With the festival just weeks away, the fine folks at Fantastic Fest have finally announced their complete line-up, and it’s certainly a doozie. With 26 countries being represented in the 75 features at this year’s fest, there’s a bit of something for intenrational film gourmands of any stripe, but it can be difficult to decide just films are most worth your time. Well, just leave it to your friendly neighborhood Foreign Film Examiner to seperate the wheat from the chaff to give you the 10 best looking foreign films at this year’s fantastic fest (in no particular order)
A Boy and His Samurai
Directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura
Nakamura’s Fish Story and Golden Slumber were two of my favorite films of not just the last Fantastic Fests, but the last few years, and Nakamura’s latest foray seems to continuing his trend of fabulous films. This time around, he takes inspiration from manga artist Gen Araki, filming a story which follows a time travelling samurai who learns the art of pastry baking while in the care of a single mother and her son. Unlike several of his other films, A Boy and His Samurai seems to playing for heartstrings as well as brainstems, utilizing light humor and heart to create an off-kilter family movie that will delight fans of all ages.
Kill Me Please
Directed by Olias Barco
Starring Aurélien Recoing, Benoît Poelvoorde, Daniel Cohen and Virginie Efira
Like the French thriller and the Scandanavian horror, the Belgian black comedy has been a genre on the rise in current years, and Kill Me Please looks to be following this pattern well. The film has been said to take heavy inspiration from the classic film Man Bites Dog, which shares the film’s producers, and from the trailer, you can see a some resemblance between the two . The film follows a group of “patients” in a special care home which takes in folks wishing to end their lives, after requesting one final wish. This cast of characters include a diverse group, including a Canadian salesman and a famous French chanteuse, each wishing for a way to the farthest shores. The film seems to match black comedy with heart, which is often a difficult balancing act, but if it has even half the promise of its predecessors, it’s bound to be one well-worth seeing.
Directed by Julien Maury, Alexandre Bustillo
Horror fans the world over know the names of Maury and Bustillo, thanks to a little film called Inside (AKA A l’interieur), which took the horror scene by storm with its combination of thrilling story and over-the-top violence. With their latest films, the dynamic duo seems to be bringing something a bit more subtle to horror fans, but with the same horrifying aesthetic that made their first film such a success. Livid follows a group of home invaders as they attempt to steal numerous bizarre treasures froma comatose old woman, and in the process come across more than they bargained for. We may know very little about the film (it’s difficult to even find a trailer), but with this kind of calibre, and with this intriguing a story, this looks like it may be one of the best horror films at the fest.
Directed by Justin Kurzel
Starring Anthony Groves, Bob Adriaens, Brendan Rock and Bryan Sellars
Australian film has been on the rise in recent years, with hits like Red Hill and Animal Kingdom getting major play in US markets, with Animal Kingdom actually grabbing an Oscar nomination. This quality streak looks to be continuing with Snowtown, based on the true story of a sexually abused boy who is taken under the wing of one of Australia’s most dangerous serial killers, John Bunting. It’s a story that’s been told before, but with a naturalistic and realistic shooting style and the barren landscapes of Australia as the backdrop, the film could be something very special, especially when you add in the performances, which have been heralded as superb. Though I may be jumping the gun, I’m calling that it may be one of the most well-received films of the fest.
Directed by Nacho Vigolando
Nacho Vigalondo has become a regular at Fantastic Fest, but in the past few years he’s been without films to show off, but that’s all changing this year with Extraterrestrial. Following on the heels of his amazing time-travel drama Timecrimes, Vigalondo presents audiences with the trials and tribulations of a group of young people striving to get by in a world that has been taken over by an alien invasion. Vigalondo’s films are never that simple, however, so we can expect plenty of twists and turns, but also plenty of strong chararcterization and genre-bending, which, in the end, is sure to create an alien movie the likes of which we’ve never seen before. In a year with quality alien films already (Super 8 and Attack the Block) this looks like the icing on the cake.
Want more top choices for the festival? Stay tuned, for the second part of my 10 Foreign Films to Watch at Fantastic Fest 2011 will be coming very soon!