Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Vanguard's 2014 Programme Seduces and Thrills

Vanguarders and Vanguardians, the time is here at last--Vanguard has returned!

The Toronto International Film Festival's Vanguard programme seduces audiences with a sensory experience full of mystery and boundary--busting madness, with bold international films that walk the razor’s edge. International programmer Colin Geddes brings together the work of some of the most audacious auteurs in the world to present a cinematic adventure that takes audiences to the dark, dangerous places that both unnerve yet intrigue them.

“The Vanguard programme presents the intersection between genre and arthouse to showcase intrepid works that fearlessly defy convention,” said Geddes. “Daring audiences who have grown to love the extreme cinema of Midnight Madness will definitely be seduced by the subversive sophistication of Vanguard.”

The 2014 roster includes master of extreme cinema Takashi Miike (Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai, 13 Assassins), fantastical image manipulator Dave McKean (MirrorMask) , French fear jockey Fabrice Du Welz (Calvaire, Vinyan), the cleverly unsettling Peter Strickland (Berberian Sound Studio), and the wickedly charming duo of Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala (Kern).

Fabrice Du Welz, France/Belgium. North American Premiere

When Gloria and Michel meet on a dating site, nothing suggests the destructiv and murderous passion that will be born of their crazy love. Alleluia is inspired by a 1947 article about nurse Martha Beck and swindler Raymond Fernandez, who became involved in a deadly, tragic affair.

The Duke of Burgundy
Peter Strickland, United Kingdom. World Premiere.

Peter Strickland’s eagerly anticipated follow up to Berberian Sound Studio, screened in the 2012 Vanguard programme, and Katalin Varga is a gorgeously dark melodrama following two women who test the limits of their unsettlingly intense relationship. Starring Sidse Babett Knudsen (Borgen) and Chiara d’Anna.

Goodnight Mommy (Ich seh, Ich seh) 
Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, Austria. North American Premiere

 In the heat of the summer in an isolated house in the countryside between woods and corn fields, 10-year-old twins wait for their mother. When she returns with her head wrapped in bandages after surgery, nothing is as it was before. Stern and distant now, she shuts the family off from the outside world. Starting to doubt that this woman is actually their mother, the boys are determined to find the truth by any means.

Gerard Johnson, United Kingdom. International Premiere

Michael Logan is an anti-hero for our times: a natural predator, a high-functioning addict , and corrupt police officer. But his dark world is evolving : a recent influx of ruthless Albanian gangsters is threatening to change London’s criminal landscape. Michael’s razor sharp instincts have always kept him one step ahead, but now his increasingly self-destructive behavior and the sheer brutality of the new gang lords send Michael spiraling into a descent of fear and self-doubt.

Dave McKean, United Kingdom. World Premiere

Renowned artist and filmmaker Dave McKean (MirrorMask) brings his distinctive blend of live action and gorgeously wrought animation to this dreamlike reverie about four people--Grant, Christine, Dean and Freya--whose long weekend in an isolated house by the sea brings up old resentments and the life of a dead child is revisited in a series of strange dreams.

Over Your Dead Body
Takashi Miike, Japan. International Premiere

A star, Miyuki Goto (Ko Shibasaki) plays Oiwa, the protagonist in a new play based on the ghost story, Yotsuya Kaidan. She pulls some strings to get her lover, Kosuke Hasegawa (Ebizo Ichikawa) cast in the play , even though he 's a relatively unknown actor. Other performers Rio Asahina (Miho Nakanishi) and Jun Suzuki (Hideaki Ito) lust after Miyuki. Off stage the cast's possessive love and obsessions exist as reality. Trapped between the play and reality, the cast's feelings for each other are amplified. When it becomes clear that love is not meant to be both on and off stage, love turns in to a grudge and crosses the blurred line between reality and fantasy.

Shrew’s Nest (Musarañas)
Juanfer Andrés and Esteban Roel, Spain. World Premiere

Spain, 1950s. Monste’s agoraphobia keeps her locked in a sinister apartment in Madrid and her only link to reality is the lit tle sister she sacrificed her youth to raise . But one day, a reckless young neighbour, Carlos, falls down the stairwell and drags himself to their door. Someone has entered the shrew’s nest... and perhaps he’ll never leave.

Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, USA. World Premiere

A young man in a personal tailspin flees the US to Italy, where he sparks up a romance with a girl harbouring a dark, primordial secret in this edgy, romantic drama with a supernatural twist.

They Have Escaped 
JP Valkeapää, Finland. North American Premiere

A boy and a girl meet at a custody center for youth with difficulties . The boy has come to serve his obligatory civil service. The girl is one of the youths in custody, and she is constantly in trouble, with a fire inside her and a lust for life t hat can't be quashed or controlled. The boy becomes infatuated with the girl. He is a quiet one; a stutterer. But there is a fire inside him as well. Rules, laws, punishment; the shackles of the hostile environment with no understanding around them can be broken. They steal a car a nd flee together. Thus begins a journey with endless escapes.

Waste Land
Pieter Van Hees, Belgium. World Premiere

Leo Woeste is a homicide investigator living with his girlfriend Kathleen and her five-year-old son, Jack. Kathleen gets pregnant unexpectedly just as Leo must solve his most bizarre case to date: the ritual murder of a young Congolese man, which may or may not involve Leo’s hedonistic new colleague, Johnny Rimbaud. As the case’s complexity mounts by the minute, Leo is pulled away from Kathleen and his role as a father, and heads deeper and deeper into the Waste Land.

The World of Kanako (Kawaki)
Tetsuya Nakashima, Japan International Premiere

When beautiful straight-A high school student Kanako goes missing, her mother asks ex-husband Akikazu—a drifting, irresponsible former cop—to find their daughter. He embarks on a desperate search in the hope of reuniting his family by any means necessary. But as his investigation progresses, Akikazu starts to discover the darkness that lies behind his daughter’s impeccable façade. Clue by clue, revelation by revelation, he starts his descent into the hellish underworld of Kanako’s secret life...

Purchase Festival ticket packages online 24 hours a day at tiff.net/festival, by phone from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET daily at 416.599.TIFF or 1.888.599.843

Or visit the Gupta Box Office in person from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET daily at TIFF Bell Lightbox, Reitman Square, 350 King Street West until August 20 (while quantities last).

The 39th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 4 to 14, 2014.

Social Media:
#Vanguard #TIFF14
and, of course, right here at the Official Vanguard Programme Blog.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Farewell for Now, Sweet Vanguarders!

Here, Joe Swanberg represents the Muse Calliope.

On the occasion of closing of the Vanguard Programme Blog for the time being, we commissioned our own Sian Melton to write a series of interlinked haiku. ~The Editor

We had a great time
This TIFF was one of the best
Countless memories

We made friends in line
 We all said "arrrr" like pirates
And we skipped on sleep

So many good films
Especially from Vanguard
 Duh, obviously

This year, Joe Swanberg
our unofficial mascot
Yeah, he's really cool

 So until next year
These bloggers say "bye!"
 Broccoli hammer.

"Broccoli hammer," indeed. Thank you all and see you soon!

Vanguard, Sketched!

Jodorowsky's Dune

At his Tumblr page, Sketchy Musings, Francis Foster sketched images from films he saw at TIFF this year, including these four from the Vanguard Programme. Click through images from (and reviews of) all the films he saw at TIFF, as well as daily sketches.


The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears

The Fake

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Acquired Vanguard Films, High Five!

So TIFF is officially over. Womp, womp, womp. Yesterday was spent in denial--either sleeping or cleaning apartments or tying up any festival loose ends. But today, Tuesday, we all have to face the harsh reality that it's really over. Colin even cleaned his fridge; what is the world coming too?!

It's always bitter sweet when the Festival comes to an end, but we're quick to get excited again at the prospect of seeing some of our favourite Festival films out there in the world. So far, four of our Vanguard films were acquired either before or during the festival. Fingers crossed we won't have to wait too long before these ones hit the big (or small, depending on their distribution deal) screen.

Jeremy Saulnier's Blue Ruin was acquired by Radius - TWC for North American distribution after its premiere at Cannes and we couldn't be more excited for the rest of everyone see this deft, tense revenge story.

Alex van Warmerdam's Borgman was also picked up after Cannes by the always awesome Drafthouse Films for U.S. distribution--a perfect fit for the disturbingly dark and hilarious film, if we do say so ourselves.

Magnolia Pictures was wise to snatch up U.S. rights to Ti West's The Sacrament--news that we're sure had Ti West fans around the world rejoicing.

And if a terrifying docu-style movie about a cult isn't enough for you, IFC Midnight acquired the North American rights to Zack Parker's Proxy--a chilling, powerful thriller centred on a pregnant woman. (Best idea ever, but maybe also the scariest: screening a double feature of The Sacrament and Proxy.)

Lastly, even though it was technically in the Wavelengths Programme, we'll always love Ben Wheatley and we were pleased as punch to hear the psychedelic mind-trip A Field In England was also picked up for US distribution by Drafthouse Films last spring.

Congratulations to all of these Vanguard films and the rest of the films that were purchased during the Festival. There are still many films we're hoping gain distribution and we're sure you feel the same. We'll keep our fingers crossed if you do too.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

SAPI: Filipino Supernatural Threats!

With the last screening of Sapi today, you might want to brush up on your supernatural threats of the Philippines. Sure it might be all a media hoax, but still, who wants to be licked to death?

First up, spirit possession and soul loss. If you are placed in a frightening or startling situation, your soul could be knocked right out of you. Even more, if you have been rude or thoughtless or malicious or have just run across the wrong mangkukulam or bruha, (practitioner of black magic), you can get the whammy put on you and end up possessed. Spirit possession is a big problem.

In 2011, 56 students were possessed at Compostela National High School in the Philippines. (And this CNN article reporting on it is really asking for some whammy). In June, 2013, 22 elementary school students exhibited signs of spirit possession.

School administrators have suspended  classes in an elementary school in Mandaluyong City on Thursday after "evil spirits" possessed 20 students.
Report said some of the female students of Isaac Lopez Elementary  School on Barangay Vergara began yelling while others fainted inside the classroom.
Teachers rushed to the scene and tried to restrain the "possessed" students from hurting themselves, the report added.
After calming down, four of the students told the teachers that they saw images of a mother and a child. They also saw an image of a man in black clothes.
Due to the commotion, school officials decided to suspend classes for the whole day.
They had apparently been playing a divination game beforehand, but school principal Loida Matic reports that they were faking possession. Still, even if you feel you have a good hold on your soul,  be careful out there. The spirits of the jealous dead and malicious spirits (Hantu Demon) might just be thinking of moving in. Of course, there are several other supernatural threats to be aware of.

Manananggal in flight via here.

Dila:  A dila won't possess you, but it will lick you to death. Yes, to death. It is a tongue spirit and you know where it comes from? Through the floor. Possession isn't looking so bad, now, is it?

Membabarang: Female black magic practitioner who will make insects come out of you. (Note: Do not annoy a membabarang).

Manananggal: Sometimes also called or considered an aswang, a manananggal is a spirit, usually of a woman who died in childbirth, whose upper body flies around on wings, with viscera dangling, while her lower body remains in place as a roost. Manananggal hide out on the roofs of women in childbirth or pregnant women and try to eat the babies/fetuses by sticking their very long tongues through chinks in the roof and into the woman. Then they suck out the baby/fetus. So, ladies, keep your roofs patched!

Tiyanak: And also, you should probably not investigate any baby's crying you might here. Tiayanak are ghosts of dead babies who pretend to be cute, helpless babies left behind in the forest. Then they eat you. Of course, if you can't resist the pitiful cries of a baby, always keep a silver spike on hand for dealing with any tiyanak you encounter.

So, yeah. Be careful out there!
SAPI Final Screening:
Sunday, Sept 15th, 3:00 PM SCOTIABANK 14

The 2013 Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film goes to: ASPHALT WATCHES

Asphalt Watches wins the 2013 Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film and we at Vanguard couldn't be happier. Congratulations to Seth Scriver and Shayne Ehman!

FINAL SCREENING: We Gotta Get Out Of This Place

Today is the last screening of Simon and Zeke Hawkins, We Gotta Get Out Of This Place. 

My goodness, that was intense.
Sunday, Sept 15th, 9:00 PM SCOTIABANK 10