DAY ONE - JURY DUTY
Here I am at the Neuchatel International Fantastic Film Festival, alternatively billed in the English language programme as 'The Swiss Event for Fantastic Film, Asian Cinema & Future Images'. I'm here thanks to Artistic Director Anais Emery, a long-time colleague on the EuroFest circuit, who asked me to be on the International Jury and because everyone who has ever attended this bijou festival has always come way singing its praises.
Firstly a few facts; Neuchatel is a picturesque town on the banks of Lake Neuchatel, an hour's drive from Geneva along a very scenic route. For its size the place has a large number of cinemas, all being used to stage the festival, complete with a tented village so guests can mingle in the bars and eat the street food, and so far every film has been extremely well attended. My fellow jurors are Luigi Cozzi, director of STARCRASH and CONTAMINATION, Julie Baines, producer of CREEP, SEVERANCE, TRIANGLE, BLOODY LONDON and Chris Smith's latest DETOUR, Icelandic director Julius Kemp, who gave us our Glasgow entry in 2010, THE REYKJAVIK WHALE WATCHING MASSACRE, and French film critic Edouard Waintrop. We are all staying at the five-star Hotel Beau-Rivage, which is absolutely fabulous with its breakfast terrace and spa facilities, and everything is a five minute walk from this centre of operations. It never ceases to amaze me how much these types of events in Europe attract an extraordinary amount of press and sponsorship attention. The first thing we saw when stepping off the plane at Geneva airport was a huge televisual promoting NIFFF, and in the town itself (just like in Sitges) every shop features a tie-in window.
Being a jury member here comes with a certain responsibility as whatever we award Best Film gets a 10,000 euro cash prize. And because most festivals do tend to programme the same movies, cream rising to the top and all that, I have seen the majority of the contenders which lists BLIND, CONTRORA, THE SAMURAI, EXTRATERRESTRIAL, HONEYMOON, HOUSEBOUND, IT FOLLOWS, LATE PHASES, THE CANAL, THE MOLE SONG: UNDERCOVER AGENT REIJI, THESE FINAL HOURS, WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, WHITE GOD and STARRY EYES. For the cash prize reason I have been asked not to disclose my opinions here on any of the movies in competition until the final ceremony on Saturday July 12.
Most FrightFesters will already know though that I rate THE SAMURAI pretty highly so I was thrilled to actually meet the director Till Kleinert at a cocktail party last night. What a terrific guy and I told him I couldn't wait to see his film again playing as a Midnight Movie at the Arcades cinema. He had already read my published opinions on his erotic fairy tale and told me it wouldn't be as good the time around. Actually he was wrong and I was delighted to learn in his Q&A afterwards that he thought it could be allied to Neil Jordan's 'wolf in sheep's clothing' fable THE COMPANY OF WOLVES.
OK so the weather is pretty dismal - it does look like we've hit a rainy period - but who cares when you have such a diverse programme including such other must-sees as KUNG FU DIVAS, DEAD SNOW 2, DISCOPATH, EAT, PATCH TOWN, STAGE FRIGHT, WOLFCOP and ZOMBEAVERS to choose from. Today is all about WHITE GOD and meeting Ivan Kavanagh, director of THE CANAL. I'll leave today's report on Luigi Cozzi telling me Dario Argento is fine after his recent accident, he's been told to convalesce for a couple of months, and that he's seriously looking at THE SANDMAN as his next movie. Get well soon Dario.
Until next time.
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