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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American Movie (Chris Smith, 1999)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of classic important and contemporary films presents American Movie.

Menomonee Falls may be a long way from Hollywood, but quick-talking filmmaker Mark Borchardt has a cinematic dream and he aims to finance his magnum opus, Northwestern, through a direct-to-market, no-budget horror short titled Coven. Filmmakers Chris Smith and Sarah Price filmed Borchardt and his team of hometown thespians and semi-willing family members through two years of financial crisis and emotional turmoil. The result was a bizarrely heartfelt and hilariously poignant documentary that became the award-winning hit of the 1999 Sundance Film Festival and a uniquely arresting portrait of Midwestern eccentricity, determination and character.

Disc Features:

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The Chickening (Nick DenBoer and Davy Force, 2015)

It’s inevitable.  At some point everyday, each of us think back to 2005, to Burger King’s introduction of the TenderCrisp Chicken Bacon Ranch burger, and to David LaChapelle’s “Fantasy Ranch” ad campaign, a trippy, countrified, sweetly perverse TV ad featuring Darius Rucker, Vida Guerra, Brooke Burke, and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.  But as much as we all love this crassly commercial riff on “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” universal questions still get asked – Why isn’t it nightmarish or disgusting?  Why isn’t it Kubrickian in its point of reference?  And where are the references to Tommy Wiseau and The Room (2003)?  Thankfully, Nick DenBoer and Davy Force have answered these questions with The Chickening (2015), a proof of concept pseudo-trailer and your latest masterpiece in “Cinegraffiti” (unless you’re my wife, who hated this and considered it nightmare fuel).

Be sure to read Birth.Movies.Death.‘s exclusive interview with DenBoer and The Chickening‘s press kit.

Streetwise (Martin Bell, 1984)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Streetwise.

criterion logoMartin Bell’s Academy Award-nominated documentary portrays the lives of several desperate teenagers on the streets of downtown Seattle.  Thrown too young into a seedy, grown-up world, these runaways and castaways survive … but just barely.  Rat, the dumpster diver.  Tiny, the teen prostitute.  Shellie, the baby-faced blonde.  DeWayne, the hustler.  All old beyond their years.  All underage survivors fighting for life and love in the alleys and abandoned buildings of Washington’s Emerald City.  Streetwise is a late classic in cinema verité that insightfully reveals a harsh place and time too easily ignored by those outside it.

Disc Features:

  • New 2K digital film restoration, approved by director Martin Bell, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Erin, Bell’s 2003 short film combining footage of Erin “Tiny” Blackwell shot in 1983, 1991, and 2004
  • ABC report from 1993 revisiting Blackwell 10 years after Streetwise
  • New interview with Mary Ellen Mark with an accompanying gallery of her photography
  • New interview with Bell, Mark, and Blackwell
  • Interview with Megan Gibbard and Carrie Whitaker Henner of the King County Homeless Youth and Young Adult Initiative
  • PLUS:  A booklet featuring Cheryl McCall and Mary Ellen Mark’s July 1983 Life magazine article and a new essay by writer-producer Veena Sud

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The American Astronaut (Cory McAbee, 2001)

“Imagine a Laurel & Hardy skit directed by Salvador Dali.” – ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

“More original than almost anything you’ve seen this millennium.” – SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

“Now that’s entertainment!” – FILM THREAT

“Surprising and hilarious! May be the most wonderfully strange film experience you have this year.” – ELLE MAGAZINE

Drafthouse Films LogoSpace travel has become a dirty way of life dominated by derelicts, grease monkeys and hard-boiled interplanetary traders such as Samuel Curtis.  Written, directed and starring Cory McAbee of the legendary cult band The Billy Nayer Show, this sci-fi musical-western uses flinty black-and-white photography, Lo-Fi sets and the spirit of the final frontier.  We follow Curtis on his Homeric journey to provide the all-female planet of Venus with a suitable male, while pursued by the enigmatic killer, Professor Hess.  The film features music by The Billy Nayer Show and some of the most original rock ‘n’ roll scenes ever committed to film.

Also included are McAbee’s hour-long, genre-defying space western Stingray Sam, his 52-minute fantasy Crazy & Thief, and his award-winning short films Reno, The Ketchup and Mustard Man, The Man on the Moon, and Billy Nayer, collected together here for the first time and providing a comprehensive review of one of America’s most audacious independent filmmakers.

Special Features:

  • Live audio commentary with writer, director, and star Cory McAbee
  • Gallery of production stills, storyboards, graphic designs, and sidewalk drawings
  • Ceres walk test footage
  • Trailers
  • Stingray Sam, McAbee’s 2009 musical-comedy, sci-fi-western serial recounting Stingray Sam and the Quasar Kid’s mission to save a kidnapped girl, with behind the scenes extra footage
  • Crazy & Thief, McAbee’s 2012 fantasy about a seven year-old girl who takes her two year-old brother on a voyage through a world of homemade mythologies
  • Reno, a 2007 short starring McAbee as a singing cowboy bragging about his travels through Nevada
  • The Ketchup and Mustard Man, a stream of consciousness-narrated musical
  • The Man on the Moon, McAbee’s short film about a dejected husband exiled on the moon, shot on a Fisher Price Pixel Camera
  • Billy Nayer, an animated short film direct by and starring McAbee as a singing bar patron
  • 24-page booklet of photos, production stills and promotional materials, plus a new interview with Cory McAbee

“Hertz Donut” Edition – Package Includes:

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