L'Étrange 2021: Paris Genre Festival Reveals Lineup, Including the Return of Horse, Cowboy and Indian!

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L'Étrange 2021: Paris Genre Festival Reveals Lineup, Including the Return of Horse, Cowboy and Indian!
L'Etrange Festival returns to Paris this September with a diverse and in some cases provocative lineup of films for this year's edtion. Once again our friends at L'Etrange have avoided the effects of the pandemic and once again are hosting an in-person festival. Good on them. This year's lineup is full of discovery of some current festival hits, some great retrospective programs and new films making their way on to the circuit. 
Horse, Cowboy and Indian are back in Summer Holidays, the new film from the makers of A Town Called Panic! Festival faves include Prisoners of the Ghostland, Ultrasound and Mad God. The world premiere of Fabrice Eboué’s comedy Barbaque (Tough Meat) will open the festival. Benny Chan's final film, Raging Fire, will close this year's festival. 
Find out more in the festival's announcement below. 
Editor's Note: In the interest of transparency I do help L'Etrange in a consultancy role, helping the festival track down films and networking with distributors. 
L’Étrange Festival’s 27th edition will take take place from September 8 to 19 as an in-person event with in-the-flesh screenings and live events… ‘’a bonanza of wonderfully weird movies to sate hardcore cinephiles’ hunger’’ said Festival director Frédéric Temps.
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A 12-day movie madness extravaganza starting with the World premiere of Fabrice Eboué’s wacky and aptly titled Barbaque (Tough Meat in plain English) and culminating with Benny Chan’s final film Raging Fire, starring Martial Arts star Donnie Yen.
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125 screenings, 3 International premieres, 3 European premieres, 21 french premieres, a special programme curated by multi-award winning British director Lynne Ramsay, a  repertory screening of René Clair’s 1925 silent comedy fantasy film Phantom of the Moulin Rouge shown in a brand new restoration and accompanied live on piano by renowned film preservationist Serge Bromberg, a great many unruly guests… such as absurdist Belgian animators Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar. The A Town Called Panic filmmakers are back at the festival with their latest adventure fantasy comedy romp, Les grandes vacances (Summer Holidays). Expect more delirious shenanigans from beloved characters Horse, Cowboy and Indian.
12 perfectly offbeat feature-length films have been selected this year for the Nouveau Genre/New Genre competition strand. Among the films that will vie for the Coveted Canal+ Grand Prize are Sono Sion's long-awaited Prisoners of the Ghostland, Rob Schroeder's hypnotic Ultrasound, Soi Cheang's Limbo (a throwback to the Category III Hong Kong films of the late 80s/early 90s), Bertrand Mandico's After Blue (a trippy post-apocalyptic western featuring an all-female cast), Erik Matti’s epic 3 hour-long On the job-The Missing 8, and Phil Tippett's 30 years in the making stop-motion opus Mad God… incidentally, the first animation film ever to be selected in competition.
Upon deliberation by a jury composed of industry professionals, the winning film will be acquired by French premium Pay-TV Canal+ for future broadcast. Films selected in competition are eligible for the Audience Choice Award as well.
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Central to both these sections’ mandate is bringing together audacious filmmakers and audiences seeking new voices and fresh perspectives far away from the dominant tentpole culture. ‘’The good news here is that the Pandemic has seen no shortage of original storytellers who continue to blaze into the vanguard of genre cinema’’ says Festival Director Frédéric Temps. Whether it’s Silviu Purcarete’s Somewhere in Palilula, a phantasmagoric 8½-esque extravaganza of the odd kind that was a work in progress for several years and released in its native Romania to devastating reviews, Vincent Le Port’s unsettling and arresting debut, Bruno Reidal, Confessions Of A Murderer (a chilling tale about a 17-year-old-boy at the turn of the 20th century that is ‘’tormented with ideas of murder’’), Fruit Chan’s wild and gruesome slapstick horror anthology Coffin Homes on Hong Kong’s real estate market madness or Adilkhan Yerzhanov’s Ulbolsyn (an at times dark, bizarre and yet ferociously entertaining tale of gender inequality, petty bureaucracy and corruption in the land of Borat), there’s plenty for rabid filmgoers to debate on.
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Canal+ Cinéma is also partnering with L’Étrange Festival to award the weirdest short cinematic works in the world – 60 cuttingedge oddities, divided into 8 thematic competitive blocks for lovers of the unusual’s sheer delight.
‘’From the festival’s very inception, short films have always been featured prominently’’ adds Coordinator and International programmer Marc Troonen. This year even more so. ‘’We are thrilled to host a tribute to French film production company Autour de Minuit which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. They’re best known for the Oscar-winning Logorama but, above all, they’ve opened up a whole new creative home for daring filmmakers (Nieto, Edouard Salier, Alberto Vazquez and the late Rosto) with aesthetically innovative projects, some of which were totally ahead of their time, and that’s what we want to celebrate.’’
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L’Étrange wouldn’t be L’Étrange Festival without its retrospectives and revival screenings of underrated or long-forgotten classics such as Kim Ki-young’s supremely bizarro Woman Chasing the Butterfly of Death, Magnum Force and Hang ‘Em High director Ted Post’s unsettling The Baby and Michael Synek’s rarely seen Die Toten Fische, an eerie Kafkaesque tale of a desperate man (played by none other than Austrian Actor Erwin Leder, Angst’s unforgettable maniacal killer) who roams along a river and finds peculiar things in boiling pits of sulfur.
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Among other lesser-known classics showcased this year are A geisha’s salary (1961), Elegant Beast (1962) and Temple of the Wild Geese (1962), 3 late melodramatic masterpieces of uber- prolific director Yûzô Kawashima (he made a total of 51 films in 19 years). A true maverick, tireless experimenter and a major influence on Vengeance Is Mine director Shohei Imamura, Kawashima is the missing link between the classical studio-oriented Japanese cinema before the Pacific War and the turbulent New Wave of the 1960s.
Two special programs will also highlight iconic works from auteurs on the fringe Atsushi Yamatoya and Fred Halsted. ‘’What is interesting is that both have a reputation of cult filmmakers and yet their films have rarely been shown publicly in the past 25 years – which in the case of Halsted is even more mind-boggling, he’s the only gay porn director who has two films in the permanent film collection of the Museum of Modern Art’’ says Frédéric Temps.
An adult performer, a sex-radical, a legendary provocateur, Halsted above all was a self-taught director, an innovator who played by his own rules and whose films - while unabashedly hardcore - are just as radical in their form as those from revered avant-garde filmmakers Stan Brakhage, Hollis Frampton or Michael Snow.
As for Atsushi Yamatoya, ‘’plenty of jaw-dropping and head spinning will be had, guaranteed’’ says Marc Troonen. It all starts with Season of Betrayal, his debut film, a true stroke of brilliance that also left a deep impression on Koji Wakamatsu (for whom Yamatoya penned several scripts, among which Chronicle of an Affair). Next are the surrealistic and utterly bizarre pink films Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands, The Pistol that Sprouted Hair and Trapped in Lust, a deliciously demented roman porno re-imagining of Seijun Suzuki’s seminal Branded to Kill featuring a creepy ventriloquist dummy hitman.
To quote what Naked Lunch writer William Burroughs wrote about Halsted’s L.A. Plays Itself, we ‘’recommend [both] programmes for all audiences, [they] break all stereotypes’’ says Frédéric Temps.
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