Holland at goEast

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Agnieszka Holland was at the goEast Film Festival on April 30 to present her brand new film Spoor(Pokot). Here, Holland mixs genres to a subversive end, with her story concerning a retired engineer Janine Duszejko who is an amateur astrologist, vegetarian, and teacher with a great love of animals.

She regularly confronts the male establishment in the rural setting of the film, and fights their regular disregard of the laws concerning animal welfare. What unfolds is a murder mystery of sorts that resonates on many political, ecological, social, and existential levels. Beautifully shot and conceived w an excellent score from Antoni Komasa- Lazakiewicz, and Matthias Eklund,  with healthy doses of black humour.

Based on a novel by Olga Tokarczuki called : Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead. I would highly recommend this flick….

what follows is a brief compendium of notes from the insightful talk by the director and moderators at the Caligari Filmbuhle in Wiesbaden  on April 30

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Spoor (animal)

Footprints of the extinct thylacine
Spoor is any sign of a creature or trace by which the progress of someone or something may be followed. A spoor may include tracks, scents, scat, or broken foliage. Spoor is useful for discovering or surveying what types of animals live in an area, or in animal tracking.

Spoor won the Silver Bear at 2017 Berlinale- she graduated from FAMU in 71 studied w Milos Forman-worked with Wadja in Poland-She became part of the Polish New Wave, Moral Anxiety-81 left in exile-TV work includes: The Wire, Burning Bush, House Of Cards- book film is based on was written 9 years ago, premonition at end of book and film? Holland quoted “wadja-doing movies from the future”-

this is a bizarre mix of genres: anarchist,feminist,ecological,fairytale,thriller-difficult to finance-German  financing was key-shot in Silesia near Wroclaw-Holland just back from Hong Kong FF, big interest in this film in Asia-subversive use of genre w unexpected uses and outcomes

-4 season long process, 2 years, 5 DOP, 2 directors,- who is the killer?,we don’t know until the end-she likes American directors Coen Brothers and Wes Anderson as they speak about issues yet still connect to an audience-

protest by right wing in Poland, criticize it as feminist film,fuck them! Poland, Hungary,Turkey, USA are all turning hard right taking away women’s rights and destroying the environment.-their enemy is ecology and women-they are angry, only Catholic, white, heterosexual men are important in Poland-environmental issues in film are linked to woman’s fight

-Holland is the role model for feminist cinema in Poland-she was accepted in an all male film world in the 70s because she was viewed as a masculine filmmaker w balls, but she took offence as she IS a different gender w a different point of view-

women were never represented at the same level in distribution, exihibition etc-Poland has several good women directors currently-

this film shows the anger in society that is growing, fire is anger both good and bad, freedom has released options-revenge story(django)-hunters are a metaphor to some extent

-good film creates a space for the audience to form their own conclusions from the structure the filmmaker has provided-

William Blake reference adds an existential element and is attached to the area the film is located…

Also see: Spoor-The Guardian

 

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Greasy Filmmaking + Nuclear Meltdown+ Polish Fish Tales

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Deutschland 83 is an eight-episode German television series starring Jonas Nay as a 24-year-old native of East Germany who in 1983 is sent to the West as an undercover spy for the HVA, the foreign intelligence agency of the Stasi. The series premiered on 17 June 2015 on the SundanceTV channel in the United States, becoming the first German-language series to air on a US networkThe broadcast was in the original German, with English subtitles.It subsequently aired in Germany beginning in November 2015, and in the UK on Channel 4 beginning in January 2016.”

A very cool new series that was highly recommended to me by a good friend.  I am half way through the series, after having to track it down on DVD release here in Canada. What a great view this has been so far, and having been a youth at the time this series is set I well remember the political climate of tension and fear that pervaded the western world, as well as ,of course, the music.The series uses source 80s new wave tunes to great effect. The theme song for the English language  version is Peter Schillings 80s track Major Tom, but for the German series Blue Monday by New Order was used.

The show also has a very effective score from composer Reinhold Heil. He was one of the leading touring keyboard players in Germany in the 80s and wrote and played with the Nina Hagen Band as well as producing the 80s mega hit by Nena : 99 Luftballons.

Recently he has been concentrating more on scoring for film and television, starting out collaborating with Tom Twyker (Run Lola Run),and last year scored  the TV Series: Berlin Station.

Deutschland 83 had mediocre ratings in Germany but did well in the U.K and the USA ; resulting in a renewal (and retitled “Deutschland 86”). Hopefully this will be followed by a third season, Deutschland 89, which would be set in the pivotal year of 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell.

The show was created by the husband and wife team of American novelist Anna Winger and German TV producer Joerg Winger  Anna Winger said that they did extensive research with experts who were from both sides of Germany

Deutschland 83 has received a number of international and domestic awards including an International Emmy Award, a Peabody Award, Grimme Prize,The Golden Nymp, a Metropolis Award, two C21 Drama Award, a Golden Camera, the “Special Jury Award” of the Roma Fiction Fest,and Series Mania 2015 for Best World Series.

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“The Greasy Strangler” is a 2016 American black comedy horror film directed by Jim Hosking and written by Jim Hosking and Toby Harvard. The film stars Michael St. Michaels, Sky Elobar, Elizabeth De Razzo, Gil Gex, Abdoulaye NGom, and Holland MacFallister. The Greasy Strangler premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2016.The film was released on October 7, 2016, by FilmRise.

I was in attendance at the 2016 Fantasia Film Festival where this film was playing but couldn’t squeeze a screening in. And to be honest I was a bit sceptical of giving it a view. Recently however I came across the rather strange but cool score for the film by Andrew Hung,and as a result found the film available on ITunes.

So this time I gave the film a whirl, and quite enjoyed this gross out black comedy, but would say it definitely would not be to everyone’s taste:) I will say that the title aptly described the film in all its quirky, random ,and black moments.

I had quite a few laughs at the jokes and at the unbelievable strange occurrences that take place.

Critics were mixed on this tarnished gem but by the end of the film it had definitely left this reviewer all choked up…

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“Pandora-(Hangul: 판도라; RR: Pandora) is a 2016 South Korean disaster film written and directed by Park Jung-woo, starring Kim Nam-Gil. The film was released in South Korea on December 7, 2016.

Jae-hyeok lives with his mother, his sister-in-law and nephew Min-jae in a small Korean town. He is dating Yeon-joo, while working at the local nuclear power plant. Meanwhile, Pyung-sub works at the same nuclear power plant. He is worried about the conditions there, but nobody in the government listens to him. An earthquake strikes the small town where Jae-hyeok lives and causes explosions at the nuclear power plant. The situation quickly spirals out of control, leading the entire nation to panic. To prevent another nuclear disaster, Jae-hyeok and his co-workers return to the nuclear power plant.”

Directed by Park Jung-woo this is a excellent and heart-string tugging Korean disaster flick. Park-woo is a successful screenwriter turned film director whose previous films include another disaster epidemic flick called: Deranged.

This time around the director starts off with a slow-burn story about the extended family of 30 something power plant worker,who is disgruntled with his job and longs to leave his small company-town far behind.

As well the bureaucracy of the political and industrial  machinery that runs the nuclear power industry in modern day Korea,  is well illustrated , and helps make this a well rounded message film as well as an entertaining and heartbreaking action movie.

This was the first Korean film to be pre-sold to Netflix and it is now streaming in 190 countries via the service.

One of numerous well executed films to come out of Korea, and to ride the wave of what could be described as a modern day renaissance of Asian cinema.

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“The Lure-Some time in the 1980s, two mermaids, Golden and Silver (played by Michalina Olszańska and Marta Mazurek respectively), encounter a rock band relaxing and playing music on a beach in Poland. They accompany the band back to the nightclub where they regularly perform and begin playing gigs there, performing as strippers and backup singers. Their audiences are entranced by their singing and on-stage transformation. Silver falls in love with the guitarist Mietek (Jakub Gierszał), while Golden hungers for human prey.”

Director Agnieszka Smoczynska called the film a “coming-of-age story”, with echoes her own youth. The 80s Cabernet style Communist era club is similar to one her mother ran when she was a youth and where she entered teenage years.

But this is more than just an auto biographical reminiscence.

And again, I missed this at both Berlinale and Fantasia in 2016 so I had to wait for a local screening recently to check this film out. It’s a real genre bending, fantastical movie that reaches for it all, and maybe reaches a little too far to retain its focus.

But it’s one of the most inventive films I have seen in a long time, a 80s,Polish, mermaid,cannibal,musical. Quite the concept, and the music has a definite 80s feel, with some campy versions of popular Polish hits from the era adapted by the group(who also appear in the film) Ballady I Romanse.

“The director also wanted the film to be a retelling of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, and developed her idea of mermaids from tales of the 14th–16th century that described them as the sisters of dragons, and hence made them part monstrous. She invented their need to feed on human hearts and that propensity to attack the larynx of their victims.
Smolenska  likened the mermaids to immigrants, abused by the locals (used in the sex industry) on their way to their real goal—America. She added they represent innocence, yet their odour and slime recalled girls maturing, “they menstruate, they ovulate, their bodies start smelling and feeling different.”
The film played to mixed reviews in Poland, although it did win Best Debut Picture at the Gdynia Film Festival; and was generally well received by festivals and critics worldwide.

A visual tour de force, definitely worth a a viewing if you are looking for something a little bit different:)

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Strong Female Leads (4)

Elle + Julieta= Who needs Hollywood?

Elle (French for “she” or “her”) “is a 2016 psychological thriller directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by David Birke, based on the novel Oh… by Philippe Djian. Djian’s novel was released in 2012 and received the Prix Interallié (National Literary Award). The film stars Isabelle Huppert as a businesswoman, Michèle Leblanc, who is raped in her home by an unknown assailant and plots revenge.

The film is Verhoeven’s first feature since 2006’s Black Book, and his first in the French language. It premiered in competition for the Palme d’Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival where it received critical acclaim.Elle won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Foreign Language Film; it was also selected as the French entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but was not nominated. At the 42nd César Awards, the film received eleven nominations.

Huppert’s performance was widely acclaimed, considered to be one of the finest of her career and she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. She also won several awards, including the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress, the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress, and the Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Actress.”

Wow a fantastic return to form for neglected filmmaker Paul Verhoeven. Originally conceived as a Hollywood production, Verhoeven and writer Dijan shopped the script around L.A.but were turned down by every major actress. So the pair turned to Europe and when financing came through Verhoeven was to have to rise to the challenge of working in an unfamiliar language: French.

However the turn of events seems to have been a good turn really.

With the aid of stellar actress Isabelle Huppert and a fine supporting cast, Verhoeven weaves Dijan’s story into an intricate neo-noir infused with unexpected developments and a strong flavour of black humour.

Complimented by a haunting score from Anne Dudley ,as well as inventive editing and cinematography, Elle turns out to be perhaps the best film of Verhoven’s career and a top work in the rather extensive credits of Isabelle Huppert.

So who needs Hollywood, really? As the Oscars proved  once again…

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Julieta “is a 2016 Spanish film written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar based on three short stories from the book Runaway by Alice Munro. The film marks Almodóvar’s 20th feature and stars Emma Suárez and Adriana Ugarte as older and younger versions of the film’s protagonist, Julieta, alongside Daniel Grao, Inma Cuesta, Darío Grandinetti, Michelle Jenner and Rossy de Palma.

The film opened on 8 April 2016 in Spain to generally positive reviews. It made its international debut at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, where it was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or, and was released across the world throughout the remainder of 2016. Julieta has grossed over $21 million worldwide.

It was selected by the Academia de las Artes y las Ciencias Cinematográficas de España as the Spanish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards, but did not make the shortlist.[2] It was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language in addition to receiving 4 nominations for European Film Awards and 7 nominations for Goya Awards.”

This new flick left me pleasantly surprised. I will admit to not being the biggest fan of director Almodovar so I went into this screening as an aside really. But what unfolded was a  wonderful film chronicling the life of Julieta, with all it’s trials and tribulations.

Based on the writings of Canadian author Alice Munro- this is a understated and engaging woman’s story(s) , with some nourish elements woven in . Women are at the focus of this film and its greatest strength.

Julieta is one of the best films  Almodovar has directed , and another strong European feature that exists outside of the mainstream American industry

The Zookeepers Wife+Toni Erdmann= pedestrian filming in a rapid era

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The Zookeeper’s Wife “is an upcoming 2017 British-American war drama film directed by Niki Caro and written by Angela Workman, based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Diane Ackerman. The film stars Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, Michael McElhatton and Daniel Brühl.

The film is scheduled to be released on March 31, 2017, by Focus Features.
A true story about the Warsaw Zoo keepers couple Jan and Antonina Żabiński, who saved many human and animal lives during World War II by hiding them in animal cages.”

I had a chance to see this at a preview screening at the TIFF Lightbox theatre in late January. Jessica Chastain is shooting a film in Toronto and was invited to screen the film and chat about it (and her career) . Unfortunately the audience was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, but hopefully enough time has elapsed, for me to comment?

This was a big disappointment, based on a very interesting and real story from WWII Poland. Bland, predictable, simplistic filmmaking. And the Polish characters all spoke English in some strange faux-Eastern European accent which really took away from the screening.

Fans of the book may enjoy this but it’s a miss for me I am sorry to say.

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Toni Erdmann is a “2016 German-Austrian comedy-drama film directed, written and co-produced by Maren Ade. It stars Peter Simonischek and Sandra Hüller.

The film, which premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival,[5][6] was named the best film of 2016 by Sight & Sound and other respected cinema magazines.[7][8][9]

It has been nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards.[10] It won five awards at the 29th European Film Awards: Best Film (a first for a film directed by a woman), Best Director, Best Screenwriter, Best Actor, and Best Actress.[11] It also won the European Parliament LUX Prize.[12]”

I was underwhelmed by this film- it had some very funny moments but seemed stilted and awkward to me. A 2 1/2 hour running time for a one note film is a little rich I would say as well:) Not much of a work of cinema, Toni Erdmann had a very plain and MOW look and feel to it… the German film from the previous year Phoenix, was a far superior film.

Really don’t get the accolades, did I miss something?

Reading Nordic Noir

Happy New Year and welcome to the first installment of our new monthly series, Oddly-Specific Genres! Last year, we hosted the 2016 Library Challenge, which was pretty intense. This year, we decided to take a more relaxed approach and are instead inviting you to step into a new genre in 2017…or really 12 new genres, […]

via Oddly-Specific Genres: Exploring the Fjord Side — Berryville Book Buzz

Icelandic Noir

Anything to do with Trapped – The Killing Times’ best crime drama series of 2016 – and we’re all over it. That show’s creator, Baltasar Kormakur, has recently opened his own studio, RVK, in Reykjavik and he revealed at the Berlin Film Festival that his next project would be a supernatural thriller based around the […]

via Trapped’s Baltasar Kormakur to make ‘supernatural thriller’ series based around Katla volcano — The Killing Times

Best of 2016 x 32

Ok it is almost time to say goodbye to 2016. I attended a few film festivals: Berlinale,Fantasia, and TIFF.

As well I caught as many interesting films as possible at various cinemas. Here is my best of list-in descending order- favouring indie, foreign, and nourish dramas it seems:)

Honorable  mentions to: Swiss Army Man, The Witch, and Sing Street-they all deserve a place in here for sure. Toni Erdmann & Moonlight have yet to be seen; so I can’t  judge.

More details on most of these flicks can be found in the 2016 blogs here on CineRadioWaves. Enjoy!

Evolution– Evolution-France-2015-d. Lucile Emina Hadžihalilović

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DemonDemon-Poland-2015-d. Marcin Wrona

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Train To BusanTrain To Busan-S. Korea 2016-d. Yeon Sang-ho

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AloysAloys-Switzerland 2016-d. Tobias Nölle

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Driftersdrifters-Sweden 2015-d.Peter Grönlund

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AlenaAlena-Sweden 2016-d. Daniel Di Grado

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If Cats Disapeared From The WorldIf Cats…-d. Akira Nagai (Japan-2016)

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American HoneyAmerican Honey-USA 2016-d. Andrea Arnold

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Hunt For The Wilder PeopleWilderPeople-d. Taika Waititi

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Green RoomGreen Room-USA 2016-d. Jeremy Saulnier

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The Phantom DetectivePhantom Detective-d. Jo Sung-He (South Korea-2016)

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The ExileThe Exile-Spain 2016-d.  Arturo Ruiz Serrano

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A Conspiracy Of FaithA Conspiracy Of Faith-(Denmark-2016-Crime Drama) d. Hans Petter Moland.

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The ArdennesThe Ardennes-(Belgium/Netherlands-2015-Crime/Drama) d. Robin Pront

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Neon DemonThe Neon Demon-USA 2016-d. Nicholas Winding-Refn

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SunriseSunrise-India 2016 d.Partho Sen-Gupta.

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Look Who’s BackLook Who’s Back-Germany 2015-d. David Wnendt

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Louder Than BombsLouder Than Bombs-Norway 2015- d. Joachim Triers

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DisorderDisorder– Belgium 2016-d.Alice Winocour

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AmericanaAmericana-d. Zachary Shedd (USA 2016)

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Operation AvalancheOperation Avalanche-Canada 2016-d. Matt Johnson

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The Dark Side Of The MoonDark Side Of The Moon-Germany 2015–d. Stephan Rick

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Karl Marx CityKarl Marx City-Germany 2016-d. Petra Upperlein

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Nocturnal AnimalsNocturnal Animals-d. Tom Ford-USA 2016

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ArrivalArrival– d. Dennis Villenueve-USA 2016

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The UnseenThe Unseen-d. Geoff Redknap-Canada 2016

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EmbersEmbers-d. Claire Carre-USA 2016

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ImageImage-Belgium, 2014,-d. Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah

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Inside the CellInside The Cell-France 2015- d. Nicolas Boukhrief

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What We BecomeWhat We Become-Sorgenfri-Denmark/Germany 2015-d. Bo Mikkelsen

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The Little SisterThe Little Sister-Zack Clarke d.USA 2016

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The CrewThe Crew-The Crew-Braquers-France 2015-d. Julien Leclercq

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Fantasia 2016-Swan Song+ TIFF

It’s been a busy summer and I am just getting ready to attend a few film atTIFF 2016.I’m catching 3 features this weekend, including a new Malaysian supernatural noir called: Interchange. I am also going to see a new film from Polish directing legend Andrzej Wajda called: Afterimage, as well as a Icelandic thriller called The Oath.

So thats this weekend and I have another bunch to get to next week as well:) SO more info to come…in the interim here are a few more notable films from the 20th Fanatasia Film Festival 2016.

All three showings had the directors present which was a real treat. Luckily I was able to catch up with two of the filmmakers that week and I have posted those here for you to check out at your leisure. I’ll let the interviews speak for themselves, and otherwise I will give over for this blog the fine reviewers from Fantasia;who did a great job writing about all the films for the on-line and print programme.

Embers-d. Claire Carre (USA-2016)

Two individuals wake up on a mattress in a shady room, clueless as to how they got there or why they suddenly find themselves in the company of a perfect stranger. To be honest, they don’t remember much of anything, not even their own names. Since the apocalypse, a strange affliction has deprived humanity of its memory. The last survivors wander aimlessly, gripped by a form of amnesia so strong as to make it impossible for them to remember what they did the previous day. There is some indication, however, that the two strangers are somehow connected. They’re both wearing identical blue ribbons on their arm, a hypothetical sign of a common past. Meanwhile, far away, a child trekking across the wastelands meets a curious scientist. Spared the rest of the world’s memory loss, a woman is getting ready to leave her protective bunker and ultimately lose what she holds dearest in the world.

Newcomer Claire Carré’s EMBERS is a rare treat. With a spare and appealing style, it uses science fiction to explore the foundations of human nature. With a precision worthy of José Saramago, Charles Spano and Carré’s script creates unnatural situations which one can quickly relate to, due to their uncanny sense of credibility. EMBERS manages to summon up laughs while maintaining a mysterious tone that will continue to grip you long after viewing. Carré’s true talent lies in her sensitive ability to create larger-than-life characters whose every word and gesture seem to carry a secret meaning. Having already presented her first feature at Slamdance, it’s seems like a safe bet to say that she will soon be recognized as one of the most promising new voices of American independent cinema. The magnificent EMBERS is a miraculous feat that is simply impossible to forget.
— Simon Laperrière

Interview w-Claire Carre from Embers

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The Unseen-d. Geoff Redknap (Canada 2016)

Everyone knows the tale of the Invisible Man, but have you heard the one about the slowly-turning-invisible-man? That’s just one twist making THE UNSEEN an unforgettable entry in this year’s Fantasia lineup. Aden Young, star of TV’s RECTIFY, plays Bob Langmore, a struggling mill worker in a small northern town. But barely making ends meet isn’t his biggest problem, as he’s also hiding the fact that he’s gradually going invisible. And Bob’s not simply fading away but disappearing in chunks, which makes him look like the victim of a hideous flesh-eating disease. When his ex-wife, Darlene (Camille Sullivan of THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE) asks him to visit his rebellious daughter Eva, he takes a driving job for a local drug dealer and returns to the city. Shortly after his arrival, Eva (Julia Sarah Stone, THE KILLING), goes missing and he suspects the teen has been taken because she shares his affliction. With the drug dealers threatening him and his condition worsening, Bob must find his daughter before they’re both gone for good.

A gritty thriller grounded in family drama with a streak of horror, THE UNSEEN is a future cult classic. It may be Geoff Redknap’s feature debut as writer-director, but his years of experience working in the makeup and special effects departments of features such as DEADPOOL, WATCHMEN, THE CABIN IN THE WOODS and both the FINAL DESTINATION and X-MEN series, plus TV shows including THE X-FILES, FEAR THE WALKING DEAD and MASTERS OF HORROR — shines through in this, ahem — must-see premiere.

— Dave Alexander

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Shelly-d. Ali Abbasi (Denmark/Sweden 2016)

Elena is a broke single mother on the verge of a burnout, looking for a break from her daily obligations. A change of scenery would be welcomed, especially one involving a small country house far from the city. When she learns of a couple looking for a maid to take care of their forest dwelling, she jumps on this seemingly fortuitous opportunity. Upon arrival, Elena realizes that her employers have a somewhat unusual lifestyle. They don’t eat meat or use electricity, and they keep contact with the outside world to a minimum. With an unbreakable three-year contract, the young woman complies without complaint. At least she found the peace and quiet she’s been looking for. But her bosses have one more favour to ask of her. Unable to conceive, they want Elena to be their surrogate birth mother — for a handsome sum, of course. Flattered by her employers’ kindness and generosity, she accepts, unaware that her life has just capsized into unspeakable horror. Elena starts to notice signs suggesting that whatever it is she may be carrying inside her, it’s far from human.

What begins as an intimate, Bergmanesque drama slowly transforms into a modern gothic tale in SHELLEY, the brilliant atmospheric tour de force by Ali Abbasi. Reminiscent of ROSEMARY’S BABY, Abbasi’s film has a realism so convincing that the creeping transition into fantasy causes overwhelming anxiety. As the leading lady, Cosmina Stratan, winner of the Cannes best actress award for BEYOND THE HILLS, gives a gripping performance as a troubled woman succumbing to her darkest fears. It’s easily one of the most powerful productions of the 2016 lot.
— Simon Laperrière

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