[With just over a week until the Melbourne International Film Festival programme is launched, Julian considers how he would fill out the festival if he was given the opportunity.]
One of the most difficult sections to programme at any festival is the Night Shift category, with only a limited number of spots available for use. In this section, programmers have to combine genre titles with different tones, styles, and backgrounds to scare, shock, and entertain festival audiences. MIFF is often limited to seven to eight spots in this category, with around five to six from English-speaking countries. Last year’s Night Shift section contained black comedies, twisted horror, a weird Japanese title and a dark fantasy feature. With that in mind, I set off to create a list of suggested titles for this category.
Looking at what has already been announced, Franck Khalfoun’s remake of Maniac – starring Elijah Wood and featuring first-person camerawork – is a definite inclusion, as well as Ben Wheatley’s follow-up to Kill List in the dark comedy Sightseers, with the latter building a strong following in Australia.
Turning to likely inclusions from the Sydney Film Festival, Killer Joe is a certainty to play in this section if my Matthew McConaughey retrospective does not eventuate but because this is my fantasy, that will happen and I’ve decided to exclude the film from my list.
Also excluded are Richard Bates Jr.’s Excision and Shunichiro Miki’s The Warped Forest. While I am likely to be berated for not including Miki’s incredibly surreal title in the Night Shift, I would rather it instead show up in the Accent on Asia section. And despite Excision‘s lighter and deranged take on body horror, there are other features that deserve a spot more. One of them is French filmmakers Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s supernatural horror follow-up to Inside, Livid, which is already set for an English-speaking remake.
So with three spots down, it was time to scour genre cinema to find further candidates. The Swedish film Sound of Noise and Mikkel Nørgaard’s KLOWN were immediate finds, but I found it difficult to believe there weren’t more worthy contenders since their 2010 release.
And sure enough, the USA provided three essential selections for late night viewing: Don Coscarelli’s adaptation of the comedic horror novel John Dies at the End, starring Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, and Paul Giamatti; Bobcat Goldthwait’s follow-up to World’s Greatest Dad in God Bless America; and the horror-anthology film V/H/S, with segments directed by Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Radio Silence, and Ti West.
So with my US selections finalised, it was time to look at Europe and Asia for two final titles, with one hopefully a horror-thriller and the other a pitch-black raunch. And while the Japanese body horror feature Henge was initially enticing, I eventually settled on an Irish and Hong Kong pair.
The first is Ciaron Foy’s horror-thriller Citadel, which follows an agoraphobic father who teams up with a renegade priest to save his daughter from the clutches of a gang of twisted feral children. The second is Pang Ho-cheung’s dark comedy Vulgaria, exploring the lengths a producer will go to secure funding for a feature film in a series of vignettes. Both look like entertaining and genuinely shocking features, and I think both would leave audiences stunned as they shuffle out into the Melbourne CBD.
So after a deep exploration of titles, let’s look at my selections for the Night Shift section:
God Bless America | dir. Bobcat Goldthwait | USA
John Dies at the End | dir. Don Coscarelli | USA
Livid | Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury | FRA
Maniac | dir. Franck Khalfoun | FRA/USA
Sightseers | dir. Ben Wheatley | UK
V/H/S | dir. Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Radio Silence, Ti West | USA
Vulgaria | dir. Pang Ho-cheung | HKG
So that’s what I would programme for MIFF 2012. Have I missed anything? What would you programme if you had free reign?