My Chattanooga Top Twelve!

I’m back and recovered from the four-day whirlwind that was the Chattanooga Film Festival! Parties, lectures, and workshops abounded at the CFF, but I was there to watch movies and watch movies I did. I can happily say that I went to 21½ screenings and that I’ve now seen 49 of the feature films and shorts shown at the CFF (and I’m still catching up with more titles). A lot were good, some were great, and a few were regrettable. MMC! is all about the movies I love and so here are my top ten twelve picks from the 2018 Chattanooga Film Festival.

(My apologies to those films that I missed.  You can find a full account of the CFF’s films and my takes on a large number of them at my Letterboxd list devoted to CFF 2018.)

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Trailer Tuesday – A CFF Preview

With the Chattanooga Film Festival just over a week away and with a stacked program stuffed into only 3½ days, careful planning and difficult prioritizing is required to get the most out of this year’s CFF. MMC! takes this opportunity to celebrate this year’s bounty and offer a quick preview of the CFF with a “Trailer Tuesday” devoted to making some hard choices.

1. Lowlife vs. Madeline’s Madeline vs. WTF

The CFF’s opening block of films is a doozy, programming Ryan Prows’s wonderful Lowlife opposite Josephine Decker’s Sundance darling Madeline’s Madeline and the WTF (Watch These Films) block of short films. I’ve already expressed my admiration for Lowlife, which is both an excellent pastiche of 1990s New Hollywood Violence and a canny take on MAGA-era America, and with director Ryan Prows in attendance for a Q&A and Carey Williams’ short Emergency accompanying it, that’s a hard to miss screening. Madeline’s Madeline came out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival with great reviews, reportedly a coming of age drama/experimental film about a young actor who joins an acting troupe and immerses herself in her current role rather too deeply for comfort, and the WTF block of shorts has some really intriguing titles including Laura Moss’s Allen Anders, a found footage presentation of a notorious stand-up performance from 1987, and John F. Beach and Jonathan Hoeg’s The Accomplice, about a man who discovers his unwitting participation in a bank robbery through a series of answering machine messages. All of these screenings reappear later in the CFF schedule, but that doesn’t really make the choice any easier!

 

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Chattanooga Is GO!

Yesterday, that Sundance of the South, the Chattanooga Film Festival, posted its full schedule and rounded out its line-up. In addition to its 42 feature films (plus a secret screening) and five blocks of short films, the CFF has announced a great series of events including free screenings of The Endless and Turbo Kid,  a punk show in honour of Jenn Wexler’s film The Ranger, live recordings of the Shock Waves and Squadcast podcasts, a karaoke night, a boat party, a drunken script reading of Flash Gordon, and presentations on the history of exploitation films by trash film expert Joe Bob Briggs, the socio-political themes of horror movies by writer/filmmaker Izzy Leethe history of horror paperbacks by writer Grady Hendrix, and various industry related topics.

The full schedule of CFF is now live! Check it out and if you’re attending, you can begin the hard choices between Agnès Varda’s feminist musical and an animated family film from the makers of Ernest & Celestine or between documentaries about a Mexican religious/fireworks festival, a Supreme Court Justice, and William Friedkin’s spotlight on a real-life exorcist. Good luck choosing amongst this bounty, film fans! Remember: you can’t see everything.

April is Film Festival Month!

I made a resolution this year – go to more film festivals and special programs – and I’m happy to say I’ve been sticking to it. I’ve had the chance to see Q&As with Bill Morrison and Charles Burnett and later this month I’ll be attending some screenings put on by the Alliance Française that includes Philippe de Broca’s That Man From Rio (1964), Jacques Tati’s Jour de Fête (1949), Albert Dupontel’s See You Up There (2017), Bertrand Tavernier’s My Journey Through French Cinema (2016), and Claude Zidi’s My New Partner (1984) with introduction by Kevin MacDonald of The Kids in the Hall! Still, none of this compares to my film plans for April.

From the 5th to the 8th, I’ll be attending the Cannes of Appalachia: The Chattanooga Film Festival. Opening night films and two waves of titles have been announced and CFF 2018 already looks amazing. Scheduled to appear are past MMC! favourites like November, Lowlife, Five Fingers of Death, and The Super Inframan. I’ll be hard pressed to catch everything I want see, but there’s a good chance you’ll find me at showings of Lu Over the Wall, Tigers Are Not AfraidThe Big Bad Fox and Other Tales, RBG, Ramen Heads, and Let Corpses Tan. CFF 2018 even boasts the world premieres for Lisa Downs’ Life After Flash, Skizz Cyzyk’s Icepick to the Moon, Andre Gower’s Wolfman’s Got Nards, Casey T. Malone’s Lesser Beasts, Mike Testin and Matt Mercer’s Dementia Part II, and David Ian McKendry and Rebekah McKendry’s All the Creatures Were Stirring. With 42 features already revealed, it’s hard to imagine two more waves of announcements still to some. Hachi Machi! Check back in April for my report on CFF 2018!

I’ll also be attending the latest Architecture + Design Film Festival Winnipeg running from the 18th to the 22nd. This year’s program includes documentaries on designer Ruth Adler Schnee; landscape designer Piet Oudolf; architects like Rem Koolhaas, Kevin Roche, Albert C. Ledner, Bjarke Ingels, and Glenn Murcutt; subjects like the National Gallery of Ireland, Integral House, Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie, the United Nations headquarters in New York, the Maggie’s Centres, and Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion; and even a walking tour of the city’s ghost signs. This looks like a wonderful program and the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation should be credited for programming a number of screenings that are free to the public. Check back at the end of April for a “Trailer Tuesday” summary of the A+DFF.

SFFF Day 4 – Go Big and Go Home

The Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival’s final day was even more massive than expected. With a packed program and an extra short film (moved from the previous day due to a technical issue), there was little downtime between screenings and the Festival’s final midnight show started late and wrapped well past 2:30 a.m. Those that saw the marathon day of screenings to its bleary end enjoyed without question the SFFF’s best block of films (plus some welcome giveaways for lucky attendees).

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SFFF Day 3 – Actually, They’re All Labyrinths

There’s a running joke in Bill Watterson’s Dave Made a Maze (2017), a film about a man who builds a massive cardboard maze (bigger inside than out) and then gets trapped within it. As Dave’s friend Gordon (Adam Busch) repeatedly points out, the maze is full of traps, making it, in fact, a labyrinth. Day 3 of the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival offered a disparate collection of films – a comedy recounting a slacker’s epic quest in a DIY fortress; a trippy, coming-of-age, prom night parable; a genre-mixing, science fiction blockbuster; and a dreamy descent into a housewife’s trauma and a cult’s terrifying prophecy. Each offers its own twists and turns, finding new dangers as they progress through corrugated caverns, genre conventions, and layered realities. In fact, they’re all labyrinths in their own ways.

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