Frontières 2021: Seven Forum Projects on The Home Stretch
The Forum Projects part of the program is made up of seven projects in advanced stages of financing from around the World.
In and among this group of filmmakers and producers there came films like Jodorowsky’s Dune, Luz: The Flower of Evil, Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on the Exorcist and Dave Made a Maze.
There is a documentary that just has to get made, a Lovecraftian Spaghetti Western, a band trip to the end of the Earth and possibly the end of the World, an elevated werewolf movie, body fantasy, child dystopia and a horror satire about making it in the film industry.
First up was Else, a French fantasy horror from director Thibault Emin. In the film a couple, Anx and Cass, are faced with a threat where people are merging with things. Cass begins to merge with things inside their apartment and Anx must make a decision of what to do about it.
Emin is aiming not to make a body horror but a body fantasy. He has set out not to replicate the works of Cronenberg and Giger but create a new vision of this. He has turned to Bjork as inspiration for the bodily transformations in his film. He sought out something that was scary but also beautiful, something that that audience has not seen yet and he believes he has it.
He wants Else to ask the question, ‘Why can’t people simply mutate and live happily ever after?’ We’ve seen body horror many, many times over the years but can we recall them ever ending well?
The script is in its final draft and casting has begun. The production is aiming for a December shoot this year and came to the market to close the gap on financing.
Out of Finland there is the horror satire Eve’s Call from filmmaker Jenni Tolvoniemi. Eve’s Call will be a film about a young actress, Eeva, who sells her soul to the Devil to fit in at a production. She’s not fitting in, not finding any goodwill from her own friend in the production. On site there is a pond where local legend has it there is a devil at the bottom. Eeva, desperate not to lose her role and always under threat from the cast, the director, and the arrival of a confident and ambitious actress intent on pushing Eeva out from her role, makes a pact with this devil.
Eve’s Call appears to be this mix of a kind of lifting the veil off of the toxicity of the film industry, the working dynamic within it, and supernatural horror and once Eeva has her newly found powers. It will ultimately be a Faustian tragedy as no deal with the Devil ever works out as we have planned.
If it wasn’t already at this stage of pre-production, looking forward to a Spring shoot next year - and if it were Canadian - it could have very well found a spot on the From Our Dark Side program as well.
Heart Land is an interesting project for a handful of reasons. It will be a horror and suspense thriller that the filmmakers, director David Carson and scribe Matthew A. Collins, told us to think of like Lord of the Flies meets 28 Days Later. You’re dropping good names there. Contemporary film adaptations of Lord of Flies have been shit, but the old black and white one from the UK was aces. The Lord of the Flies bit comes into play because only children are left behind after an apocalypse. The only adults left are zombies so there you have your 28 Days connection.
A key theme to the film is, have adults and parents adequately prepared children for the world they’ll inherit. Have we left the world in a good condition to be taken up in the first place? The children in this story will have to sacrifice their childhood in order to stay alive. Some will also have to decide what they want, order or chaos.
So, it’s a co-production between Canada, the UK and New Zealand. Filming will take place in New Zealand where they will also make use of WETA Workshop for effects. Then the post will be done in the UK. Canadian producer Byron A. Martin is overseeing production.
I think from an outsider perspective that the only thing that scares me about this is the large amount of financing that this project still has to get together in order to begin production. There are plans for some serious world building from this film, heading into multiple mediums. The team is banking on the horror community’s affection for zombie movies in order for this to be a success. Are we though? Do we still have a strong affection for the sub genre?
Heart Land is looking forward to a release around Christmas of 2022.
Before we get into Searching For The Black Rainbow let’s just get this out in the open. Filmmaker Juan Diego Escobar Alzate is a friend. We met at Morbido a couple of years ago and have stayed in touch since, as well as two friends in different hemispheres in a digital post-Covid age can. Still, if a project like Black Rainbow was going to be made by anyone else I would still really like the idea of a Lovecraftian Spaghetti Western that takes place deep in the heart of an Amazonian-like rain forest.
The story goes as such. A famous explorer apparently dies at the hands of a primitive indigenous community, while looking for a place called the Black Rainbow. Grief stricken, his son gathers together an expedition of killers and thugs to seek out revenge. However, as they go further into the jungle Nature has plans that they cannot possibly fathom.
Alzate wants to use Black Rainbow to speak about colonialism and the impact that anglos have had on indigenous lands, the corruption of Nature through exploitation and violence. It’s sounding more of a straightforward genre film with deeper messages than his debut feature film Luz: The Flower of Evil. I think it will use the tropes of those genres well enough that Black Rainbow would be more accessible to a wider audience than the art house genre crowd that really latched onto Luz.
Black Rainbow has had a pretty successful market run this past year, gathering the tools needed to get this started. They’re finalizing financing and came to the market looking for sales agents, distributors and festival programmers. In my ignorance I think the budget is pretty modest for a white man does stupid things in the jungle movie.
Moving on, why does Sharksploitation still need more money? Seriously. Why isn’t a documentary about shark movies, domestic and exploitative, already fully funded? We’ve had this explosion of sharksploitation cinema recently. We devote an entire week of the year to watching shows about them. Every year there are contemporary chillers and thrillers hitting the cinemaplexes.
Here we have a documentary, made by filmmakers and producers who worked on other successful and appreciated documentaries like Jodorowsky’s Dune and Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on the Exorcist, and it still needs financing? From the pitch it looks like they already have interviews from the likes of Roger Corman, Joe Dante and Mario Van Peebles. They also have footage of Wendy Benchley, god rest her soul, wife of Jaws author Peter Benchley, in the pitch as well.
I never knew I needed a documentary about shark cinema until I saw this pitch. I never knew I needed to learn more about the sub genre and its impact on conservation of this misunderstood species of marine life. Now that I know it exists I will be thoroughly upset if it comes away from the market with no deals to get it completed.
There was a bit of blowback the other year when the term elevated horror rose in our lexicon. So I’m a little surprised to see that the filmmakers behind a supernatural horror called The Last Moon want their movie to be referred to as such. They say they specifically want to make a movie that will appease the arthouse crowd and cinephiles.
The story is of two brothers who reunite at their remote family home. One has shocking news for the other. They were bitten by a wolf on a recent trip to Vancouver (I mean, you have to be really far away from Vancouver to be bitten by a wolf. Bears and cougars were a reality but I was never told to come straight home from school because a wolf came down from the North Shore mountains). He wants his brother to shoot him with a silver bullet when he changes into a werewolf at midnight. But because the family has a history of mental illness this other brother has his doubts.
So the themes of The Last Moon will be about dark family secrets and mens’ unwillingness to talk about mental health issues, all under the guise of an elevated werewolf movie. What has my interest about this project is that director Sean McConville wants to create a film that hearkens back to German expressionism in cinema. Primarily the movement was defined by ‘elaborate set designs, odd camera angles, stylized sound, and most prominently, the use of light and shadow…’. As someone who gets more carried away by the visuals in a film this has my attention and this is where McConville stands by his definition of what elevates his werewolf movie from all others.
To its benefit, from a production standpoint, they’re set up nicely for a post-Covid production. They’ll have a small, compact production with a small cast and limited locations. They came to the market to look for an international sales agent and a co-production partner.
Finally, we had a look at what could possibly be one of the more fun ideas, Untitled Music Monster Movie, from Bill Watterson, director of the terrific Dave Made a Maze.
The story is of a struggling singer-songwriter who finds out that his music could bring about the apocalypse, or not. This depends on who you talk to. There is a tycoon called M.B. who takes this musician, Ray, under his wing. His music may just be what keeps The Beast at bay. On the flipside there is a religious order who believes Ray’s music will bring about the End of Days so they aim to stop him at all costs. What is the truth? There is only one way to find out, make up a band and travel to the Arctic Temple of The Beast and play his music. The trip to the temple may be more treacherous than the gig.
Watterson had us at, ‘It’s Blue Brothers meets Big Trouble in Little China’. Have you seen that tick tock or instragram reel where people film themselves slamming their credit cards in the foreground? That’s me. That should be you. Watterson says that this is exactly the kind of movie that everyone complains no one makes anymore. For the life of me I cannot recall a movie that is The Commitments with monsters, The Blues Brothers as an Amblin adventure movie.
As fun as all that sounds, with the promise of ninjas, bombs and heavy metal drummers, the movie is going to be about the fear of success, the price of risk, and the responsibility that we have to that voice inside us that wants to sing, to dance, to try, to risk, to be great.
Untitled Music Monster Movie will have a real title when it gets made. That will come from the songs that are currently being written by musician M Ward. They’re at the financing stage and they’ve already got Evan Ross, son of the legendary Diana Ross, signed on to take the lead role in the movie. Watterson also intends to cast real musicians to fill those roles so that it is as close to the real thing as can be. Coming from a music background himself Watterson’s attention to that detail will pay off huge.
Watterson already had us as fans after Dave Made a Maze. This was a terrific pitch to round of the Forum Projects portion of the market.