- SXSW 2014
For film buffs who like their movies a little off kilter, perhaps slightly strange, or even outright weird, Austin's Fantastic Fest supplies that fix with an impressive array of horror, science fiction, fantasy, action, Asian, and cult selections. The annual eight day confab, now in its ninth year, begins tomorrow with the world premiere of director Robert Rodriguez's Machete Kills, the sequel to the popular grindhouse feature Machette. As if the premiere wasn't enough, Rodriguez, producer Tom Proper, and stars Danny Trejo and Alexa Vega will be on hand for an audience Q&A.
Long a tenant of the festival, world premieres in past years have included Paul Thomas Anderson's historical There Will Be Blood, the acclaimed sci-fi thriller Los Cronocrímenes (Timecrimes), the humorous gorefest Zombieland, and the spy spoof Red. In addition to Machete Kills, this years Fantastic Fest delivers nine premieres from all over the world.
• Coherence— cerebral low-budget sci-fi, that delves into quantum mechanics and theoretical physics
• Detective Downs— an unusual crime story centering on a P. I. with Downs Syndrome
• Goldberg and Eisenberg— genre-bending tale of obsession between a schlubby computer programmer and a psychopath
• Grand Piano— a renowned concert pianist engages in a sadistic game of cat-and-mouse with a faceless sniper
• Greatful Dead— a character-driven black comedy about female peeping tom obsessed with a virile old man
• LFO— a man uncovers audio frequencies that open the human mind to hypnotic suggestion and his total control
• Ninja: Shadow Of A Tear— Casey Bowman, a Ninjitsu master out to avenge the death of his wife, returns in director Isaac Florentine's follow-up to his 2009 film Ninja
• Ragnarok— a rousing action adventure film in the style of an ‘80s Hollywood summer blockbuster about a Norwegian archeologist who discovers an ancient Viking ship
• Septic Man— a plumber undergoes a hideous transformation when trapped inside a septic tank
The world premieres are but a fraction of the exciting films. First USA and North American premieres make up a large fraction of the remaining features. Some of the choice highlights:
• Chanthaly— a ghost story of a sickly young woman who sees visions of her dead mother
• A Field in England— during the British Civil War, an alchemist forces a group of deserters to help him locate buried treasure and then madness
• Man Of Tai Chi— Keanu Reeves directs this tale about a young martial artist who must compete in an underground fight club to protect his way of life
• Mirage Men— a documentary purporting that the popular myths about the existence of UFOs originated from a disinformation campaign by the U.S. government
• Proxy— A thriller about a pregnant woman whose life spins out of control following an attack
• She-Wolf— In a potent, punk rock spin on Euro-sleaze, a sexual predator roams the streets of Buenos Aires, using sex to lure in her victims
If the above wasn't enough, here's some more tantalizing movie selections:
• Cheap Thrills— winner of the SXSW ‘13 “Midnighters Audience Award witnesses a recently fired father paid to take on an escalating series of insane challenges from a rich, twisted couple
• The Congress— Robin Wright (playing herself) gets an offer from a major studio to sell her soul and cinematic identity
• The Dirties— winner of the top prize at Slamdance, this piece of lo-fi DIY filmmaking follows a pair of cinema-obsessed high school geeks caught up in an crazy cycle of violence
• Halley— after the zombie apocalypse, Beto worries about oozing lesions all over his body, maggots infesting his wounds, and getting home to see his wife and estranged daughter
• Hentai Kamen: Forbidden Super Hero— a new hero has arisen in Japan: One with fishnet stockings, a mankini, and a pair of women’s panties over his face
• Jodorowsky’s Dune— the story of the greatest film never made: Alejandro Jodorowsky’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune
• Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons— the new movie from the chaotic Stephen Chow is an action-packed love story about competing demon hunters vying for the same conquests
• Metallica Through the Never— 3D music-driven feature film combining a bold narrative and spectacular live-performance footage of the popular band
• O'Apostolo— Gothic legends are brought to life by stop-motion animation in this adult fantasy film
• Zero Theorem— Directed by the legendary Terry Gilliam, an eccentric and reclusive computer genius struggles with existential angst while working on a mysterious project aimed at discovering the purpose of existence
In addition to the announced movies, there are several Ain't It Cool Movies Presents: Secret Screenings. The selections remain unknown until the showing. In years past, major pictures such Zathura, A Scanner Darkly, Persepolis, and The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus entertained the crowds long before their general release.
Like all great film festivals, Fantastic Fest is more than a compilation of movies. Guests abound. Directors, actors, screenwriters and producers make appearances and talk with viewers. A small sampling of the filmmakers scheduled for this years gathering include Elijah Wood, Frank Pavich, Robert Rodriguez, Danny Trejo, Keanu Reeves, Tiger Chen, Nimród Antal, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujilllo, Ben Wheatley, and Nacho Vigalondo.
This is the barest of glimpses into the festival that Variety publisher Charles Koones included as one of "ten festivals we love" and Moviemaker named as "one of the 25 film festivals worth the entry fee." Behind the plethora of movies and guests, Fantastic Fest offers an arcade focusing on the latest games and an international co-production market for genre films.
Fantastic Fest runs September 19-26 at The Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline.