The 2017 Fantastic Fest announced its final wave of films, along with Alexander Payne’s miniature masterpiece DOWNSIZING as the closing night film. Rounding out a trio of Fantastic-Fest first-timers making their way to Austin is Cory Finley and his jaw dropping debut THOROUGHBRED, and fan-favorite tough guy extraordinaire Frank Grillo for the World Premiere of his nail-biting getaway drama, WHEELMAN.
In keeping with world premieres, Fantastic Fest announced a fistful of titles that will receive their big screen bows. Screen great Barbara Crampton will be in attendance with director Bradford Baruh for a ride in his chilling APPLECART, featuring over forty minutes of zero gravity footage; Russia’s SALYUT-7 is guaranteed to pop 3D eyes; HAUNTERS: THE ART OF THE SCARE walks us through the world’s most terrifying haunted houses; and TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID delivers a contemporary fairytale from within the world of the mexican cartels.
“I’m incredibly proud of the vast array of filmmaking on display in this year’s program,” said Fantastic Fest Creative Director Evrim Ersoy. “From the most highly acclaimed studio titles to the smallest independent debuts, it’s exhilarating to embrace unique creativity from the four corners of the world. Bringing filmmakers together in a program that highlights the increasing diversity of cinema is truly an honor that we can’t wait to share with our audience.”
Female filmmakers once again deliver powerful voices with three of the most dynamic films of the festival. Angel Robinson will be in attendance to share the controversially kinky true story behind the year’s biggest superhero with PROFESSOR MARSTON & THE WONDER WOMEN; Lisa Bruhlmann makes a stunning entrance with her fantastical coming-of-age debut BLUE MY MIND; and not to be outdone, first time feature-maker Coralie Fargeat turns the revenge genre upside down with her outrageous femme fatale fiesta, REVENGE.
A mainstay of Fantastic Fest has been showcasing world cinema’s finest exports and this year is no exception. Asia basks in the glory of master Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s return to the apocalyptic fold with BEFORE WE VANISH (Japan), while his countryman Sôichi Umezawa delivers the outlandish midnight spectacle of VAMPIRE CLAY (Japan). South Korea represents with the year’s toughest crime caper, THE MERCILESS, and serial killer shocker V.I.P., while NYAFF award-winner BAD GENIUS represents Thailand. And Taiwan shows school students no mercy with the hyper-violent MON MON MON MONSTERS. Not to be outdone, Europe comes out swinging with Hungarian auteur Kornél Mundruczó’s follow up to WHITE GOD, the stunning JUPITER’S MOON, French filmmakers Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani splash their hyper-stylized western LET THE CORPSES TAN across the screen and Norway’s Joachim Trier delivers one of the most quietly impressive films of the year, the assured THELMA.
The world premiere of Don Hertzfeldt’s WORLD OF TOMORROW EPISODE 2: THE BURDEN OF OTHER PEOPLE’S THOUGHTS highlights an animated sidebar that pushes the medium into brave new spaces. Rounding out the fantastical trio is the debut feature from Studio Ponoc, MARY AND THE WITCHES FLOWER, from ex Studio Ghibli key animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi, and JUNK HEAD, Takahide Hori’s claymation feature that took him over seven years to complete, entirely by himself.
American Genre Film Archive makes its triumphant return to Fantastic Fest with two movies that will rot your libido in the best way. BAT PUSSY, the world’s first X-rated parody, shares the spotlight the world premiere of a brand new 2K transfer of one of the most sought-after lost films in the history of exploitation cinema in a very special secret screening. Additional rep titles include the world premiere of the Takashi Miike-approved 4K restoration of ICHI THE KILLER, the digital remaster of the seminal Indian cult movie BAASHA, and Jean Rollin’s THE NUDE VAMPIRE, presented by Kier-la Janisse in celebration of her new book Lost Girls: The Phantasmagorical Cinema of Jean Rollin.
True to form, Fantastic Fest will be re-writing reality once more with a crowded cornucopia of events that invade all corners of the fest. Gross-out grub-gorging spectacle Puke and Explode rumbles once more, notorious VHS archival warriors Everything is Terrible return with an all-new show to both delight and horrify. Comedy legend Gilbert Gottfried will be performing and screening the incredible biographical doc GILBERT, and the seminal Fantastic Debates marks its 10-year anniversary of polemic pugilism in spectacular fashion.
FINAL WAVE OF FILM:
AGFA + SOMETHING WEIRD PRESENT: BAT PUSSY and SECRET SCREENING
American Genre Film Archive makes its triumphant return to Fantastic Fest with two movies that will rot your libido in the best way. BAT PUSSY, the world’s first X-rated parody, is what happens when an anonymous smut producer gets inspired by the 1960s BATMAN TV show but only has $5. It’s also what happens when your wildest dreams and most horrifying nightmares collide in an explosion of flaccid stupefaction. Next up, after years of detective work, AGFA presents the world premiere of a brand new 2K transfer of one of the most sought-after lost films in the history of exploitation cinema.
LOST GIRLS Book Launch: THE NUDE VAMPIRE presented by Kier-la Janisse
THE NUDE VAMPIRE
Repertory, 88 min
Director – Jean Rollin
Jean Rollin’s THE NUDE VAMPIRE (1970) follows a sinister businessman who’s keeping a young vampire girl captive and experimenting on her in the hope that he finds the key to eternal life. The film will be screened in celebration of the launch of the new book from publisher Spectacular Optical, LOST GIRLS: THE PHANTASMAGORICAL CINEMA OF JEAN ROLLIN, the first examination of Rollin’s work to be written by all women critics, scholars and film historians, and will be introduced by the book’s publisher Kier-La Janisse.
3FT BALL & SOULS
International Premiere, 93 min
Director – Yoshio Kato
Four strangers come together to commit suicide using explosives. But they discover that every time they blow up, they’re sent back to just before they killed themselves.
World Premiere, 86 min
Director – Bradford Baruh
An idyllic weekend vacation to a secluded cabin turns deadly when the Pollack family discovers an unconscious woman whose sinister plans will pit the family members against each other.
Repertory/International Premiere, 165 min
Director – Suresh Krissna
Superstar Rajinikanth plays a rickshaw driver with a history of violence in this genre-defining musical gangster romance epic from the director of AALAVANDHAN.
Texas Premiere, 130 min
Director – Nattawut Poonpiriya
A quartet of high school students are better at cheating than anything you’ve ever done in your life in this epic nail-biter about the standardized tests that level the playing field for all kids, smart and dumb, rich and poor.
BEFORE WE VANISH
North American Premiere, 129 min
Director – Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Kurosawa’s latest film is a sci-fi thriller about an invasion in which aliens must come to understand humanity through understanding human emotion — most importantly, our collective capacity for love.
BLUE MY MIND
North American Premiere, 97 min
Director – Lisa Brühlmann
BLUE MY MIND follows 15-year-old Mia (Luna Wedler) as she undergoes a life-changing transformation, one that leaves her examining her body and her very existence in a new light.
BRIMSTONE & GLORY
Mexico, USA, 2017
Regional Premiere, 67 min
Director – Viktor Jakovleski
Tultepec is a small Mexican town that celebrates its love of fireworks with a yearly week-long festival. This festival is captured in a glorious documentary that is pure cinema.
Ireland, UK, France, 2017
US Premiere, 95 min
Director – David Freyne
A zombie virus has hit the world… but it has been cured. What’s next for the ex-zombies who have returned to normal? David Freyne’s debut feature throws lots of food for thought into the mouth of your mind.
US Premiere, 113 min
Director – Fenar Ahmad
An Iraqi doctor in Denmark seeks vigilante justice for his brother’s murder when the police come up short, biting off more than he can chew in a world of gangs, drugs and underground fight rings.
North American Premiere, 90 min
Director – Aik Karapetian
Provocative Latvian director Aik Karapetian returns to Fantastic Fest with a new thriller that explores how far a meek architect will go to protect his dignity in the eyes of his wife in the aftermath of an attack.
FIVE FINGERS FOR MARSEILLES
South Africa, 2017
US Premiere, 120 min
Director – Michael Matthews
A troubled young man returns to the town he fled as a youth and is forced to confront his past (and the town’s difficult future) in this gorgeous Xhosa language western.
Special Screening, 93 min
Director – Aaron Katz
Our understandings of friendship, truth and celebrity are challenged when a heinous crime tests the complex relationship between a tenacious personal assistant (Lola Kirke) and her Hollywood starlet boss (Zoe Kravitz) in Aaron Katz’s latest.
Regional Premiere, 99 min
Director – Neil Berkeley
GILBERT is the story of Gilbert Gottfried as never seen before, both a behind-the-scenes documentary and a poignant look at the life of a comedian who has more layers than most people can imagine.
Brazil, France, 2017
North American Premiere, 135 min
Directors – Juliana Rojas & Marco Dutra
When lonely nurse Clara is hired as a nanny by wealthy Ana, she hardly expects anything like the friendship she finds with the lonely, pregnant woman. However, both women have dark secrets which will engulf all that they hold dear.
HAUNTERS: THE ART OF THE SCARE
World Premiere, 88 min
Director – Jon Schnitzer
Delving behind the scenes of one of America’s most beloved seasonal pastimes, HAUNTERS shows the world of the people who make the scariest houses, mazes and experiences that range from the traditional to the controversial.
ICHI THE KILLER – 4K RESTORATION
Repertory/World Premiere of Restoration, 129 min
Director – Takashi Miike
The yakuza occupy a murky universe with more twists and turns than the Shinjuku alleys they call home. The mysterious disappearance of a Tokyo mob boss triggers a hunt to find him, dead or alive. The search leads to the city’s most depraved clubs and sex dens and eventually to Ichi, the schizophrenic hitman behind the crime. Even more shocking is the discovery that the mastermind who hired Ichi is a fellow gangster out for revenge.
US Premiere, 114 min
Director – Takahide Hori
Humanity is dying. It’s been 1200 years since our rebellious clone workforce moved underground, and the only way we can survive is by plunging into the depths to learn more about our terrifying creations.
Hungary, Germany, 2017
North American Premiere, 123 min
Director – Kornél Mundruczó
The most ambitious science fiction film of the year is also perhaps the most visually stunning. Aryan is a refugee who finds himself with the power to levitate after being shot. Stern is a disgraced, corrupt doctor. The two will meet and alter the entire world.
US Premiere, 100 min
Director – Robin Aubert
In the remote Quebec countryside, things are not well. A plague has infected the land, affecting almost all the residents of a small village. The survivors have to navigate their new existence as well as deal with the infected with an appetite for flesh.
LET THE CORPSES TAN
Belgium, France, 2017
US Premiere, 92 min
Directors – Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani
On a beautiful corner of the Mediterranean, Rhino and his men take refuge after the robbery of 250 kilograms of gold. The plan is simple: Wait and split. But some unwanted visitors are about to turn this idyllic corner into a bloodbath.
US Premiere, 151 min
Director – Jacob Tierney
The spiritual successors to STRANGE BREW’s Bob and Doug MacKenzie, the rural residents of the fictitious town of LETTERKENNY deliver a hysterical slice of Canadiana in the comedy phenomenon chronicling the daily problems of hicks, skids, hockey players and Christians.
Slovakia, Ukraine, 2017
North American Premiere, 112 min
Director – Peter Bebjak
One line is literal, the border between Slovakia and Ukraine. Criminal Adam Krajnak (Tomas Mastalir) crosses it often, smuggling product and people. The other line is metaphorical, and crossing it leads to a death spiral of violence and vengeance.
LOVE AND SAUCERS
Texas Premiere, 67 min
Director – Brad Abrahams
David Huggins, a 72-year-old man who claims to have lost his virginity as a young man to an extraterrestrial being, turned to art to express his interspecies romance and lifelong relationship with the otherworldly.
MARY AND THE WITCH’S FLOWER
North American Premiere, 102 min
Director – Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Directing the first film out of Studio Ponoc, Hiromasa Yonebayashi (WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE) creates the dazzling and heartwarming story of an ordinary girl who becomes an extraordinary witch.
South Korea, 2017
North American Premiere, 117 min
Director – Byun Sung-hyun
Cribbing liberally from the history of gangster films, Byun Sung-hyun’s hard-boiled Korean crime saga is filled with all manner of murder, deceit, double and triple crosses… and, oh yeah, slap-fighting.
MOM AND DAD
US Premiere, 83 min
Director – Brian Taylor
Selma Blair and Nicolas Cage are seemingly ideal parents until an unknown force causes their town’s adults to murder their offspring.
MON MON MON MONSTERS
Regional Premiere, 112 min
Director – Giddens Ko
A bullied schoolboy is teamed up with his tormentors to do community social work. While on duty, they encounter a strange creature which they kidnap, and take bullying to a whole new level.
THE PRINCE OF NOTHINGWOOD
France, Germany, 2017
US Premiere, 85 min
Director – Sonia Kronlund
Meet Salim Shaheen: Afghani auteur, prolific actor and one-man moviemaking industry. Along with his trusted troupe of actors, he defies all the odds in the Middle East to fulfill his dreams of making movies.
PROFESSOR MARSTON & THE WONDER WOMEN
US Premiere, 108 min
Director – Angela Robinson
In a superhero origin tale unlike any other, this film is the incredible true story of what inspired Harvard psychologist Dr. William Moulton Marston to create the iconic Wonder Woman character in the 1940s.
International Premiere, 99 min
Director – Luke Shanahan
After a full year, Maude is still stricken by visions of her sister Cleo’s kidnapping. Believing that Cleo is still alive, Maude undergoes a suspenseful journey to find her in this stunning, atmospheric feature debut from Luke Shanahan.
US Premiere, 91 min
Directors – Caroline Labrèche & Steeve Léonard
When a man wakes up from a car crash with no memory of what happened, his first instinct is to find help. However, as he gets closer to civilization and other people, an ugly truth will rear its head and affect all those who surround him.
US Premiere, 108 min
Director – Coralie Fargeat
Three rich male thrill-seekers discover that Jennifer isn’t the human sex doll that they assumed she was when they invited her on their isolated hunting getaway. Jennifer teaches them fundamental lessons about consent in a manner that they — and we — won’t soon forget.
Texas Premiere, 111 min
Director – Erlingur Thoroddsen
After a phone call from his ex wakes him late one night, Gunnar drives out to a secluded vacation cottage to save Einar from himself, but what awaits him there is mystery and confusion.
World Premiere, 119 min
Director – Klim Shipenko
Based on a true story, SALYUT-7 is the little-known mission to dock with an unmanned space station in order to stop it from crashing into Earth, a feat never before attempted in space history.
Texas Premiere, 116 min
Director – Joachim Trier
A conservative young woman attending college in Oslo begins to fall in love while discovering her burgeoning supernatural powers in a stunning new film from Norway.
Austin Premiere, 92 min
Director – Cory Finley
Two teenage girls in suburban Connecticut rekindle their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. In the process, they learn that neither is what she seems to be, and that a murder might solve both of their problems.
TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID
World Premiere, 83 min
Director – Issa López
When her mother suddenly disappears with no one to care for her, young Estrella ends up on the street and joins a gang of children, triggering a dangerous and tragic chain of events in the third feature from Mexican filmmaker Lopez.
UNDER THE TREE
Iceland, Denmark, Poland, Germany, 2017
US Premiere, 89 min
Director – Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson
On the outskirts of Reykjavik, the shadow cast by a tree triggers a feud between two neighboring families, with tragic and darkly comic consequences.
South Korea, 2017
International Premiere, 128 min
Director – Hoon-jung Park
A notorious serial killer who happens to be the son of a defecting DPRK official sends South Korea’s National Intelligence, police from both states and even international brass into a mad political scramble in this thrilling neo-noir.
US Premiere, 80 min
Director – Soichi Umezawa
A class of art school hopefuls is stalked by blood-thirsty, flesh-hungry clay in this bizarre practical effects-heavy horror assault from THE ABCs OF DEATH 2 segment director and longtime special makeup effects artist Umezawa.
VIDAR THE VAMPIRE
Texas Premiere, 82 min
Directors – Thomas Aske Berg & Fredrik Waldeland
Christian farmer Vidar has a boring life, living with his mom and tending sheep. When he wishes for more excitement he wakes up undead, hangs out with vampire Jesus and discovers that sometimes the party can go on too long.
World Premiere, 82 min
Director – Jeremy Rush
Frank Grillo (KINGDOM; CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR) stars as the wheelman, a getaway driver thrust into a high stakes race to survive after a bank robbery goes terribly wrong. With a car full of money and his family on the line, the clock is ticking to figure out who double-crossed him and the only person he can trust… his 14-year-old daughter. All reasons to think fast and drive faster.
WORLD OF TOMORROW EPISODE TWO: THE BURDEN OF OTHER PEOPLE’S THOUGHTS
World Premiere, 22 min
Director – Don Hertzfeldt
The highly anticipated follow-up to Don Hertzfeldt’s Oscar-nominated WORLD OF TOMORROW finds Emily Prime swept into the brain of an incomplete backup clone of her future self, who’s on a mission to reboot her broken mind. Continuing the tradition of the first film, WORLD OF TOMORROW EPISODE TWO was written entirely around candid audio recordings of Hertzfeldt’s five-year-old niece.