RETROSPECTIVE: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KURJA POLT!
Blake Edwards, US, 1968, DCP, 99′
The great masters of fusing slapstick and satire, Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers, skewer Hollywood snobbery in this on-target, behind-the-scenes lampoon of Tinseltown and the pinnacle of the Pink Panther team’s combined comedic genius. Opening film
Jacques Becker, FR, 1960, DCP, 131′
Five resilient and resourceful men are engineering a daring prison break, digging a hole to freedom inside their Parisian prison cell. Becker’s deeply humanistic and relentlessly physical tour de force is a suspenseful prison-break drama, masterfully shot and timed to breath-taking perfection. Closing film
Peter Watkins, UK, 1964, DCP, 72′
The re-enactment of the Battle of Culloden in seemingly authentic newsreel form is not only a landmark of TV and documentary history, but an enraged death cry of the ruthlessly suppressed and forcibly expelled Highland clans, as filmed by the radical pacifist Peter Watkins (Punishment Park).
Bryan Forbes, UK, 1964, 35mm, 121′
The unsettling cinematography and the ominous setting of a Victorian house build the chilling atmosphere of this absolute gem of slow burning psychological tension, in which a medium convinces her downtrodden husband to kidnap a wealthy industrialist’s child so she can help the police solve the crime.
František Vláčil, CZ, 1967, DCP, 160′
A grimly poetic depiction of a feud between two rival medieval clans and with that, of a brutal transformation of a naive girl into a passionate, defiant heroine. Based on the ballad-like prose of Vladislav Vančura, this stylistically outstanding and utterly unique medieval epic is a milestone of Czech cinema.
Minoru Kawasaki, JP, 2005, Digibeta, 85′
If they were giving out medals for the ultimate cult classics of the new millennium, Minoru Kawasaki and his surreal low-budget reinventions of the venerable kaiju tradition Executive Koala, Calamari Wrestler, Crab Goalkeeper and Monster Seafood Wars would take home the gold, the silver, the bronze…and the podium!
Norbert Pfaffenbichler, AT, 2023, DCP, 82′
After he found and lost the Kid in the concrete underground maze of 2551.01, the man in the monkey mask returns and descends even deeper into the belly of the monster. There are no taboos in the grotesque underground realm of Pfaffenbichler’s trilogy, which crosses all borders, especially those of good taste.
Jonas Govaerts, BE, 2022, DCP, 88′
Shot almost entirely from the inside of the car, this fast pace film banging with 90s trance and euro house is an over-the-top celebration of the lawlessness only genre cinema can afford. Be it wild chases, animal attacks, grenades, or straight on tripping, the viewer becomes the passenger in the backseat on this crazy ride through Antwerp.
Quentin Dupieux, FR, 2022, DCP, 80′
The newest feature by the French absurdist-in-chief Quentin Dupieux is a nostalgic, light hearted and giggle-inducing nod to old school superheroes and 90s vibes. It follows a group of spandex-clad Power Rangers lookalikes, each named after an evil cigarette ingredient.
Natalia Sinelnikova, DE, 2022, DCP, 93′
Full of suspense and dark humour, and expertly shifting between social satire, deadpan dystopia and an absurd thriller, Sinelnikova’s incredibly confident graduation film and feature debut depicts fear as a self-reproducing system, using the high-rise as a Ballardian study of society at large.
Dean Fleischer Camp, US, 2021, DCP, 90′
The brainchild of director Dean Fleischer Camp and comedian, writer and actor Jenny Slate, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On became an unexpected internet sensation when it made its YouTube debut in 2010. Now, Marcel comes to the big screen in a live-action/stop-motion feature that’s just the cutest and most soul-warming film you’ve ever seen.
Ana Lily Amirpour, US, 2021, DCP, 106′
Ana Lily Amirpour’s newest film, set in the neon-soaked underbelly of New Orleans, is a bizarre and sweet fairy tale for adults, flirting with B-movie aesthetics and filled with amusing twists and turns, including the slowest chase sequence in cinema to date.
Fabrice du Welz, BE/FR, 2021, DCP, 98′
The premise is simple. There is a well-off family. There is the father, a successful novelist, struggling with a writer’s block. And there is the imposter. The latest creation of the Belgian master of arthouse genre fare Fabrice du Welz is a slow-burning thriller filled to the brim with tension, lies and desires.
Oscar Harding, UK/US, 2022, DCP, 75′
When filmmaker Oscar Harding’s grandfather passed away in the rural English county of Somerset, his family inherited an extraordinary video tape – a feature-length home movie from neighbour Charles Carson, which can best be described as “Monty Python meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”.
FOCUS: WESTERN POLITICS
Hugo Fregonese, US, 1951, DCP, 76′
With Apache Drums, Argentinian Hollywood outsider Hugo Fregonese and brilliant creative producer Val Lewton created a seemingly classical Western of their time, but in fact a bold and unique tour de force, filled with hidden political subversion.
Alexandre O. Philippe, US, 2021, DCP, 76′
The Taking scrutinizes how a site located on sovereign Navajo land came to embody the fantasy of the “Old West,” replete with self-perpetuating falsehoods, and why it continues to hold mythic significance in the global psyche.
MINI-FOCUS: HONG KONG CULT CLASSICS
Jimmy Wang Yu, HK/TW, 1976, 35mm, 83′
A beloved wuxia cult classic and grindhouse masterpiece whose outlandish tournament of kung-fu masters with wacky skills influenced everything and everyone, from Tarantino’s Kill Bill to the video-game classics Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat.