The 16th edition of the Strasbourg European Fantastic Film Festival is just around the corner and we are delighted to reveal the first titles in the official selection.
In the International Fantastic Competition, Stephan Castang will be presenting his debut feature Vincent Must Die, a cross-genre black comedy magnificently acted by Karim Leklou and Vimala Pons and selected for Critics’ Week at Cannes.
Following on from After Blue, Conann, the new film by French cinema’s noir magician Bertrand Mandico, will also be included in the selection. A female version of Conan the Barbarian, it condemns the savagery of our times.
From the United States, Falling Stars by Richard Karpala and Gabriel Bienczycki follows three brothers who leave home and must escape a witch’s curse in a nocturnal road movie, under the stars in the desert of the American West.
After Knives and Skin, the American director Jennifer Reeder returns to the competitive scene with Perpetrator, a feminist horror film that celebrates the spirit of teenage girls by following the adventures of a young girl who feels her body becoming transformed after tasting a magic cake on her 18th birthday.
The Danish director Karoline Lyngbye will be introducing her debut feature, Superposition, in which a couple settle in a forest to reignite their lives only to see their doubles emerge after the mysterious disappearance of their son.
In the Crossovers competition, devoted to thrillers, noir films and other hybrid genre movies, Mad Fate, directed by Hong Kong’s Soi Cheang, is a comedy-cum-supernatural movie about the inevitability of fate. It features the unlikely trio of a mad fortune-teller, a supposed psychopath and a seasoned detective, all in pursuit of a serial killer.
In The Coffee Table, the Spanish director Caye Casas puts his protagonist to the test when he makes the mistake of his life by buying a coffee table for his living-room when his first child is born. This black comedy makes us shiver and laugh in turn.
With #Manhole, Japan’s Kazuyoshi Kumakiri has served up a thriller full of suspense and black humour, in which a young man falls into a hole on the eve of his wedding and gets stuck. With just a few hours to go before the ceremony, he has only one means of communication to try to get out in time: the social networks.
In Vasilis Katsoupis’s Inside, an art thief (Willem Dafoe) is trapped in a luxury flat after triggering the security system. This thriller tilts into a survival movie, against a backdrop of reflection on the role of art in our lives.
Last but not least, the Indian director Anurag Kashyap returns to the festival with his latest film, Kennedy, which is halfway between thriller and film noir. An insomniac ex-police officer presumed dead continues to work to bring about his redemption in a corrupt system.
In the International Animated Film Competition, the Festival will present Robot Dreams by the Spanish director Pablo Berger, a moving drama about friendship. In 1980s New York, Dog assembles a robot to escape his loneliness. It becomes his best friend but he is forced to abandon it on a beach.
The director of the first season of Last Man, Jérémie Périn, will be returning to the Festival with Mars Express, his first sci-fi feature, which addresses the issue of robot emancipation. It follows the investigations of a stubborn private detective and her android partner in the year 2200. On an Earth plagued by wars, overpopulation and dwindling resources, the technology boom has made it possible to colonise other planets, including Mars, which has become a thriving refuge for a few million privileged individuals.
In Benoît Chieux’s Sirocco and the Kingdom of the Winds, two intrepid sisters aged 4 and 8 discover a secret passage to the Kingdom of the Winds, the title of their favourite book. While trying to return to the real world, they encounter Sirocco, the controller of winds and storms. A variation on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, with a mise en scene in many ways reminiscent of the style of Hayao Miyazaki.
Finally, a Hungarian-Slovak production, White Plastic Sky, by Tibor Bánóczki and Sarolta Szabó, gives us a futuristic vision of an Earth faced with dwindling resources and the disappearance of vegetation. At the age of 50, each citizen is gradually transformed into a tree in order to preserve the human race. A stunningly staged environmental-themed futuristic film.
In the Midnight Movies section, Divinity, directed by the American Eddie Alcazar and produced by Steven Soderbergh, plunges us into a world where a scientist has devoted his life to the quest for immortality. He succeeds in creating the building blocks of a revolutionary serum called Divinity, which attracts the envy of an arid planet whose society has been totally perverted by the supremacy of drugs. Shot in black and white on film, Divinity eschews labels, and is not unlike sensory experience of Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo.
Another Japanese production that evades classification is Reiki Tsuno’s Mad Cats. A shiftless young man sets off with two friends in search of his brother, only to find himself up against a pack of vicious monster cats determined to execute the unscrupulous owners of a pet shop. If you’re a fan of shotguns, martial arts and cats, this film is for you.
The Special Screenings include two documentaries. Firstly, Enter The Clones Of Bruce by the American director David Gregory. It takes us back to the years after Bruce Lee’s death, when Hong Kong’s film studios produced hundreds of unauthorised biopics, sequels, prequels, spin-offs and scams featuring a competing series of Lee lookalikes. Welcome to “Bruceploitation” and make the acquaintance of Bruce Le, Dragon Lee and Bruce Li.
Next up is the outlandish documentary Kim’s Video, by Ashley Sabin and David Redmon. It follows David, a modern-day film buff and movie maker, on a Don Quixote-like quest to track down the collection of over 55 000 rare films from the defunct Kim’s Video, an iconic New York video rental shop. From South Korea, where he must catch up with the enigmatic Mr Kim, to Sicily, where he becomes entangled in a web of local politics, David stops at nothing to find the amazing VHS collection.