Fantastic Fest 2012!! Woohoo!

I am about to start a week of pure AWESOMENESS!  Last year was the first time I experienced Fantastic Fest and now I can not imagine missing out…ever.  Why?  Well, this is a film geek’s dream.  More accurately, a sci-fi-action-gory-strange film geek’s dream. The tagline for the event is ” A film festival with all the boring parts cut out.”  And boy, do they live up to that promise.

From the shaky face picture for our badges (mine is lovely!)–strange foreign films–cool activities–awesome parties to the hilarious icon chart (so you can know what to expect in each film), FF is NOT your ordinary film festival.  It is way too much fun!

Last year I just did one post and listed all my favorites (I will be attempting 29 movies this year–whew!) and ones to look out for.  I am probably doing the same this year, since it is too difficult to try and post each day.  It’s tiring watching movies all day and eating delicious food at the Alamo Drafthouse.  😉

I will try to post on fb (Nereida Mercado)–so if you want to friend me there you may see some updates and pictures.

Until then!

Here is the link to my tentative schedule:

Film identification icons:


Bullhead–a story about bulls, steroids and one troubled man…

Who knew when Bullhead screened at Fantastic Fest last year that it would end up being Oscar nominated for Best Foreign Film?  Well, Tim League‘s Drafthouse Films knew it was good and decided to acquire the rights to distribute the film in the US and now… BAM!  I love Alamo Drafthouse and because of that, I will be rooting for a win come The Oscars on Sunday night.  But, that will not be hard to do because it also happens to be pretty damn good movie.

This Belgian drama is written and directed by Michaël R. Roskam  and he is definitely one to watch.  I am sure some more good stuff will be coming from this guy.  He has an interesting style and is capable of creating atmosphere with little dialogue.   A little anecdote: During Fantastic Fest we had tickets to watch Bullhead, but decided to attend the only screening of You’re Next (which is awesome & will come out later this year) and my daughter, by chance sat next to Roskam.  They started a pleasant conversation in which she mentioned that we were wanting and planning to watch Bullhead, but had switched–Roskam then proceeded to tell her that Bullhead was his movie!  He then conceded that it was pretty heavy and intense–which is why he was sitting next to her and not at his own movie screening.  😀  Pretty funny.  Now, he is Oscar nominated–bet he did not see that coming.  Nice. 

This story covers a lot of ground.  Hormone mafia–steroids–police informants–betrayal–bullies–and tragedy.  But, the film really works because of its star, Matthias Schoenaerts.  Schoenaerts is mesmerizing.  You are drawn to his deep sadness–his mental turmoil.  It is a strong performance.  There a many themes throughout–the most apparent is the comparison of animals and man–and he reminds you of an animal, a bull, to be more direct.  A mass of muscle and strength with the potential of great raw power–just standing there…waiting to be unleashed. 

My only minor complaint is the time.  If it were 30 minutes shorter, it may have been a bit tighter in pacing.  It almost seems to have too much time to build and the climate then feels like it loses some of its power.  But, that is a personal opinion and it does not take anything away from the film. 

Unfortunately, it may not be in a theater near you–so keep your eyes out for rental possibilities.  And if you want, go ahead and cheer for it to win the Oscar–it is a worthy choice!

Fantastic Fest 2011–It was truly FANTASTIC!!


Wow! What a week!  As a Fantastic Fest  first time badge holder, I kept hearing that this is many of the veteran festival attendees “favorite week of the year!”  And now I understand why.  Fantastic Fest is a genre film festival that is a film geek’s dream–I should know because I am said geek.  It showcases independent films from all over the world–(70+)–that focus on the strange, sci-fi, action and horror forms of entertainment.  One of their taglines is ” A film festival with the boring parts cut out.”  And that is the truth. 

First of all, it is held at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on South Lamar in Austin, TX–which happens to be my favorite theater house.  You get to eat delicious food and drink while watching movies–can it get any better?  Yeah–add 8 days of awesome movies! 

Another thing I loved was the casual atmosphere that promoted conversations and allowed you to mingle with everyone from film guests to the fans.  And the coolest part is that we were all similar–why else would we be there?  Starting debates and discussions was easy and fun.  I actually made a few friends and look forward to keeping in touch. 

Besides movies, the special events were super fun and a nice break from being in a darken theater.  We enjoyed the Opening Party–Karaoke Apocalypse–Prom Night–and the Closing Night Superhero Carnival.  We missed some events  to watch movies–and did not regret that decision since watching movies was our main directive.  But next year, (yeah–gotta do this again!) we might check out the Debates, which include some boxing matches–crazy fun, so I heard.

I watched 26 films and a block of animated shorts.  Interestingly enough, I liked most–loved a handful–thought a few could have been better–and disliked only 3.  That is pretty cool and stands as a testament of how good the festival programmers are in finding quality films. 

I am not going to review each film–that would take a while 🙂 — instead I will list them and rate them with stars–5 stars being the best, of course.  I will try to find trailers and/or links so you can check it out for yourself and keep an eye out if they get US distribution and/or American remakes, which some of them have. 

Overall, I did have one of the best weeks and may have to join the chorus…It has become one of my favorite weeks of the year!  Now, I get to look forward to Fantastic Fest 2012!!

 An American Werewolf in London  (US)  ***** –Nice to see this classic on the big screen!

Aardvark (US)  **

Blind (Korea)  ****

Borderline (France)  ****

A Boy and His Samurai (Japan)  *****  — # 1– Absolutely wonderful!

The Corridor (Canada)  *** 

The Day (US)  **** 

The Devil’s Business (UK)  ***

Extraterrestrial (Spain) ****

Haunters (Korea) ****

Headhunters (Norway)  ***** — # 3

The Innkeepers (US)  *****   — # 5

Juan of the Dead (Cuba)  **** — # 10

Last Screening (France) ***

Let the Bullets Fly (Hong Kong)  ***

A Lonely Place to Die (UK)  *****  — # 4

Melancholia (Denmark)  **  (Sorry Von Trier fans–did not like this…)

Penumbra (Argentina)  ****

Retreat (UK) ***

Sleep Tight (Spain)  *****  — # 7

Sleepless Night (France)  ***** — # 6   (optioned for a US remake)

Snowtown (Australia)  ***

The Squad (Colombia)  **** — # 9

Take Shelter (US)  *****  — # 8

You’re Next (US)  *****  — # 2  (picked up by Lionsgate–will be released in  2012–which is awesome!) 

Animated Shorts (Various Countries)  ***** Favorites… Lazarov (France) –Bedtime for Timmy (US)–The Last Norwegian Troll (Norway)–Create (US)