Fascinating movie

Fantastic Fest Brings Fall Movie Scene to Austin

‘Jojo Rabbit’ director Taika Waititi at Fantastic Fest in 2019 | Rick Kern/Getty Images

‘Jojo Rabbit’ director Taika Waititi at Fantastic Fest in 2019 | Rick Kern/Getty Images

Fall film festivals are among Hollywood’s most trusted customs. In scenic locations stretching from the canals of Italy to the mountains of Colorado, awards season dreams are made and shattered, celebrities become couture-clad tastemakers, and the industry staggers out of its summer haze. to success. When it comes to glamor, it’s impossible to compete with the three Labor Day mainstays — the Venice, Telluride and Toronto film festivals — but a late-September staple in Austin, Texas, topped the list. clamor.

Fantastic Fest, which kicks off its 17th edition at the Alamo Drafthouse on Thursday, is a genre-focused alternative to the rarefied blowouts that kick off the fall and winter movie seasons. Its lineup includes horror, sci-fi, fantasy, outrageous comedy and quirky curiosities with cult potential. After a modest launch in 2005, the festival began to attract more and more Oscar hopefuls in pursuit of the zeitgeist, positioning itself as a stage along the proverbial campaign trail. Previous lineups have featured Best Picture nominees Gravity, The Martian, Arrival, JoJo Rabbitand Parasiteas well as arthouse favorites (Melancholy, force majeure, Lobster, She, Climax) and commercial successes (cloud atlas, Halloween, Dolemite is my name, Knives out). In 2016, M. Night Shyamalan Divide had its world premiere there, four months before opening in theaters.

This year includes many award-winning showstoppers who have worked their way through the festival circuit. There are bones and all, director Luca Guadagnino’s cannibal romance with Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell; The Banshees of Inisherin, a Martin McDonagh dark comedy sparking chatter for a career-best Colin Farrell; Decision to leave, the last by Korean master Park Chan-wook; triangle of sadness, a class satire featuring Woody Harrelson and Harris Dickinson; and The menu, a fun eat-the-rich thriller featuring Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult and Hong Chau in an exclusive secluded restaurant.

bones and all
Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet in “Bones and All” | United Artists Liberating

Recently named Fantastic Fest Director Lisa Dreyer and her programming team attend many of the glitzy festivals that take place before September, including Sundance in January and Cannes in May. “We try to pick the best of these big festivals, and then we really try to find smaller hidden gems,” she told Thrillist. just like bones and all making its way from Venice to Austin before screening again at the New York Film Festival next month (it hits theaters November 23), some of these underdogs will go on to play genre galas such as the Brooklyn Horror Festival, Beyond Fest in Los Angeles, and the Overlook Film Festival in New Orleans. Dreyer quotes folk inspiration The nightmarethe vampire romp blood relativesand the spanish zombie movie Old people as possible escapes this year.

World premiere offerings aren’t as flashy as Fantastic Fest’s high-profile counterparts – the biggest of this round is Smile, a Paramount Pictures movie that opens Sept. 30, but it has what A-list binges lack: regional charm. Ticket holders can attend parties, podcast recordings and award ceremonies in ways they can’t elsewhere. “At film festivals, you usually have to wake up at an odd hour, go to a box office, or stand in line for hours,” says Dreyer. “Our festival is so easy on the public. We’re all based in one theatre. You can hang out at the Highball, which is our adjoining bar, and then 20 minutes before your movie starts they’ll tell you they’ re places for your movie.”

Fantastic Fest also inspires a familiar spirit in Austin’s film community. Nowhere else will you see Keanu Reeves debating Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League about tai chi. It happened in 2013 as part of an annual showpiece called the Fantasy Debates, a cultural deliberation often followed by a scheduled boxing match. (Unfortunately, Reeves did not participate in the fight.) Over the years, League has boxed Michelle Rodriquez and X director Ti West. the Lord of the Rings co-stars Elijah Wood and Dominic Monaghan once ‘fought with each other’ (Wood’s words) after falling out over World of Warcraft.

keanu reeves league tim
Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League and actor Keanu Reeves at Fantastic Fest in 2013 | Gary Miller/FilmMagic

The so-called secret screenings are another feature of Fantastic Fest. Spectators who attend don’t know what they’re about to see – and it’s usually something remarkable. Remarkably, there will be blood had its first public screening as a closing night surprise in 2007, after which it won two Oscars. Since, Paranormal Activity 3, The Skin I Live In, Goodnight Mom, Crimson Peak, The Lighthouse, Suspiriaand Last night in Soho were ranked selections. So was Divide. This year will take place on September 25 and 28. Dreyer says only she and two other Fantastic Fest staff know what the movies are. (My money is on the highly hyped October release Halloween endspartly because director David Gordon Green grew up in Texas and attended college in Austin.)

As was the case with the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month, 2022 will mark Fantastic Fest’s first real in-person gathering since the COVID-19 pandemic began. With an Oscar race wide open and some skepticism surrounding the elitism on display at the most paparazzi-hungry festivals, a fantastical new ascendancy seems possible. “Each year, with our relationships and the strength of our festival and the press it gets and the deals that come with it, more and more of the biggest titles and studios are coming to us for these kind of premieres,” said Dreyer. said. “We like to give our audience a first look at films that will be highly relevant to the broader cultural conversation.”

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Matthew Jacobs is entertainment editor at Thrillist. Follow him on Twitter @majacobs.