retrospective

This month, MUBI continues its ongoing retrospective of misunderstood French master Maurice Pialat with Van Gogh, his bruising and deeply felt portrait of the esteemed Dutch painter. Pialat’s work is marked by a sense of realism that locates them somewhere between his compatriot, Jean Renoir, and the working-class naturalism of Ken Loach, which lends a sense of authenticity to this singular portrait of an artist that emphasizes the everyday labor of the craftsman over the final work. 

Van Gogh (1991) – October 2

Now streaming

Loulou (1980) – September 10 

The Mouth Agape (1974) – September 21

Under the Sun of Satan (1987) – September 27

 Complete list of films premiering on MUBI this month:

October 1 – Goodnight Mommy, directed by Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz | Thrills, Chills and Exquisite Horrors

October 2 – Van Gogh, directed by Maurice Pialat | I Don’t Like You Either: A Maurice Pialat Retrospective

October 3 – The Great Buster: A Celebration, directed by Peter Bogdanovich | Portrait of the Artist

October 4 – Invisible Demons, directed by Rahul Jain | Viewfinders

October 5 – Pulse, directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa | Thrills, Chills and Exquisite Horrors

October 6 – Diary of the Dead, directed by George A. Romero | George A. Romero: Double of the Dead

October 7 – Free Chol Soo Lee, directed by Eugene Yi, Julie Ha | Viewfinder

October 8 – Tucker & Dale vs Evil, directed by Eli Craig

October 9 – Rams, directed by Grímur Hákonarson | From the Land of Fire and Ice: An Icelandic Double Bill

October 10 – A White, White Day, directed by Hlynur Palmason | From the Land of Fire and Ice: An Icelandic Double Bill

October 11 – The Vampire Doll, directed by Michio Yamamoto | Fears and Fangs in Japan: Michio Yamamoto’s Bloodthirsty Trilogy

October 12 – Rosa Rosae. A Spanish Civil War Elegy, directed by Carlos Saura | Brief Encounters

October 13 – When a Stranger Calls, directed by Fred Walton | Thrills, Chills and Exquisite Horrors

October 14 – Center Stage, directed by Stanley Kwan

October 15 – Earwig, directed by Lucile Hadzihalilovic | MUBI Spotlight

October 17 – She Mad: Bitch Zone, directed by Martine Syms | Martine Syms: Short Films

October 18 – The Gold-Laden Sheep & the Sacred Mountain, directed by Ridham Janve

October 19 – Soliloquy, directed by Martine Syms | Martine Syms: Short Films

October 20 – Lake of Dracula, directed by Michio Yamamoto | Fears and Fangs in Japan: Michio Yamamoto’s Bloodthirsty Trilogy

October 21 – The African Desperate, directed by Martine Syms | Debuts

October 23 – The Old Dark House, directed by James Whale | Thrills, Chills and Exquisite Horrors

October 24 – A Human Certainty, directed by Morgan Quaintance | Artist Focus: Morgan Quaintance

October 25 – Surviving You, Always, directed by Morgan Quaintance | Artist Focus: Morgan Quaintance

October 26 – Spectre: Sanity, Madness and The Family, directed by Jean-Baptiste de Laubier | Debuts

October 27 – Evil of Dracula, directed by Michio Yamamoto | Fears and Fangs in Japan: Michio Yamamoto’s Bloodthirsty Trilogy

October 28 – The Commune, directed by Thomas Vinterberg

October 29 – Dear Diary, directed by Nanni Moretti

October 30 – Survival of the Dead, directed by George A. Romero | George A. Romero: Double of the Dead

October 31 – Deep Red, directed by Dario Argento | Thrills, Chills and Exquisite Horrors


MUBI is a streaming service, a film distributor and a production company. But mostly, MUBI is a place to discover beautiful, interesting, incredible cinema. A new hand-picked film arrives on MUBI every single day. Cinema from all over the globe, from all kinds of directors. From brand new work by emerging filmmakers, to modern masterpieces from today’s greatest icons. All carefully chosen by MUBI’s curators. MUBI also produces and distributes ambitious new films, which members can watch exclusively on the platform. MUBI is the biggest community of film lovers, available across 190 countries, with more than 10 million members around the world. Subscription plans are $10.99 a month or $83.88 for 12 months. MUBI is available on the web, Roku devices, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, LG and Samsung Smart TVs, as well as on mobile devices including iPad, iPhone and Android.

mubi.com


 

Review: ‘PIGGY’ tests morality with bloody brilliant performances and writing.

PIGGY


Morally ambiguous and brilliant, PIGGY has been making the festival rounds this year to much acclaim. Writer-director Carlota Pereda uses the backdrop of teenage bullying and dials it up to the nth degree with murder, mayhem, and lies.

The script is relentlessly chilling. Because the audience has more information than anyone else, it feels as though the characters are sitting ducks. We are right alongside Sara as she witnesses her tormentors thrown into the back of a serial killer’s van. She says nothing, both out of fear and perhaps relief. Those that have ever been on the receiving end of horrible words and despicable actions will undoubtedly wince throughout the film.

PIGGY also speaks to the weight of parental support. We find Sara’s mother to be a nagging, uncaring shrew, while her father pays attention to her with genuine love. Her woes are exacerbated by her parents owning the local butcher shop, leading vile peers to dub her “Piggy.” One of the girls, Claudia, has a deeper connection to Sara based on her delay tactics in teasing and a matching bracelet with Sara.

The stakes in the film get higher and higher as the police, the chatty locals, and Sara’s conscience drives her to the breaking point. But that’s not all that weighs on Sara’s mind. PIGGY keeps you on your toes, constantly challenging your morality. Lead actress Laura Galán gives a star-making performance. You can see the wheels turning in each deliberate beat. Raw and thoroughly vulnerable, it is one hell of a turn. PIGGY had my heart in my throat from start to finish. Audiences are in for some hard questions and emotional torture.


Release Dates: 
October 7, 2022 (Exclusively in Alamo Drafthouse Theaters)
October 14, 2022 (Theatrical/VOD)

Directed by Carlota Pereda
Cast: Laura Galán, Richard Holmes, Carmen Machi, Irene Ferreiro, Camille Aguilar, Claudia Salas, Pilar Castro
Runtime: 90 mins
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Distributor: Magnet Releasing


Review: IFC film ‘VESPER’ is an exquisite sci-fi tale of morality and mortality.

VESPER

Alone in a cruel near-future world, 13-year-old Vesper experiments with what’s left of her surroundings to nourish her and her paralyzed father. Abandoned by her mother, Vesper keeps Darius’ body alive with her bio-hacking skills and uploads his full consciousness into a small droid. While she and others suffer immensely, the wealthy exist in private, enclosed spaces called “Citadels.” They produce seeds that the remaining poor vie for to survive in the harsh environment. After someone sabotages their generator, she reaches out to her Uncle, the leader of a group that cultivates children’s blood for seed trade. When Vesper discovers a young woman from the nearby Citadel passed out in the woods, she imagines a way out. VESPER is a gorgeous film about control and climate change wrapped in a glorious sci-fi narrative.

Richard Brake‘s performance is predominantly a voiceover. The enveloping tone of his vocals is perfection. But, the expression in his eyes speaks volumes. Eddie Marsan as Uncle Jonas is spectacularly vile. As his “survival at all costs” attitude becomes increasingly disturbing, Marsan nails the villain role.

Rosy McEwan plays Camellia with a complex mix of yearning and practicality. She is a slick foil for Vesper. McEwan’s grace and control are all the more stunning when given the opportunity to break. Our titular role comes to life with the sensational performance of Raffiella Chapman. Her raw vulnerability jumps off the screen. There is no denying she is a star. Her ability to carry this film from beginning to end is a wonder.

Captivating production design from Ramūnas Rastaukas and Raimondas Dicius lures you into a bleak but visually curious existence. The costumes are unlike anything I’ve seen before. Dan Levy‘s score is ethereal and hypnotic. The script by Brian Clark and directors Bruno Samper and Kristina Buozyte is endlessly intriguing. There is never a dull moment in Vesper’s nearly 2-hour run. Each scene provides an opportunity to expand the canon of this story. The metaphor of Vesper’s creations and her place in the world is beautiful. I could easily see this developed into an entire franchise. Overflowing with nuance, it is a mesmerizing sci-fi film that grabs you by the conscience. A stark and endlessly creative warning about Earth’s near-future mortality, Vesper is easily one of the best films of the year.


 

US Release Date: September 30, 2022

Starring: Eddie Marsan, Raffiella Chapman, Rosy McEwen

Director: Bruno Samper

Fantastic Fest 2022 review: ‘THE ANTARES PARADOX’ pits family and faith against the universe.

THE ANTARES PARADOX

Fantastic Fest 2022 feature from Luis Tinoco, The Antares Paradox, brings together science, space, and knowledge enthusiasts. The plot revolves around Alexandra as she works the late shift at a radio telescope lab. With looming familial obligations, an absent co-worker, and the storm of the year swirling around outside, a strong signal begins transmitting to her antenna. With only two hours to confirm 20 years of research, Alex must race against the clock, the weather, other scientists who eschew her work, and her conscience.

Leading lady Andrea Trepat captures your attention from the very beginning. She has the task of carrying this film on her shoulders, as other actors appear only via video call or voice. She nails it. Anyone with a loved one who works unconventional hours understands the emotional complexity of ambition. It often comes at a great sacrifice of relationships. It is the risk we take in search of an unknown reward. In The Antares Paradox, Alex dreams of proving there is life beyond our universe. Her father understood this, even if no one else ever did.

Writer-director Luis Tinoco worked extensively with José Luis Crespo (Quantum Fracture), a YouTuber and science communicator with millions of followers. The script, while technical, is laid out concisely and understandably for all audiences. The entire film takes place in one location. The film’s sumptuous score from Arnau Bataller is perfect.

Between family, faith, and space, Tinoco’s script challenges our morality and keeps us intrigued with wonder. It is a gorgeous entry that will leave audiences spellbound.


  • Year:
    2022
  • Runtime:
    96 minutes
  • Language:
    Spanish
  • Country:
    Spain
  • Premiere:
    World
  • Director:
    Luis Tinoco Pineda
 
 
 

Fantastic Fest 2022 review: ‘MISSING (Sagasu /さがす)’ is one of the year’s best genre films.

MISSING

This wild multiple narrative film tells the story of Kaede, her father’s disappearance, and the serial killer she’s determined to hunt down. MISSING is one story told from three different angles.

Performances from the entire cast are spectacular. There is not a loose thread in the bunch. Here is where things get tricky. To tell you more about the plot defeats the purpose. You need to go into with as little information as possible. The complexity of MISSING is relentless. Do not get comfortable with what you think you know. Writer-director Shinzô Katayama and co-writers Kazuhisa Kodera and Ryô Takada bring twist after twist. I stopped counting at a certain point. The final scene is a mindblowing metaphor for everything we witness in two hours. Wow doesn’t even begin to cover it. Fantastic Fest 2022 audiences are in for one of the year’s best features.


Dark Star and Bloody Disgusting plan a US theatrical release for MISSING on November 4, 2022, an On Demand release on November 18, 2022, and the Blu Ray release for the film to follow on December 6, 2022.

(US Premiere, 124 min)

Directed by: Shinzô Katayama

Starring: Aoi Ito, Hiroya Shimizu, Misato Morita, Jirô Satô 

Japan, 2021 (In Japanese with English Subtitles)

 

FF 2022 OFFICIAL SCREENINGS

All screenings are at The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, South Lamar, Austin.

Location: 1120 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

 

Thu, Sep 22nd, 8:30 PM @ Theater 2

Thu, Sep 22nd, 8:30 PM @ Theater 3

Wed, Sep 28th, 11:00 AM @ Theater 5

Wed, Sep 28th, 11:00 AM @ Theater 6

FF 2022 PAGE:

https://2022.fantasticfest.com/films/62fbbf1dd0f21300854b372b


After working as an assistant director for Japanese films, including Nobuhiro Yamashita’s works, filmmaker ShinzôKatayama crossed paths with Bong Joon-Ho while shooting “TOKYO!” (2008) and served as his assistant director on “Mother” (2009). In 2019, his debut feature, “Siblings of the Cape” was selected by numerous domestic and international film festivals. He now is one of the most promising, emerging directors in Japan, and his second feature, MISSING (“Sagasu /さがす”) will be his commercial film debut.


 

Based on a true story about CIA mind-control experiments, see the trailer for ‘MK ULTRA,’ coming to theaters and On Demand October 7th.

MK ULTRA

Based on the infamous CIA drug experiments from the early 1960s, this psychological thriller follows a brilliant psychiatrist (Anson Mount) who unknowingly becomes entangled with a dangerous government entity fixated on mind control.

Under Project MK Ultra, the CIA ran an illegal human experimentation program intended to develop procedures and identify drugs such as LSD that could be used in interrogations to weaken individuals and force confessions through brainwashing and psychological torture.

Starring Anson Mount, Jaime Ray Newman, Jason Patric, Jen Richards
Alon Aboutboul and David Jensen

Written and Directed by Ex-Intelligence Officer Joseph Sorrentino

Cinedigm To Release The Mind-Bending Thriller,
MK ULTRA
In Theaters & On Demand October 7 


Film lovers unite! TIFF 2022 is upon us. Here’s what we’re excited to see. #TIFF22

TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2022 has arrived! This year there is a little bit (or a lot) for everyone, from In Conversation With Taylor Swift and a screening of All Too Well: The Short Film on 35mm, Viola Davis in The Woman King, to the Midnight Madness world premiere of Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. TIFF never disappoints and this year, in its 47th edition, the stars come out to entertain the masses. With so many options, here are a few titles we’re keeping our eyes on.


CHARCOAL (PLATFORM SECTION–WORLD PREMIERE)

Brazil, 2022. In a remote area in São Paulo’s countryside, a rural family who lives beside a charcoal factory accepts a proposal to host a mysterious foreigner. The home soon becomes a hideout as the so-called guest happens to be a highly wanted drug lord. The mother, her husband and child will have to learn how to share the same roof with this stranger, while keeping up appearances of an unchanged peasant routine.

Writer-director Carolina Markowicz has had many of her short films play the festival. This will be her feature debut and I cannot wait to experience her storytelling in long form.


BONES OF CROWS (Contemporary World Cinema, World Premiere)

 

Unfolding over 100 years, BONES OF CROWS is a feature film told through the eyes of Cree Matriarch Aline Spears as she survives a childhood in Canada’s residential school system to continue her family’s generational fight in the face of systemic starvation, racism, and sexual abuse.

We’re all aware by now of the horror stories of the children forced to live in Canada’s residential schools. So much so that the Pope apologized for the abuse the children endured after innumerable graves were discovered on the former grounds. Bones of Crows is a vastly important story.

*This program contains scenes that may distress some viewers, especially those who have experienced harm, abuse, violence, and/or intergenerational trauma due to colonial practices.

Support is available 24 hours a day for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools and for those who may be triggered by content dealing with residential schools, child abuse, emotional trauma, and racism. The national Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available at 1-866-925-4419.


BROTHER (Special Presentations, World Premiere)
Propelled by the pulsing beats of Toronto’s early hip hop scene, BROTHER is the story of Francis (Aaron Pierre) and Michael (Lamar Johnson), sons of Caribbean immigrants maturing into young men. Director Clement Virgo expertly tackles themes of masculinity, identity and family as a mystery unfolds during the sweltering summer of 1991, and escalating tensions set off a series of events that change the course of the brothers’ lives forever.

Writer-director Clement Virgo brings TIFF audiences a tale more relevant today than ever. A study in grief, Brother is bound to impact viewers is a visceral manner.


DALÍLAND (Gala Presentation, World Premiere, **Closing Night**)
Mary Harron’s DALÍLAND is both a coming of age story and a searing, funny and sympathetic portrait of crisis in the late life of one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. Experienced through the eyes of young gallery assistant James Linton (Christopher Briney) as he is invited into a glamorous new world, audiences will uncover the true Dalí (Sir Ben Kingsley) – the complex, flawed, and deeply human man behind the brilliant paintings, wild theatrics, and iconic mustache and explore his especially tempestuous relationship with Gala (Barbara Sukowa), his wife and muse.\

Sir Ben Kingsley releases Dali from an enigmatic caricature and humanizes the genius, his life, and his work.


THE PEOPLE’S JOKER (Midnight Madness, World Premiere)
After years numbing herself with irony and an inhalant called Smylex, an unfunny aspiring clown grapples with gender identity, first love, and old foes all while founding an illegal comedy theater in Gotham City. It’s a queer coming-of-age Joker Origin story. Completely unlicensed by DC and Warner Brothers. Starring and directed by Vera Drew (“Beef House,” “Who Is America”) and featuring the work of 200 independent artists on three separate continents, all made during a global pandemic!

A queer coming-of-age satire and multi-media extravaganza, this mashup of fandoms I never knew I needed.


MY SAILOR, MY LOVE (Contemporary World Cinema, World Premiere)
MY SAILOR, MY LOVE is a heart-warming drama on timeless love and forgiveness. Howard (James Cosmo) is a retired sailor and widower, his daughter Grace (Catherine Walker) hires a caregiver Annie (Bríd Brennan). Reclusive and stubborn, Howard rejects Annie’s company, but eventually opens his heart and gives final love a chance.

A raw and compelling family drama, My Sailor, My Love is teeming with complexity and outstanding performances.


THE WOMAN KING  (World Premiere — Gala Presentations)

Synopsis: The Woman King is the remarkable story of the Agojie, the all-female unit of warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s with skills and a fierceness unlike anything the world has ever seen. Inspired by true events, The Woman King follows the emotionally epic journey of General Nanisca (Oscar®-winner Viola Davis) as she trains the next generation of recruits and readies them for battle against an enemy determined to destroy their way of life. Some things are worth fighting for…

Listen, if you tell me that Viola Davis is starring in a film, my butt is in a seat. Based on a true story? Well, that’s solidly in Davis’ wheelhouse, but really what isn’t? This is one highly anticipated film already.


ALLELUJAH (SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS)

This glorious reunion of Oscar winner Judi Dench and director Richard Eyre (Notes on a Scandal) is a spirited homage to the idiosyncrasies of old age and the noble fortitude of health-care workers everywhere. Adapted by Heidi Thomas from Alan Bennett’s stage play, Allelujah assembles a stunning ensemble of veteran British actors, including Jennifer Saunders, David Bradley, and Derek Jacobi.

There is every chance this will be an absolute crowd pleaser. The premise alone has me making up scenarios in my head of pure shenanigans. With a hell of a cast, Allelujah cannot go wrong.


FIXATION (Contemporary World Cinema)

Maddie Hasson (Malignant) plays a young woman committed to an unorthodox institution by a pair of enigmatic doctors (Genesis Rodriguez and Stephen McHattie).

Another feature debut from a female filmmaker, Mercedes Bryce Morgan brings to life an ambitious physiological thriller that will mesmerize with wild production design. I don’t think any of us are ready for such treatment. (pun intended)


LIVING (CONTEMPORARY WORLD CINEMA)

In this exquisitely realized remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film Ikiru, director Oliver Hermanus teams with Nobel- and Booker Prize–winning author Kazuo Ishiguro to renew a classic. LIVING is the story of an ordinary man, reduced by years of oppressive office routine to a shadow existence, who at the eleventh hour makes a supreme effort to turn his dull life into something wonderful – into one he can say has been lived to the full

The magnificent Bill Nighy helms this film about humanity and mortality. With Mothering Sunday vets, cinematographer Jamie Ramsay and production designer Helen Scott, Living will undoubtedly be a feast for the eyes.

THE LOST KING (SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS)

Synopsis: In the archaeological find of a century, the remains of King Richard III — presumed scattered over 500 years ago — were discovered beneath a parking lot in Leicester in 2012. The search had been conceived and motivated by an amateur historian, Philippa Langley, whose passion and unrelenting research were met with skepticism. THE LOST KING is the inspiring true story of a woman who refused to be ignored and who took on Britain’s most eminent historians, forcing them to rethink the legacy of one of the most controversial kings in England’s history. A tale of discovery, obsession, and stolen glory (both then and now), THE LOST KING is a magical adventure illuminated by one woman’s growing sense of purpose.

My husband and I are history nerds. We’ve seen the documentary of this very story and it was nothing short of fascinating. For those who may not know the vile things said about King Richard III, it’s rather shocking. Sally Hawkins is the perfect choice to capture Philippa Langley‘s determined journey to uncover the truth.

MOVING ON (GALA PRESENTATIONS)

Synopsis: Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin star in this fusion of audacious comedy and bracing drama about estranged pals who are reunited when a beloved mutual friend dies, leaving her widower the target of a revenge plan.

Perhaps some of the most notable chemistry we’ve seen between two women in years bounds off the screen when Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda work together. These two powerhouse ladies bring heart and humor to a story much more complex than at first sight. TIFF audiences are bound to cheer for Moving On.


ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE (Discovery)

Based on the book by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, two teenage Mexican-American loners in 1987 El Paso explore a new, unusual friendship and the difficult road to self-discovery.

Another female director’s feature debut (in case anyone is counting and cheering along with me), Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is more than a queer coming-of-age story. You’d never guess Max Pelayo and Reese Gonzales were first-time leads. Lin-Manuel Miranda joins a powerhouse team of producers after narrating Sáenz‘s audiobook in 2013 and then reading writer-director Aitch Alberto’s screenplay. He knows a little something about quality writing, so his seal of approval is huge.


TIFF 2022 runs from September 8th to the 18th.

For more information on the fest, visit tiff.net


Review: Opening in Japanese cinemas today, writer-director Yoshiki Takahashi’s ‘RAGEAHOLIC’ mixes searing social commentary and vengeful storytelling.

RAGEAHOLIC

Visually sumptuous, from the popping color schemes to the sharp cinematography, Rageaholic is a feast for the eyes. With a screenplay that begs your attention between redemption and revenge.

Rageaholic has a distinct three-act storytelling structure. Act one finds Detective Fukama in a drug and alcohol-assisted haze of aggression. When his behavior makes for negative PR for the force and the local community of Fujimi, he is shipped off to the United States for some unique rehabilitation.

Act two reinstates Fukama as a semi-detective into a state-monitored Fujimi. Acclimating to this new environment proves to be a challenge. The visual shift is noticeable as the neon lights are replaced by signs and banners reminding everyone that Big Brother is watching. The community watch is drunk with power.

Act three; those driven from society now reside in squalid tent cities but thrive in their kinship. Confronted with how he ultimately fits into the grander scheme of control, Fukama must find the balance between good and evil to set things right. The depraved violence that ensues feels right. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to wincing and a lot of cheering.

Performances are impressive, and the score ranges from jarring to amusing. Each tonal shift reinvigorates the audience’s interest in the story. There is no time to become complacent. American audiences will immediately draw parallels to capitalism and surveillance issues. A film about abuse, power, and retribution, I have never seen anything quite like Rageaholic. The finale is straight-up bananas.


 

The drama/action film RAGEAHOLIC opens today (August 26th) in Japanese cinemas.

RAGEAHOLIC is written and directed by Yoshiki Takahashi, and based on a story by Yuki Kobayashi (DEATH ROW FAMILY). The picture stars Yohta Kawase (SHIN GODZILLA), Aya Saiki, Ryuju Kobayashi, and Eita Okuno. It is produced by Interfilm.


 

Review: Will ‘CAMPING TRIP’ leave you asking for s’more? (I had to.)

*Resisting the urge to title this review “camping is in tents.”*


Two couples escape the monotony of lockdown by journeying into the woods for a camping trip. When they inadvertently become entangled in a crime, secrets come to light, and things get more intense. What’s a little money and murder between friends?

Performances are fine. I wish I sensed more believable chemistry between our four protagonists. Michael D’ Amico and Jonathan Vanderzon fare better as our villains. Their presence elicited a genuinely visceral reaction.

Camping Trip would benefit from a 15 to 20-minute cut. While the climax is satisfying, by no means did it need that much slow-motion editing. What follows is a confusing shift in relationships that feels forced. Like much of their response to finding a body and a bag filled with money, their decisions are laughable, if not infuriating. If nothing else, it gives the audience a reason to keep watching and wondering how this bungling crew parts ways.

The camera work in the final ten minutes is quite literally dizzying. It also allows the audience to use their imaginations, rather than relying on mediocre fight choreography and the continued use of watered-down practical fx blood. Polly’s particular skill makes for a slick final moment. I had hoped it was featured more in the story. Michel DeMars’ score in this scene, in particular, is perfect. In the end, Camping Trip has an intriguing plot, even if the exposition lacks polish.


FAR FROM COVID FAR FROM SAFE

 

Debuting on Digital On Demand August 16

 

Fuica Film Pictures and 8Cube are delighted to share the new trailer and poster for their upcoming horror, Camping Trip. The sinister thriller will be available on Digital Download from 16th August.

Camping Trip stars Leo Zola (Leonardo Fuica), Caitlin Cameron, Hannah Forest Briand, and Alex Gravenstein and is directed by Leonardo and Demian Fuica, who both make their English language feature-length directorial debuts.