2013, USA, 90 min.
Director Lucky McKee & Chris Sivertson
Screenwriter Lucky McKee & Chris Sivertson
CastCaitlin Stasey, Sianoa Smit-McPhee, Brooke Butler, Tom Williamson
A rebel girl signs up a group of cheerleaders to help her take down the captain of their high school football team, but a supernatural turn of events thrusts the girls into a different battle.
Perhaps it seems unexpected for a pair of filmmakers who have separately made names for themselves with disturbing Jack Ketchum adaptations (Sivertson with The Lost, McKee with Red and The Woman) to team up for a cheeky high-school comedy. But a deeper look into their collective CV reveals a little-seen, zero-budget video project credited to the future directors of May and I Know Who Killed Me. With McKee and Sivertson reunited, greater than the sum of their parts, this new, improved version of All Cheerleaders Die manages to be smart, scary and wickedly funny.
When outcast Maddy secures a spot on Blackfoot High’s cheerleading squad through hilariously tragic circumstances, she uses her newfound position to gain petty revenge for the death of her BFF Lexi, whose untimely demise set the stage for Maddy’s cheerleading coup. When things inevitably go too far, resulting in circumstances even more tragic (read: higher body count), Maddy’s occult-obsessed ex Leena revives the recently deceased cheerleaders whose undead bloodlust favors the popular-kid variety.
All Cheerleaders Die is a worthy addition to the cult teen comedy canon. With a first act resembling a dark satire akin to Heathers and Mean Girls and the latter half taking on a decidedly more supernatural vibe similar to The Craft and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this film proves more mischievous than all these titles combined, as McKee and Sivertson gleefully savage every imaginable teen movie cliché in brutal, bloody fashion.
1974, Japan, 94 min.
Director Norifumi Suzuki
Screenwriter Masahiro Kakefuda & Norifumi Suzuki
Cast Yumi Takigawa, Fumio Watanabe, Emiko Yamauchi
A young nun seeks to uncover the dark secrets of the Sacred Heart Convent in this nunsploitation classic. School of the Holy Beast is as blasphemous and shocking as it is artistically stunning.
The film opens as Maya, a young single woman, enjoys one last night of freedom before she runs off to join the Sacred Heart Convent—“where women aren’t women”—to investigate the mysterious death of her mother 18 years ago. What she encounters there is as far from the supposedly celibate and pious life of a nun as you can imagine. The world of the Convent is a strange and debauched place, where half-naked nuns engage in brutal self-flagellation and make love in the rose gardens. Maya journeys deeper into the world of the Convent to solve the mystery of her mother’s murder, learning the dark secrets and hypocrises of the Church and its leaders.
But provocative subject matter aside, what makes this film so deserving of respect and admiration (and this 40th anniversary screening) are the powerful directorial choices made by Norifumi Suzuki. Soft lighting coupled with bold geometric compositions give the film a strong and unique aesthetic, enhanced with decisive camera movements and a judicious use of slow motion. (One of the film’s most memorable sequences takes place when Maya is whipped with rose thorns in slow-motion, making for one of the most aesthetically perfect scenes of violence I have ever seen.) The look of this film is sometimes reminsicent of the best gialli, but ultimately is wholly unique and absolutely gorgeous.
School of the Holy Beast is a masterpiece of the Pinky Violence genre of Japanese exploitation cinema. These female-centric films of the 1960s and 70s, with provocative titles like Sex & Fury, Female Convict Scorpion, and Terrifying Girls’ High School were conceived by the legendary Toei Company as a fusion of erotic “pink films” and more traditional, violent exploitation fare. As you can imagine, School of the Holy Beast contains its fair share of both eroticism and violence, but it also functions on a deeper level as a critique of the Catholic Church and one of the most stunning aesthetic statements in the entirety of exploitation cinema.
— Bryan McKay
Treat yourself to a wide variety of animation in all styles and colors. Including new work from Ruth Lingford, Bill Plympton, and Robert Morgan among others. Not intended for children (though they’ll probably enjoy it).
Keep Your Head Down
Ruth Lingford, 5 min.
Michael Hadley, 3 min.
Lady and the Tooth
Shaun Clark, 8 min.
Little Vulva and Her Clitoral Awareness
Sara Koppel, 5 min.
Domestikia, Chapter 3: La Petite Mort
Jennifer Linton, 5 min.
Trusts & Estates
Jeanette Bonds, 5 min.
King Tigermore in Strawberry Fields
Tunde Reid-Kapo, 3 min.
We Are Golden
Jonathan Seligson, 4 min.
Thomas Stellmach & Maja Oschmann, 7 min.
Maciek Szczerbowski & Chris Lavis, 12 min.
Nicholas Gibney, 6 min.
Drunker Than a Skunk
Bill Plympton, 4 min.
Robert Morgan, 3 min.
2014, USA, 103 min.
Director Phil Healy & JB Sapienza
Screenwriter Jon Caron & Phil Healy
Cast Jonah Washnis
Chuck Norris. Rambo. Jonah Washnis. While Jonah’s isn’t a household name (yet), the myth, the man, the badass has garnered a worldwide cult following by virtue of the internet.
Guns, Russian brides, swords, virtuosic harmonica skills? These are the mere tip of the iceberg as Healy & Sapienza’s documentary explores the upstate New York native’s iconoclastic monomyth.
Donning the Punisher’s iconic garb, self- proclaimed “real-life” warrior Jonah has always lived life by his own rules. Beloved by his buddies and curiously reviled by his own family, the 5’ 8” martial artist and adventurer rose to MySpace fame in 2006 after sharing dozens of his elaborately set designed, fantasy-and-pure-badassery-depicting Christmas cards from the 80’s.
Invoking Robin Hood, Sinbad, Highlander, and his totem-animal, the Punisher, Jonah and his friends ingeniously celebrated and brought to life contemporary mythology in the spirit of holiday giving. With babes, big guns, and bigger hair, the crazy holiday cards found new life on the internet as they became a viral hit, making Jonah an unlikely celebrity.
Perhaps fitting that a modern-day hero lives in a place called Greece, NY, we gain access to this man’s unusual, and very human, day-to-day through his own antics and the anecdotes shared by those who know him best. While it’s not all ass-kicking and explosions, Jonah’s is an utterly fascinating world to behold. In an era where reality TV is the machination of calculated executive producing, it’s equal parts unjust and lucky that Jonah has yet to be discovered (or exploited). He’s a character that commands attention; un- predictable, charismatic, and always at the ready with a Jonahism, there’s some- thing simultaneously strong and fragile about this unique human being. Other stars in the Jonah constellation include best friend and manager Skip “The Trip” and the inimitable Mr. Chips, all lovable, intriguing figures along for the crazy ride.
My Name is Jonah is a charming, captivating look at a life less ordinary, a doc full of heart and possibly this year’s sleeper hit at the festival.
— Nicole McControversy
2013, Japan, 126 min.
Director Sion Sono
Screenwriter Sion Sono
Cast Jun Kunimura, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Hiroki Hasegawa, Gen Hoshino
A renegade film crew becomes embroiled with a yakuza clan feud in this bloody ode to 35mm cinema, the thirty-first feature film from Japan’s prolific provocateur auteur Sion Sono.
Serious cinema nerds can be forgiven if they seem annoyed trying to keep up with Sono’s output. The director has cranked out three (3!) feature films since Guilty of Romance, which screened at BUFF only last year. But unlike that film or the oppressive Cold Fish before it, here Sono dispenses with the feral intensity and embraces an inspired silliness that is an absolute joy to behold. Sono’s latest is a glorious genre mash-up that is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser despite the many literal bloodbaths peppered throughout. Why Don’t You Play In Hell? may not be for everybody, but it is most definitely for you, the loyal BUFF attendee. You’re welcome in advance.
The film wastes no time introducing us to The Fuck Bombers, a clan of film geeks whose level of devotion to cinema approaches religious reverence. Through a ridiculously convoluted series of events, The Fuck Bombers manage to cross paths with two rival Yakuza factions, whose increasingly violent mob war makes the perfect backdrop for the Bombers’ opus. Sono’s talent for establishing plot points A, B, and C, then seamlessly interweaving them makes this level of narrative distillation seems almost criminal.
Why Don’t You Play In Hell? isn’t as brilliantly subversive as Sono’s 2008 masterpiece Love Exposure, but is much in the same vein, and it serves as a proper introduction to the auteur for those who were scared away by Love Exposure’s four-hour runtime. The samurai film, the yakuza film, the influences of Bruce Lee, Kinji Fukasaku, Leos Carax’s Holy Motors, and even Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 1 (itself a collage of Japanese cinema, just to give you an idea of how meta Sono’s ambitions are here) are all blended together and the results are as entertaining as can be. If you have other plans, cancel them. You don’t want to miss this one.
— Kevin Monahan
2013, Japan, 71 min.
Director Maki Mizui
Screenwriter Maki Mizui
Cast Kayano, Ken Koba, Momoha, Iona, Fuzuki
The directorial debut from Maki Mizui, the writer of Tokyo Gore Police and former protege of Sion Sono and Yoshihiro Nishimura, Kept is an exploration of innocence broken and evil perpetuated.
Mayuka (Kayano) is a young woman who works as a waitress and walks to and from work another town away. She doesn’t own a car and cannot afford the daily taxi ride. She is much like so many other women in her position, and because of her financial situation, she is an easy target for abduction. And one spring night that’s exactly what happens. A man pulls her from the sidewalk into the trees, covers her eyes and mouth, and secures her hands and feet with tape.
The intentions of The Man (Ken Koba) are to presumably rape and kill her, but during the drive to a more remote location, she catches him off guard and ends up treating him kindly. Through the course of one night, she refuses to become another victim, but she also decides not to turn him over to the police.
She returns home and begins to realize that while she may have survived the night without severe physical trauma, the mental anguish of allowing a rapist and murderer to remain free begins to take its toll, especially as her captor’s victim list begins to mount. Suddenly alone in the middle of a forest, Mayuka’s emotional feelings begin to take physical form, causing bloody fissures to open up on her thighs as a human-sized owl begins to lead her toward the realization that forgiveness and retribution are not mutually exclusive.
Mizui’s first feature film arrives at BUFF straight from its premiere at the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival. Based on actual events in the director’s own life, Kept is dedicated to the unnumbered survivors of sexual assault and abductions every year who go unreported.
— Jesse Hassinger
Alexander Yan, 12 min.
A repressed young woman finds power in an act of deviance.
Across New England, filmmakers are concocting unnerving, provocative, and genuinely startling work. The beauty of homegrown horror is that the neighbors you think are ordinary people may be harboring sinister cinematic secrets. In the backwoods of Maine, a sweet substance induces hallucinogenic nightmares (Syrup). In a dingy basement in Boston, a frustrated office drone uses an unusual hobby to escape a humdrum life (M is for Mundane). BUFF is thrilled to share this special program highlighting the incredibly diverse horror New England has to offer. Look around, some of these purveyors of perversity may be sitting right next to you!
— Chris Hallock
Along Came a Spider & Mary’s Dream by the Sea
Mike Hadley, 2 min.
Arik Beatty, 8 min.
Kevin James, 20 min.
The Cost of Doing Business
Hugh Guiney, 7 min.
M is for Mundane
Andrea Wolanin, 3 min.
Everett Bunker & Caroline O’Connor, 11 min.
Izzy Lee, 5 min.
Skip Shea, 7 min.
Alex Pucci, 9 min.
Ian Carlsen & Jeff Griecci, 23 min.
(Special thanks to Damnationland.)
2013, USA, 92 min.
Director Eddie Mullins
Screenwriter Eddie Mullins
Cast Justin Rice, Leo Fitzpatrick
A pre-apocalyptic comedy, Doomsdays follows the misadventures of Dirty Fred and Bruho, a pair of free-wheeling squatters with a taste for unoccupied vacation homes in the Catskills.
Eddie Mullins’ debut feature, Doomsdays, feels like the beginning of a new wave of cinema responding to the mounting evidence arguing that humanity may have already fucked the planet beyond repair.
This black comedy follows two young men who wander the Catskills, breaking in to summer homes in the off-season. When they’ve found a suitable place, Dirty Fred (Justin Rice, Mutual Appreciation) downs the contents of the liquor and medicine cabinets, while his traveling partner Bruho (Leo Fitzpatrick, Telly from Kids) slashes and smashes every car they come across.
The two trade insults and arm punches on their anarchic journey through the countryside, moving along when they must, with Fred elegantly bullshitting their way out of close calls with property-owning norms. The end, they are convinced, is near – and humans are the cause.
As they push back against their own despair, the real world pushes back against them in the form of a teenage follower and a young woman whose place in the world is as ephemeral as their own. How long can they keep this up? And how the hell are you going to spend your doomsdays?
— Georgia Young
Jamie Heinrich, 20 min.
After losing his job, Kenny moves in with artist Roger Higgins and his son Joshua.
2013, Belgium, 102 min.
Director Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani
Screenwriter Bruno Forzani & Hélène Cattet
Cast Klaus Tange, Ursula Bedena, Joe Koener
A man investigates his own murder. Time repeats itself, creating multiple versions of the same event. A cornucopia of sound and color fill the screen as the mysteries of a vanishing are unraveled.
Your vice is a locked room and only Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani have the key! Returning to the murky waters of giallo films after the beautiful excesses of Amer, the Belgian duo come together once more to meticulously and lovingly construct one of the densest and most rewarding mysteries of our time.
Dan Kristensen (Klaus Tenge) returns to his beautiful art-nouveau home from a business trip to find his door locked and his wife Edwige gone. Has she left him? Do his unusual neighbors have something to do with this? Is there something supernatural about the very walls meant to protect them all? The tropes are all in place but the results are different, shaking the genre to its core, wreaking havoc with all the clichés to which we’ve become accustomed.
Using the visual flair and vocabulary of the gialli, Cattet and Forzani construct an immediately striking tale which shimmers with violence; a stunning investigation in which nothing is as it seems, where the camera boldly explores the mysterious planes of body and space.
Coupled with a killer soundtrack including Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai, The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears assaults the senses like no other film can, with hypnotic sighs, squeaks of leather, flashes of blade, and tachycardiac timbre.
It’s a rollercoaster ride through an amalgamation of sound, image, and emotion. A harrowing synesthesic collision that’s one part beautiful homage, and one part otherworldly.
If Amer represented a cerebral experience then The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears is akin to a spiritual awakening; a giant question mark about the nature of identity in which the directors play with all the expectations of the audience, using little more than music and color. This is guaranteed to be one of the most unique cinematic experiences you will ever have.
— Evrim Ersoy
Anastasia Cazabon, 9 min.
A young woman is haunted by hallucinatory fever-dreams of witches and other oddities as she struggles to realize the true nature of her male caregiver.
Welcome to the return of the Midnight Transgressions program, albeit under a new title. This is for the bold, the ones who say they’ve seen everything, those with a strong constitution. The daring, the intrepid, those who just have zero fucks left. For anyone of the faint of heart, this block is not for you. No, this is not for you at all.
We hope you’ll still enjoy life tomorrow.
We accept no responsibility for your mental anguish.
— Kevin Monahan
A Moment of Silence at the Grave of Ed Gein
Jörg Buttgereit, 2 min.
Steve Girard, 3 min.
Not a Hair Out of Place
Andrew Fagan, 5 min.
Taylor Cohan, 12 min.
Joseph Christiana, 12 min.
Angst, Piss & Shit
Fredrik Hana, 20 min.
Skip Shea, 7 min.
Josh Johnson, 2 min.
Cat Sick Blues
Dave Jackson, 10 min.
Can Evrenol, 12 min.
H.F. Crum, 12 min.
Remember Saturday mornings? Kids today may not realize the significance of the Saturday morning ritual, but once upon a time, we had to wait a whole week to get our cartoon fix, and when we got it, we tended to binge.
In that gleefully gluttonous spirit, the Boston Underground Film Festival presents a 3-hour trip down memory lane with a tribute to the eye-popping, brain-addling Saturday morning cartoons of yore, complete with a smorgasbord of delicious sugary cereals (and yes, we have soy too!)!
You’ll see both faves and obscurities spanning the 60s through the 80s, all punctuated with vintage commercials and PSAs! The lineup is always a secret, but there will be sci-fi, monsters, crime-solving, hot dogs, kid power, bubblegum bands and general nonsense galore! So get ready for a sugar rush and an explosion of nostalgia all wrapped up in one candy-coated package. It’s fine and encouraged to bring the kiddies!
About the Guest Curator
Kier-La Janisse is a film programmer for Fantastic Fest and SF Indie, the founder of The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies and Owner/Editor-in-Chief of Spectacular Optical.
She has been a programmer for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas, co-founded Montreal microcinema Blue Sunshine, founded the CineMuerte Horror Film Festival in Vancouver (1999-2005) and was the subject of the documentary Celluloid Horror (2005).
She has written for Filmmaker, Shindig!, Incite: Journal of Experimental Media, Rue Morgue and Fangoria magazines, has contributed to The Scarecrow Movie Guide (Sasquatch Books, 2004) and Destroy All Movies!! A Complete Guide to Punk on Film (Fantagraphics, 2011), and is the author of A Violent Professional: The Films of Luciano Rossi (FAB Press, 2007) and House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films (FAB Press, 2012).
She is currently working on the book A Song From the Heart Beats the Devil Every Time about childrens programming in the counterculture era.
Our latest celebration of this beloved medium finds blissed-out, hypnotic, often surreal imagery mingling with innovative sounds from local and international bands alike. A veritable feast for the eyes, ears, and soul!
“All Those Delicate Cuts”
“Back To Me”
Ian & Cooper
“Build Me Up”
Hallelujah the Hills
“Confessions of an Ex-Ghost”
Ryan Walsh & Evan Sicuranza
Jackson and His Computerband
“Dead Living Things”
Birdy Nam Nam
Jackson and His Computerband
“G.I. Jane (Fill Me Up)”
Mrzyk & Moriceau
“Girl Like Me”
“Hammer & Sickle”
“Hate or Glory”
Fleur & Manu
“Juice of My Heart”
Daniel Ferm & Michael Falcone
Bat for Lashes
Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys
“Rough ‘N’ Soothe”
Dansson & Marlon Hoffstadt
Nick Ray Rutter
2014, USA, 77 min.
Director Jerzy Rose
Screenwriter Halle Butler & Jerzy Rose
Cast Mike Lopez, Lyra Hill, Ted Tremper
Crimes Against Humanity is a nihilistic romp through gossipy academic parties, boozy stakeouts and surreal bedtime stories from Chicago underground filmmaker Jerzy Rose.
While spying on a cadre of professors in his school’s ethnomusicology department, Assistant-to-the-Dean and all-around dickhead Lewis discovers there’s a conspiratorial cult on the campus prowl. Lewis’s downtrodden girlfriend Brownie proves collateral damage after a series of freak accidents takes her out of action to ponder her life’s on-the-road-to-nowhere trajectory.
Meanwhile, after an ill-fated one night stand with the aforementioned catch Lewis, irritating chatterbox Frenchie takes an unfortunate tumble down a well sans Murakami-esque enlightenment or Jessica McClure fanfare.
Regardless of just how stupid his mission may be, Lewis is the kind of man who cannot accept any narrative but his own. This is not his tale of redemption; only the hapless Brownie is capable of exhibiting discernable empathy and heart. She’s humanity. And he’s the crime.
On the surface, Jerzy Rose’s Crimes Against Humanity is a talky chronicle of the inanity and asshattery of academia. But when it comes down to it, the setting is nothing more than plot device. You know these people. Hell, you may even be one of these people; the amusing allegory extends far beyond the ivy-covered walls.
— Melinda Green
Oi, Meu Amor (Hi, My Love)
Robert G. Putka 4 min.
Men are from Mars, women are from Brazil. A conversation unfolds, and two lovers find themselves on separate wavelengths.
Where Does It Go From Here
Robert G. Putka 13 min.
Vicious codependency, resentment, and grief intersect in this mean-spirited chronicle of a real S.O.B and his mom, and the people who tolerate him.
2013, Spain, 80 min.
Director Aram Garriga
Screenwriter Aram Garriga & Xavi Prat
Cast Keenan Smith, Mara Einstein, Mickey Stonier
American Jesus is an exploration of Christianity in every faction of American life, from the humble rural churches of Pentecostal snake handlers to the megachurches in the exurbs.
No matter your personal spiritual, religious, or lack-thereof leanings, if you live in America, your life is touched, shaped, and influenced by the Christian fire and brimstone that burns at its core; and if you live anywhere else in the world, you still feel the heat.
If our country were likened to a great tapestry, all the appliques, bargello, crewels, and adornments that comprise our social fabric would be unified by a simple thread that both unites and divides: religious freedom. American Jesus examines our country’s undulating arras, focusing on the threadbare, the flourishes, the eccentric Schrödingerian weaves and knots of our unusual inner life, poignantly holding up faith in all its sunny, hopeful, dynamism alongside its craven, materialistic, agenda-driven underbelly. Idealism and avarice, the virginal and the whorish; we get a glimpse of how the dark side of faith can render the religious witness collateral damage when its gods are power and money. On the flip side, we also see compassion, social justice, and community at work for the greater good.
Barcelona-native Aram Garriga makes a pilgrimage across America, conversing and consorting with Christ-loving bikers, street ministers, surfers, cowboys, and cage-fighters, exploring the wide spectrum of convictions, idiosyncrasies, and subcultures that populate this–to-many–parallel universe. It’s his outsider’s perspective that elevates him to a latter-day Alexis de Tocqueville as he studies America’s inclinations, character, prejudices and passions through its own preoccupation with, and entrapment within, the shimmering maze of materialistic determinism.
Garriga’s gorgeously shot tableaux neither disparages nor mocks as it explores the paradoxical relationship between faith, politics, and the individual needs at odds with those of the collective’s in a world utterly foreign to the uninitiated. There is something to love and something to hate for both the secular and religious subset alike, and it’s perhaps that ingenious balance that makes this film one of the most important, honest, thought-provoking portraits of American society to date. Challenging and illuminating, this is bold, vanguard filmmaking at its finest.
— Nicole McControversy
2014, USA, 96 min.
Director Dennis Widmyer & Kevin Kölsch
Screenwriter Dennis Widmyer & Kevin Kölsch
Cast Alex Essoe, Amanda Fuller, Noah Segan
Award-winning filmmakers Widmyer and Kölsch take a no-holds-barred, visceral look at the system of which they are a part in this jaded, pitch-perfect love letter to the monster that is Hollywood.
California dreaming begets a barrage of body-horror nightmares as the desperate & determined Sarah Walker chases the just-out-of-reach Hollywood dream. Millennial malaise and dissatisfaction with working a dead-end job, the young wannabe starlet knows she’s destined for greatness, if only that big break would come her way.
Squandering her youth in gold lamé spandex at a Hooters-style joint, she reluctantly rolls with a crew of free-floating underachievers, each a more-perfect-than-the-next embodiment of the lotus-eating dreamers that speckle the city of angels not altogether unlike a herpes outbreak. When fate calls her in to audition for the (dubious) role of a lifetime, Sarah answers and quickly discovers just how far she’s willing to go in pursuit of stardom, with utterly devastating consequences.
Starry Eyes tells its Faustian tale against the backdrop of a bleak, morally bankrupt vision of Tinseltown, pitting our heroine against the satanic cult that’s served as Hollywood’s gatekeepers since the Golden Age. Here, ambition transcends desire and becomes something altogether vile and alien. Alex Essoe as the anxious and driven Sarah simultaneously channels Jessica Harper and Isabelle Adjani, using her body to transform from beauty to beastly.
A perfect metaphor for the emotional and psychological toll our culture’s obsession with superficial fame and beauty takes on the collective consciousness, this is an ugly age-old tale told in Crowleyan parlance with a visual palette in muted shades of Silver Lake. Sigils, rituals, and sex magick, the occult provides a stunning conduit through which Sarah is reborn to inherit the throne to which she’s always aspired. Not to be missed, Starry Eyes should be required viewing for every enrollee in Acting 101.
￼￼— Nicole McControversy
Ian Marcks, 13 min.
Something is wrong with Bob. It might be an ear infection, or maybe he ate too much sushi. He’s haunted day and night by strange frequencies it seems only he can hear.
2014, Philippines, 81 min.
Cast Jeffrey Quizon, Sheree
Nothing ever changes in the ever-changing Republic of Ek-Ek-Ek. The year is 2030. The place is a Filipino bizarro-future akin to Biff Tannen’s 1985 (but with more palm trees).
The seer of this anarcho-absurdist-sci-fi-musical-vision is Khavn, whose name is synonymous with truly underground filmmaking. From BUFFs-passed we’ve caught some bleak-yet-joyful glimpses of reality in the gutters of Manila by way of Khavn’s inventive, manic, supersaturated insanity. EDSA XXX offers nothing less than those in the know have come to expect. His latest spirals out of control into beautiful madness; political realism by way of ludicrous musical satire.
Tossing unsuspecting viewers straight into the complicated fray of the island nation’s modern political history, EDSA XXX plays with fact and fiction to amusing and bewildering effect. The film opens with documentary footage of the first EDSA Revolution in 1986, which led to the fall of President Ferdinand Marcos. Khavn then imagines a succession of grotesque and almost interchangeable leaders (referencing at least two real Filipino presidents) who bring no real change to the nation’s citizens.
In 2030, Ek-Ek-Ek is embroiled in its 30th revolution. “Third Eye” is the 30th leader of the nation, an ineffectual, three- eyed troll of a man worshiped by blind adherents. But who is pulling his strings? Rebellions abound. There’s a militant group of mermaids called the Rizal Underground. There are prostitutes, thugs, mercenaries, and ritual seppuku. Everything is a constant and so nothing ever changes, and its from this existential frustration that the film drives us toward its amusing, poignant conclusions.
If there’s one thing that Khavn excels at, it’s sharing a strong, expressive, alternative voice of the Philippines on the festival circuit where poverty-touring, bordering-on-exploitative conventional Filipino cinema typically gets the limelight. Khavn gives a refreshing middle finger to the status quo, dedicating this film to “Filipinos who know how to live for love of freedom and liberty” with a punk rock fervor.
— Nicole McControversy
2013, USA, 83 min.
Director Michael J. Epstein & Sophia Cacciola
Screenwriter Michael J. Epstein, Sophia Cacciola, Jade Sylvan, Sarah Wait Zaranek
Cast Jade Sylvan, Molly Carlisle, Karin Webb, Rachel Leah Blumenthal
Local musicians and artists Michael J. Epstein and Sophia Cacciola make their filmmaking debut with an all-female cast in this response to exploitation, slasher, and thriller films.
Spektor Island, MA. 1972. A young woman searches through a seemingly abandoned building, but there is a stalker tracking her through the dark shadowy hallways. Decked in a white butchers’ apron and a semi-transparent mask, the stalker jumps out from a particularly dark corner, more interested in a good chase than an easy kill. After all, on this cliff-top island there are few places to hide and even fewer places to run…
Faced with a killer butcher or a killer cliff, this woman is stuck with no options. He swipes at her with his oversized hatchet as she plummets into the ice cold depths below.
A year later, the victim has survived, but with no proof of anyone else having been on the island (let alone in the house), she has no one to believe her story, least of whom the ten women who are invited to a soiree that just happens to be in the same abandoned house. In the post-Helter Skelter early 1970s, this group of ten “little piggies” begin to go slightly mad alone on the island.
The ten soon become nine, the nine eight… It’s a classic story, but this Ten is a unique decade because while there are plenty of red herrings, there are also plenty of deep red blood to bring to mind the gialli of Mario Bava.
Who could have lured them all together only to perish one by one? Was it a secret spy organization? The Russians? A mass murderer? A porcine ghost? Only Spektor Island holds the secrets.
— Jesse Hassinger
Izzy Lee, 6 min.
A group of vigilante women take revenge on a shady politician with gruesome results.
We understand that life is hard. Sometimes it’s only the little pleasures that help you avoid ranting like a maniac and licking the dust of random surfaces. Will this collection of shorts prevent you from being that guy on the bus who carries out semi-lucid conversations with himself? We hope so. We’ve curated these clips with you in mind, those only too desperate to hold onto what remains of your sanity. Hopefully these won’t send you over the edge. Relax. You’re in a movie theatre. Violence is never the answer. Get some popcorn. Candy is good too. They sell beer in the lobby, if you think you can handle it. We hope these films make you normal.
Welcome to Dignity Pastures
Brian Lonano, 3 min.
Kurt Dettbarn, 7 min.
Cameron Macgowan, 3 min.
James Feeney, 15 min.
Jean-Francois Asselin, 15 min.
Goosey’s Big Movie
Gabriel Laks, 18 min.
Sunshine for Breakfast
Parker Winans, 7 min.
Jean Pesce, 15 min.
Patti Tsarouhis, 2 min.
Foam Drive Renegades
Adam Deviller, 9 min.
2013, Ireland, 94 min.
Director Brendan Muldooney
Screenwriter Brendan Muldooney
Cast Robert de Hoog, Pollyanna McIntosh, Amanda Ryan, Xenia Katina
Based on the Japanese novel In Love With The Dead by acclaimed author Kei Oishi, Love Eternal centers on an isolated and death-fixated young man trying to make sense of his existence.
Out on a walk in the woods, Ian, an introverted teenager, stumbles upon a girl his age hanging from a tree. Upon this traumatic sight, he locks himself up and refuses to leave his room. For many years, Ian lives a solitary existence. However, a second tragic event makes him put an end to his hermitage. The death of his mother, the one person who cared for him, forces him to begin his life anew… or put an end to it. Gripped by the belief that he has no place in this world, Ian decides to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. However, as chance would have it, Ian gets into his car and finds himself sitting next to the lifeless body of a young woman. Fascinated by her beauty as well as by her suicide note, Ian takes the corpse to his home and finds its presence surprisingly comforting. The young man wishes to relive this experience, knowing that there is only one way to do so. He starts reaching out to suicidal women, offering to accompany them in their fatal process. Thus begins an unexpected journey of initiation between life and death that will lead Ian to finally come into his own and, against all odds, to find love.
We don’t speak in uncertain terms when we profess that the Irishman Brendan Muldowney is a brilliant filmmaker. His feature film Love Eternal testifies to the fact that he is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, an outstanding writer with an exceptional sense of mise-en-scène. Each of his compositions exudes a pure pictorial beauty that brings to mind the films of Terence Malick. On the other hand, his approach to genre recalls Tim Burton, what with talking corpses and a delightfully deadpan humor. Muldowney likewise excels in his meticulous and authentic account of human complexity. Even though he places skeptical characters in staggering situations, he nonetheless manages to tell a heart-rending story of universal resonance. In spite of its macabre theme, Love Eternal is first and foremost an ode to life and to the bonds that unite us.
— Simon Laperrière
The Tale of Love Suicide
Ken Hirata, 11 min.
Two lovers commit suicide by jumping off the top of a cliff. The man survives but somehow the woman has gone missing.
2013, Israel/France, 122 min.
Director Ari Folman
Screenwriter Ari Folman, Stanislaw Lem
Cast Robin Wright, Harvey Keitel, Jon Hamm, Paul Giamatti
Borrowing from Polish sci-fi visionary Stanislaw Lem’s 1971 “The Futurological Congress,” Ari Folman throws Hollywood everywoman Robin Wright (as herself) into an illusory alternate reality.
The world of The Congress resembles a Philip K. Dick prognostication, where big pharma and the entertainment world have melded into an enormous mind- fucking parasite living off of human- kind’s blissful, drug-fueled ignorance. In subtle shades of Tithonus and Faust, Wright is presented with a final studio offer that guarantees eternal youth—of a sort—and financial recompense in exchange for full control over her cinematic identity. Once digitally “scanned,” the actress known as Robin Wright is to become the property and puppet of Miramount Studios while the flesh-and- blood Wright is contractually prohibited from acting or performing in any manner ever again.
With two children to provide for and no other options in a world that increasingly prefers digital to the real deal, Wright sells her soul. Movies starring an ageless Wright come and go, placing her in roles that she would never have considered. After twenty years have passed, the reclusive Wright emerges to attend the Futurological Congress, where Miramount unveils the next iteration of entertainment: the ability to transform into animated avatars and even to become one’s idol. Approached to endorse this latest innovation, Wright has a crisis of conscience that coincides with a rebel attack against the Congress.
Part live-action, part lysergic animation, The Congress criticizes both the Hollywood machine and the obsessive system of pop-worship and consumption that fuels it. Wright is afforded the rare opportunity to explore, succumb to, and exorcise the Hollywood demons of ageism and sexism while clinging to her last shreds of humanity in a world that spends its days wandering in a paracosmic daze. Beautiful and bizarre, Folman’s latest evokes Inception, Abre los ojos, and Synecdoche, New York, with a Bakshian color palette and potent portent.
— Nicole McControversy
2013, USA, 90 min.
Director Jeremy Saulnier
Screenwriter Jeremy Saulnier
Cast Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack
A mysterious outsider’s quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance and winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family.
When writer/director Jeremy Saulnier came onto the scene in 2007 with the horror-comedy art-nerd satire Murder Party, one would never have guessed that his follow-up would be one of the most nerve-shattering, shell-shocking thrillers since the Coen Brothers’ debut Blood Simple. Like Murder Party, Blue Ruin takes the same concept of a loner unwittingly putting himself into harm’s way through pure elements of chance. However, this time around the tone is totally different, dispensing with the standard revenge-movie tropes early on in its running time to focus more on the blowback that is wrought by vengeance.
Macon Blair turns in a stunning performance as Dwight, a drifter who lives hand-to-mouth, taking solace in the rusty blue Pontiac he calls home. One day, a visit from the police turns into a more friendly encounter with the law than Dwight is accustomed. Dwight is informed that the man who murdered his parents twenty years prior is due to be released from prison. With single-minded revenge on his agenda, Dwight wastes no time finding his prey. But in the process, he learns that standing his ground doesn’t necessarily make him safer.
From there on, Dwight is in a constant race to stay one step ahead of his adversaries and protect what is left of his family. Ratcheting up the tension to almost unbearable levels, Sauliner and Blair infuse Dwight with enough empathy and resourcefulness to keep us on his side, but horrified to imagine what he’ll do next. The violence gruesome and the humor swift, Blue Ruin represents a game-changer for the tired genre of the revenge thriller.
— Kevin Monahan
Drew Angle, 7 min.
Cliff waits for his greater purpose to find him. He wastes his days away shooting and drinking. He yearns for the freedom and isolation of a wild animal, but cannot escape the vices that connect him to society.