The Paris International Fantastic Film Festival (PIFFF) celebrates its 12th anniversary from December 6 to 12, 2023, promising an exceptional edition that pushes the boundaries of fantastic cinema. Let's take a look at the highlights of this captivating cinematic week.
The Opening Ceremony, scheduled for Wednesday December 6 at 8pm, will feature Nicolas Cage, undisputed internet icon and protagonist of an all-consuming passion. Renowned director Kristoffer Borgli brings us a rocky tale under the A24 banner, exploring Cage's complex relationship with his image and career. "A Massive Golden Talent" promises a fascinating dive into the actor's media universe.
The highlight of this year's edition comes on Tuesday December 12 at 8pm with the Closing Ceremony, featuring Magnus Martens' "There's Something in the Barn". After an exceptional career spanning Norway and the United States, Martens brings us his culmination of Christmasploitation and festive horror. An explosive conclusion to a thrilling week.
The poster for this 12th edition of the PIFFF, proudly unveiled, encourages moviegoers never to trust appearances. It symbolizes the festival's unique blend of past and present, familiar places and distant horizons. Every year, the Max Linder Panorama becomes the scene of sparkling imaginary chaos, where anything can happen. See you December 6-12 for an unforgettable cinematic experience.
The PIFFF, born of the cinematic passion of a team of visionaries in 2011, has become a must-see for fans of fantasy, science fiction and horror films from all over the world. Its eclectic programming, ranging from cult films to independent productions, offers an exceptional showcase for emerging and established filmmakers.
The festival goes beyond simple film screenings, creating an immersive atmosphere with meetings, Q&As, exhibitions and special events. Awards recognize excellence in various categories, making the PIFFF a springboard for emerging talent.
The 2023 edition of the PIFFF will take place in a particularly quiet atmosphere, after several years marked by organizational challenges. The selection process, involving the screening of over three hundred feature films, results in a meticulous program of twenty-six features and sixteen shorts, including twenty-two French premieres.
The dedicated festival team, made up of volunteers with a passion for fantasy cinema, share their love for the genre and their desire to discover films that might not otherwise have the chance to be shown in cinemas.
This year's PIFFF offers a diverse line-up, from Godzilla Minus On in an exceptional preview to the latest opus starring Nicolas Cage. Cult screenings, spider phenomena in Vermines and a closing gory Christmas film promise to satisfy all tastes at the Max Linder Panorama. Short films are judged by a jury of professionals, underlining the festival's commitment to promoting emerging talent in all its forms.
Beyond its impact on the film scene, the PIFFF actively engages with the community. Workshops, masterclasses and special events educate and inspire the next generation of fantastic filmmakers. The PIFFF Festival in Paris is much more than a film event. It's an annual celebration that unites fantasy film enthusiasts from around the world, providing a stimulating platform for exploring new artistic and narrative frontiers. Through its successive editions, the PIFFF continues to flourish, consolidating its place as a must-attend event for all those who love to plunge into the extraordinary through the seventh art.
Loop (Japan, 2023)
Director: Junta Yamaguchi
Screenplay: Makoto Ueda
Photography: Kazunari Kawagoe
Music: Koji Takimoto
Production: Takahiro Otsuki
Interprètes : Riko Fujitani, Manami Honjô, Gôta Ishida, Yoshimasa Kondô...
Distribution: Art House Films
Synopsis: A few snowflakes fall on the cozy Fujiya Hotel in the village of Kibune. There's no time to dwell on this bucolic splendor: staff and guests alike are trying to escape the two-minute time loop in which they're trapped.
Note: Junta Yamaguchi had captured the hearts of festival-goers around the world with Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes, a model of delirious high concept masterfully executed, with no budget, with enthusiasm. At first glance, En boucle seems to be based on a similar storyline, revolving around the same period of time. The script, once again by Makoto Ueda, deploys a narrative inventiveness that dispels any hint of repetition. The camera exploits every nook and cranny of its fabulous setting, and the rhythm pretends to establish a routine, only to overturn it. The characters are animated by a contagious curiosity and voluntarism, racing against the clock with gusto. Beyond the temporal gimmick, the pair's films stand out for their total jubilation.
Halfway home (Hungary, 2022)
Director: Isti Madarász
Screenplay: Attila Veres
Photography: Gábor Garai
Music: Atti Pacsay
Production: András Muhi, Gábor Ferenczy
Performers: Máté Borsi-Balog Máté Borsi-Balogh, Péter Bárnai, Teréz Csombor, Márta Lídia Danis...
For sale : National Film Institute Hungary
Synopsis: Krisztián, an indolent young loser, lands a job in a morgue. A strange task awaits him: helping souls in transit to settle their affairs on Earth before the big departure. No sooner has he done so than his almost-girlfriend, Ági, joins the ranks of the deceased.
Note: Boy meets girl, boy is stood up, girl dies and retains a deep sense of animosity towards her afterlife suitor, boy tries to make up for it as best he can. In his previous feature, Loop (2016), Isti Madarász trapped his main character in a time loop, where this anti-hero seed saw the opportunity to save his partner from a brutal end. This time, the theme of a second chance is used to irrigate a fantastic comedy that is luminous despite the omnipresence of death, and joyful beyond the background of social misery that appears in dotted lines. Halfway Home merely borrows its decorum from Bondy tales, invents cinematically enjoyable rules and obstacles, and composes an afterlife as offbeat as its approach to the romcom.
Last Straw (USA, 2023)
Directed by Alan Scott Neal
Screenplay: Taylor Sardoni
Photography: Andrey Nikolaev
Music: Alan Palomo (Neon Indian)
Production: Dane Eckerle, Daniel Brandt, Cole Eckerle, Michael Giannone, Phil Keefe
Interprètes : Jessica Belkin, Sebastian Delascasas, Jack DiFalco, Michael Giannone...
For sale : Blue Finch Films
Synopsis: Between the local punks who have to be put in their place, the sardonic cook and a waiter who's a little too clingy, Nancy has to put up with her job at her father's dinner party. While she's working the night shift alone, a group of masked individuals attack the establishment.
Note: From the outset, the characterization of the main character, perfectly played by Jessica Belkin, makes its mark and shifts situations with acuity. Neither sympathetic nor unsympathetic, capable of arousing empathy in one scene and exasperation in the next, Nancy doesn't cling to any stereotype. The camera never leaves her side, sparing nothing of her alienating routine or her managerial outbursts. The cinematography coats this set-up in cold, metallic hues. As night falls, the codes of the siege film and home invasion take their toll, but Nancy holds the helm, and Last Straw retains its singularity of tone and treatment. There'll be blood, confrontation and revelations, it'll be chaotic, nerve-wracking and you'll be left wanting more.
Late night with the devil (Australia / United Arab Emirates, 2023)
Director: Cameron Cairnes, Colin Cairnes
Screenplay: Cameron Cairnes, Colin Cairnes
Photography: Matthew Temple
Music: Roscoe James Irwin, Glenn Richards
Production: David Dastmalchian, Derek Dauchy, Mat Govoni, Roy Lee, John Molloy, Steven Schneider, Adam White
Performers: David Dastmalchian, Laura Gordon, Ian Bliss, Fayssal Bazzi...
Sales : AGC Studio
Synopsis: Jack Delroy is desperate to find the one thing his entertainment show lacks to outdo the competition. On Halloween night, one segment follows another, and the mood on the set starts to get seriously out of hand, right in the middle of a live show.
Note: In The Bogeyman, Dune or James Gunn's Suicide Squad, David Dastmalchian is just passing through, but those few minutes are always enough for him to steal the film. Suffice it to say that the expectations placed on a work in which he stars are enormous. Joy, miracles, the spontaneous and simultaneous delivery of several thousand pregnant women: Late Night with the Devil lives up to his aura as a tortured evil elf. Not only is the actor given free rein to eat up the screen, but the very concept of the film, an ingenious cross between mockumentary and found footage, creates a fascinating device capable of playing with our perception of events and the codes of period re-enactment.
Moon garden (United States, 2022)
Director: Ryan Stevens Harris
Screenplay: Ryan Stevens Harris
Photography: Wolfgang Meyer
Music: Michael Deragon
Production: John Michael Elfers
Interprètes : Haven Lee Harris, Augie Duke, Morgana Ignis, Brionne Davis...
Sales : Oscilloscope Laboratories
Synopsis: Emma is five years old. She loves it when her mother sings Without You. She doesn't like it when her father gets angry. When an accident sends her into a coma, the little girl must face a disturbing phantasmagorical universe to regain her world.
Note: Evil spirits will judge Ryan Stevens Harris to be an odd father to inflict such an ordeal on his own daughter. However, a discerning eye will initially defuse any threat of future trauma for the very young actress, and will delight in the treasures of imagination revealed on screen in a formal kaleidoscope worthy of an alchemist's work. Shot with 35mm film scraps and lenses from another era, with a carnivalesque art direction cobbled together with passion, and creatures embodied with all the necessary excess, Moon Garden is carried away by unconditional faith in its story and its youthful star. It's an ideal of cinema, between the experimental and the linear, between the bis and the auteur vision.
Stopmotion (Great Britain, 2023)
Director: Robert Morgan
Screenplay: Robin King, Robert Morgan
Photography: Léo Hinstin
Music: Lola de la Mata
Production: Alain de la Mata, Noémie Devide, Christopher Granier-Deferre
Interprètes : Aisling Franciosi, Stella Gonet, Tom York, Caoilinn Springall...
Sales : Goodfellas
Synopsis: Ella works in the demanding field of stop-motion animation. She works in the invasive shadow of her mother, a star of the discipline who is now incapable of bringing a project to fruition. An unfortunate event pushes Ella towards another form of creation.
Note: For over twenty years, Robert Morgan has been creating some of the most nightmarish stop-motion shorts ever filmed. Slimy creatures fresh from the underworld rub shoulders with crippled, freshly mutilated and enucleated men; the fluidity of the animation delivers a unique form of horrific ecstasy. This mise en abyme of his practice surprises, disorients and stimulates more than reason. Morgan's reflections on his art are disturbingly honest, and his confrontations between live-action and animated images are highly relevant. In the delicate role of the filmmaker's alter ego, Aisling Franciosi delivers a performance as intense as in The Nightingale, which is no mean feat.
The sacrifice game (USA, 2023)
Director: Jennifer Wexler
Screenplay: Sean Redlitz, Jennifer Wexler
Photography: Alexandre Bussière
Music: Mario Sévigny
Production: Heather Buckley, Todd Slater, Jennifer Wexler, Yannick Sadler
Interprètes : Mena Massoud, Olivia Scott Welch, Chloë Levine, Gus Kenworthy...
For sale : Red Sea Media Inc.
Synopsis: In the early 1970s, during the Christmas vacations, Charles Manson emulators invite themselves into a girls' boarding school, intent on sacrificing innocent students to their demon of choice. Things don't go so smoothly.
Note: Jennifer Wexler's debut feature, The Ranger (2018), already offered aficionados of the discipline a fight to the death between a figure of Evil, a priori indestructible, and young people with unsuspected resources. The years separating this first effort from The Sacrifice Game have in no way diminished the director's cruelty and viciousness. Her direction, on the other hand, has gained in confidence and icy beauty, while her sense of rhythm has been boosted by competition-grade amphetamines. The rigor of the production leaves the field open to jouissive performances, a particular art of going off the rails, not to mention first-rate brutality. The horror films of the 1970s have a fine bastard in their hands.
Humanist vampire seeks willing suicide victim (Canada, 2023)
Directed by Ariane Louis-Seize
Screenplay: Christine Doyon, Ariane Louis-Seize
Photography: Shawn Pavlin
Music: Pierre-Philippe Côté
Production: Irène Bessone, Anaëlle Béglet, Line Sander Egede, Jeanne-Marie Poulain
Interprètes : Sara Montpetit, Félix-Antoine Bénard, Steve Laplante, Sophie Cadieux...
Distribution : Wayna Pitch
France release date: 20/03/24
Note : ike so many teenagers before her, Sasha has a hard time satisfying her parents' aspirations. In this case, the young vampire refuses to kill for food. Her encounter with a suicidal boy her own age may offer her a way out.
Synopsis: The vampire, like the zombie, has suffered from being overexploited on the silver screen, from having its metaphorical substance squeezed out of it. There's no need to point the finger at the Twilight saga - everyone knows it's all its fault. Just when all hope of renewal seems lost forever, along comes an unidentified object with a fabulous title, capable of bringing back the emotions of a first time. The codes of bloodsucking films answer the call, undergoing a skilful aesthetic and narrative twist to embrace a carefully simmered modernity of treatment. From the art direction to the cinematography, from the dialogue to the restrained performance of the young actors, everything concurs in moving hackneyed issues out of their comfort zone with tenderness and grace.
Vermines (France, 2023)
Directed by: Sébastien Vaniček
Screenplay: Florent Bernard, Sébastien Vaniček
Photo: Alexandre Jamin
Music: Douglas Cavanna
Production: Harry Tordjman
Interprètes : Théo Christine, Lisa Nyarko, Jérôme Niel, Finnegan Oldfield...
Distribution: Tandem Films
French release date: 27/12/2023
Synopsis: Between two shoe sales in his apartment building, Kaleb maintains his fascination for insects. His latest catch, a spider of undetermined origin, soon reveals his predatory nature.
Note: Arachnophobes, take the first plane to the other side of the world, change your marital status and start a new life. Sébastien Vaniček's first feature film doesn't just play on the anguish of web-weaving creatures, it also churns out unprecedented nightmarish images, sometimes captured on the fly from an acrobatic shot, wrapped in a sound design that will make you check to see if, by any chance, your seatmate isn't already at the mercy of their hairy paws. The script, co-written by Florent Bernard, trembles with the splendid energy of despair, and the desire to throw everything away and start again from scratch. An angry, messy, raging encore, with a trembling hand on the pulse of the times.
Zanox (Hungary, 2022)
Director: Gábor Benö Baranyi
Screenplay: Gábor Benö Baranyi
Photo: Gajdics Dávid
Music: Milán Hodován
Production: Zsuzsi Gyurin, Dániel Molnár
Performers: Elõd Bálint Elõd Bálint, Lili Erdõs, András Hatházi, Kati Sólyom...
For sale : National Film Institute Hungary
Synopsis: On the last day of the school year, Misi realizes that her experimental anti-anxiety drug, mixed with homemade moonshine, gives her the ability to travel into the past. Not far from the student festivities and her true love, a killer is on the prowl.
Note: Ever since American comedy lost its teen-movie recipe in its 2010s puberty crisis, the world has been looking for new exaltations of the thankless age. Few bookmakers would have bet on Hungary, and yet Gábor Benö Baranyi's debut feature accomplishes the miracle of renewing this genre and that of the time paradox film. His secret? Start from the social margins, push his protagonist to discover the rules of his device, douse them in gasoline and strike a match with a big, demented grin. Zanox skilfully plays the generational and cultural divide card, without ever forgetting the playful nature of its concept. The new Ferris Bueller lives in an Eastern European dormitory town and cheats at exams thanks to his anxyos.
Out of competition
Dario Argento Panico (Great Britain, 2023)
Director: Simone Scafidi
Screenplay: Manlio Gomarasca, Davide Pulici, Simone Scafidi
Photography: Patrizio Sacco
Music: Alessandro Baldessari
Production: Giada Mazzoleni
Performers: Dario Argento, Asia Argento Dario Argento, Asia Argento, Guillermo del Toro, Gaspar Noé...
Sales : Mediawan
Synopsis: The maestro retires to a renowned hotel to write his new film. Simone Scafidi takes the opportunity to interview him, his close friends, collaborators and aficionados, about his incredible filmography, its evolution and its enduring impact on the seventh art.
Note: From Jean-Baptiste Thoret's books to the specialized press, Dario Argento's work has been recognized for its true worth, even in its most vibrant excesses. Simone Scafidi's documentary adds its weight to the edifice, suggesting in its own delicate way that not everything has necessarily been said. The chronological parade of Argento's works, while seemingly scholastic, is constantly challenged by mischievous biographical contributions, well-known but elegantly revisited anecdotes, and head-on confrontations of the most polemical aspects of his films. From the very last second, Dario Argento Panico gives you a burning desire to (re)watch the entire filmography of this master of terror.
Dream scenario (United States, 2023)
Directed by Kristoffer Borgli
Screenplay: Kristoffer Borgli
Photography: Benjamin Loeb
Music: Owen Pallett
Production: Ari Aster, Tyler Campellone, Jacob Jaffke, Lars Knudsen
Interprètes : Nicolas Cage, Julianne Nicholson, Michael Cera, Tim Meadows...
Distribution : Metropolitan FilmExport
French release date: 27/12/23
Synopsis: Paul Matthews, an ordinary teacher, finds his life turned upside down when he starts appearing in the dreams of millions of people. Paul becomes something of a media phenomenon, but his new-found fame soon takes an unexpected turn...
Note: The Internet feeds an all-consuming passion for Nicolas Cage and his excesses, an infinite source of memes whose "Nicolas Cage Losing His Shit" video remains to this day an unsurpassed summit. A number of feature films have already tried their hand at putting this infatuation into abyme, culminating recently in Tom Gormican's Un Talent en or Massif, a kind of fan service made into a film, inevitably a little sad. Under the banner of the mythical A24 company, Kristoffer Borgli, author of the acclaimed Sick of Myself, manages to crack the actor's code. This incredible tale explores Nicolas Cage's relationship with his image, his view of his career and his reappropriation of this media phenomenon.
Godzilla minus one (Japan, 2023)
Director: Takashi Yamazaki
Screenplay: Takashi Yamazaki
Photography: Kôzô Shibasaki
Music: Naoki Satô
Production: Minami Ichikawa, Kazuaki Kishida, Keiichiro Moriya, Kenji Yamada
Performers: Ryunosuke Kamiki, Minami Hamabe, Yuki Yamada, Munetaka Aoki...
Distribution: Piece of Magic Entertainment
Synopsis: Japan is just recovering from World War II when a gigantic peril emerges off the coast of Tokyo. Koichi, a kamikaze deserter traumatized by his first confrontation with Godzilla, sees an opportunity to redeem his wartime conduct.
Note: Following in the footsteps of Hideaki Anno's Shin Godzilla was no mean feat, but this new film by Takashi Yamazaki fares better than honorably. Set in a Japan in the throes of political, social and moral reconstruction, it is told from the point of view of a character consumed by his own shortcomings. It develops a fertile dialogue on the question of war, loyalty and commitment, shaken by scenes of gloriously spectacular mass destruction. More than ever the son of the atom and a prehistoric resurgence that's come to kick our asses, Godzilla shines with a thousand radioactive lights in some of the most impressive and striking cinematic bravura seen on the big screen this year. May he wreak havoc until the end of all civilization.
The coffee table (Spain, 2022)
Directed by: Caye Casas
Screenplay: Cristina Borobia, Caye Casas
Photography: Alberto Morago
Music: Carlos Cuevas, Ronen Geva
Production: Alhena Production, Apocalipsis Producciones, La Charito Films
Interprètes : David Pareja, Eduardo Antuña, Estefanía de los Santos, Itziar Castro...
Sales : MPM Premium
Synopsis: Maria and Jesus, young parents and old couple, exacerbate their marital tensions over the question of whether or not to buy an expensive coffee table. The matter is finally settled, and the piece of furniture finally takes pride of place in the home. All it needs is a screw.
Note: Having already passed through the PIFFF in 2017 with his brilliant Matar a Dios, Caye Casas isn't coming back to knit comforter covers trimmed with animal motifs. In absolute terms, you shouldn't say anything about his new film and let its frightening tragicomic darkness roll over you like an emotional combine. Just know that The Coffee Table takes a short-film argument, and stretches every dialogue, every situation to its extreme limit, with a precision and refinement worthy of the Cenobites in the Hellraiser saga. The actors, all monumental, bypass all the clichés of their character-functions and plunge headlong into this fascinating purgatory. Spain still has a lot to offer the genre...
There's something in the barn (Norway, Finland, 2023)
Director: Magnus Martens
Screenplay: Aleksander Kirkwood Brown
Photography: Mika Orasmaa
Music: Lasse Enersen
Production: Jorgen Rosenberg, Kjetil Omberg
Performers: Martin Starr, Amrita Achrita Martin Starr, Amrita Acharia, Jeppe Beck Laursen, Zoe Winther-Hansen...
Sales : Charades
Synopsis: Bill, his two children and their mother-in-law move to an isolated cottage in snowy Norwegian splendor. The parents force their enthusiasm, the daughter sulks about her lost friends and the son soon realizes the obvious: there's something in the barn.
Note: Magnus Martens leaves Norwegian television and cinema after fifteen years of loyal service, heading for the United States. He first worked on two episodes of the best season of Banshee, then moved to Marvel (Luke Cage, Agents of SHIELD), then to the Walking Dead extended universe. There's Something in the Barn is the culmination of his career, straddling his two identities and territories. The film joins the ranks of the likes of Krampus, Rare Exports and Violent Night, and endorses the technical term Christmasploitation: goracious horse-riding, where the snow is soaked in blood, but always in a festive spirit. The ideal Christmas entertainment for any self-respecting family of psychopaths.
Wake up (France, Canada, 2023)
Directed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl Whissell
Screenplay: Alberto Marini
Photography: Leo Hinstin
Music: Arnau Bataller
Production: Laurent Baudens, Julia Caldas, Yann Degay, Adrià Monés, Gaël Nouaille, Maud Petit, Barnaby Wass
Interprètes : Benny Opoku-Arthur, Kyle Scudder, Jacqueline Moré, Charlotte Stoiber...
For sale : Studio Canal
Synopsis: A group of activists break into a department store at night, with the aim of denouncing its environmental impact. The only people they meet are two security guards, one of whom is a handyman with, shall we say, major anger management problems.
Note: With Turbo Kid and Summer of 1984, the trio of François Simard, Anouk and Yoann-Karl Whissell refined the melancholy of the 1980s, transfiguring it into generous, nostalgic yet never passé objects. Alberto Marini cut his teeth with Paco Plaza, Jaume Balaguero and the most committed of the young Spanish guard. The directors and the screenwriter weren't necessarily destined to meet, but their meeting gave birth to this contemporary reworking of the slasher, determined to draw its bloody pin from a moribund game. The recipe is as simple as enucleation: don't let go of the genre's inherent nastiness until the very last second, treat your antagonist, torture and bring back the bittersweet fire.
When Evil Lurks (Argentina, 2023)
Director: Demián Rugna
Screenplay: Demián Rugna
Photography: Mariano Suárez
Music: Pablo Fuu
Production: Fernando Díaz, Emily Gotto, Roxana Ramos, Samuel Zimmerman
Performers: Ezequiel Rodríguez Ezequiel Rodríguez, Demián Salomón, Silvina Sabater, Virginia Garofalo...
Distribution: Factoris Films
Synopsis: Two brothers, Pedro and Jaime, enter a shack in their village and discover the horribly deformed body of a dying man, host to a demon. The siblings take it upon themselves to put him out of his misery, and the evil spreads throughout the surrounding population.
Note: Five years ago, Cyril Despontin, general coordinator of the PIFFF, single-handedly carried the selection of Demián Rugna's previous feature, Aterrados (Terrified), over the shoulders of his reserved colleagues. And he was right. Aterrados exploited all its resources to the bone, creating an intangible scare from hackneyed narrative schemes. When Evil Lurks continues his dissection of an Argentina plagued by demons bent on rotting flesh and ruthlessly attacking everything it holds dear. This time, the author takes on the film of possession, transforming every shot into a battlefield where no one is safe, and delivers the feel-good movie we all unknowingly needed.
The cult film
Inside (France, 2023)
Directed by Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Screenplay: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Photo: Laurent Barès
Music: François-Eudes Chanfrault
Production: Vérane Frédiani, Franck Ribière
Interprètes : Béatrice Dalle, Alysson Paradis, Tahar Rahim, Nicolas Duvauchelle...
French release date: June 13, 2007 (France)
Synopsis: Four months a widow, Sarah is preparing to give birth alone on Christmas Day. Urban riots erupt on Christmas Eve. A woman breaks into Sarah's home and tries to rip her baby out of her belly by any means necessary.
Note: The lackluster 2016 remake, co-written by Jaume Balaguero, is an implacable demonstration of this: the singularity of Inside comes largely from its savagery, from the propensity of its authors to push the limits of physical and moral pain. Alysson Paradis and Béatrice Dalle abandon themselves in performances of unprecedented strength, accepting wounds with self-sacrifice, Nicolas Duvauchelle transforms himself into a zombie, the set is painted bright red. Some auteurs put everything into their first feature film, and then dry up. Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury have shown in the rest of their filmography that they have no intention of settling down, ever. We've got them to thank for that, while we're at it on the rewatch of this tetanizing offspring.
Hitcher (USA, 1986)
Directed by Robert Harmon
Screenplay: Eric Red
Photography : John Seale
Music: Mark Isham
Production: David Bombyk, Kip Ohman
Interprètes : Rutger Hauer, C. Thomas Howell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jeffrey DeMunn...
Distribution : Sidonis Calysta
Synopsis: Jim occupies his long car journey by picking up a hitchhiker. The hitchhiker, who introduces himself as John Ryder, turns out to be a ruthless killer. Jim manages to get rid of him, but the roadside psychopath isn't finished yet.
Note: What could be more terrifying than Rutger Hauer, at the zenith of his insolent 1980s beauty, a smirk on his face, his eyes pierced by a barely human intensity, coldly, calmly announcing that he's going to kill you? One sequel, one remake and almost forty years of thrillers, thrillers and horror films later, the answer is still: nothing. Robert Harmon's masterpiece has found no equal in its killer and his almost supernatural resilience, in his nightmarish ubiquity under a blazing sun, in the ordeal endured by C. Thomas Howell, relentlessly pursued and accused of his assailant's crimes. Eric Red's script may have lost a few subversive elements along the way, but Hitcher is nonetheless an unsettling, thrilling experience from start to finish.
Army Hell (Hong Kong, 1980)
Directed by Tsui Hark
Screenplay: Szeto Cheuk-Hon, Tsui Hark
Photography: David Chung
Music: Tang Siu-Lam, Yu Leun
Production: Wing-Fat Fung
Performers: Lo Lieh, Lin Chen-Chi Lo Lieh, Lin Chen-Chi, Albert Au, Lung Tin-Sang...
Distribution: Spectrum Films
Synopsis: Three students run over a passer-by in a car, and panic as they flee. Wan-Chu witnesses the scene and blackmails them. The young girl, driven by radical nihilism, embroils them in increasingly dangerous actions. Their path crosses that of arms dealers.
Note: Tsui Hark's third feature hits hard, very hard, too hard for the Hong Kong censors of the time. His portrait of an aimless youth, engaged in terrorist acts with no other motive than to get a good slice of the action, should not make it to the screen as it is. The director hastily cobbles together a subplot and inserts it with a shoehorn, redoubling dialogue to erase any trace of the attacks committed by his anti-heroes, but nothing can dent the work's anger, its violence radiating from every shot, every frame. The editing turns to total chaos, reinforced by the pirate use of the Goblins' soundtrack for George Romero's Zombie. What the film loses in subversive power, it recovers in formal anarchy.
The House of Laughing Windows (Italy, 1976)
Directed by Pupi Avati
Screenplay: Pupi Avati, Antonio Avati, Gianni Cavina, Maurizio Costanzo
Photo: Pasquale Rachini
Music: Amedeo Tommasi
Production: Antonio Avati, Gianni Minervini
Interprètes : Lino Capolicchio, Francesca Marciano, Gianni Cavina, Giulio Pizzirani...
Synopsis: Stefano settles in a small village, where he has to restore a macabre fresco. As the days go by, local tongues wag about the personality of the deceased painter and the meaning of his works. Stefano's investigation leads him to a mysterious house.
Note: The opening torture sequence creates a gentle sense of unease and imbues the following scenes with a lasting aura of sulphur. The narration seems calm, barely disturbed by a few passing absurdities, then the plot spirals out of control. Our bearded hero loses his self-confidence, and one reference point after another collapses. Mario Bava and Dario Argento may have left their demonic mark on the giallo genre, but Pupi Avati's approach is not lacking in arguments. The House with the Laughing Windows negotiates its ascent into horror with the handbrake on, splits its sides in the face of your anguish and adds generous dollops of dread in its memorable finale. His portrait of unholy rural Italy, with its obscene secrets, has lost none of its power.
Marquis (Belgium, France, 1989)
Directed by: Henri Xhonneux
Screenplay: Roland Topor, Henri Xhonneux
Photo: Étienne Fauduet
Music: Reinhardt Wagner
Production: Claudie Ossard, Eric van Beuren
Interprètes : François Marthouret, Valérie Kling, Michel Robin, Isabelle Wolfe
Sales : YC Alligator Film
French release date: April 26, 1989 (France)
Synopsis: Held prisoner at the Bastille, the Marquis spends his days writing and disserting with his penis. In neighboring cells, Justine, a young girl raped by the king, rubs shoulders with Horace, a pork-butcher. The notables conspire, while outside, revolt rumbles.
Note: It's hard to find a more cult film than this free, very free adaptation of the writings and life of the Marquis de Sade. This demented project bears the pen and aura of Roland Topor, and the touch of his collaborator Henri Xhonneux, already at work on the Téléchat series. Marquis uses the same anthropomorphic animal characters with animatronic faces, this time in the service of a highly licentious tale, both in its predominance of the sexual and its description of a corrupt society full of hypocritical manipulators, where the Divine Marquis and his talking sex ultimately appear as the least troubled characters. The splendor of the obscene dialogues is matched by visions of another world, where animation and live action overlap.
The forbidden session
Run and kill (Hong-Kong, 1993)
Directed by: Billy Tang
Screenplay: Bryan Chang
Photography: Kin-Fai Mau
Music: Bon Wong
Production : Kwok Kuen Ng
Interprètes : Kent Cheng, Simon Yam, Danny Lee, Esther Kwan...
Distribution : Spectrum Films
Synopsis: One night while drinking in a bar, a cuckolded husband expresses his desire to get rid of his wife to an unknown drinking companion. He unknowingly sets off a deadly spiral, in which every gesture of resistance pushes him a little further into darkness.
Note: The notorious Category III, a classification reserved for Hong Kong works deemed transgressive, has served as an ultra-violent playground for directors who are playful, unscrupulous, curious to test the limits of the acceptable, or all three at the same time. Billy Tang gave this veritable genre its own, with the formidably grotesque Dr Lamb and the indefensible Red to Kill. In between, he penned his masterpiece, the traumatic Run and Kill. On paper, a macabre comedy about an ordinary guy's descent into hell, unable to extricate himself from the situation without making it worse. On screen, it's an ironic thriller that gradually turns into a full-blown horror film, with touches of black humor adding a layer of nihilism to an already busy picture.
The parallel session
I'll crush y'all (Spain, 2023)
Director: Kike Narcea
Screenplay: Kike Narcea
Photography: Alberto Pareja
Music: Daniel Maldonado
Production: Jaime Arnaiz, Jesús Loniego, Bruno Martín, J. Prada, K. Prada
Interprètes : Mario Mayo, Antonio Mayans, Fernando Gil, Ana Márquez...
Synopsis: Gabriel, a former boxer, has just left the great love of his life, La Monica. This big, strong, silent man tries to drown his sorrows in the right way, by beating up thugs fighting over a tidy sum of money.
Note: There are times in a cinephile's career when it's important to take the time to appreciate raw pleasures, manufactured with the love of a job well done, the love of a beating administered with know-how handed down from generation to generation. I'll Crush Y'all starts quietly, setting its characters in a setting meticulously mapped from scene to scene, then adopts an almost cartoonish approach to the domestic invasion film. A melancholy force of nature dispenses potatoes and lead volleys between calls from her ex, the antagonists multiply, tugging at each other's heels. From this general mess, the film draws a funny and generous entertainment, to be enjoyed in theaters, surrounded by dubious people.
Property (Brazil, 2023)
Directed by Daniel Bandeira
Screenplay: Daniel Bandeira
Photography: Pedro Sotero
Music: Caio Domingues, Nicolau Domingues
Production: Kika Latache
Performers: Malu Galli, Zuleika Ferreira Malu Galli, Zuleika Ferreira, Tavinho Teixeira, Samuel Santos...
Sales : Loco Films
Synopsis: A group of farm workers discover that the land on which they work is to be sold. They call the owners to account. The situation escalates, the man is sequestered and the woman manages to escape and lock herself in an armored car.
Note: At a time when all the French-language editorialists are joining forces to deny its existence, class warfare is resurfacing in a whole swathe of contemporary cinema. Where directors such as Michel Franco or Ruben Östlund exorcise a panicked fear of seeing the underprivileged take the upper hand by force, Daniel Bandeira seeks to go beyond shock, to examine how violence, literal or figurative, breaks the social contract. Property bears witness to the widening gulf between individuals, both in its sharp dialogue and in the suffocating build-up of tension. The film never suggests identification or empathy, but rather questions and provokes debate, where triple-A festival regulars have only certainties.
The last stop in Yuma county
Directed by Francis Galluppi
Screenplay: Francis Galluppi
Photography: Mac Fisken
Music: Matthew Compton
Production: Matt O'Neill, Atif Malik, Francis Galluppi
Interprètes : Jim Cummings, Jocelin Donahue, Sierra McCormick, Nicholas Logan...
Synopsis: The clientele of an Arizona diner wait patiently for the gas station to refuel. There's an old Texan couple, a knife salesman, the sheriff's wife and a couple of bank robbers, so the atmosphere is charged with electricity.
Note: Francis Galluppi's first feature film brings together an astonishing cast, to say the least. On the one hand, Jim Cummings, a young prodigy on the American independent scene with the physique of a trader who's just eaten your life savings. On the other, Richard Brake, a monumental good-luck charm seen in Rob Zombie's films. In between, the always impeccable veteran Gene Jones, straddling both worlds, as good in Scorsese as he is in Ti West. All these personifications of a different Hollywood come together in a modern Western where bon mots click as fast as bullets. The imperious mastery of the whole goes beyond the simple exercise in style to reach the dream fusion between auteur cinema and bis euphoria.
Individual tickets for each screening on sale online on the Max Linder Panorama website
Also at the Max Linder Panorama box office, 24 boulevard Poissonnière 75009 Paris.
- Full price: €11.5
- Reduced rate: €8.50 (under-26s / students / unemployed / over-60s / large families)
- Under-15s: €5
UGC Illimité and LePass cards are accepted for the festival (subject to availability), but can only be used from one hour before the screening. If the screening is at 8pm, you can use your card from 7pm! You can't book online with these cards. Please take precautions.
Official website: https://www.pifff.fr/2023/edito-en