1. Walled In (USA/CANADA 2008, 91’, Color)
Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner.
Actors: Deborah Kara Unger, Cameron Bright, Mischa Barton.
Sam Walczak graduates from Engineering School, and dad, a demolition contractor, offers two presents for her to choose: a vacation in Europe, or a stake in his company and Sam’s first unsupervised demolition. Sam chooses the demolition, and travels on site, only to find an impressive construction designed by Malestrazza, an architect obsessed with Egyptian architecture which has mysteriously disappeared. There Sam will meet with the few remaining and strange inhabitants of the building, but also she will meet with the dark past of the building that is buried in its walls and secret compartments -sometimes dead, sometimes frighteningly alive… and she will have to face it, if she wants to survive.
Based on French best-seller «Les Emmurés» by author Serge Brussolo, “Walled In” is a movie about buildings, our adoration for them, and the evil things we are prepared to do to other people for their shake (the buildings’ shake, that is). Mischa Barton plays flawlessly the part of young but dynamic Sam Walczak, Deborah Kara Unger never lets the spectators feel at ease with her abstractive style, while Cameron Bright is ideal for the part of the troubled teenager that doesn’t hesitate to exploit the weaknesses of the grown-ups around him.
The screening in SFF-rated of “Walled In” is the WORLD PREMIERE.
SCREENINGS: Sat 14/3 22:15, Mon 16/3 21:15.
2. Chemical Wedding (United Kingdom 2008, 101’, Colour)
Director: Julian Doyle
Actors: Simon Callow, John Shrapnel.
A joint English-American scientific venture connects the super-computer Z93 with the most advanced virtual reality suit. The head of the English team, Dr Victor Neuman, is an admirer of famous occultist Aleister Crowley, has transformed the rituals of The Beast into mathematical equations and has feed them to Z93. On the other side, the head of the American team, Joshua Mathers has inserted chaos elements into the suit’s programming in search of expanded functionality that touches on intelligence. When Professor of Literature Dr. Hado enters the suit for the union of the Unholy Trinity of “Man-Computer-Virtual Reality”, he will first collapse, and then he will emerge a changed man, a half-way re-incarnation of Crowley that nevertheless walks the walk and talks the talk, shocking the academic community but exhibiting also genuine magical powers. But in order for the re-incarnation of Crowley to be completed, the darkest ceremony must be performed – the Chemical Wedding with the Scarlet Woman. Dr Mathers will have to enter virtual reality himself, if he wants to stop Crowely’s ancient magic with science’s modern magic, in a final battle where Physics meets Metaphysics.
Based on a story of Bruce Dickinson, singer of the legendary heavy-metal group Iron Maiden, «Chemical Wedding» has a sardonic style and puts quantum physics against occultism not to take sides, but to remind us that they are both expressions of the same human desire: to control the powers of the world. Simon Callow offers a great performance as Dr. Hado/Alister Crowley, keeping at all times visible the conflicting facets of a personality that still charms the western world, while the film’s photography chooses deep and intense colours, offering both a characteristic British environment as well as transmitting the undercurrent tension as Crowley gives his final battle against Time. The movie, respecting the main historical character, has certain scenes and vocabulary strictly X-rated.
SCREENINGS: Fri 13/3 22:15, Tue 17/3 21:00.
3. Nobody (CANADA 2007, 88’, Color)
Director: Shawn Linden
Actors: Costas Mandylor, Ed O’Ross
A professional killer in the 50’s (Costas Mandylor) is hired by tough gangster Rolo (Ed O’ Ross) for a murder contract. The deal starts to fall apart as Rolo asks for proof that the target is dead, and the killer discovers that his victim is still alive, while somebody is stalking him with a clear intent to attack, a somebody than seems to know in advance the killer’s every move…
«Nobody» is directed by Shawn Linden and has amassed a lot of Best Movie and/or Best Director awards around the world -and for good reason: a silent in spite of the dialogues, and very intense Film-noir atmospere is devilishly combined with the freedom offered when one exploits the Fantastic rules of story-telling, but also with impressive performances by Greek-Australian actor Costas Mandylor and heavy-weight Ed O’ Ross (Lethal Weapon, Full Metal Jacket). “Nobody” attracts the viewer in the same way that the vicious temporal circle lived by the characters is trapping them. In the end, one has almost forgotten that, in reality, Time is perceived and lived in a straight line, and longs for the next cycle to begin…
SCREENINGS: Fri 13/3 20:30, Tue 17/3 23:00.
4. Shadowland (USA 2008, 98’, Color)
Director: Wyatt Weed
Actors: Caitlin McIntosh, Carlos Antonio Leon, Jason Contini.
Who is Lora? Is she dead? Alive? Both? And who is Julian that, guided by a priest is trying to find her using strange tools and weapons? And why is he searching for her? To save her or to kill her?
«Shadowland» offers a completely new version of the Vampire myth, putting in the center a young woman that suddenly finds her self in a totally strange environment, suffering from amnesia, and equipped with nothing in order to survive, or understand what’s happening to her, or face her hunters.
The movie reveals the pieces of the puzzle one by one, while our heroine regains her self-awareness and discovers her strengths in an equally gradual -and dangerous- process, asserting more and more her willingness to master her fate… “Shadowland”, you see, is the most unexpected story of a woman’s emancipation that you have ever seen.
The screening in SFF-rated 2009 is the EUROPEAN PREMIERE.
SCREENINGS: Thur 12/3 20:30, Sun 15/3 22:45.
5. A Princely Reprieve (HUNGARY 2005, 100’, Color)
Director: Piter Timar
Actors: Gabriella Szabó, Zsolt László
Alida, a successful face in the show business, fells victim to a crime and gets killed. But the Prince of Darkness offers her a deal: she will go back on Earth living the same 60 seconds again and again – and if she persuades somebody else to die in her place, she will then be able to continue living.
With that simple Fantastic machination, director Peter Timar offers a new dimension to personal relationships gone dead, but also to the Chase of Time. Here time passes and the heroine sees very clearly how it slips by as grains of sand, as she fails time-and-again to get somebody to die in her place, not so much because the other person declines to do so, but because she is not able to express what needs to be expressed in 60 seconds , or the next 60 seconds, or the next after the next, since the Prince has not constrained her to try only once with each candidate.
With the everyday, natural as breathing approach of Eastern European cinema, but also with Three Black Riders (Collectors of Souls) that add to the movie just the right amount of action and suspense, “A Princely Reprieve” combines excellently philosophical deliberations, existential wanderings, psychological turmoils and Fantastic solutions. Because at the end, Alida’s ordeal will be over, but in a way that even the Prince of Darkness himself could not imagine.
SCREENINGS: Sat 14/3 20:15, Tue 17/3 17:30.
6. The Dead Outside (United Kingdom 2008, 89’, Colour)
Director: Kerry Anne Mullaney
Παίζουν: Alton Milne, Sandra Louise Douglas, Sharon Osdin.
Six months after the breakout of a deadly virus epidemic, and after a failed vaccination program that turned everybody into carriers, Daniel leaves behind the ruins of his life and sets off searching for a new beginning. He goes as far as his reservoir permits, to rural Scotland and a farm where a 16-year old girl lives alone, a girl that seems to have some kind of immunity to the disease -but also to human feelings.
Shot in two weeks in the frozen hills of Scotland, “The Dead Outside” is based not in novel ideas or story riddles, but in a naked point of view that enters the skin causing creeps, while putting in film the burden of survival with nothing to expect and nothing to hope. And when you do find something to hope for, the monster in the mirror emerges… Camera in hand doesn’t bring dizziness but tension, while the unfolding and evolution of the characters and relationships through the spartan dialogues are exemplary.
SCREENINGS: Thur 12/3 22:30, Mon 16/3 17:30.
7. The Shadow Within (ITALY 2007, 90’, Colour)
Director: Silvana Zancolo
Actors: Beth Winslet, Hayley Williams, Laurence Belcher.
Maria lives rather secluded with her son Maurice, a nine-year-old boy. Maurice’s twin brother, Jacques, died in birth, leaving in Maurice a channel through which one can communicate with the dead. Maria has never been able to surpass the death of Jacques, and when she meets Madam Armand, a medium that has brought together women that have lost a child prematurely, she will have to choose whether to protect her alive son or to try to unite with his dead brother… ,
«The Shadow Within», with a disquieting performance by Beth Winslet (of the known Winslet family of actors) is a carefully done epoque movie and at the same time, a direct look into the exploitation of children as a means to satisfy self-centered desires, or to appease grown-up guilt. There are grown-ups in the movie that care about Maurice, and they will try to protect him from the dangers that lurk in the world of the dead. But you cannot but wonder how they would act if the guilt, and the son, were their own…
SCREENINGS: Fri 13/3 17:30, Tue 17/3 19:15.
8. Dark Spirits (Czechia / United Kingdom 2008, 100’, Colour)
Director: Huck Keppler
Actors: Jan Budar, Lucia Sipisova, Marko Igonda.
Eva has a nightmare about her sister Tereza, and after a while she learns that Tereza has been murdered. She follows her lover Yan in Prague, where, one warning at a time, the Dark Spirit that may be responsible for her sister’s death approaches her -and the people around her.
Shot in Prague, “Dark Spirits” upsets the myth of the Evil Spirit, by filming with grace and patience the heroine’s attempt to not let this paranormal threat to destoy her normal and rather satisfying life, but not by fighting it tooth-and-nail, but on the contrary ny not letting it become the focal point of here attention and action. “Dark Spirits” is not like the standard ghosts/spirits thriller where after 15 minutes into the movie we are locked in danger, fight, angst and agony non-stop, but it portrays the stealthy approach of Darkness to a Face Full of Light, an approach that does not alarm the Face Full of Light -until it is too late.
SCREENINGS: Thur 12/3 17:30, Mon 16/3 23:00.
Β. OUT-OF-COMPETITION (ΜIDNIGHTERS)
1. Grace (USA 2008, 85’, Color).
Director: Paul Solet
Actors: Jordan Ladd, Samantha Ferris, Gabrielle Rose.
Madelein Matheson (Jordan Ladd) is eight months pregnant and determined to give birth in her house, with a trusted mid-wife, despite pressure from her mother-in-law. A tragic accident days before birth leaves her unborn child dead inside her womb. But she is determined to carry it to term, and when she does, the newborn comes miraculously to life. But soon the mother will realize that something has gone teribly wrong with baby Grace, and she will have to suffer unthinkable sacrifices to keep her alive…
In his Feature debut, director Paul Solet stains one of the sacred foundations of human civilization -a mother’s love for her child- and using a fine technique of cinematography, offers a movie where terror is not lived as a morbid delight, but as the dreadful feeling that it actually is… A movie with the dark potential never to forget having seen it.
“Grace” had its World Premiere in Sundance Festival 2009, where two audience members passed out during the screening.
SCREENINGS: Sat 14/3 24:00, Wed 18/3 20:15.
2. Bumba Atomika (ITALY 2008, 100’, Color.)
Director: Μichele Senesi
Actors: Davide Rotondo, Erika Ferranti, Francesco Massaccesi, Giovanni Salici.
Four teenagers (or is it students?), three male, one female, like to get together and drink alcohol, especially wine. Lots of it. They are stranded as usual by the lack of pocket money… But when the female informs them of a new market she found on the Internet, they plunge with enthusiasm and professionalism into a new venture that may make them the New Enterpreneurs in the country… Clockwork Orange and Pulp Fiction got together and drunk a lot of wine -and in the process, they gave birth to Bumba Atomika. Full of clever camera tricks, with a story as simple and as deadly as market forces (“where there is demand for something no matter how strange – someone will come up with the goods”) this is not just an Italian thriller or splatter movie. This is, indeed, a modern way to look at the abyss – with a wink.
SCREENINGS: Fri 13/3 24:00.
3. Yesterday (Canada 2008, 99’, Color)
Director: Robert Grant
Actors: Michael Fenske, Scott Wallis, Graham Wardle.
An unknown epidemic in a provincial town turns people into zombies. 6 young men, after surviving as best as they can foe them selves and all the worst for everybody else, are forced to join forces to escape from the town, threatened more from their internal conflicts that from the zombies.
«Υesterday» started as an amateurish re-telling of a standard myth, but as it sometimes happens with such hand-made cultural artifacts, it ended rejuvenating the myth: in «Yesterday» Zombies like to be Zombies, not in a satirical, horror-comedy way, but with a wild joy which reminds us that every form of life consumes, licking its lips, some other forms of life in order to survive. Humans, on the other hand, find in such an asymmetric threat the ideal pretext to abandon civilization and its constraining values. SFF-rated lost the World Premiere of Yesterday to the Magnolia Film Festival for a few weeks – but it’s ok, because Rob Grant won there the Best Director award.
The screening in SFF-rated is the EUROPEAN PREMIERE.
SCREENINGS: Thur 12/3 24:00.