Fantastic Fest - Wave 2 announcements and recommendations

Fantastic Fest has announced a second set of films that will make up this year's must-be-at festival. As there's such an abundance of richest that it's truly hard to pick which ones are the most interesting of the bunch. But via the FestivalScope service I was lucky enough to be able to checkout two of the recently announced films, so I'll talk a bit about those.

First off there's O Apostolo - a beautifully shot stop-motion animation film filled with creepy clergy, religious pilgrims and a thief just looking to collect his last score and retire. Set in the Gothic Spanish countryside a town of overly welcoming yet pointedly insistent older folks offers those following the Way of St James a place to sleep for the night. And they really, really want you to drink something. At times the film feels a bit loosely held together going off in different directions at once. But in the end it's so gorgeous to look at and generally satisfying that I rather strongly recommend it. Plus, I'm pretty sure it'll look even better in 3D when it screens in Austin.

On the other hand A Field In England is going to be a hit with a much narrower audience. Four deserters during a war run into each other and take refuge in a startlingly un-war stricken field (in England). They engage in a bit of self justification / delusion ("We're not running away we're going for a beer") and chat away the time as they seek out an ale-house one of them claims to have seen nearby. They meet some other traveler and things get weird as they're compelled to search for buried treasure. Along the way they eat mushrooms, trip out some and not surprisingly for director Ben Wheatley engage in a bit of violence. All the things you'd expect from the creator of Kill List

The film is shot beautifully - in sharp, crisp black and white. Much of the dialog (when I could make out the accents) is clever and engaging ("It does not surprise me that the devil is an Englishman. But I'd thought perhaps a bit taller"). Problem is that I wasn't especially engaged in what was going on or why. Perhaps because there was no character to latch onto as especially interesting. Which is a prerequisite for me to want to untangle the strangeness, symbolism, and perhaps historical references that make A Field in England near completely inscrutable at first glance. Many will love the complete respect for the audience in suggesting nothing. Others will find it maddening. Me, I just found it a less than thrilling watch - though with enough bits that reminds one there's a lot of talent at the root of this thing even if the end result didn't quite work personally. 

The full 2nd wave list of stuff announced as playing at the festival this year is right past the jump.


Austin, TX-Tuesday, August 13, 2013- Fantastic Fest is excited to announce the second wave of programming for the ninth edition of Fantastic Fest, taking placeSeptember 19 - 26 at Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline in Austin, Texas. See below for descriptions of nineteen new World, North American & US premiere films at this year's festival and stay tuned for more amazing 2013 content to be announced!

FIELD IN ENGLAND, A (England, 2013)
North American Premiere
Director - Ben Wheatley, 90 mins
During the British Civil War, when magic was science, an alchemist forces a group of deserters to help him locate buried treasure, and sends them all straight into the mouth of madness.   

AFFLICTED (Canada, 2013)
US Premiere
Director - Clif Prowse, 85 mins
Derek and Clif, best friends documenting their journey across the world, are in for an unexpected adventure when one of them comes down with a sinister sickness.   

US Premiere
Director - Joe Begos, 80 mins
A man who disappeared under mysterious circumstances returns to wreak havoc upon a small town.

US Premiere
Director - Jeremy Sauliner, 90 mins
A homeless man aims to avenge his dead parents when their killer is released from prison, triggering a chain of events that will only end in more blood.

World Premiere
Director - James Ward Byrkit, 127 mins
On the night a comet is passing near Earth, a dinner party takes an odd turn. When the power goes out, eight friends discover that the only house on the street left with power also holds many secrets.   

CONGRESS, THE (Israel, Germany, 2013)
North American Premiere
Director - Ari Folman, 122 mins
Robin Wright (playing herself) receives the last offer she'll ever get from a Hollywood studio in Ari Folman's adaptation of Stanislaw Lem's classic scifi novel, and his follow-up to WALTZ WITH BASHIR.   

World Premiere
Director - Oren Carmi, 91 mins
A psychopath develops a dangerous obsession with a schlubby computer programmer. 
GRAND PIANO (Spain, 2013)
World Premiere
Director - Eugenio Mira, 90 mins
A renowned concert pianist (Elijah Wood) returns to the stage for one final performance, only to become the target of a sadistic cat-and-mouse game with a faceless sniper (John Cusack).   

Texas Premiere
Director - Yuichi FUKUDA, 105 mins
A new hero has arisen in Japan: One with fishnet stockings, a mankini, and a pair of women's panties over his face. When conventional justice fails, make way for the Hentai Kamen.

North American Premiere
Director - Kankuro Kudo, 119 mins
A middle school student prone to wild daydreams devotes his waking hours to stretching and flexibility exercises with the ultimate goal of one day being able to lick his own penis.   
MIRAGE MEN (United Kingdom, 2013)
North American Premiere
Director - John Lundberg, 85 mins
A mind-scrambling documentary that posits that popular myths about the existence of UFOs originated from a disinformation campaign by the U.S. government.   

O'APOSTOLO (Spain, 2013)
Texas Premiere
Director - Fernando Cortizo, 87 mins
Gothic legends are brought to life by gorgeous stop-motion animation in this adult fantasy film from Spain.

North American Premiere
Director - David Perrault, 94 mins
Freshly returned home from a stint in the French Foreign Legion, Victor finds work as a reluctantly villainous masked wrestler in this marvelously crafted ode to film noir from first-time director David Perrault.   

PATRICK (Australia, 2013)
North American Premiere
Director - Mark Hartley, 95 mins
Nurse Kathy Jaquard didn't expect a lot of trouble on the coma ward but she gets more than she can handle when she meets the telekinetic Patrick in Mark Hartley's remake of the Ozsploitation classic.  

PROXY (USA, 2013)
US Premiere
Director - Zack Parker, 120 mins
American director Zack Parker delivers an unexpected, nasty little thriller about a woman whose life spins out of control following an attack on her unborn child.

SEPTIC MAN (Canada, 2013)
World Premiere
Director - Jesse Thomas Cook, 83 mins
An erstwhile plumber undergoes a hideous transformation when trapped inside a septic tank and tormented by the bizarre residents of his town's sewage treatment plant.  

Austin Premiere
Director - Ric Bienstock, 82 mins
David Cronenberg narrates this fascinating documentary about the secret world of international organ trafficking.   

US Premiere
Director - Sion Sono, 126 mins
Things get insanely bloody when an inspiring film troupe known as The Fuck Bombers collide with a yakuza boss who wants to make a movie with his daughter, in Fantastic Fest veteran Sion Sono's (LOVE EXPOSURE; SUICIDE CLUB) latest.   

US Premiere
Director - Alex de la Iglesia, 120 mins
Hit Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia (THE LAST CIRCUS) returns to Fantastic Fest with a hilarious and gory tale of thieves who find themselves in over their heads when faced with a coven of bloodthirsty witches.   

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