Day one - The beginning.
So the first day of Fantastic Fest has arrived. Everything started at 5 PM giving us time to explore. Once the films get under way it's hard to find any time to get away from the cinema. The problem with exploring Austin, and this might be a cliche to say it, is the incredible heat. We wanted to visit the cities biggest craft beer store. Easy we thought. A simple 20-minute walk from the Alamo. We managed to get two minutes away before being beaten down by the incredible mid-day heat. We had to go back and get a car to drive there; it was that intense. It was well worth the trip. The store was quite incredible and as always with Austin it was run by a super friendly and helpful staff. I also managed to get my face destroyed by being out in the sun without any sunblock as always!
The one thing you have to accept with Fantastic Fest is that you're not going to be able to see everything. At any given time there are four or five amazing sounding films playing. Also, depending on which pass you have, you might not get to see your first choice either. The online ticket system works well. The day before the screenings you select your first choice, and then your second, third, etc. for each film slot. You then get an email telling you which films you got; it's simple and easy to do.
The opening film of the festival was THE LOBSTER starring Colin Farrell, which I wanted to see, but sadly didn't get allocated a ticket. I did get my second choice; The French police thriller L'Affaire SK1. Based on a real case of a serial killer who raped and killed women in Paris in the 1990's. It's a very well-crafted thriller skipping backwards and forwards through the chronology of the events, as the police try and catch the killer while we also see the trial of the man that they finally capture.
One of the great things about the festival is the sheer amount of people it attracts from around the world. There are friends of ours from everywhere including lots of familiar faces from FrightFest events over the years.
Next up for me was FEBRUARY, my first choice for this slot. It was the debut feature from Oz Perkins. As well as the film having a very strong advanced word of mouth the other reason I wanted to see this screening was that it was the first film my cinema soul brother Evrim was introducing at the festival. It's been amazing seeing how much work he's put in and having done so many shows with him over the years, I couldn't wait to see him on stage at the home of cinematic mayhem, The Alamo.
FEBRUARY is so good and very moving. It's underplayed, which director Oz Perkins talked about in his brilliant intro. He set out to make a sad feeling horror, one that evoked a feeling of sadness for the person who would normally be considered the monster. It's a very assured debut film that you should try and see when you get the chance. Hopefully, Oz will continue to make more strikingly original films.
After that, it was the Opening Night party, which was taking over the Highball bar along with the Alamo foyer and even outside the cinema. The party theme? Christmas! Yes, we had Christmas in September, with Christmas trees everywhere, decorations, people dressed as Santa, and so much more. It was so surreal. Sadly my jet lag was kicking in again, so I only made it until midnight.
Tomorrow the festival kicks in fully with films starting at 11 AM from now on, it's only just beginning!
Until next time.
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