With less than a week to go until the curtain comes up on the 17th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival, we're ramping up our coverage by taking an in-depth look at the different programme sections at this year's fest and singling out some of our favourite films and most-anticipated titles. Today it's the turn of Vision Express, an eclectic assortment genre-based dramas and documentaries from around the world. Here are a few that have caught my attention, or which I can heartily recommend.
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The Act of Killing (dir. Joshua Oppenheimer, Denmark/Indonesia)
Yes, I'm sure you've all heard of this fantastic documentary already, but if you have yet to see it, you are missing out on one of the year's most extraordinary cinematic experiences. Oppenheimer heads to Indonesia, where he meets with a group of former death squad leaders, who sought out and killed thousands (some say millions) of "Communists" in the 1960s. Still hailed as heroes, Oppenheimer asks them to recreate their executions in the style of the Hollywood films they so enjoy, and the effects are startling.
If the title of this extraordinary documentary wasn't enough to grab the attention, then its story certainly will. Marczak investigates this bizarre German charity, whose members get naked and have sex on camera in the hope of raising funds and awareness about their environment causes. They then sell their homemade porn on their website. Can sex save the world? Are they taking their radicalism too far? I intend to find out. (By watching the film, not getting naked....well, let's see).
Maruyama The Middle-schooler (dir. Kudo Kankuro, Japan)
I have already expressed my love for this delightful flight of fancy, riddled with hormonal teenage preoccupations, most notably the Holy Grail of sucking your own dick. It's great, I love it (the film, that is) and I urge everyone to check it out.
Denmark seems to be where it's at right now for bleak, hard-hitting, humanist thrillers. Noer has a documentary background, but co-directed the highly regarded R with Tobias Lindholm, who went on to direct the excellent A Hijacking. I have every reason to believe that Noer's own follow-up will be every bit as good.
Rewind This! (dir Josh Johnson, USA)
The wave of positive buzz that emanated from SXSW earlier this year about Josh Johnson's nostalgic love letter to the VHS era has me chomping at the bit to see this film. I'm pretty sure there's also a fair few folks in it whom I know, so for those reasons alone I can't wait.
I'm a sucker for any kind of Shakespeare adaptation that makes it to the big screen, so the prospect of a futuristic punk rock-infused re-telling of The Tempest, with elements of traditional Noh theatre thrown into the mix, certainly has my attention.
A Story of Yonosuke (dir. Okita Shuichi, Japan)
It's one of my favourite films of the year, plain and simple. Adapted from Yoshida Shuichi's novel, this is the funny, good-natured tale of the lovable dolt of the film's title, who cluelessly stumbles his way through life, bringing happiness to all he encounters. Don't be put off by the film's lengthy run-time, every minute of this film is a joy.
The Grand Prize winner at this year's Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival is a film of two halves, and admittedly the second half is considerably weaker that what comes before it, but the film is still worth checking out for its initial, unflinching look at the socially shunned disabled community in Tokyo's suburbs. Maya Koizumi is great as Saori, a sex worker who takes only disabled clients, and how she deals with the added complications that brings to her already difficult life.
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? (dir. Arvin Chen, Taiwan)
I was a big fan of Chen's debut, Au Revoir Taipei, and his follow-up proves that was no fluke. I have never seen a better Richie Jen performance than here, as a married thirtsomething who is suddenly reawakened to his college flirtations with homosexuality. Sweet, funny and honest - and well worth seeking out.