The 2017 Fantastic Fest announced the short film line up for the 13th edition of the festival, which runs September 21 to September 28, 2017 at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar in Austin, TX.
This year, to celebrate the festival’s Arabic theme, veteran festival programmer Peter Kuplowsky and Fantastic Fest creative director Evrim Ersoy have added a unique sidebar to the festival’s regular short-subject programming. YALLA! ARAB GENRE SHORTS assembles four remarkable genre productions from Arab countries, each with a distinct sensibility and style that further expands the breadth of genres traditionally showcased at the festival.
The 48 film lineup, culled from a record submission pool of nearly 1200 entries, spans 23 countries and features a trio of stop-motion mini-masterpieces including the North American premiere of the chilling CERULIA by Sofia Carrillo (who genre fans will be familiar with from her contributions to the anthology feature XX) and the US premiere of THE BURDEN, Niki Lindroth von Bahr’s award-winning musical. Other highlights include an acclaimed and mind-melting short about escaping a Red Lobster commercial (GREAT CHOICE), and a potent sci-fi skewering of government bureaucracy so incendiary it was banned in Turkey (THE LAST SCHNITZEL)!
Speaking on the program, curator Kuplowsky commented: “With the proliferation of digital distribution channels, the audience for short films is growing exponentially and the mode of filmmaking is becoming more relevant than ever before. I’m thrilled that Fantastic Fest can be the first stop for so many of these fantastic films on their road to people’s eyeballs.”
The complete lineup, divided by program, is as follows:
US Premiere, 15 min
Directors: Bahram & Bahman Ark
A desperate man adopts the guise of a ram in a plot to penetrate a heavily guarded border crossing.
US Premiere, 14 min
Director: Niki Lindroth von Bahr
Lonely fish, tap-dancing mice and telemarketing monkeys harmonize in their collective angst towards the apocalyptic banality of the modern age in this epic stop-motion reverie.
Texas Premiere, 6 min
Directors: Marc Riba & Anna Solanas
A child caught in a war zone innocently grapples to understand his horrifying surroundings in this grim stop-motion parable.
Texas Premiere, 17 min
Director: Teemu Niukkanen
The comfortable routine of Raimo’s middle-class life is interrupted when a Satan-worshipping sex cult moves next door. A wickedly funny comedy of manners.
Texas Premiere, 11 min
Director: Pavels Gumennikovs
Young Just may not have legs, but that doesn’t prevent him from proverbially kicking ass in this remarkable slice of action inspired by the star’s extraordinary life story.
Regional Premiere, 13 min
Directors: Lucas Leyva & Jillian Mayer
The Japanese art of bunraku puppetry dramatizes the existential crisis of a despondent denizen of a Kaiju-infested region of Japan; a rigorous theatrical tradition soaked in profound absurdism.
THE LAST SCHNITZEL
US Premiere, 22 min
Directors: Ismet Kurtulus & Kaan Arici
The world is ending, but the president of Turkey won’t let it until he has a chicken schnitzel. Gleefully silly science-fiction satire with political bite.
LET THEM DIE LIKE LOVERS
World Premiere, 16 min
Director: Jesse Atlas
Fantastic Shorts Award Winner Jesse Atlas (RECORD/PLAY) returns to the section with an arresting sci-fi character study about a body-hopping assassin.
THE NIGHT I DANCE WITH DEATH
Regional Premiere, 6 min
Director: Vincent Gibaud
The consequences of saying “hell yeah, I’ll try that” at a party. A marvelously animated kaleidoscope that collides liberating euphoria with crippling anxiety.
SHORT FUSE Presented by Stage 13
North American Premiere, 13 min
Director: Sofia Carrillo
The brilliant animator behind the stop-motion segments of XX spins an eerie fable about a young woman’s repressed memories luring her back to her childhood home.
Regional Premiere, 10 min
Director: Natalie Erika James
Creeping dread meticulously escalates to an understated but deeply unsettling coda as a father and daughter pack away the contents of their family home.
Texas Premiere, 5 min
Director: Tara Price
When a few measures of music get stuck in a man’s head, the consequences are almost as disturbing as the source of the tune.
Austin Premiere, 7 min
Director: Robin Comisar
A woman is trapped in a Red Lobster commercial. Sublime absurdity that crescendos to nightmarish heights and remarkable emotional resonance.
Texas Premiere, 10 min
Director: Vanessa Gazy
A teenage hitchhiker traverses a lonely mountain highway and begins to pick a mysterious radio broadcast rife with ominous reports of the near future.
International Premiere, 17 min
Directors: Justin Harding & Rob Brunner
Spilt milk is nothing to cry over but when it inadvertently awakens a voracious woodland creature, this funny and freaky short makes the case that it might be something to scream over.
World Premiere, 11 min
Director: Tel Benjamin
An incessant car alarm attracts the curiosity of a cul-de-sac’s residents with chilling consequences. A measured slice of suburban horror that implies and terrifies.
World Premiere, 9 min
Director: David Mikalson
Satan sucks, but this pitch-black comedy about catching the eye of the prince of darkness is the best.
US Premiere, 8 min
Director: Gonçalo Almeida
Hypnotic cinematography buoyed by a ghostly soundscape envelopes remarkable canine performances in this moody, experimental nightmare.
World Premiere, 6 min
Directors: Jeremias Segovia & Gonzalo Torrens
A greedy young boy discovers that the Tooth Fairy is a stickler for the rules in this frightening permutation of the folk figure.
US Premiere, 4 min
Directors: Claire Stradwick & Charlotte Lam
The private spaces of women are unnervingly encroached upon by a masculine other in this confrontational work that shifts cinema’s scopophilic gaze back on the audience.
SHORTS WITH LEGS
World Premiere, 4 min
Director: Alex Lee
A punk ruminates on the consequences of an alien invasion during some katana practice in the park.
World Premiere, 7 min
Director: Maxwell Nalevansky
An acerbic narrator reflects nostalgically on the profound pleasure that was afforded to him upon once being offered a free bowl of beans.
CALL OF CUTENESS
Austin Premiere, 4 min
Director: Brenda Lien
A parade of cat meme tributes mutate into a disturbing animated critique of how these sublime objects of cuteness belie a more sinister cycle of exploitation and control.
Texas Premiere, 20 min
Director: Mike Olenick
A surreal sci-fi soap opera that collides the idiosyncratic private lives of both humans and aliens in a parade of hypnotic slow-zooms and kitschy feline totems.
World Premiere, 10 min
Directors: Milos Mitrovic & Conor Sweeney
Conor Sweeney of ASTRON-6 and FF alumni Milos Mitrovic smash the characters of THE SIMPSONS with the aesthetics of TRASH HUMPERS, and the results both haunt and disturb. Ay caramba.
LA TRISTESSE DURERA TOUJOURS
Texas Premiere, 12 min
Director: Vinny De Giulio
Vinny De Ghoulie returns to SHORTS WITH LEGS with what may very well be his 8 ½. This is a maddening deconstruction of his own process culled from the remnants of a feature film he mounted, but failed to to realize. As amusingly bemusing as it is devastating.
USA, Canada, 2017
Regional Premiere, 15 min
Director: Sam Kuhn
A hallucinogenic dive into the consciousness of a teenage poet in the wake of her lover’s mysterious death. Exquisitely photographed and seemingly assembled in a Lynchian dreamstate.
THE TESLA WORLD LIGHT
Texas Premiere, 8 min
Director: Matthew Rankin
Visionary inventor Nikola Tesla makes one last appeal to his benefactor in Matthew Rankin’s mesmerizing live-action/animated hybrid that paints with light itself to conjure its indelible abstract visuals.
Texas Premiere, 19 min
Director: Matthew Dunehoo
A twitchy and hysterically garish political satire in which a US senator is vetted for a Presidential nomination by a 6,000-year-old telepath that secretly rules the Earth.
THE VIEW FROM HERE
US Premiere, 9 min
Director: Sofia Bohdanowicz
A delirious puppet-theatre libretto that depicts two lovers nostalgically yearning for the good-old-primordial-soup days of yore.
YALLA! ARAB GENRE SHORTS:
North American Premiere, 15 min
Director: Amer Jamhour
Little Dunia is asked to wait in the car in an effort to shield her from her mother’s desperate decision, but when a curious cop comes a-knocking, Dunia’s innocence is suspensefully put to the test.
Saudi Arabia, 2017
International Premiere, 22 min
Director: Maha Al-Saati
Anxious that Judgment Day is on the horizon, Amal keenly awaits to hear the Trumpet of Doom; could the incessant mewing of cats in her office be the first harbinger? An eccentric and experimental rumination on the end of days.
Algeria, Kuwait, USA, 2016
Regional Premiere, 40 min
Director: Damien Ounouri
The spectre of a murdered woman returns to the site of her death, claiming the lives of those responsible, as well as those who turned a blind eye. An arresting social critique in the guise of a vengeful ghost story.
LAST DAYS OF THE MAN OF TOMORROW
Germany, Lebanon, 2017
World Premiere, 29 min
Director: Fadi Baki
A remarkable mock-doc that profoundly explores Lebanon’s turbulent history through the life and times of a reclusive metal automaton that once was emblematic of the country’s hopes and dreams.
PAIRED WITH FEATURES:
Regional Premiere, 7 min
Directors: Jon Hoeg & John F. Beach
A man discovers his unwitting participation in a bank robbery across a series of increasingly incriminating (and hilarious) answering machine messages.
Special Presentation, 11 min
Director: Britt Raes
Delightful animation depicts the origins of a crazy cat lady, while disturbingly proving the axiom: “You always hurt the ones you love.”
US Premiere, 13 min
Director: Naledi Jackson
A hairstylist confronted with her past fights to protect her future in this stylish, genre-hopping metaphor for the immigrant experience.
THE DUNDEE PROJECT
Texas Premiere, 19 min
Director: Mark Borchardt
Cult filmmaker Mark Borchardt (as seen in AMERICAN MOVIE) takes a trip to the UFO Days festival in Dundee, Wisconsin. Eccentric personalities abound as Mark poetically ruminates on why the compulsion to seek out little green men seems to converge in his home state.
THE END OF DECAY
Texas Premiere, 12 min
Director: Chris Todd
A paraplegic scientist attempts a dangerous experiment to reclaim his mobility in this visceral bit of gruesome, wince-inducing body-horror.
GIRL AT THE DOOR
South Korea, 2017
Texas Premiere, 11 min
Director: Song Joo-sung
A young girl gleans a few choice maneuvers from gym class that enable her to turn the tables on her abusive father.
MANILA DEATH SQUAD
Philippines, USA, 2017
World Premiere, 13 min
Director: Dean Colin Marcial
An ambitious journalist challenges the leader of a violent vigilante group to a high-stakes drinking game that may score her a scoop or a bullet to the head.
Austin Premiere, 15 min
Director: Andrew McDonald
In this tense Austin-bound thriller, an expectant mother is lured into a sinister plot by a disturbed and desperate woman.
NOTHING A LITTLE SOAP AND WATER CAN’T FIX
Regional Premiere, 9 min
Director: Jennifer Proctor
An exhaustive and illuminating deconstruction of how horror films frequently feature the bathtub as both a private sanctuary for women and, damningly, as an impromptu sarcophagus.
International Premiere, 11 min
Director: Egor Abramenko
A Russian cosmonaut grapples with post-traumatic stress following his return from orbit. But that’s not all he’s brought back.
Austin Premiere, 9 min
Director: Quinn Else
A fascinating fusion of documentary and fiction against the backdrop of UFO Days that juxtaposes a Ufology lecture with the rural wanderings of an enigmatic “visitor.”
Texas Premiere, 12 min
Director: Ramin Sohrab
When a precious violin is snatched by gangsters, an ex-hitman wreaks some serious martial-vengeance in an effort to reclaim it.
YOUR DATE IS HERE
Austin Premiere, 6 min
Directors: Todd Spence & Zak White
An old Mystery Date-style board game holds more evil than amusement in this expertly wound fright flick.
North American Premiere, 7 min
Director: Bart Wasem
Two grotesque floating heads engage in an aerial waltz of wanton destruction in this spectacularly animated epic. You won’t have a clue, but you’ll appreciate the cosmic justice.