Review: ‘REBEL’ is a frank and frightening look at the risks of radicalization.

REBEL the dazzling and audacious new film from Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (Bad Boys for LifeBatgirl) tells the story of Kamal (Aboubakr Bensaihi), who resolves to change his life for the better, leaving Belgium to help war victims in Syria. But, having arrived, he is forced to join a militia and is left stranded in Raqqa. Back home, his younger brother Nassim (Amir El Arbi) quickly becomes easy prey for radical recruiters, who promise to reunite him with his brother. Their mother, Leila (Lubna Azabal), fights to protect the only thing she has left: her youngest son.


When I saw Bad Boys for Life in 2020, I would never in a thousand years have imagined the directors had a picture like Rebel in them. This is an ambitious, profound, and thoughtful film. Like Bad Boys, this is a film brimming with violence. But Rebel never uses violence to entertain, rather aiming to shock the audience or to underline or accentuate a point.


Rebel focuses on the Wasakis, a Belgian family with Moroccan roots. Kamal (Aboubakr Bensaihi) is the older brother, an idealistic drug dealer and rapper horrified by the atrocities he sees in the ongoing war in Syria. His younger brother Nassim is kind and impressionable. Devout matriarch Leila tries to watch over her boys. When Kamal travels to Syria as a volunteer, he believes he has found a non-violent way to make a difference. When he is captured by ISIS, he finds a different path forced upon him, one that will have also cause devastating effects back home.


Lubna Azabal gives a tortured performance as Leila. Her desperation to protect her family is visceral and raw. Bensaihi is phenomenal as Kamal. You believe the transformation he slowly goes through over the course of the film.


Kamal’s passion for rapping also provides one of the film’s most interesting elements – at times, the characters will break into musical interludes. Given the serious tone of the film, these moments could easily appear forced or interrupt the flow of the narrative. Luckily, Bensaihi’s talented flow and consistently gorgeous choreography keep this from occurring. The first such interlude, set in a Brussels’ restaurant, is particularly powerful.


Despite the balletic action and gorgeous cinematography, this is not an easy film to watch. But it provides important personalization for atrocities that the audience might otherwise write off due to stereotypes and misinformation. Atrocities that are still happening today.


Watch the Trailer!

In Theaters September 15, 2023


*Official Selection – 2022 Cannes Film Festival*



Directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (Bad Boys for LifeBatgirl)
Written by Adil El ArbiJan Van Dyck, Kevin Meul, and Bilall Fallah
Starring Aboubakr Bensaihi, Lubna Azabal, Amir El Arbi, Tara Abboud and Younes Bouab
Produced by Bert Hamelinch and Dimitri Verbeeck

RT: 135 minutes


 

We’re kicking off the fall festival season with our TIFF 2023 curtain raiser!

Thu, Sep 7, 2023, 3:30 PM – Sun, Sep 17, 2023

TIFF 2023 is coming for you and the films are eclectic as usual. Promising big stars, buzzy indies, cool series, new filmmakers to discover,  and my personal favorite, in the form of the sinister Midnight Madness section, TIFF has all the films you’ll be hearing about come awards season. Here are a handful of things on our radar this year. Look for coverage from us and our main man Steve Kopian at Unseen Films.


 RIDDLE OF FIRE- (Midnight Madness Closing Night feature)Riddle of Fire still

Directed by Weston Razooli
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
United States of America | 2023 | 113m | English
 
The movie follows three mischievous children as they embark on an odyssey when their mother asks them to run an errand.
 
Screenings:
Saturday, September 16 Royal Alexandra Theatre 11:59pm
Sunday, September 17 TIFF Bell Lightbox 11:30 am


EPISODIC CONTENT

 BAD BOY -World Premiere – Primetime Programme 

 From Ron Leshem (Executive producer of HBO’s Euphoria, Creator of the original Israeli Euphoria series off which the US series is based) and Hagar Ben-Asher (Bosch, City on a Hill)  

Created alongside Daniel Chen, Roee Florentin, Moshe Malka, Amit Cohen (No Man’s LandFalse Flag), Daniel Amsel (EuphoriaValley of Tears).

Starring Bat Hen Sabag, Amjad Shawa, Guy Menaster, Havtamo Parada, Neta Plotnik, Liraz Chamami, Ishay Lalush, Daniel Hen, Ben Sultan

 BAD BOY is a gripping true story about a young boy imprisoned in a chaotic and colorful juvenile detention facility. While in jail, DEAN bonds with ZORO, a mysterious fellow inmate who grows to be his closest friend and lifeline despite the fact that Zoro is serving time for cold-blooded murder. In order to survive the harsh reality behind bars, Dean learns to harness his unique creativity and humor – all while battling his own inner demons. Twenty years later, these traits still define Dean as a star comedian, while his time in jail is a secret that constantly threatens to resurface and tear his life apart.

 Episode Count: 8×40


LIMBO (North American Premiere*)

Section: Centrepiece

North American Premiere

Australia/104 min/English

Directed by: Ivan Sen

Starring: Simon Baker, Rob Collins, Natasha Wanganeen, Nicholas Hope

*LIMBO World Premired at Berlinale Film Festival 2023

Synopsis:

Travis, a jaded detective, arrives in the remote outback town of Limbo to investigate the cold case murder of local Indigenous girl Charlotte Hayes 20 years ago. As truths about the murder begin to unfold, the detective gains a new insight into the unsolved case from the victim’s fractured family, the surviving witnesses, and the reclusive brother of the chief suspect. A poignant, intimate journey into the complexities of loss and the impact of the justice system on Aboriginal families in Australia.

Screening times:

September 12 5:45 pm Public screening Scotiabank 3

September 13 3:45 pm Public screening Scotiabank 9


BACKSPOT – World Premiere – Discovery 

 Directed by: D.W. Waterson

Written by: Joanne Sarazen, Story by: D.W. Waterson

Produced by: Alona Metzer, D.W. Waterson, Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs, Martin Katz

Executive Produced by: Elliot Page, Matt Jordan Smith, J.C. Davidson, Katisha Shaw

Starring: Devery Jacobs (“Reservation Dogs”), Evan Rachel Wood (“Westworld”), Shannyn Sossamon (A Knight’s Tale), Kudakwashe Rutendo, Thomas Antony Olajide, Wendy Crewson

 Synopsis:

A driven cheerleader (Devery Jacobs) struggles to handle the pressure when she and her girlfriend are both selected for an elite cheer squad, in D.W. Waterson’s feature directorial debut.

 RT: 93 Minutes

 Public Screenings

Friday, September 8 at 8:30PM at the TIFF Bell Lightbox

Monday, September 11 at 3:00PM at the TIFF Bell Lightbox

Friday, September 15 at 9:45PM at Scotiabank Theatre


THE CRITIC – World Premiere – Special Presentations 

Directed By: Anand Tucker (Hilary and Jackie)

Written by: Patrick Marber (Notes on a Scandal)

Starring: Ian McKellen (The Good Liar), Gemma Arterton (Summerland), Mark Strong (1917), Romola Garai (Suffragette), Ben Barnes (Westworld) and Alfred Enoch (Foundation

 Gemma Arterton and Sir Ian McKellen star as adversaries forced to take desperate measures to save their careers, in this scintillating tale of ambition and deceit in the theatre world.

 RT: 95 minutes

 Public Screenings

Monday, September 11 at 12:00PM at the Princess of Wales

Wednesday, September 13 at 4:00PM at Scotiabank 2

Saturday, September 16 at 3:00PM at Scotiabank 2


IRENA’S VOW (Quiver Distribution) – World Premiere – Centerpiece Program 

 Directed by: Louise Archambault (Atomic Saké, Familia)

Written by: Dan Gordon (Passenger 57, Wyatt Earp)

Starring: Sophie Nélisse (“Yellowjackets,” 47 Meters Down: Uncaged), Dougray Scott (Mission: Impossible 2, “Batwoman”), Andrzej Seweryn, and Maciek Nawrocki

Produced by: Nicholas Tabarrok, p.g.a, Beata Pisula, Tim Ringuette, Berry Meyerowitz and Jeff Sackman

Through the eyes of a strong-willed woman comes the remarkable true story of Irena Gut Opdyke and the triumphs of the human spirit over devastating tragedy. 19-year-old Irena Gut is promoted to housekeeper in the home of a highly respected Nazi officer when she finds out that the Jewish ghetto is about to be liquidated. Determined to help twelve Jewish workers, she decides to shelter them in the safest place she can think of: the basement of the German commandant’s house. Over the next two years, Irena uses her wit, humor, and courage to hide her friends until the end of the German occupation, concealing them in the midst of countless Nazi parties, a blackmail scheme, and even the birth of a child. Her story is one of the most inspiring of our time.

 RT: 121 Minutes

 Public Screenings

Sunday, September 10 at 3:15PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 1

Monday, September 11 at 3:35PM at Scotiabank 11


KNOX GOES AWAY – World Premiere – Special Presentations 

 

Directed by: Michael Keaton

Written By: Gregory Poirier (Rosewood)

Starring: Michael Keaton (Birdman), James Marsden (“Jury Duty”), Al Pacino (The Godfather), and Marcia Gay Harden (Mystic RIver)

 Michael Keaton directs and plays Knox, a hitman losing his memory, putting him in a race against time to help his estranged son (James Marsden) cover up a messy crime.

 RT: 114 minutes

 Public Screenings

Sunday, September 10 at 9:45 PM at The Princess of Wales Theatre

Monday, September 11 at 5:30 PM at Roy Thomson Hall


SUMMER QAMPWORLD PREMIERE – 2023 Toronto International Film Festival

Directed by Jen Markowitz

Mins 80 | Language English | Year 2023 | Country Canada

SUMMER QAMP is a moving, compelling and joyful documentary following a group of LGBTQ+ youth at an idyllic lakeside camp in Alberta, Canada – CAMP fYrefly. The campers enjoy the traditional summer camp experience in a safe, affirming environment where they deepen their connections with their own community and themselves.

Screenings:

World Premiere – Saturday, September 9 at 12:15 PM at Scotiabank 13 

Sunday, September 10 at 4:30 PM at Scotiabank 12


For more information on TIFF 2023 click here!

The 48th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival takes place Thursday, September 7—17, 2023.


 

Review: Yellow Veil brings Youssef Chebbi’s mysterious ‘Ashkal: The Tunisian Investigation’ to cinemas

Ashkal: The Tunisian Investigation

ASHKAL: THE TUNISIAN INVESTIGATION poster

Set amongst derelict, half-finished apartment complexes of a former regime, the discovery of a mysterious burnt body by two police officers reveals a puzzling repetition of events. As the investigation progresses, a network of violence and corruption is uncovered throughout the city.


Cinematographer Hazem Berrabah offers striking juxtaposing visuals of sheep grazing on open fields next to grey concrete structures. Half-built complexes with their innumerable exposed rebar present like monsters bearing sharp teeth and long claws. 

The defiance by detectives keeps your attention steady. No one wants to be told they cannot do their job. Performances from stars Fatma Oussaifi and Mohamed Houcine Grayaa are spellbinding. Their moody and grounded work feels personal and devastating. Oussaifi’s reaction to the overwhelming amount of misogyny hits hard. The writing is hard to shake, a compliment for writer-director Youssef Chebbi and co-writer François-Michel Allegrini.

US audiences who love TRUE DETECTIVE will love this film. This allegory for the return of self-immolation as a revolutionary protest engages a supernatural element that keeps the audience transfixed on the story. Ashkal: The Tunisian Investigation has completely unexpected, bold storytelling leaving you with more questions than answers. Do not miss it.

 

Theatrical Rollout
August 18th: NYC (Roxy Cinemas)
August 18th: LA (American Cinematheque Los Feliz, Lumiere Music Hall)
September 1st: Boulder (Dairy Center)
September 8th: Chicago (Music Box)

Digital
August 22nd
 

 

Director: Youssef Chebbi

Writer: François-Michel Allegrini, Youssef Chebbi
Producer: Farès Ladjimi
Cast: Fatma Oussaifi, Mohamed Houcine Grayaa, Aymen Ben Hmida
Festivals: Cannes Director’s Fortnight, Toronto International Film Festival, Beyond Fest

92 MIN / 2022 / TUNISIA, FRANCE, QATAR / ARABIC, FRENCH / THRILLER, HORROR

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

TRADER

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


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

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

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

The New Thriller from Filmmaker Corey Stanton

TRADER

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


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


 

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

Fantasia Festival 2023 logo

BORN OF WOMAN

(2023 shorts program)

Born of Woman 2023 banner

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


Sayani

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


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

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

Only Yourself To Blame

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

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

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

The Taster

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

Madeline Brewer in PRUNING
PRUNING

Nian

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

Mancha

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


Review: ‘TIL DEATH DO US PART’ could spell franchise for director Timothy Woodward Jr.

TIL DEATH DO US PART

From the creator of Final Destination and Directed by Emmy® Award Winner Timothy Woodward Jr., Til Death Do Us Part portrays the grim reality that not every romance story ends with happily ever after. After running away on her wedding day, a bride-to-be must fight for survival against her former fiancé and his seven deadly groomsmen. In the ultimate horror showdown, the groomsmen soon discover that she has no intention of going back to the life she left behind.


When a bride flees her wedding day, the groomsmen track her down, shall we say, to address the problem she has created for everyone involved. Director Timothy Woodward Jr. gives audiences an action-packed romp in TIL DEATH TO US PART.

Pancho Moler and Neb Chupin deserve your attention. This pairing is a buddy comedy in the making. Orlando Jones has fantastic chemistry with Gigandet. He is effortlessly charming. Cam Gigandet nails the villain role with a deliciously overconfident and definitively slimy aura. The camera loves him. His delivery is chef’s kiss. I would be delighted to watch a spinoff film featuring Jones and Gigandet in a heartbeat. Hell, TIL DEATH DO US PART earns a franchise series. Maybe call it THE GROOMSMEN? *now I feel I’ve earned a producer credit*

Ser’Darius Blain is elegant as The Groom. His presence is genuinely beguiling. Jason Patric elevates the film with his captivating storytelling. It’s a killer turn. Natalie Burn holds her own against this primarily male cast. Quite literally sticking it to the patriarchy, Burn is tailor-made for this genre. 

Markos Keyto’s production design is phenomenal. The fight choreography is entertaining as hell. The soundtrack is a character all its own. Together they are the perfect marriage of camp and kick ass. Shout out to the practical fx team. There is a brilliant moment with a chainsaw. The editing keeps things interesting, forcing you to pay attention to the story as it unfolds. Comparisons to Mr. and Mrs. Smith are inevitable, but this film has an unexpected nuance from writers Chad Law and Shane Dax Taylor. Besides the runtime feeling a little long, TIL DEATH DO US PART is an undeniably fun action-thriller.


TIL DEATH DO US PART

 Releases Exclusively in Theaters Nationwide on August 4

 

Key cities the film is opening in include New York, Los Angeles, Charlotte, Chattanooga, Columbus, Durham, Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Knoxville, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Nashville, Ontario (Canada), Louisville, Miami, Oklahoma City, Portland (OR), San Diego, Tampa, Tucson, Wichita, Westbrook (CT) and many more.

All theaters: https://www.fandango.com/til-death-do-us-part-2023-231971/movie-overview



 Directed by: Emmy® Award Winner Timothy Woodward Jr.

Starring: Cam Gigandet (TwilightNever Backdown), Jason Patric (The Lost Boys, Speed 2: Cruise Control), Natalie Burn (Black Adam, The Enforcer) and Orlando Jones (The Time Machine, Drumline).


Co-written by Chad Law (Black Water) and Shane Dax Taylor (Isolation), Til Death Do Us Part also stars Ser’Darius Blain (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), D.Y. Sao (Everything Everywhere All at Once), Neb Chupin (Mindcage, Acceleration) and Pancho Moler (3 from Hell). The film is produced by Jeffrey Reddick (Final Destination), Woodward Jr./Status Media and Entertainment and Burn/Born To Burn Films. Reddick and Woodward Jr. previously collaborated on the popular horror films The Final Wish &The Call, both starring genre legend Lin Shaye. The film’s Executive Producers include Matthew Helderman and Luke Taylor, with Thomas Mann and Neb Chupin acting as Co-Executive Producers.


 

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

Fantasia Festival 2023 logoRESTORE POINT

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


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

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

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

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



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

Fantasia Festival 2023 logo

STAY ONLINE

Stay Online poster

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

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

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



Mon July 24, 2023
2:05 PM

Fantasia 2023 review: ‘VINCENT MUST DIE’ is darkly funny and genuinely rattling.

Fantasia Festival 2023 logo

VINCENT MUST DIE

Vincent suddenly finds people violently attacking him. An average graphic designer looking for love, Vincent notices a pattern in the behavior’s trigger and discovers he is not alone. Director Stéphan Castang unravels a mystery for Fantasia 2023 audiences in the entirely unpredictable film VINCENT MUST DIE.

As the violence heightens, our leading man turns to isolation for survival. When a glitch in the behavior has him come face to face with a local waitress, his yearning for human connection looks hopeful. But nothing in VINCENT MUST DIE comes easily.

Vimala Pons gives Margaux a badass edge. Her chemistry with Karim Leklou is fierce. There is an ease that works every second they share the screen. Leklou brings desperate humanity to Vincent. Carrying the film on his shoulders, he is undeniably compelling.

This film is a fresh and thoroughly disturbing take on apocalyptic scenarios. I left fingernail impressions on my palms while rooting for Vincent to be happy and safe. Writer Mathieu Naert never allows the audience to get comfortable. The tonal shifts break up the madness as the twists keep coming. While the film has elements of Rob Jabbaz‘s The Sadness, VINCENT MUST DIE is much less diabolically gory, stringently more chilling, darkly funny commentary on human connection. It is a rattling film.


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

Fantasia Festival 2023 logo

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

With Love and a Major Organ

Suitable Flesh

Satan Wants You

Paiffe

Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls

Talk To Me

Molli and Max in the Future


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

 

LOVELY, DARK, AND DEEP

lovely dark and deep poster


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

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



APORIA

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

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


STAY ONLINE

Stay Online poster

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

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


BLACKOUT

A still from Larry Fessenden's Blackout

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

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


WHERE THE DEVIL ROAMS

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

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


EMPIRE V

EMPIRE V

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

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


BIRTH/REBIRTH

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

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


WHITE NOISE

white noise short film still

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

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


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

For all things Fantasia Festival 2023, click here.

 

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


 

DWF LA review: Christopher Beatty’s film ‘BIBI’ is hauntingly beautiful madness.

Dances With Films LA poster 2023BIBI

Bibi Poster

Writer-director Christopher Beatty gives DANCES WITH FILMS audiences a stunningly atmospheric film with BIBI. Stuck in a cycle of grief, Vivian experiences nightmares of her late daughter Ava. Seeking solace through a strained relationship with her eldest daughter Bibi, the nightmares bleed into her reality. Discerning between the two becomes a battle between good and evil, the past and the present.

Bibi stillStand-out editing from Benjamin Murphy keeps viewers on their toes, while John Paesano‘s score takes you to another world. The costume design by Kimberly G. Grader completes the picture of upper-echelon existence and ethereal madness.

Tammy Blanchard counters the mood with her brash persona. She is a necessary and memorable piece of this puzzle. Performances from Judith Ann DiMinni and Elizabeth Paige, playing Bibi and Vivian, respectively, are phenomenal. Beatty’s script gives both women the chance to show their acting chops. They wade deep into anguish, darkness, and mystery.

Elizabeth Paige in BIBIBIBI is a compelling supernatural thriller that is reminiscent of Jennifer Kent’s The Babdook, possessing a shocking final act you will not see coming. The physical manifestation of grief and trauma swirls into a hypnotic storm of emotional chaos. BIBI should not be missed.


For more information on DWF LA click here!

 

DWF: LA is coming! Take a peak at a few of the eclectic selections at this year’s festival.

Dances With Films LA 2023 poster

Some of the best new discoveries of the year come out of Dances With Films. (Their brilliant lineup of shorts is to die for.) It’s a festival you should never sleep on. Here is a preview of a few titles you can catch from June 22nd to July 2nd.

DANCES WITH FILMS (DWF: LA & DWF: NYC), now in its 25th year, champions the unflinching spirit at the very core of the independent film scene. While the vast majority of film fests rely heavily on celebrity, we have relied on the innovation, talent, creativity, and sweat equity that revolutionized the entertainment industry. And that reliance continues to prove successful with alumni moving on to write, direct and produce celebrity-studded vehicles, star in blockbuster movies and television series, produce multi-million dollar films, and create hit TV shows. Oh…. and we even have several OSCAR® nominees… In a world of homogenized, formulaic film festivals, DWF: LA continues to defy the rules.


THE MAD WRITER– LA Premiere Documentary

The Mad Writer

SYNOPSIS: This music documentary by Zach Kashkett takes us on both the mental and physical health journey of hip-hop beat writer L’Orange as he faces a medical condition that could affect his career in music. The Mad Writer premiered at Slamdance Film Festival in Park City in January, and this is their Los Angeles Premiere.  Zach’s most notable projects include: Shawn Mendes: In Wonder (documentary), Always Jane (TV Series), Sins of The Mother (TV Mini Series).

(70 minutes) 

Monday, June 26, 2023—7 pm-Mann Chinese Theater- Hollywood/Highland

FAREWELLING– World Premiere Narrative

The Farewelling

SYNOPSIS: In the midst of the pandemic and aftermath of her best friend’s overdose, Jenna finds herself in crisis as she reunites with those still around her. Questions of her own ethics and morals surface as she grapples with the “why” of everything, eventually discovering what it takes to truly break us. This is the World Premiere for the film at Dances with Film 26th Annual Film Festival. Writer/DIrector: Rodes Phire 

Lead Actress: Cristen Coppen (Shameless)

(93 minutes) Farewelling Trailer

Saturday, June 24, 2023—9:30 pm- Mann Chinese Theater-Hollywood/Highland

THE BLACK GUELPH– US Premiere (Ireland) Feature

Still from THE BLACK GUELPH

SYNOPSIS: Irish actor turned director John Connors brings the US his latest film. This film was inspired by Dante’s Inferno and the seventh terrace of Lust. The symbolism of unresolved sexualized trauma permeates down through the generations and flows deep within the psyche. The film based on the Irish Traveller’s Group community, creates a cathartic social question in the way that it addresses toxic masculinity in the context of unresolved childhood trauma. The film ultimately throws a lens at the human spirit and the capacity to overcome adversity, when it seems utterly hopeless. (125 minutes) 

 
Friday, June 30, 2023—9:30 pm- Mann Chinese Theater- Hollywood/Highland

ABLED- THE BLAKE LEEPER STORY– LA Premiere Documentary

Still from ABLED- THE BLAKE LEEPER STORY

SYNOPSIS: This Documentary by Director Einar Thorsteinsson documents paralympian Blake Leeper’s story using candid interviews, incisive reporting, and rigorous scientific testing, to reveal the deliberate biases faced by disabled athletes who want to compete against the able-bodied, and the dubious science and deceptive publicity used to bar them from cross competitions. The film just had its World Premiere at Seattle International Film Festival in May and this is their Los Angeles premiere through Dances with Films. 

(87 minutes)

Saturday, July 1, 2023—12:30 pm-Mann Chinese Theater- Hollywood/Highland

MERMAID’S LAMENT–  World Premiere

A still from Mermaid's Lament

The film follows two women: Oee (Dayva Summer Escobar) a traumatized woman who has lost her voice and may or may not be a mermaid. Her therapist, Dr. Nell Jamison (Justina Mattos) battles with anxiety herself, and attempts to help Oee overcome her delusions and connect with reality.

91 min.


SUN JUNE 25 @ 9:30PM

CLICK HERE!!!


 

Blood In The Snow (2021) compelling thriller, ‘PEPPERGRASS’ comes to digital tomorrow. (6/16/23)

PEPPERGRASS

During a pandemic, a pregnant restaurateur tries to rob a priceless truffle from a reclusive veteran.


Peppergrass is a slow-burn thriller that ultimately turns into a survival film. It builds a similar tension that Alone did. Not the horror I was expecting from the 2021 edition of Blood in The Snow, but it is, nonetheless, intriguing as hell. You must have patience during the first third is heavy character-building. While our two protagonists botch their unusual robbery, the camera continues its handheld intimacy. Forced into the dark woods, Eula attempts to make it to the car in one piece. This goal proves a more complicated task, as the landscape is unkind to a pregnant person.

Chantelle Han gives it her all as Eula. As the plot roles out, in a predominantly real-time fashion, the audience watches her physically and emotionally tap out at points. But it is when she barrels through the cold, darkness, and imminent threat that makes her a total badass. Han is the driving force of Peppergrass.

The score, at times, is this curious mix of ominous whimsy and borderline grating organ tones. It begs your attention. Peppergrass is nothing like I expected. It places you inside the action because there is literally nowhere else to go. The danger and isolation are palpable. It’s a solid film.


Coming to digital June 16 (US/Canada)

Tribeca 2023 review: A gold medal in gaslighting for filmmaker Olivia West Lloyd’s debut ‘SOMEWHERE QUIET’

SOMEWHERE QUIET

Meg (Jennifer Kim) is trying to readjust to normal life after recently being involved in a heinous abduction. To recenter herself, she takes a trip to the woods by the coast in Cape Cod with her husband Scott (Kentucker Audley) to stay at his wealthy family’s countryside compound. An excursion like this offers the kind of peace that Meg deserves to regain her sense of normalcy — but those plans get swiftly disrupted when Scott’s upper-class cousin Madeline (Marin Ireland) arrives unannounced. Madeline’s insertion into their activities causes Meg’s recent traumatic memories to resurface through eerie hallucinations and nightmares. While Scott tries to attend to the emotionally fraught Meg, she begins to clash with Madeline’s aristocratic personality. The conflict brings out passive-aggressive behavior that makes Meg question her sanity while also coming to terms with the truth behind her kidnapping.


Cousin Madeline comes to overbearing life through the performance of Marin Ireland. Her aggressive affection and territorial nature toward Scott are off-putting and flawless. You cannot look away from her. Kentucker Audley is Meg’s husband, Scott. What seems like well-intended advice comes off as pretentious and dismissive at times. His white male gaze is spectacularly upsetting and just as sinister as Ireland’s.

Jennifer Kim plays Meg with frayed nerves and pent-up trauma on every inch of her skin. She lives inside the mind of someone who survived unspeakable horror. But, her feisty spirit and take-no-shit attitude barrel this unrelentingly intense story onward. Kim owns every second of screen time.

The hyper-augmented sound editing is brilliant. Alongside the booming cello-heavy score, the two aspects send chills down your spine. The flashes of deep seeded trauma are startling. You suddenly find yourself questioning your sanity. Every bit of this script feels like a slowly tightening vice on the nerves as the lines of reality blur easily.

In her feature directorial debut, filmmaker Olivia West Lloyd has a stranglehold on viewers. SOMEWHERE QUIET is a skillfully crafted and heinous tale of terror that will have you on the edge of your seat.


In Person

Thu June 08 – 9:30 PM
PASSED

 

Fri June 09 – 6:15 PM

 

Wed June 14 – 5:30 PM
Closed Captions available

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

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

 

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


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

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


MAGGIE MOORE(S) – World Premiere – Spotlight Narrative 

In Theaters & On Demand June 16th

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

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

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



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



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

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

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


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

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

Check out the trailer below:


SOMEWHERE QUIET– US Narrative Competition

Director/Writer: Olivia West Lloyd

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

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

Running Time: 98 minutes

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

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


OUR SON– Spotlight Narrative

Director/Co-Writer: Bill Oliver

Co-Writer: Peter Nickowitz 

Producers: Fernando Loureiro and Eric Binns

Key Cast: Luke Evans, Billy Porter

Running Time: 104 Minutes

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

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


I.S.S. – Spotlight Narrative

Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite

Writer: Nick Shafir

Producers: Pete Shilaimon and Mickey Liddell

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

Running Time: 95 Minutes

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

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


SUITABLE FLESH –  Midnight (World Premiere)

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

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

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


BAD THINGS – US Narrative Competition 

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

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

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


BUCKY F*CKING DENT – Spotlight Narrative

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

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

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

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

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


THE FUTURE– International Narrative Competition (World Premiere)

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

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

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


TO MY FATHER – Shorts (World Premiere)

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

 

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

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


CHASING CHASING AMY – Viewpoints (World Premiere)

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

 

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

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


For all things Tribeca Festival, click here!

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


 

Review: ‘MOTION DETECTED’ has a solid concept but a glitchy execution.

MOTION DETECTED

Eva narrowly escaped being murdered during a recent terrifying home invasion in Mexico City. She and her husband decide to relocate to Los Angeles where she can recuperate. But when her husband has to travel for business, she’s left alone in an unfamiliar place and suffering from paranoia. She’s consoled by the smart home security system, but the technology is difficult to master and she starts to wonder if it will actually keep her safe or take over her life.


MOTION DETECTED relies entirely on Natasha Esca‘s performance as Eva. Her descent into madness goes from 75 to 200 very quickly. A moment with wine is, perhaps, a touch over the top. Esca shines brightest when speaking Spanish. It’s her most natural delivery.

I understand the need for lighting, but the nighttime bedroom scenes appear overlit. That aside, the set is gorgeous. This LA mansion has all the architectural features to swoon over. Using what appear to be Ring video clips to create palpable fear is a slick device, and the subplot of trauma heightens the stakes.

The film struggles with picking a storytelling lane. Eva’s PTSD and (*spoiler alert*) the haunted alarm system conflict more than they mesh. The idea that Diablo might manifest your greatest fears to lure you in needs a better narrative anchor in the film’s opening scene. Overall, the notion of tech knowing too much about us at every moment is a solid starting point. We can all relate to using some version of an AI assistant. The meat is on the bone in MOTION DETECTED, but it is a tad undercooked, in my opinion.

Motion Detected world premiered at the 2022 Dances With Films Festival and debuted on Cable VOD and Digital HD, including iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Comcast and Verizon, May 19, 2023.


Review: Joaquín del Paso’s vicious film ‘A HOLE IN THE FENCE’ is a tale of fearmongering and the stunning contagion of hate.

A HOLE IN THE FENCE

Synopsis: At a secluded exclusive summer camp in the Mexican countryside, under the watchful eyes of their adult guardians, boys from a prestigious private school receive physical, moral, and religious training to turn them into tomorrow’s elite. The discovery of a hole in the fence sets in motion a chain of disturbing events as the boys devolve into a Lord of the Flies-like mob mentality that creates and spreads hysteria in this profoundly disturbing coming-of-age drama that unravels like a horror movie while drawing on actual events. Features an original score by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein (Stranger Things).


Save one or two, a group predominantly of elitist little shits wage war against the weaker for power. To no one’s surprise, these kids could not care less about following the religious aspects of the camp’s intentions, instead actively torturing the child with the darkest skin. Perhaps the saddest part is how the hatred spreads so quickly.

Outside the inner workings of the boys, there is a grander racism playing out beyond the chain link fence of the camp. A hole brings fear that an outsider has infiltrated the grounds. Slowly, we discover the nefarious intentions of the staff, the indoctrination of following orders, and never questioning authority.

The film plays out in two distinct acts. Once in the woods, the fractures widen, and smaller groups become exceedingly hostile. This Lord Of The Flies meets The Village script is exhilarating. My nerves almost could not take it. Performances are extraordinary. The film speaks to a growing global evil in Christofascism, sexual abuse in the church, and the destruction of otherness. A HOLE IN THE FENCE displays toxic masculinity at its core. It is a sick test and focuses on the myth of manhood. It is a microcosm, and we should all be afraid.

Joaquín del Paso’s Venice Film Festival Selection Opens May 26 at the Laemmle Theaters in L.A., More Dates To Come

 

Original title: El hoyo en la cerca
Starring: Valeria Lamm Williams, Yubah Ortega, Luciano Kurti, Eric Walker, Santiago Barajas, Enrique Lascurain, Jacek Poniedzialek, Raul Vasconcelos
Directed by: Joaquin del Paso
Written by: Joaquin del Paso, Lucy Pawlak
Produced by: Fernanda de la Peza, Joaquin del Paso
Specs: 2021 / 102 Minutes / In Spanish w/English Subtitles / DCP / 1.66:1

www.alteredinnocence.net/holeinthefence


 

Review: Still sly like a fox, Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote’s ‘THE WRATH OF BECKY’ is the “f*ck yeah” of sequels.

presents

THE WRATH OF BECKY

Lulu Wilson is back for more blood-soaked revenge in THE WRATH OF BECKY. Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote bring audiences a much-deserved sequel to BECKY where we find our titular leading lady four years later. Now 16 and an absolute Sarah Connor badass, Becky lives with an enigmatic caretaker while she makes money as a waitress. When three over-the-top nazi misogynists retraumatize her and steal her dog, Becky finds a new reason to wreak havoc. Think Tank Girl meets John Wick, and you’ll have some idea of the brilliance of THE WRATH OF BECKY.

The script is equally as brutal as the first film. You have to respect it. WRATH takes us a step further into the depths of Nazi incels. The timely nature of the plot is brilliant and terrifying. Having Becky break the fourth wall is beyond satisfying. The mystery from the original begs for an extended storyline and a larger franchise.

Sean William Scott takes a page from his performance in BLOODLINE to play Daryl, the leader of a militant rightwing group called The Noblemen. His quiet assertiveness is undeniably unsettling. It’s a frighteningly compelling turn.

Lulu Wilson is magnificent. You can not take your eyes off her. She is aware of every minute gesture and idiosyncrasy of Becky. Her iconic knit fox hat gets an upgrade, and I was not disappointed. Wilson’s sardonic delivery is chef’s kiss. The fact that she is strictly anti-gun makes for some spectacularly creative kills. Wilson handles them like a maniacal little pro.

Becky represents every woman who is sick of your shit. This feminist horror icon, because that is precisely what she is to me, lets me live out my daily fantasies of earned rage. THE WRATH OF BECKY is a “fuck yeah” of a film. I implore Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote to keep this franchise alive and kicking (ass).

Quiver Distribution will release the action/thriller/horror film 

THE WRATH OF BECKY exclusively in theaters on May 26, 2023.  

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

FIRST WAVE OF TITLES FOR ITS 27th EDITION


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

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

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


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

Since the selection of Kang Je-gyu’s GINGKO BED at Fantasia’s 1998 edition, the festival has become one of the premiere destinations for South Korean cinema. Over the years, Fantasia’s audience has had the opportunity to discover several essential Korean auteurs: Bong Joon-ho (BARKING DOGS NEVER BITE), Park Chan-wook (SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE), Kim Ji-woon (THE QUIET FAMILY), Hwang Dong-hyuk (MISS GRANNY), and Yeon Sang-ho (THE KING OF PIGS) among many others. These filmmakers are now mainstays of the international film scene, lighting up the big screen and streaming platforms alike.
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Celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations between Canada and the Republic of Korea, the Fantasia International Film Festival –in collaboration with the Korean Cultural Center Canada and the Cinémathèque québécoise– is proud to showcase this unique national cinema. The festival will emphasize the vitality of current works and the versatility of South Korean creators, who work in a multitude of genres ranging from action to arthouse, breathtaking thrillers to outlandish musical comedies. The festival will also present a retrospective highlighting several significant works that led to the revival of Korean cinema in the 2000s, an effervescence that hasn’t stopped since.

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

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

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FEAR RUNS LOVELY, DARK, AND DEEP

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

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A SUPPRESSED AND SPECTACULAR REINVENTION OF VAMPIRE LORE: EMPIRE V

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

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THE TOKYO REVENGERS SAGA REVEALS HIGHER STAKES AND LOADS OF EMOTIONS

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

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

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

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THE ADAMS FAMILY TAKE YOU WHERE THE DEVIL ROAMS

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

 

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© Thanaporn Arkmanon

XAVIER GENS BRINGS SHATTERING FISTFULS OF MAYHEM!

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

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

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

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LYCANTHROPIAN CHILLS FROM FROM LARRY FESSENDEN: BLACKOUT

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

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

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

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FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS AND BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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JENN WEXLER DARES YOU TO BLEED FOR THE SACRIFICE GAME!

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

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A CANADIAN TRAILBLAZER AWARD FOR LARRY KENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Overlook Film Festival 2023 review: ‘ACCUSED’ is a socially relevant heart-stopper.

ACCUSED

Online trolls, xenophobia, and misinformation, Philip Barantini‘s ACCUSED at Overlook Film Festival could not be more relevant and terrifying. Thanks to the internet, Harri finds himself wrongly identified as a terrorist. After two men track him down, Harri must fight for his life and reputation. This intense thriller is a bone-chilling must-see.

Chaneil Kular plays Harri with palpable anxiety and exceptional nuance. He carries the entire plot like a star. The script gives Kular less dialogue than an average feature, and because of that, his performance relies on meticulous physicality and facial expressions. Kular’s chemistry with co-star Flynn, Harri’s dog, is glorious.

The film raises global questions about privacy, citizen detectives, and hateful rhetoric. We live our lives online these days. It is easy to find out where someone works, thanks to Linkedin. You can find their home address if they own property. That information is in the public record. But we provide all that with photos and comments we leave on social media, even tagging our location in real-time. We make ourselves targets every day. It also speaks to police response. The film skillfully addresses the lack of urgency we’ve all seen displayed in numerous documentaries and news stories.

ACCUSED simultaneously becomes an invasion thriller. The cinematography is sharp, taking full advantage of blue light from laptops and smartphone screens and moonlight peering through sheer curtains as Harri moves silently about his parents’ estate home. The sparse score works to intensify the plot. We fear the silence as much as Harri. The use of technology becomes a double-edged sword in the film. Harri utilizes security cameras and blue tooth to evade the men in his house.

Screenwriters Barnaby Boulton and  James Cummings have given audiences a masterfully written film that transcends genre. Packed with twists and turns and a mesmerizing performance from Chaneil Kular, it is a heart-pounding viewing experience. It is a wow.


Director: Philip Barantini
Writers: Barnaby Boulton, James Cummings
Starring: Chaneil Kular, Lauryn Ajufo
Producers: Edward Caffrey, Samantha Beddoe, Rupert Preston, Sara Sehdev
Runtime: 88 Minutes
Synopsis: Alone at a remote country house, a young man (Chaneil Kular, Sex Education) watches helplessly as a social media frenzy wrongly identifies him as a wanted terrorist. When online threats lead to an IRL home invasion, he must fight for his life in this tense thriller of virtual witch-hunts and false accusations.

Overlook 2023 Film Festival Screening Info:
– Friday, March 31st at 7:45 PM @ Canal Place Theater 2
– Sunday, April 2nd at 2:30 PM @ Canal Place Theater 9