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London Film Festival 2014
Our round-up of the galas, films and interviews
Empire Blogs

Under The RadarNight Visions 2014: The Harvest, Let Us Prey and Nuntius

Posted on Tuesday November 4, 2014, 18:26 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2014: The Harvest, Let Us Prey and Nuntius

Following the Nordic Invasion, the Spanish films and the documentaries, I can’t come up with a connection for the remainder of my Night Visions, so this is just a rattle bag of The Rest.

Guest of honour at the festival was John McNaughton, presenting both his debut Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and his newest film, The Harvest. The latter, which doesn’t yet have distribution anywhere, sees the eclectic director tackling what he sees as a modern fairytale, in which young orphaned girl Maryann (Natasha Calis) lately moved in with her grandparents (Peter Fonda and Leslie Lyles), befriends sick boy Andy (Charlie Tahan) in a house across the woods. The two strike up a friendship, but are quickly and perplexing barred from seeing one another by Andy’s ferocious mother Katherine (Samantha Morton). Katherine’s beleaguered and downtrodden husband Richard (Michael Shannon) wearily shuffles in and out of the dispute.

It’s a g...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2014: Marcos Ortiz and In Darkness We Fall

Posted on Tuesday November 4, 2014, 18:19 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2014: Marcos Ortiz and In Darkness We Fall

The dark star of Alfredo Montero's caving horror In Darkness We Fall is actor/producer Marcos Ortiz. Not a potholing enthusiast to any extent, he told me how he ended up enduring two separate productions of the film underground. One of them nearly killed him...

Are you a caving enthusiast?
[Leans into microphone] NO! That was my first time.

Did you enjoy it? Will you do it again?
[Leans into microphone] NO! Never, never, never!

And you had to do it twice for the film, right?
Yes, we actually shot the film twice. The first time was a year and a half ago, and the second shoot was about eight months ago. The director, Alfredo Montero and myself are also the producers, so we originally financed the whole original production, with very little money. We shot it in Formentera, just next to Ibiza, for five weeks, with a Canon 5D. It was a very difficult process because the cave is actually very small an...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2014: Pablo Larcuen and Hooked Up

Posted on Tuesday November 4, 2014, 18:12 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2014: Pablo Larcuen and Hooked Up

Somewhere between Helsinki bars, I cornered director Pablo Larcuen to talk me through his iPhone-shot found-footage horror Hooked Up.

You shot this film in 2011. How sick are you of talking about it at this point?
Haha, well maybe we won’t talk too much about the phone. That would be good! But I actually haven’t talked about it for a while now, so it’s OK.

OK, let’s talk about the phone. Why shoot with an iPhone?
Dammit! Well it was because we had no money to rent any other type of cameras, and I don’t like cheap digital cameras. What I found with the iPhone was that when you shoot in low light it resembles film more than cheap digital cameras. So when we made that decision it was great because we then knew we could design the story around it and have the characters interact with it. It was a 4S. We’re two generations on already. I think you can do slow-motion on the 6!

We...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2014: The Spanish Contingent

Posted on Tuesday November 4, 2014, 18:07 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2014: The Spanish Contingent

Predictably for a Finnish festival there’s a significant Spanish contingent among the films on show (um…). Specifically, that means Pablo Larcuen’s tiny horror Hooked Up, Alfredo Montero’s intense caving nightmare In Darkness we Fall (La Cueva), and Jaume Balaguero’s Rec 4, capping the Catholic zombie rabies quartet that began way back in 2007 with the original Rec.

The hook of Hooked Up is that it’s the first feature film to be entirely shot on an iPhone. That obviously means found footage, so your patience with that conceit depends a lot on your patience with the subgenre as a whole. But for those who don’t mind the shaky camera and the characters shuffling it between them as they continue to film in unlikely circumstances, there’s a lot to enjoy here. Plot-wise we’re slightly in Hostel territory, with two idiot American guy...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2014: The Documentaries

Posted on Tuesday November 4, 2014, 17:57 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2014: The Documentaries

Given that Night Visions is a genre festival taking place in a particularly dark city at Hallowe’en, you’d expect a predominantly horror-centric programme. Not necessarily so. Sci-fi and action are well represented too, and there’s a great, wide-ranging documentary strand. I sadly couldn’t make it to the Japanese punk movie Get Action!, but I did catch 2000AD celebration Future Shock! (lots of exclamation marks in these titles), Cannon Films autopsy The Go-Go Boys, and Richard Stanley’s fascinating L’Autre Monde (The Otherworld).

Winner of the audience award this year was the brilliant vampire mock-doc What We Do In The Shadows, but in impressive second place was Future Shock!. It really is that good: it makes you want to run out and buy trade paperbacks of classic Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper and whatever else right away. But crucially, while the ...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2014: The Nordic Genre Invasion

Posted on Tuesday November 4, 2014, 17:37 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2014: The Nordic Genre Invasion

This was my third year at Helsinki’s Night Visions festival, but to my shame, I’ve never really written much about Finnish or Nordic cinema before. In my defence, that’s partly a reflection of the festival’s programme, which isn’t heavily local. Perhaps with that in mind, this year the festival organised an entire day devoted to presentations on Nordic cinema: a celebration of a deliberately organised ‘movement’.

The idea behind what’s been self-dubbed the Nordic Genre Invasion is a recognition of how popular the Nordic crime genre became in recent years, thanks to writers like Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo; the movies based on their and others’ work; and the TV series’ like Wallander, The Killing and The Bridge which achieved breakout international success. With a feeling that those things are becoming slightly old hat now, there’s an attempt underway to kick-start something similar for other genres: action, sci-fi, horror. A coalition...

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Under The RadarThe Rio Festival: The Prizes

Posted on Monday October 13, 2014, 15:22 by Simon Braund in Under The Radar
The Rio Festival: The Prizes

Festival do Rio 2014, the biggest film festival in South America, came to an official end on October 8 with a gala awards ceremony at the fest’s docklands HQ in downtown Rio. And for once, Empire picked the winner. Director Lirio Ferreira’s film Sangue Azul (Blue Blood) picked up three Redentors (a golden figurine formed from film stock that mirrors the city’s iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer), including the top prize of Best Feature in the Premiere Brazil section, a showcase for new works by homegrown filmmakers. The film, an earthy character-driven meditation on love and art set in the colourful world of a travelling circus, also netted Best Director for Ferreira and Best Supporting Actor for Rômulo Braga.

Announcing the Premiere Brazil awards, Jury president Karim Ainouz commented: “The films awarded were chosen because they all have a strong personality and flirt between strong social commentary and poetic fables about the worl...

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Under The RadarThe Rio Festival: Closing Film

Posted on Thursday October 9, 2014, 09:44 by Simon Braund in Under The Radar
The Rio Festival: Closing Film

Apart from Wednesday’s awards ceremony and closing gala, Festival do Rio wrapped last night with a screening of Trash, written by Richard Curtis and directed by Stephen Daldry. It might seem odd to close a festival that promotes South American and Latin cinema so vigorously with a British film, especially one that looks, on paper at least, to be seriously at odds with the overarching indie-arthouse tone of the programming – a trio of plucky urchins find a discarded wallet in a trash dump and hair-raising scrapes ensue. Throw in an exotic, photogenic location (Rio de Janeiro) and surely it’s an Olsen Twins movie in disguise. The poster shows three figures dancing with glee as a blizzard of banknotes flutters around, the twin peaks of Corcovado and Sugarloaf silhouetted in the background against a blazing blue sky.

It’s a surprise – a shock, actually – to discover that Trash is, in fact, a gritty urban thriller that is at pains to ...

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Under The RadarThe Rio Film Festival: Trinto, Castanha, Campo de Jogo and Sangre Azul

Posted on Wednesday October 8, 2014, 15:06 by Simon Braund in Under The Radar
The Rio Film Festival: Trinto, Castanha, Campo de Jogo and Sangre Azul

Now that we’ve had a chance to see a few films, here are some contenders for the completely unofficial and, in fact, made up on the spur of the moment Empire Yes-That-Was-Worth-Coming-All-This-Way-To-See Award.

Trinta
A biopic of Joaosino Trinta, the self-taught artist and dancer who revolutionized Brazilian carnival with his groundbreaking and outlandish designs. A tremendous performance by Matheus Nashtergale (Central Station, City Of God) in the title role is the centerpiece of a uplifiting and, to those not steeped in the culture of carnival, fascinating film. It paints Trinto in entirely saintly colours, but this is not remotely the sugar-coated showbiz clichéfest it might have been. Top marks to writer Caludio Galperin and director Paulo Machline for that.

Castanha
Director Davi Pretto’s brilliantly made, moving and often bleakly funny drama follows the life of Joao Carlos Castanha, a 5...

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Under The RadarThe Rio Film Festival: The First Report

Posted on Tuesday October 7, 2014, 12:18 by Simon Braund in Under The Radar
The Rio Film Festival: The First Report

Arriving at a film festival, especially one you’ve never attended before, can be a daunting experience. After checking in to the hotel, you confront the breezeblock-sized catalogue with a sinking heart. With the best will in the world, there’s no way you can cover everything. This year’s Festival do Rio catalogue is particularly intimidating, a tribute to the enormous diversity and sheer number of films that are being shown here – over 350, representing more than sixty countries at 35 venues throughout the city. It’s almost a relief that Empire is only in town for the last four days of festivities.

As you’d expect, the festival places great emphasis on bringing global attention to contemporary Brazilian cinema, principally through the Premiére Brasil section, which comprises the main competition. This year over forty films will screen at Premiére Brasil, many of them receiving their world premiere. Ten features and ten documentarie...

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RECENT POSTS

Night Visions 2014: The Harvest, Let Us Prey and Nuntius
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2014: Marcos Ortiz and In Darkness We Fall
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2014: Pablo Larcuen and Hooked Up
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2014: The Spanish Contingent
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2014: The Documentaries
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2014: The Nordic Genre Invasion
By Owen Williams

The Rio Festival: The Prizes
By Simon Braund

The Rio Festival: Closing Film
By Simon Braund

The Rio Film Festival: Trinto, Castanha, Campo de Jogo and Sangre Azul
By Simon Braund

The Rio Film Festival: The First Report
By Simon Braund


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