The 15th edition of Film Comment magazine’s essential, eclectic festival brings you a lineup of the coming soon and the never-coming-back, the rare and the rediscovered, the unclassifiable and the underrated. This year opens with Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, a hilarious tell-all oral history of the exploits of schlockmeisters Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus in ’80s Hollywood, followed by a three-film retrospective of some of their greatest hits. There’s also a six-film retrospective of the deeply personal autobiographical dramas of Danish director Nils Malmros, Philippe Garrel’s ultra-rare 1975 Un ange passe, the student films of John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon, Shinya Tsukamoto’s gruesome adaptation of Fires on the Plain, Larry Clark’s The Smell of Us, a down and dirty portrait of Parisian youth—and much, much more.
Academy Film Archive; Danish Film Institute; American Genre Film Archive
The 15th edition of Film Comment magazine’s essential, eclectic festival brings you a lineup of the coming soon and the never-coming-back, the rare and the rediscovered, the unclassifiable and the underrated.
Opening Night preceded by a cocktail reception open to all ticket holders!
Q&A with director Mark Hartley, actresses Catherine Mary Stewart & Robin Sherwood, and Superman IV screenwriter Mark Rosenthal
This off-the-charts hilarious piece of film history is an instant classic thrill ride that recounts the taste-challenged exploits of Israeli producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, who stormed Hollywood in the early ’80s, to produce epic amounts of schlock.
Philippe Garrel’s rarely screened elegy casts Nico as an ethereal poet haunting the gaps between scenes of Jean-Pierre Kalfon, Bulle Ogier, Laurent Terzieff, and Garrel’s father, Maurice, discussing the filmmaker’s staple topics: love, psychoanalysis, and the failures of May ’68.
A riotous anti-epic by gonzo satirist Franco Maresco about Silvio Berlusconi’s Mafia connections and the way in which his politics of spiritual debasement via tabloid TV have transformed Italy for the worse. Or rather, a film about the impossibility of making such a film…
Duane Hopkins’s follow-up to his 2008 Better Things continues his tough, gritty exploration of the pressurized lives of socially marginal youth, here centering on a teenager who follows in the criminal footsteps of his older brother.
Q&A with Michael Almereyda and actors Penn Badgley, Vondie Curtis-Hall, and Peter Gerety
In his brooding, super-inventive update of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, a story of star-crossed lovers and ruthless intrigue is reimagined against the backdrop of a turf war between a drug-dealing biker gang and corrupt cops. With Ed Harris, Penn Badgley, Dakota Johnson, Ethan Hawke, and Milla Jovovich.
Q&A with Peter Strickland!
Berberian Sound Studio director Peter Strickland returns with a touching yet twisted May-September lesbian romance nested in a ’70s sexploitation aesthetic.
Followed by: Mano Destra (Cleo Übelmann, 1986, 53m).
Q&A with Riley Stearns and stars Leland Orser and Mary Elizabeth Winstead
A once prominent authority on mind control (played by a dynamite Leland Orser) reluctantly takes on an assignment to help “save” a young woman from a mysterious religious cult, but as the deprogramming mission is carried out, events become increasingly messy and bizarre. Riley Stearns’s debut feature is as funny and dark as it is surprising.
A disturbing and often nightmarish adaptation of Shohei Ooka's Fires on the Plain (previously adapted by Kon Ichikawa in 1959) by one of Japanese cinema’s most singular mavericks, Shinya Tsukamoto, who also stars as a private wandering the battlefield alone, sinking deeper into the obscenity of war through a series of encounters with fellow soldiers.
Kon Ichikawa’s compelling antiwar film tells the story of a Japanese soldier who deserts his unit and wanders around a Philippine island as the American troops arrive to liberate the Philippines, depicting war as a highly irrational and dehumanizing experience.
Mike Nichols’s underrated, rarely screened jazz-era farce features Stockard Channing as a young heiress who elopes with a fortune-hunter (Warren Beatty) whose halfwit sidekick (Jack Nicholson) comes along for the ride. As ever, the flair and dazzling skill of Nichols’s mise en scène is unmistakable.
Ever-surprising Hong Kong New Wave axiom Ann Hui forges a fractured, modernist epic on the life of Manchurian essayist and novelist Xiao Hong (Tang Wei), belatedly regarded as one of 20th-century Chinese literature’s most important figures.
A rare screening of the test preview cut of Joe Dante’s scary-funny Christmas from Hell creature-feature classic that includes five additional minutes.
Q&A with Ana Girardot
A delicately observed but incisive Bildungsroman that subtly explores the relationship between social class, love, and creativity through the affair of struggling fashion designer Alice (Ana Girardot) and her mentor’s son Antoine (Bastien Bouillon), a well-off artist who seeks to escape his privileged upbringing.
Somebody is always watching in Marcel Lozinski’s deeply unnerving and at times hilarious hybrid documentary about a summer camp run by the Union of Young Polish Socialists, where young families are observed and graded on their political commitment and their participation in activities.
Introduction by Christian Petzold on December 1Set in the period immediately following World War II, Phoenix is an engrossing reflection on the postwar reconstruction of identity couched as a noirish thriller of mistaken identity. Screening with the Hitchcock rumination Where Are You, Christian Petzold?
Presented by USC archivist Dino Everett & author Jason Zinoman
For this unique feature-length compilation, archivist Dino Everett has assembled the student-film work of Dan O’Bannon, John Carpenter, and others who helped redefine the horror genre in the ’70s, to demonstrate that USC was a hotbed of genre filmmaking.
Unfortunately, Larry Clark can no longer attend this screening. There will be a Q&A with lead actress Diane Rouxel.
Set in the streets and rave clubs of Paris and updated to a world of iPhones and digital cameras, Larry Clark’s The Smell of Us revisits the world of Kids for an impressionistic, immersive study of the lives of teen skateboarders and rent boys that delivers a strong dose of explicit sex and substance abuse.
Please note: this screening has been canceled due to an issue with the print.
Escaping his life in an idyllic Italian coastal village, Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) falls for the charming and elusive Louise (Nadiar Hiker)—but little does he know that she’s hiding a terrifying secret. What comes next defies standard genre categories and, in the name of love, brings Evan face to face with monstrous primordial forces rooted in a realm that’s nothing short of mythic.
Iran’s leading female filmmaker withdrew from features 10 years ago, but she’s back with a panoramic portrait of Tehran’s lower depths, cunningly shot as a series of shorts to evade censorship red tape.
A mother of two seeks to sever toxic technological dependencies, little realizing the repercussions her plan will have on those around her in this seriocomic portrait of a family and the dubious assumptions on which it’s founded. Co-presented with the Miami International Film Festival.
A super-intense revenge thriller about a former cop whose ex-wife enlists him to investigate the disappearance of their 17-year-old daughter, Kanako. Devastated by what he uncovers, he bludgeons his way through a lurid world of drug-using high-school kids, grudge-holding cops, and ruthless yakuzas in his search for the truth.
East meets West in the form of two iconic stars in this special tribute to the late Japanese gangster film star Ken Takakura, here teamed with Robert Mitchum in a riveting thriller set in the treacherous waters of Tokyo’s criminal underworld.
In the second of six films Charles Bronson would make with Cannon, he plays an LAPD detective fired for planting evidence on a serial killer who murders in the nude—and when his daughter becomes the next target in the ensuing grudge match, it’s a case of “Forget what’s legal, do what’s right!” as the film’s tagline went.
An early Cannon hit, this leering but ultimately surprisingly serious-minded teen sex comedy is a mash-up of Porky’s and Fast Times at Ridgemont High with a trio of suburban L.A. youths chasing girls and competing for the attentions of a cute transfer student.
An action-packed but cut-price cult classic, featuring arguably one of the Go-Go Boys’ most ludicrous plots—an aerobics instructor and telephone repair woman is intermittently possessed by the spirit of a Black Ninja who uses her to exact bloody revenge on the cops who killed him—Ninja III: the Domination marks the ne plus ultra culmination of Cannon’s Ninja martial-arts obsession.
Nils Malmros in Focus
Q&A with Nils Malmros
Malmros’s only all-out comedy is a whimsical fantasy about the making of his 1977 film Boys, in which the shoot becomes a sexual free-for-all while shy director Frederik gets lost in the erotic reveries he’s trying to capture on film.
Q&A with Nils Malmros
A film in three movements about boys growing into men—but not necessarily maturing—Boys looks for the essence of male development and, as to be expected from Malmros, things get complicated.
Q&A with Nils Malmros
Facing the Truth is a dramatized exploration of the moral dilemma director Nils Malmros’s father Richard, a famous neurosurgeon, faced when a scandal revealed to the public that during the German occupation he had used a carcinogenic radio contrast agent in his operations, putting hundreds of people at risk.
Q&A with Nils Malmros
A kind of prequel or counterpart to Sorrow and Joy, Pain of Love is closely modeled on Malmros’s wife, covering scenes from the life of Kirsten (Tanja Skov), from her childhood and teenage years to early adulthood—how she discovers sex and men; how one guy after the other turns out to be a disappointment; how her life slowly becomes a hell of depression and despair.
Q&A with Nils Malmros
For over 20 years, Nils Malmros has been in the habit of announcing each new film as his final work. But there was still one story stemming from a personal catastrophe he longed to tell: the killing of his baby daughter by his wife during a psychotic episode in 1983. The subject of Sorrow and Joy isn’t infanticide, however, it’s about one man trying to save the woman he loves, and how society helps him.
Q&A with Nils Malmros
This absolutely wondrous autobiographical film travels back to 1950 to depict the elite high school Nils Malmros attended. In a series of episodes and anecdotes, Malmros describes with dead-on accuracy the dynamics at play in the relationships and behavior of boys and girls on the cusp of adolescence.
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