Sat, Nov 22, 5pm
Jason Bognacki delivers his debut feature, after two mesmerising shorts The Red Door and The White Face, and in many ways this is a tale from the same universe: a realm of intoxicating gorgeousness and grotesque weirdness. Bognacki’s oneiric visual narrative style reminds one of the slippery seduction techniques of David Lynch, entwined – divine, divine – with the sexy supernatural clutch of Dario Argento’s "three mothers" trilogy, and the histrionic hedonism of Jess Franco’s more lush escapades.
Jordyn (waifish beauty Paulie Rojas) discovers dark and dreadful truths about the origin of her existence, and those dangerous female figures (Nancy Wolfe and Maria Olsen) that are inexorably tugging at her, pulling her back into the abyss, and Kym (Lillian Pennypacker), another beauty harbouring tenebrous secrets. There’ll be hot tears before the hoods are pulled back and the dirty talons exposed.
Bognacki is a truly impressive practitioner of dream/nightmare atmospherics. Unlike many other contemporary genre directors he is able to conjure sustained heady and resonant vibes that are purely cinematic. Another’s narrative and character trappings are confidently disguised by the hypnotic overspill of thematic motion and blurred intent. The shadow of the devil is brighter than any ray of innocence; Another lies comfortably in the scarlet darkness.
How To Save Us
Sat, Nov 22, 9pm
Jason Trost’s fourth feature is easily his most accomplished to date, and it resonates strongly as his most personal. Steeped in loneliness and brushed with melancholy, it’s the journey of Brian (Trost in stoic form), a man marred by emotional wounds, searching for his brother Sam (Coy Jandreau) across the rugged desolate beauty of Tasmania. There has been some kind of supernatural infection and the familial ghosts of Brian’s past have joined forces with the spectres in his present.
Beautifully shot by Phil Miller, the static compositions of the landscape efficiently capture the essence of Brian’s emotional and physical isolation. The music, composed by Tori Letzler, and sound design are also very effective in maintaining the movie’s sombre tone. This is a disquieting tale of anguish and redemption.
One could aptly describe How To Save Us as a road movie for paranormalheads. As Brian traipses from empty house to empty house, over field and rock, the ocean lingering in the background like a watchful eye, circles of human bone ash mark Brian’s trajectory. There is a damaged poetry at work, a rough, ashen commitment to love, and a fractured nightmare that seeks a dream release. Wholly original, Trost’s independent spirit soars high. How To Save Us sees the dark light of the apocalypse, and slaps it in the face, with a curious poignancy.
The Incident (El Incidente)
Thur, Nov 27, 7pm
A few years back Mexican writer/director Isaac Ezban won ANOH’s best short film with his crazy Cosas Feas (Nasty Stuff). Now he returns as another of the festival’s alumni (along with Bognacki and Trost) with his debut feature, an elaborate, yet deceptively simple tale of existential limbo. The Incident deals with a kind of purgatory, characters trapped in a nightmarish existence, desperate trying to solve the bigger issue, trying to escape their dream cell. Logic askew reigns supreme.
Two brothers are fleeing from the clutches of a determined detective. But all three find themselves trapped in the apartment building's fire escape stairwell after a strange boom is heard. Now the stairwell has no top or bottom, no entrance or exit. Meanwhile a family on a holiday road trip find themselves at the mercy of a similar event; the same sonic boom, and the road won’t end! The daughter is having an asthma attack, whilst one of the brothers in the stairwell is dying from the detective's bullet (inflicted by some higher/lower force). Time is ticking … and the bomb of the living will soon explode.
Like a snake eating its own tail, these two groups of time-space continuum prisoners are feeding on each other to try and decipher the rationale behind their temporal/spatial incarceration. But perhaps it’s not that difficult? Perhaps the answers are staring us right in the face, only we can’t see the wood for the trees. Ezban is obviously a fan of the big questions, and there is much sly play at work in The Incident - the popular Lost television show especially - but he refuses to provide all the answers, instead mischievously tricking us with false endings, and allusions. The performances are excellent, and the production design and art direction makes effective use of a low budget.
All festival sessions are at Dendy Cinemas, Newtown, Sydney. To book tickets visit here.