With the second wave of content announced for this year's Fantastic Fest, heavy hitters such as Tim Burton's "Frankenweenie", Pete Travis' "Dredd 3D", and Rian Johnson's "Looper" are already making folks salivate with excitement, but the festival is more than just famous directors and Hollywood hits. One of the true joys of Fantastic Fest is exploring the cinema of the world, discovering rare and unusual films from other countries that you might not get to see anywhere else. In honor of this, I've composed a quick list of six (just couldn't get it down to five) films which fans of foreign film should keep an eye on.
"Everyone in Our Family", Dir. Radu Jude, Romania
Critics will tell you, Romania has been on a cinematic role of late, producing amazing film after amazing film, and winning numerous awards in the process. After debuting at several festivals early this year, Everyone In Our family is on course to continue this trend, with an emotional, and yet darkly funny, story of a man trying to save his family from utter collapse. Shot in a hyper-realistic style, the film is said to be an emotional and suspenseful journey, and though it may not be the typical Fantastic Fest fair, it's sure to be one of the highlights of this year's festival.
"The King of Pigs", Dir. Yeung Sang-Ho, South Korea
Let me start off by saying, I am a sucker for unique, indie animation, and this South Korean wonder looks to be delivering plenty of that, along with a story that is said to parallel "Lord of the Flies" with the strength of its commentary. Featuring a fractured narrative about a group of children whose childhood troubles follow them well into adulthood, the film is said to be devastating and raw, unflinching and uncomfortable, and has been compared to the work of late, great Satoshi Kon, making it one of this critic's must-sees at this year's fest.
"Holy Motors", Dir. Leos Carax, France
Things have been relatively quiet from Leos Carax in the last few years. After making a name for himself with "Lovers on the Bridge" and "Pola X", he disappeared from filmmaking for many years, with only a short segment from "Tokyo!" to satiate his fans. Luckily, he's back in full force at this year's Fantastic Fest with "Holy Motors", a bizarre little surrealistic work which follows a man as his normal days quickly becomes anything but. Carax has been known for producing controversial and conversation-starting work at every turn, and "Holy Motors" looks little different. From early word, viewers can expect all the weirdness of his recent "Tokyo!" segment, spread to feature length, which is just what the audiences at Fantastic Fest are looking for.
"Wrong", Dir. Quentin Depieux, France
A few years ago, Quentin Depieux's debut "Rubber" shot off like a bullet to become of the most talked about films of the year, dividing audience along a wide gulf between "love" and "hate" that hadn't been seen for ages. Now he's back with an even more bizarre little film by the name of "Wrong", which follows a man who wakes up at 7:60 one day to realize his dog is missing. What follows is said to be an episodic trip to some surreal locales, in what has been called a surreal masterpiece by many early critics. It's sure to prove divisive with audiences once again, but there are sure to be many at this year's festival who will absolutely adore this little slice of French madness.
"Doomsday Book" Dir. Kim Ji-Woon and Yim Pil-Sung, South Korea
What happens when you get two of South Korea's best directors, and put together to plot out of the end of the world? You get one of the most anticipated foreign releases of the year with "Doomsday Book", a three-part science fiction anthology that takes a clever crack at guessing just how this mad world of ours will finally fall apart. Directors Kim Ji-Woon, of "A Tale of Two Sisters" and "I Saw The Devil" fame, and Yim Pil-Sung, creator of "Hansel and Gretel", come together to create what is said to be a beautiful, and oft-times hilarios, look at humanity and all its foibles, in what is sure to be one of the standout films of not just the festival, but of the film landscape during the next year.
"Outrage Beyond", Dir. Kitano "Beat" Takeshi, Japan
After a series of experimental films, superstar director Kitano "Beat" Takeshi returned to his roots with the flashbang gangster Outrage, which may not have garnered as big a following than some of his earliest hits, still showed he had some great stuff left in. Fans of Outrage can rejoice this, because the direct sequel, Outrage Beyond, takes place after the events of the first film, and finds the characters from the first bringing the fight to the entire city. Kitano broadens his scope in his already outrageous first film, giving audiences even more of the action and drama they loved in last year's film.
Fantastic Fest is already offering up so many phenomenal films, and this is only the second wave of programming. There are also a dozen other fantastic foreign and indie films that deserve your attention as well, so be sure to visit the fantastic fest website to find out more at Fantasticfest.com.
Be sure to check back in a few weeks to see my top picks from the third wave of announced films, and in late September, expect full coverage of Fantastic Fest, including reviews of the all the big (and small) films.