Following Thursday night’s awesome screening of Juan of the Dead, I was pretty well stoked to chat with one of the supporting cast, Jazz Vila, who had previously worked with director Alejandro Brugues on the film Personal Belongings. We met up in the Jameson bus that morning and had a terrific discussion about the film and how he was enjoying his role as the film’s ambassador. Jazz said that from the moment people read the script, they knew they had something special, and we talked at length about the magic act of making a movie that has a social point of view without being heavy-handed about it, something that the Juan team has managed to pull off admirably.
Jazz’s role, that of cross-dressing homosexual “China,” was one that he felt honored to play, as he knew he wanted to give the character the dignity he deserved as opposed to only being a cheap laugh as is often the case in Cuban cinema. “These people exist,” he said, “and they are real human beings. They are strong and real, and it was important to represent that.” The more we chatted, the more I realized just how easily Brugues could have turned in a cheap zombie flick instead of a genuinely rewarding and thought-provoking piece of entertainment.
Afterwards, I headed inside Tour et Taxis to watch the 12 short films in competition this year, shown in one three-hour block. An incredible range of subject and mood, ranging from black comedy (Hammertime, Niels Sabbe), unnerving (The Trap, Alberto Lopez), animated (Do You Have Your Ticket?, Goethals & Helin and L’Harmonie des Spheres, both extremely well done), strange/experimental (Rezo, N’Dembo Ziavoula and Motorhome, Thierry Uyttenhoven), and genuinely moving (Hinterland, Boris Kuijpers). The Gran Prix and Meilies award winner, Karkas by Maxim Stollenwerk, will hopefully show up online at some point in the near future – keep an eye out for it. Along with the CollecTIFFF shorts that have been playing prior to the main 8pm and 10pm features, it’s been a great week of witnessing some superlative short form.
After the short films, I took in three more features (Views below), but opted out of the midnight screening of the Argentinean superhero movie Zenitram in order to attend the event of the BIFFF, the 27th Annual Bal des Vampires. I’m usually not one for massive costumed events – I’ve never done a zombie walk, prom, or disco, for example – but with professional artists on hand and the many friends I’d met over the past week urging me that this was a “don’t miss” occasion, I decided to settle into the makeup chair and see what transpired. With costume contests, rockin’ DJs and buckets of alcohol flowing, the Vampire Ball was truly a wild night. I’ll let the photos do the talking here, because really, that’s what it was all about.
Oh yeah, there were some movies too, remember?
Incident, The (2011) (1st viewing) d. Courtes, Alexandre (Belgium/France)
A power outage strands a quartet of staff kitchen workers in an asylum for the criminally insane with the inmates freely roaming the halls. The prison riot scenario has been played out before, but darned if this doesn’t feel both fresh and tense, thanks to some well fleshed-out characters and well executed fleshy gore effects. Another fine low budget effort that uses its claustrophobic locations to their fullest extent.
Extraterrestrial (2011) (1st viewing) d. Vigalondo, Nacho (Spain)
From the creator of Timecrimes comes this amusing diversion about a couple (Michelle Jenner, Julian Villagran) waking up after a one night stand unable to remember each other, the night before, or when the hell the giant UFOs showed up around the globe. Following his turn as the “sad clown” in Alex de la Iglesias’ The Last Circus, it seems like character man Carlos Ereces is turning into a hot ticket, having shown up already at the BIFFF in Game of Werewolves and here as the creepy amorous next door neighbor nursing a yen for the luscious Jenner. Very funny comedy that focuses much more on the human interactions than the potential alien threat.
Hindsight (2011) (1st viewing) d. Lee, Hyun-seung (South Korea)
Crime drama about former gang boss Kang Ho-Song (Thirst, The Host) who finds deep platonic love with his fellow cooking school classmate Shin Se-Kyung, though she harbors a deep secret that may terminate both their lives. Solid Korean thriller sporting equal parts charm, humor, humanity, action and depth. Well worth checking out.
2012 Totals to date: 159 films, 138 1st time views, 82 horror, 42 cinema
Picks of the Day: Extraterrestrial, Hindsight