I must say this has been a strange Cannes all-round. The numbers are definitely down, despite what the organizers say, mainly because many Americans are scared regarding possible terrorism threats and the competition strand has been receiving consistently mixed receptions. It is rather strange to look out into the bay and see the naval ships rather than the usual luxury yachts, which have been banned in case of sea attack. Hats off to all the security men and women though who have been good-natured throughout the tedious drag of entering every public space and cinema and being bag-searched and body x-rayed. They must have been told to be less grumpy this year as the extra security is a bore for everyone concerned and is a two-way street.
On the freebie front it’s rather slim pickings – an OZZY cartoon frisbee, a JULIETA key ring and a Korean Cinema laptop light. Best of all the acquisitions is the lavish PLANET OF VAMPIRES press book complete with Mario Bava history, the restoration process and comments from everyone involved. Nicolas Winding Refn introduces the movie tonight and it’s bound to be a hot ticket. I wonder if he’s brought along the original space costumes I know he found in the Rome studios where the movie was filmed.
Team FrightFest has been watching all the market movies with their usual enthusiastic relish. Everything from RAW, THE TRANSFIGURATION and THE NEON DEMON to WINTER’S DREAM, SADAKO VS. KAYAKO and 47 METERS DOWN. My favourite movie here without disrespecting embargo issues is THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS, which is something very special indeed. Every so often though one does have to step out of the endless genre treadmill to see something different just for sanity’s sake and this year I was told I had to see Vardan Tozija’s AMOK, a Bulgarian mix of FIGHT CLUB and SCUM that is easily the edgiest movie on show. Essentially this is about a bunch of marginalized teenagers put in a delinquent facility who fight the corrupt authorities and criminal gangs determined to keep them in their debased place. But rather than knuckle down, they bare-knuckle up and take a terrifying revenge on all those who have colluded to make their existence even worse. Both depressing and exciting, and extremely well acted, this deserves a far wider audience.
My introduction to Patricio Valladres DOWNHILL went well in the Blood Window strand of the festival. The audience and star/producer Natalie Burn seemed to like my description of the movie as “BMX BANDITS goes HP Lovecraft” and I heard from audience members afterwards that it played exceptionally well. Other titles in the Blood Window selection include Laura Casabe’s BENAVIDEZ’S CASE, a movie we have already seen thanks to our Argentine soul mate Javier Diment, director of THE ROTTEN LINK, who appears in it, and the controversial Mexican movie WE ARE THE FLESH, which we saw in Berlin.
Last night was the Screen International beach party where we caught up with FrightFest supporter Mark Adams of the Edinburgh Festival to compare notes and see which movies we are sharing this year. There’s a couple for those eagle-eyed enough to spot. Then it was on to the annual Festival get-together, the karaoke party, that seems to get more crowded by the year. I ducked out early because TANK 432/BELLY OF THE BULLDOG producer Jen Handorf started singing ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ and I have a lot to do today regarding FrightFest Presents – some very exciting news on the way regarding that success story by the way.
It’s the Scandinavian terrace party tonight, my favourite of all the festival bashes, and I’m sure there’ll be lots to talk about regarding today’s offerings including the Kristen Stewart ghost story starrer PERSONAL SHOPPER.
Until next time…