FF2012: Tim League Speaks!

What not to miss, why not to miss it

FF2012: Tim League Speaks!

It's here: Fantastic Fest 2012. Eight days of the most outrageous films, games, and only-in-Austin diversions for the young at heart (and those that like to devour young hearts).

We cornered FF Overlord and Alamo CEO Tim League and got the lowdown on his can't miss picks for the Fest. Read 'em and shriek.

Austin Chronicle: In three words, what makes Fantastic Fest 2012 different from previous iterations?

Tim League: Bigger, badder, bolder. I think we have a very solid lineup of films this year with a great spectrum from popcorn to very challenging, blockbuster to microbudget. Every year we continue with the festival we get a bit more well known in the international genre film world. We are sought after now and don't get turned down nearly as often as when we first started. This will also be the last Fantastic Fest in the current configuration of Alamo/Highball, so on that note I'm a bit sentimental for our eighth edition already.

AC: Can we expect any top secret surprises like, say, Bill Murray, or crucified cow carcasses slowly roasting over an open-pit fire as in the past?

TL: Our Fantastic Debate lineup is stellar, we're amplifying the excitement around the Nerd Rap competition, we've added a 48 Hour game jam to the Fantastic Arcade, and we're going to have a killer closing night party.  I think this is going to be the best Fantastic Fest yet!

AC: Dude, you totally dodged the question. You're getting to be good at this. Forget the surprises, then. What films are at the apex of your personal top-whatever list?

TL: First off, I'm really happy with this year's lineup, so choosing just a few titles from what I think is a strong field is a difficult task. Seeing as I can't choose every single title, I'll highlight a few of the films I feel stand as great examples of what we are all about here at Fantastic Fest.

AC: Fair enough.

1) The ABCs of Death

I'm a producer on this film, so I'm a bit biased of course, but seeing as nearly 90% of the filmmakers are Fantastic Fest veterans, this screening should be something of a happy homecoming. I've only seen this film with a room full of normal  people, many of whom left shocked and horrified. That's a good sign for the upcoming Fantastic Fest reception.

2) Berbarian Sound Studio

Truly one of the most inventive, original films I've seen in recent memory, Berberian Sound Studio should find a warm reception at our event. This is Fantastic Fest wheelhouse territory - too arty for horror fans, too much horror for the arthouse. Perfect.

3) The Conspiracy

Austin is home to world-renowned conspiracy-theorist Alex Jones and his empire of truth-seekers, Infowars. Hosting the world-premiere in Austin of a film chronicling the infiltration of the secret power nexus of the new world order elite seems quite fitting. Join Alex after the screening for what will undoubtedly be a scintillating Q&A with the filmmakers.

4) Dredd 3D

I rolled my eyes the first time I heard they were dusting off Dredd for another theatrical attempt. After watching the film at a preview screening, however, I was blown away by just how plain-and-simple fun it is. Dredd is everything a comic adaptation should be. I want Fantastic Fest attendees to really champion this underdog.

5) Everybody in Our Family

The very definition of slow burn, Everybody in Our Family might initially seem out of place at Fantastic Fest, but ultimately this exquisitely-crafted story settles nicely into comfortable Fantastic Fest territory.

6) Hail

Were I on the jury, my vote for best actor performance would go to lead actor Daniel P. Jones. Director Amiel Courtin-Wilson met up with Jones while making a documentary on a prison Shakespeare troupe; Jones being one of the group's most celebrated performers. Although fictional, the details and nuance of the storytelling are influenced by over 500 pages of Jones' personal memoirs.

7) Holy Motors

A high-water mark of the 2008 edition of Fantastic Fest was Leos Carax's blistering segment of Tokyo! anthology. Now with Holy Motors, we are treated to something of an origin story (and more!) for the inimitable character of Monsieur Merde.

8) I Declare War

Directing kids can turn horribly afoul, so when it is done this well, I really take notice. Directors Rob Wilson and Jason Lapeyre's depiction of a childhood game of war taken several paces too far captures the playful spirit of the fest. I like to think of this event as being run by and attended by overgrown twelve-year-olds who haven't forgotten how to have fun at the movies.

9) No Rest for the Wicked

Veteran actor José Coronado will give Daniel P. Jones a run for his money for the Fantastic Fest best actor award.  I'm not alone in my thinking here as this dirtiest-of-dirty-cops thriller swept the Spanish Goya Awards this year.  I love Sylvester Stallone, but he can never fill Coronado's shoes in the American remake.

10) Vegetarian Cannibal

First of all, I hate this title. It makes the film sound like the worst of the worst of mid-90s straight to DVD schlock. This film is nothing of the sort.  Instead think Bad Lieutenant crossed with St. Elsewhere filtered through the corruption of the Serbian underworld.

11) Wrong

We are showcasing a number of Drafthouse Films titles at this year's Fantastic Fest (Wake in Fright, Miami Connection and Wrong), but I really wanted to highlight Wrong. Visionary filmmaker Quentin Depieux's first feature Rubber might have been a bit of a commercial bust in mainstream America, but among the oddballs who make up Fantastic Fest, it is the stuff of legend.  Wrong further celebrates Quentin's unique brand of absurdism with a heavy flourish of incredible visual style. To me, Wrong is so very right.

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