The 2022 edition of the film festival hits Austin, Sept 22nd-29th
While the pandemic being ‘over’ seems up for debate, there is certainly a sense we’re seeing a return to ‘normal’. Or a new normal. After several years of cancellations, online editions, and a weirdly fragmented effort across multiple locations, ‘normal’ Fantastic Fest is back this year. One location, a great lineup of in person screenings, a host of events and parties (including the return of Itchy-O!), and yes, we even have a random film app hawking itself, destined to never be heard of again after the festival closes.
You can see the full schedule here, and still buy passes for this year’s event, right here in Austin, TX. We’ll have coverage throughout the festival, but for now, check out our team’s most anticipated features from the lineup!
My most anticipated of Fantastic Fest 2022 can easily be broken up into two categories, respectively. First up would be anything by AGFA, who really brought it this year. If you can’t tell from reading Cinapse, I am a big fan of the mission of the American Genre Film Archive, and I usually make it a point to check out whatever they have programmed at the fest. Along with their five mystery films planned(!), they are debuting a new madness inducing mixtape titled The Stairway To Stardom Mixtape, culled from clips from a 80s New York public access show that ran from from 1979 to the early 1990s, which in their words — “felt like it was broadcast from a TV station in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. I can believe it.
They are also screening an uncut restoration of Terminal Usa (1994) billed as “an NC-17-rated sitcom from outer space” by DIY legend Jon Moritsugu. The film sounds like a slice of late 90s indie madness, which promises “a candy-colored hellscape that feels like an episode of Strangers With Candy filmed by Dario Argento during a three-day acid bender.” Finally on my must see AGFA wishlist is Lindsay Denniberg’s Video Diary Of A Lost Girl, which from that still alone is calling to me like a surreal analog neon colored fever dream.
The other category is “anything Kaiju” this year. Not only are they screening the excellent Shin Ultraman, which I previously caught at Fantasia and will no doubt watch again. But, if that wasn’t enough giant monster on monster action for ya, they are also unleashing Gamera Vs. Zigra and the American premiere of the 4K restoration of the original ULTRAMAN series presenting 4 episodes from its late 60s run in Japan. That should be a real treat, not only the restoration, but checking it out on the big screen with a Fantastic Fest audience.
Now to go back to counting down the days.
Year after year my proclivities do change, but for the most part I’m always loving and championing action cinema of all kinds and choose to highlight those when I have an opportunity to share my most anticipated films of Fantastic Fest. This year I’ll continue to highlight some of those, though I’m erring in a bit of a fantasy direction right now as well.
So, while I’m obviously very excited by some of the bigger titles helmed by some of the most exciting filmmakers working on planet earth today like Something In The Dirt, Triangle Of Sadness, Banshees Of Inisherin, Bones And All, Decision To Leave, or The Menu, I want to highlight some of the more obscure titles I’m genuinely thrilled to check out.
Kids Vs. Aliens: Jason Eisener has kept busy since Hobo With A Shotgun, but this will be his narrative feature follow up to that 2011 jaw-dropping exploitation film. I believe this feature is based on the short segment he did for V/H/S 2, and I couldn’t be more excited about an Amblin-esque Jason Eisener film.
Bad City: Look, I watch a lot of Yakuza movies, but the best place to watch Yakuza movies is at Fantastic Fest, so bring on a tale about an aging brawler with a little fight left in him.
Vesper: I know very little about this film, but the visuals in the trailer are just absolutely striking and female-fronted fantasy/sci-fi is right where my heart is right now, so consider this one among my very most anticipated.
Hunt: The only thing better to watch at Fantastic Fest than Yakuza films are South Korean epics. And with Squid Game’s Lee Jung-jae hot off of an Emmy win and bringing us his directorial debut? You couldn’t keep me away from this film.
Demigod: The Legend Begins: Look, I don’t know about you, but I’ve most definitely never in my life seen a Taiwanese martial arts PUPPET fantasy adventure and I will rectify that oversight at Fantastic Fest 2022 posthaste.
Alrighty, first up, Park Chan-Wook’s Decision to Leave. If it’s half as twisted and sumptuous as The Handmaiden, we’re in for a treat. The other big name feature that stand out is The Banshees of Inisherin which marks the glorious reunion of Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, with writer/director Martin McDonagh. A tale of two longtime friend whose association is abruptly called to an end, and the fallout that ensues in their village. After their last collaboration on In Bruges, seeing their sparring reignited is sure to be a highlight of the fest.
Documentaries at Fantastic Fest are usually a case of quality over quantity. Some of the best ones programmed are those that dive into the creative process of filmmaking, understanding depth, detail, and homage. There is no one more qualified at this sub-genre than Alexandre O. Philippe. After his exploration of the works of Alfred Hitchcock (78/52), Ridley Scott (Memory: The Origin of Alien) and William Friedkin (Leap of Faith), his latest is Lynch/Oz, focusing on how The Wizard of Oz inspired some of David Lynch’s creative efforts. Any trip into Lynch’s headspace is guaranteed to be a wild ride, and Philippe is sure to balance that with some provocative insights.
It’s always great to see some stalwarts of the festival return, and Benson and Moorhead (Spring, The Endless, Synchronic) never disappoint with their own particular brain of genre and mind-bending fare. Something in the Dirt looks set to continue that trend, with a trip down a supernatural rabbit hole in an LA apartment.
Finally, we have Venus, the new film from Jaume Balagueró, the man behind the [REC] series. What more information do you need?
Fantastic Fest’s return to a full lineup since 2019 provides an embarrassment of genre riches for an audience eager to storm the gates of Alamo South Lamar this week. Leading the pack are new films by Ruben Östlund (Triangle of Sadness), Martin McDonagh (The Banshees of Inisherin), and Luca Guadagnino (Bones and All), all of which have found tremendous success at festivals earlier this year. However, horror legend Jaume Balagueró is also in attendance with his new film Venus, the description of which harkens back to the claustrophobic terror of the [REC] franchise as well as the supernatural mystery of his criminally underrated Darkness. As a huge fan of 2019’s The Vast of Night, The Antares Paradox seems right up my alley as another race against time to capture the unexplainable. The absurd class war mayhem of The Menu also seems like it will be a perfect showcase for the Drafthouse chefs to do their stuff, creating an experience that only Fantastic Fest can provide. Other intriguing selections include Michel Hazanavicius’ Final Cut, his remake of Fantastic Fest sensation One Cut of the Dead, as well as Ali Abbasi’s Holy Spider, which I hope is full of the trippy yet grounded world-building of their previous film, Border.
On the home side, Razzennest seems like a great thematic companion to last year’s breakout short film, Digital Video Editing With Adobe Premiere Pro: the Real-World Guide to Set up and Workflow. As a film whose focus is on the commentary being given on the film rather than the film itself, it seems like the perfect at-home Fantastic Fast selection for those opting for a more intimate yet possibly terrifying and mind-blowing experience.
As far as films I’ve been lucky to see, the festival is right to honor Park Chan-Wook’s latest masterpiece, Decision to Leave. It’s a crackling Hitchcockian thriller that’s as dreamily romantic as it is venomous and deadly–the film’s myriad surprising twists should be a smash with the sold-out crowds. Something in the Dirt, the latest from Benson and Moorhead, is also one of the year’s funniest and mind-bending movies, infusing the heady sci-fi of something like Primer with the stoned-out antics of The Big Lebowski or Pineapple Express, with a dash of Making a Murderer for extra flavor.