Fantastic Festival Brings Autumn Film Scene to Austin

Jojo Rabbit director Taika Waititi at Fantastic Fest in 2019 | Rick Kern / Getty Images

Jojo Rabbit director Taika Waititi at Fantastic Fest in 2019 | Rick Kern / Getty Images

Fall film festivals are one of Hollywood’s most reliable habits. In scenic locations stretching from the canals of Italy to the mountains of Colorado, awards season dreams come true and shattered, celebrities become tastemakers, and the industry sways from its voluminous summer haze. As far as magic goes, it’s impossible to compete with three major players booking Labor Day — the Venice, Telluride and Toronto film festivals — but the main movie in late September in Austin, Texas, rose above the clamor.

Fantastic Fest, which launches its 17th edition at the Alamo Drafthouse Thursday, is a genre-focused alternative to the rare blasts that launch the fall and winter seasons of movies. Her repertoire consists of horror, sci-fi, fantasy, outlandish comedy, and an elusive curiosity with cult potential. After a modest launch in 2005, the festival began capturing more and more Oscar aspirants chasing the zeitgeist, and positioning itself as a stop along the proverbial campaign trail. Previous squads have featured Best Picture nominees gravityAnd the MartianAnd the ArrivalAnd the jojo rabbitAnd the parasiteas well as art house favourites (SadnesAnd the force majeureAnd the crayfishAnd the deerAnd the climax) and commercial strikes (atlantic cloudsAnd the HalloweenAnd the Dolemite is my nameAnd the Take out the knives). In 2016, M. Night Shyamalan’s split, rip It had its world premiere there, four months before it opened theatrically.

This year includes a lot of award winning contestants who have been making their way across the festival circuit. there bones and everythingAnd the Director Luca Guadagnino’s Cannibal romance starring Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell; Inisherin from InisherinAnd the Martin McDonagh’s black comedy sparks conversations about the best Colin Farrell of his career; Decision to leaveAnd the The latest from Korean professor Park Chan-wook; sadness triangleAnd the satire, starring Woody Harrelson and Harris Dickinson; And the food menuAnd the A fun thriller about rich eating that stars Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult, and Hong Chau at an exclusive restaurant far away.

bones and everything
Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet in Bones and All | United Artists Release

Newly hired Fantastic Fest Director Lisa Dreyer and her programming team have attended several captivating pre-September festivals, including Sundance in January and Cannes in May. “We try to pick the best from those big festivals, and then we really try to find little hidden gems,” she tells Thrillist. exactly like bones and everything Making its way from Venice to Austin before showing again at the New York Film Festival next month (it hits theaters November 23), some of these underdogs will go on to play such fests like the Brooklyn Horror Festival, Beyond Fest in Los Angeles and the Overlook Film Festival in New Orleans. Dreyer cites the inspired folk the nightmareFun vampire blood relativesSpanish zombie flick the elderly Like potential breakouts this year.

World premieres aren’t nearly as flashy as their more prestigious counterparts at Fantastic Fest – the biggest this tour is smiling, a Paramount Pictures movie that opens September 30—but it has what the A-list lacks: regional charm. Ticket holders can attend concerts, podcasts, and award ceremonies in a way that they cannot attend anywhere else. “At film festivals, you usually have to get up an hour, go to the ticket office, or wait in line for hours,” Dreyer says. “Our festival is very easy for the audience. We all live in one theater. You hang out at The Highball, which is our attached bar, and then 20 minutes before the movie starts, they’ll say they’re ‘re-sit for your movie.'”

Fantastic Fest also inspires a spirit familiar to the Austin film community. You won’t see Keanu Reeves, Alamo Drafthouse Tim League founder, discuss tai chi anywhere else. It happened in 2013 as part of an annual hub called The Great Debates, a cultural discussion often followed by a planned boxing match. (Unfortunately, Reeves did not participate in sparring.) Over the years, the league has cornered Michelle Rodriquez and X West manager. Lord of the rings Co-stars Elijah Wood and Dominic Monaghan once “knocked shit out of each other” (Wood’s words) after controversy over world of cans.

Keanu Reeves Team League
Alamo Drafthouse Tim League founder and actor Keanu Reeves at Fantastic Fest in 2013 | Gary Miller / Movie Magic

So-called secret parades are another hallmark of Fantastic Fest. Audience members who attend these don’t know what they’re about to see – and that’s usually something worth noting. noticeable, There will be blood Her first public performance was as a surprise on closing night in 2007, after which she won two Oscars. since then, Paranormal Activity 3, The Skin I Live In, Good Night Mom, Crimson Peak, The LighthouseAnd the sobsAnd the Last night in Soho The selections are categorized. so it was split, rip. This year it will happen on September 25 and September 28. Dreyer says she and two other Fantastic Fest employees know what movies are about. (My money is in the high-profile October issue The end of Halloweenpartly because director David Gordon Green grew up in Texas and attended college in Austin.)

As was the case with the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month, 2022 will see the first proper in-person gathering for Fantastic Fest since the COVID-19 pandemic began. With the Oscar race wide open and some skepticism surrounding the elitism on display at festivals most passionate about paparazzi, more fantastic ascent seems possible. “Every year, through our connections, the strength of our festival, the press it gets, and the deals that go through, major titles and studios come to us more and more for these kinds of premieres,” Dreyer says. “We like to give our audience a first look at films that will be very relevant to cultural conversations in general.”

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Matthew Jacobs is entertainment editor at Thrillist. Follow him on Twitter Tweet embed.

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