2007 Fantastic Fest
by Krista Anderson
The crowds were large, and the theaters were full throughout the day. Film enthusiasts, filmmakers, and everyday Austinites were present to screen independent films at 2007’s Fantastic Fest. Alamo Drafthouse (South Lamar), located in Austin, Texas, hosted the film festival, which is the quintessential venue to experience and enjoy these types of films. Alamo Drafthouse offers a variety of beers, wines, appetizers, meals, and desserts that satisfy any palette. Sensitive to the diverse community of Austin, Alamo Drafthouse provides an assortment of options for vegetarians, and others with specific dietary needs. The staff is friendly and helpful, and always enhances the relaxed and pleasant atmosphere of the theater.
The Dark Hour aka La Hora Fria (Spanish)
Director: Elio Quiroga
In their present day, a group of individuals live together in a locked fortress, with diminishing living supplies, and no contact with the outside world. Implied causes to their circumstances include a devastating world war and chemical and viral weapons. Now, these survivors live with fears of being infected by the remaining diseased or mutilated by the cold insects roaming outside of their corridors.
The Cold Hour applies to a multitude of genres: horror, thriller, action, drama, post-apocalyptic, and science fiction. While I viewed the film more as a thriller with great suspense, there were frightening elements: (a) The Strangers, infected individuals hosting a chronic, zombie-like virus, and (b) The Invisibles, cold insect creatures searching for humans to feed on. Other themes the film incorporated include pro-female leadership, anti-government, anti-war, lost innocence, and no sense of trust. The strong and accepted female leadership of the group was a refreshing element of the film. Because of the abundance of messages in the film though, it was difficult to concentrate on the plot and action. However, the story moved very easily and the suspenseful moments were well timed. Overall, The Cold Hour was enjoyable, with insightful yet pessimistic messages. In the future, is there any hope?
Director: Anders Morgenthaler
A controversial mixed-media feature, Princess presents both live-action video and animation to tell the story of a brother and his five-year-old niece, who are reintroduced after their sister/mother’s unexpected death. The sister was a porn star. The brother discovers that his niece was abused and neglected under the care of others, and does everything in his power to protect and amend the cruelty that his niece experienced.
Princess incorporates various genres, including action, drama, and animation. Violence and sex are the dominant elements of the animated feature, with family values interestingly as the major theme behind the story. The brother, on leave from his missionary work, battles his sister’s bosses in the porn industry and his niece’s father. While on his scavenger hunt, the brother is forced to reflect and accept his sister’s path to the porn industry. The live-action video elements capture the sexual nature and experimentation of his sister. In the end, the brother fails his mission and loses his niece forever. Princess has very compelling and striking messages: promoting the sanctity of family and the power of faith, while also dispelling the loss of innocence. While the film at times produces disturbing and titillating imagery, in the end, it suggests that faith connects you to family, and family values must be cherished to survive. Princess’s approach to such a message is fascinating, since most pro-family values films don’t normally incorporate three-way and anal sex, at least the ones I’ve seen anyways.
Shut-eye Hotel (Short animation)
Director: Bill Plympton
Shut-eye Hotel screened just before Princess. Directed by the infamous Bill Plympton (The Fan and the Flower, Guard Dog), is a gruesome animated tale where cops who are investigating murders at a mysterious hotel become the victims themselves. As always, Plympton shorts never let you down.
Miss Krista Anderson