Fantastic Fest 2015 Prep



Hello nerdfolk! If you wonder why I’m foaming at the mouth it’s because I can’t contain my excitement for Fantastic Fest next week. From Thursday, September 24th to Friday, October 2nd, film geeks, press peeps, and industry folks will congregate in Austin, TX for the most fun, least pretentious film festival around. It’s the most wonderful time of the year and this year’s lineup is a beast.

Where to start… there is a diverse array of new films from a long list of interesting, acclaimed directors from all over the world, including Sion Sono (Love and Peace), Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster), Ben Wheatley (High-Rise), Jeremy Saulnier (Green Room), Takashi Miike (Yakuza Apocalypse), Lee Sang-Woo (Dirty Romance, Speed), Mikkel Nørgaard (Klown Forever), and Ridley Scott (The Martian), among others. There’s a stop-motion animation film written and co-directed by Charlie Kaufman, the brilliant mind behind the scripts of Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It’s called Anomalisa and it was just scooped up by Paramount after winning The Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival. Robert Egger’s The Witch is highly-anticipated after creeping people out at Sundance, and Mads Mikkelsen and Anders Thomas Jensen reunite for the dark comedy Men & Chicken, which was recently acquired by Drafthouse Films.

There’s a solid repertory lineup with a focus on Turkish genre cinema. Back in the day, Turkey basically had no copyright laws and due to the high cost of exhibiting American movies, Turkish filmmakers made their own versions, often borrowing music and/or shots from American blockbusters. Three classics from this era will be shown, The Man Who Saves The World (aka Turkish Star Wars), The Deathless Devil, and Tarkan vs the Viking. Cem Kaya’s new documentary Remake, Remix, Ripoff takes a close look at these films and will give us a deeper understanding and appreciation for them. Other repertory gems are the Shaw Brothers classics Come Drink With Me and The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter, and the 1973 psychedelic Japanese animation film, Belladonna of Sadness.

Oh, did I mention that Kurt Russell will be there? His new cannibal western Bone Tomahawk is the closing night film and he’ll also attend the closing night party, a “rootin’ tootin’ old-time celebration of cannibalistic savagery.” From the press release:

“So our 2015 Closing Night Party is going to be our biggest, boldest and bloodiest ever, as we take over a bona fide ancient cowboy town on the Austin outskirts and dress it up to match the unrepentant misanthropic western rage of our official closing film, BONE TOMAHAWK! Join the cast and crew as we declare war on the night, with a non-stop megassault of booze, meat, fire, games, music, and probably a live donkey or two!”

Is this real life? Kurt Russell? Ancient cowboy town? Live donkey or two?? I’m your huckleberry.

If that’s how it ends, you may wonder how this wild rumpus starts. Well, how do you think it starts? With a Christmas party of course! Humbugs be damned, break out the eggnog and mistletoe.  From the release:

“Dress in red, green, and/or your ugliest Christmas sweaters (or pick up some of Mondo’s new ones here), cuz we’re kicking off FF2015 with a brutally vicious mega-rager of candy canes, reindeer, and gingerbread. And we’re not talking about your standard peace on earth and good will towards men. This is a full-tilt Satanic slayride through the wickedest wastelands of holiday cheer. Yep, we’re throwing the first-ever Fantastic Fest Christmas party… because why not? You don’t like it? Die!”

If cannibals and Christmas aren’t you’re thing–hell, even if movies aren’t your thing– entertainment is easily found at Fantastic Fest. Besides the parties and films, there’s Nerd Rap, Fantastic Arcade, The Fantastic Debates, The Fantastic Feud, Fantastic Trivia, Karaoke Apocalypse, The Comedy Meltdown, Itchy-O, and The Grand Bazaar Turkish Party featuring DJ combo Wooden Wisdom (Zach Cowie and Elijah Wood). If you really wanna get crunk, No Prisoners: The Fantastic Fest Machine Gun & BBQ Assault allows you to shoot a variety of deadly weapons and grub on Franklin BBQ without the lengthy wait.

With so many cool things going on at all times, how does one prepare for Fantastic Fest? The truth is, there really is no right answer to that question. You can do all kinds of planning, or you can show up with zero knowledge of the films, leave scheduling completely up to chance, and still have a great time. Personally, I prep like a muhfuh. I enjoy it. I read all the synopses and watch all the trailers. I make a list of the 40 movies I want to see the most and 15-20 “maybe” films. When the schedule is released I work it like a mad scientist to fit in as many movies on my list as possible. You can never fit them all in; there are around 80 feature films, three programs packed with short films, and all of the other activities going on throughout the week. If you really push it, you can fit in 35-40 screenings/events, but it’s difficult. You have to pick and choose what you do and it often means missing out on other exciting things. I like to be as informed as possible when making these difficult decisions. Chance plays a part in scheduling too, so it’s best to go with the flow and let the Fest take you where it takes you. It’s good to have an idea of what you wanna see and do, but no amount of planning can prepare you for the unpredictable animal that is Fantastic Fest.

Daytime Only Badges are still available. All other badges are sold out.

The film schedule is here.

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Salty Winters

Salty Winters once said, "Everything I learned I learned from the movies." He was quoting Audrey Hepburn.