Japanese Madness Overtakes Fantastic Fest
Miike, Sono, and Studio Ghibli all added to lineup
By Richard Whittaker, 2:00PM, Wed. Aug. 27
The latest from Studio Ghibli, insanity from cult directors Takashi Miike and Sion Sono, star power from Keanu Reeves and Jake Gyllenhaal, and the long-awaited history of Eighties VHS maniacs Cannon Films all just made the cut for the second round of Fantastic Fest titles. Plus, we have the first Fantastic Debate contender. Ding ding!
The debates are part of the proof that FF (running this year at the Alamo South Lamar, Sept. 18-25) is about more than just films. Two learned parties undertake a debate on some fine point of cinema, then don boxing gloves and pummel each other (most famously, filmmaker Joe Swanberg KO's BadAssDigest's Devin Faraci a couple of years ago, for the honor of mumblecore).
This time, it could get mean. Matt Mason, chief content officer of peer-to-peer pioneers (or, as some filmmakers see them, content pirate enablers) BitTorrent, will be defending his company's reputation against all comers. Alamo CEO Tim League said, "This is the first Fantastic Debate in which we have a debater/fighter issuing an open challenge to anyone willing to step into the ring. It's a bold move and one I'm happy not to take on: Matt Mason can fight."
Well, coincidentally, so can some of the filmmaking guests, including the high-kicking Marko Zaror (Mandrill), who returns with his new title, Redeemer.
Zaror, like a lot of names here, is an FF veteran, with Sono (whose 2013 festival fave Why Don't You Play in Hell got picked up by Drafthouse Films) bringing his new Tokyo Tribe to play. He'll stand shoulder to shoulder with two icons of Japanese cinema, as Studio Ghibli tells The Tale of Princess Kaguta, and the king of viscera Miike stands Over Your Dead Body.
There will also be a big dose of A-list celebrity, with Reeves back for a second year after last year's Man of Tai-Chi with assassin drama John Wick. And writer/director Dan Gilroy will be in attendance for the U.S. premiere of his highly-awaited thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler, this year's closing night film.
Here's the full list of titles:
The Absent OneD: Mikkel Nørgaard, Denmark, 2014, 119 min.
Police investigators dig into the facts of a twenty year old double homicide in a desperate race to find a likely witness before the killers have the chance to silence her forever.
As Seen by the Rest (Ulidavaru Kandante)D: Rakshit Shetty, India, 2014
North American Premiere
Mystery abounds in this fractured gangster story from Karnataka, India. Shades of Scarface, Pulp Fiction and Rashomon color Rakshit Shetty's entrancing story of good, evil and something else…
BlindD: Eskil Vogt, Norway, 2014, 96 min.
Texas Premiere This debut gem from Eskil Vogt follows Ingrid who, having recently lost her sight, exists only in her apartment with her thoughts as a means of escape…
The Creeping GardenD: Tim Grabham and Jasper Sharp, UK, 2014, 81 min.
The slime mould: a form of microbial life with behavior somewhere between plant and animal and capable of primitive intelligence. Unusual? Yes, and just wait until you meet the people who study them …
Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead (Dod Sno 2)D: Tommy Wirkola, Norway-Icelans, 2014, 100 min.
Lone survivor Martin must enlist help from America to battle Colonel Herzog and his horde in this wild sequel to the original Norwegian Nazi zombie film.
Dwarves KingdomD: Matthew Salton, United States, 2014, 80 min.
Some have called The Kingdom of Little People the most offensive theme park in the world. Dwarves Kingdom takes us inside to meet its performer residents.
The EditorD: Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy, Canada, 2014, 102 min. US Premiere
A one-handed film editor finds himself the prime suspect after a series of violent murders start happening around him in this knowing tribute to giallo from the crazy minds at Astron-6!
Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon FilmsD: Mark Hartley, Australia, 2014, 107 min.
Mark Hartley brings his singular documentary style to the story of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, the trailblazers behind exploitation powerhouse studio Cannon Films.
FeltD: Jason Banker, United States, 2014, 79 min.
A young artist loses herself in an unpredictable alter ego while attempting to cope with past trauma in this gripping sophomore effort from the creator of Toad Road.
Force Majure (Turist)D: Ruben Östlund, Sweden, 2014, 118 min.
An upper middle-class family’s fragile existence is torn apart when a near tragedy occurs during a ski vacation and the two parents are forced confront the reality of each other’s reactions.
Free FallD: Gyorgy Palfi, Hungary, 2014, 89 min.
North American Premiere
The director of Taxidermia returns with seven stories of the mundanely bizarre.
I Am HereD: Anders Morgenthaler, Denmark, 2014, 97 min.
A powerful business executive wanders down a dark path in order to have the child she desperately needs in this shocking piece from the director of 2007’s unusual animation Princess.
I am Trash (Naneun Sseuregida)D: Lee Sang-woo, South Korea, 2014, 97 min.
Three emotionally damaged brothers must deal with the aftermath of their father
In Order of DisappearanceD: Hans Petter Moland, Norway, 2014, 115 min.
The director and star of A A Some What Gentle Man team up once again and the result is a brutal and darkly funny tale of snow, giant machinery and revenge.
John WickD: David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, United States, 2014, 96 min.
An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him. With New York City as his bullet-riddled playground, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a fresh and stylized take on the "assassin genre." John Wick opens nationwide on October 24, 2014.
Man From Reno (Rino Kara Kita Otoko)D: Dave Boyle, Japan-United States, 2014, 111 min.
A Japanese crime novelist in San Francisco tries to unravel a real life murder mystery in this acclaimed neo-noir featuring Takashi Miike regular Kazuki Kitamura.
Necrophobia 3DD: Daniel De la Vega, Argentina, 2014, 75 min.
North American Premiere
A mentally fragile man must conquer his fear of death in order to stave off a killer’s advances.
NightcrawlerD: Dan Gilroy, United States, 2014, 117 min.
Nightcrawler is a pulse-pounding thriller set in the nocturnal underbelly of contemporary Los Angeles. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, a driven young man desperate for work who discovers the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism. Aided by Rene Russo as Nina, a veteran of the blood-sport that is local TV news, Lou blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story. Nightcrawler opens nationwide on October 31st.
Over Your Dead Body (Kuime)D: Takashi Miike, Japan, 2014, 90 min.
This adaptation of a classic ghost story is a powerful return to horror for Takashi Miike.
PurgatoryD: Pau Teixidor, Spain, 2014, 84 min.
A woman must survive the night after she welcomes a neighbor's child into her home.
RealitiD: Jonathon King, New Zealand, 2014, 95 min.
North American Premiere
A time-warping drug leaves a young media exec caught up in a criminal case while questioning the very nature of existence and reality.
RedeemerD: Ernesto Díaz Espinosa, Chile, 2014, 88 min.
In order to atone for his past sins, he’ll not only kick your ass, he’ll impale your face and shred you to bits. Marko Zaror is the Redeemer!
SpringD: Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead, US, 2014, 105 min.
After the death of his mother and a bar altercation that could mean jail time, Evan leaves California for Italy, where he falls for a mysterious young woman.
The Tale of Princess KagutaD: Isao Takahata, Japan, 2014, 137 min.
A breathtakingly animated tale of a woman, the men who want to control her, and the moon. The latest from Studio Ghibli.
Tokyo TribeD: Sion Sono, Japan, 2014, 116 min.
Festival favorite Sion Sono returns with an exercise in brash, colorful chaos pitting street gangs against one another in a bold hip hop musical.
The TreatmentD: Hans Herbots, Belgium, 2014, 127 min.
A police inspector with a dark past leads an increasingly personal manhunt when a 9-year-old child goes missing.
Whispers Behind the WallD: Grzegorz Muskala, Germany, 2013, 90 min.
North American premiere
A naive young man falls for his beautiful – and very dangerous – landlord in this depraved voyeuristic thriller.