IFC Center is proud to announce the full slate of the 2019 What The Fest!? film festival (www.whatthefestnyc.com), a five-day showcase of outrageous content — horror, sci-fi, documentary, thrillers, and beyond — from March 20th through March 24th. What The Fest!? will feature exciting premieres, including one World Premiere, two North American Premieres; one U.S. Premiere, two East Coast Premieres, seven New York premieres, and a Restoration World Premiere — all coming to satiate your thirst for mayhem, for adventure, or really for any of your cinematic desires. What The Fest!? also boasts exciting pre and post-screening events, as well as a bevy of in-person talent.

Opening night of What The Fest!? will feature the World Premiere of Larry Fessenden’s latest film DEPRAVED, his unique take on the classic Frankenstein story — this time, set in contemporary Brooklyn. Preceding the film will be a ‘Frankenstein Origins’ video presentation, and Fessenden and cast will appear in-person for a post-screening Q&A.

“We are absolutely thrilled to announce the line-up of What The Fest!? We hope the diversity in programming gives food for thought, excites everyone and we encourage you to take a closer look on some of the events designed for the films,” says Artistic Director, Maria Reinup. “Discover what a doomsday specialist has to tell us. Dare to plunge into the world of pathology. Test the expertise of a working stuntwoman. Or pay tribute to cult author Jack Ketchum. All of this, and more, kicking off with a Frankenstein-themed evening as we world premiere DEPRAVED. On behalf of the team and myself — we really can’t wait to see you in the cinema!”

More What the Fest!? programming standouts include the North American premiere of Peter Brunner’s TO THE NIGHT, starring Caleb Landry Jones (GET OUT) as a New York artist haunted by his fiery past, as well as the U.S. Premiere of Zack Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein’s FREAKS, starring Emile Hirsch as an overprotective father who holds his young daughter in a homemade fortress until she plans to break free via an ice cream truck driver (Bruce Dern)… and yes, the film is preceded by an ice cream social.

Three events make up the festival’s “Satan Is Your Friend,” sidebar, a look at contemporary satanism, taking place Sunday, March 24th. The lineup features the World Premiere Restoration of Ray Laurent’s 1970 documentary SATANIS: THE DEVIL’S MASS, a look inside the infamous “Black House” in San Francisco, where the Church of Satan was established; a talk by author Grady Hendrix about the heavy metal “Satanic Panic” of the ’80s and his book We Sold Our Souls, followed by a book signing, and the NY Premiere of Penny Lane’s Sundance hit documentary HAIL SATAN? with subject Lucien Greaves in-person.

The Closing Night of the festival features the North American premiere of Kiril Sokolov’s WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE!, a stylized, dark action comedy preceded by a stand-up set from comedian Harrison Greenbaum (“Last Comic Standing”).

For the second year in a row, West Village neighborhood bar Vol de Nuit (148 West 4th Street) will serve as a central What The Fest!? gathering place, bringing together filmmakers, film fans, and everyone in between. Tickets for What The Fest!? events can be redeemed at special festival events for free drinks as you socialize with your favorite genre filmmakers.

What The Fest!? Artistic Director Reinup is a veteran film programmer who has worked in the film industry for the past decade in her native Estonia and around the world. In addition to programming last year’s What The Fest!?, she has served as Director of the Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival for seven years; additionally, she programs the Black Nights Film Festival, the only A-list art house festival in Northern Europe. Over the years, she has also worked for several other notable film festivals and has produced and directed short films and music videos. The programming team is rounded out by Programmer Matthew Kiernan, a longtime genre industry insider who also serves as Brand Manager for the Fantasia International Film Festival and Senior Programmer at the Lighthouse International Film Festival.

What The Fest!? is made possible by Event Sponsors IFC Midnight and Shudder, and by Friends of the Festival Bloody Disgusting, Essentia, Fangoria, Magnolia Pictures, and Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies.

WHAT THE FEST!? Lineup Includes:

Opening Night: DEPRAVED (World Premiere)
Wednesday, March 20th, 7:00PM

Synopsis: In Larry Fessenden’s modern take on Frankenstein, the castle in Vienna is now a loft in Brooklyn and lightning is now a miracle drug that’s still in testing, but the creation (Alex Breaux) is still made from dead body parts and still on a quest to learn what it means to be human.

Before the Film: Join us for a ‘Frankenstein Origins’ video presentation.

After the Film: Filmmaker Larry Fessenden and cast will appear in-person for a Q&A.

Written & Directed by: Larry Fessenden
Starring: David Call, Joshua Leonard, Alex Breaux, Maria Dizzia
TRT: 114 min.
Country: U.S.
Language: English


THE UNTHINKABLE (NY Premiere)
Wednesday, March 20th, 9:45PM

Synopsis: THE UNTHINKABLE follows a musician, Alex (Christoffer Nordenrot), who has it rough with his loved ones. Estranged from his father Bjorn (Jesper Barkselius), he longs for home and especially for the good old days with his ex, Anna (Lisa Henni), the love of his life. After his mother unexpectedly dies in a series of what seem like terrorist bombings, Alex travels back to his hometown, which is soon invaded by a strange force using a chemical weapon that spreads through rainfall and wipes its victims’ memories clean.

Before the Film: Join us to hear what Doomsday in New York would mean!

Directed by: Crazy Pictures
Written by: Crazy Pictures & Christoffer Nordenrot
Starring: Christoffer Nordenrot, Jesper Barkselius, Lisa Henni
TRT: 129 min.
Country: Sweden
Language: Swedish (with English subtitles)


DARLIN’ (East Coast Premiere)
Thursday, March 21st, 7:00PM

Synopsis: In the sequel to Jack Ketchum’s THE WOMAN (Sundance 2011), Darlin’ is a teenager not unlike any other — except for the fact she’s been raised in the wilderness by a feral woman. Now separated from her family and placed in a Catholic girls reformatory, she’s being assimilated back into society and taught the ways of the Lord.  But the feral part of Darlin’ is never far away, and neither is The Woman (writer-director Pollyanna McIntosh, returning to the role) who loved, nurtured, and cared for her, hoping to bring her family back together. A Dark Sky Films Release.

Before the Film: Jack Ketchum tribute in collaboration with world’s longest-running educational organization devoted to the study of horror history, The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies.

After the Film: Writer/Director/Star Pollyanna McIntosh will appear in-person for a Q&A.

Written & Directed by: Pollyanna McIntosh
Starring: Pollyanna McIntosh, Cooper Andrews, Nora Jane Noone
TRT: 101 min.
Country: U.S.
Language: English


ONE CUT OF THE DEAD
Thursday, March 21st, 9:45PM

Synopsis: ONE CUT OF THE DEAD is a comedy about the making of a one-take zombie movie. The film has won numerous audience awards at festivals around the world, including Best Director and the Audience Award at Fantastic Fest, and was nominated for seven Japanese Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

After the Film: New York’s finest low budget zombie auteurs recount their own horror stories of surviving the making of a zombie movie.

Written & Directed by: Shinichiro Ueda
Starring: Takayuki Hamatsu, Yuzuki Akiyama, Harumi Shuhama
TRT: 96 min.
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese (with English subtitles)


THE WIND (NY Premiere)
Friday, March 22nd, 7:00PM

Synopsis: Lizzy (Caitlin Gerard) wants to be a good wife and take care of her home, have children, and patiently bide her time until her husband returns, while she waits alone in the vast, empty plains of the 19th century West. But being by yourself in the middle of nothing, where just the sound of the wind can curl your toes, isn’t that easy. Slowly the forces of nature start feeding into her paranoia. What if something else is out there? When a new couple settles into a house nearby, Lizzy finds comfort in friendship with another young woman (Julia Goldani Telles) and shares her biggest fears with her. But soon enough, she’ll regret that. An IFC Midnight Release.

Before the Film: Be prepared to be surprised!

After the Film: Filmmaker Emma Tammi will appear in-person for a Q&A, then join us for a party from 8:00 – 11:00 at Vol de Nuit. Bring your ticket for free drinks! Co-presented by IFC Midnight.

Directed by: Emma Tammi
Written by: Teresa Sutherland
Starring: Caitlin Gerard, Julia Goldani Telles, Miles Anderson
TRT: 88 min.
Country: U.S.
Language: English


GREENER GRASS (East Coast Premiere)
Friday, March 22nd, 9:30PM

Synopsis: Fresh from its Sundance premiere, this deliciously twisted comedy is set in a demented, timeless suburbia where every adult wears braces on their straight teeth, couples coordinate meticulously pressed outfits, and coveted family members are swapped in more ways than one in this competition for acceptance. Based on their 2016 SXSW award-winning short film by the same name, Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe wrote, directed and star. Beck Bennett (“Saturday Night Live”), Neil Casey (GHOSTBUSTERS, “Inside Amy Schumer”), Mary Holland (MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES, “Veep”) and D’Arcy Carden (“The Good Place”) co-star. An IFC Midnight Release.

Before the Film: Join us for a party from 8:00 – 11:00 at Vol de Nuit. Bring your ticket for free drinks! Co-presented by IFC Midnight.

Written & Directed by: Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe
Starring: Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe, Beck Bennett, Neil Casey, Mary Holland, D’Arcy Carden
TRT: 101 min.
Country: U.S.
Language: English


TO THE NIGHT (North American Premiere)
Saturday, March 23rd, 12:00PM

Synopsis: Norman (Caleb Landry Jones) is an installation artist living in a spacious, seemingly half-abandoned loft building by the East River. He’s obsessed with the fire that killed his parents when he was a child, and his life and his art become more and more consumed by that obsession. Pain takes over reason, understanding and moral judgment. Loss fills the spaces he inhabits, like a fire that is given oxygen, roaring and destroying everything on its way.

Written & Directed by: Peter Brunner
Starring: Caleb Landry Jones, Eleonore Hendricks, Abbey Lee
TRT: 102 min.
Country: U.S./Austria
Language: English


THE DEAD CENTER (NY Premiere)
Saturday, March 23rd, 2:30PM

Synopsis: In a dark morgue one night, an unidentified suicide victim comes to life and hides nearby. The next day, Edward (Bill Feelhely), the coroner who’s supposed to perform the autopsy, can’t find the corpse of this “John Doe.” Instead, the revived man is found by Daniel (Shane Carruth), a psychiatrist who, believing he’s a catatonic amnesiac, signs him into a hospital ward, ignorant of the fact that the man was previously dead. Completely unaware of each other, Edward and Daniel each start to seek answers to the same, unsettling case from the opposite ends of this hypnotic and horrifying mystery. An Arrow Films Release.

Before the Film: Plumb the creepy depths of the world of pathology with Brian D. Robinson, M.D, Chief of Surgical Pathology at Weill Cornell Medicine.

After the Film: Filmmaker Billy Senese will appear in-person for a Q&A.

Written & Directed by: Billy Senese
Starring: Shane Carruth, Poorna Jagannathan, Jeremy Childs, Bill Feelhely
TRT: 93 min.
Country: U.S.
Language: English


Panel –  Female Trouble: Fearless Women Leading the Way in Horror, Fantasy, and Suspense
Saturday, March 23rd, 5:30PM

Synopsis: From the beginning, women have held a central role in the history of horror, fantasy and suspense as creators, innovators and consumers. But until recently, few have been afforded the opportunity to write and direct  genre movies. Where once there was only a trickle of women’s voices leading major genre films — Katherine Bigelow’s NEAR DARK (1987), Mary Lambert’s PET SEMATARY (1989) and Mary Harron’s AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000) for example — in the last decade we’ve seen a wave of filmmakers telling stories that push the boundaries of genre: Jennifer Kent (THE BABADOOK, 2014), Ana Lily Amirpour (A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, 2014), Karyn Kusama (THE INVITATION, 2015), Julia Ducournau (RAW, 2016), and Coralie Fargeat (REVENGE, 2018). But how far have we come, and how much farther do we have to go? This panel will bring together voices leading the change in genre cinema to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing women in horror. Co-presented by Shudder.

Participants:

  • Emma Tammi (Director of THE WIND)
  • Roxanne Benjamin (Director of BODY AT BRIGHTON ROCK)
  • Meredith Alloway (Film Journalist, Independent Filmmaker)
  • Others TBA

BODY AT BRIGHTON ROCK (NY Premiere)
Saturday, March 23rd, 7:00PM

Synopsis: Wendy works as a park ranger, but sometimes she’s a little sloppy at her job. She can be a little careless, a little too chill. When she gets an assignment to take care of the mountain trails that would mean being completely on her own way out in the woods, her friends try to talk  her out of it. But Wendy ignores their concern and heads out — ending up stranded overnight at Brighton Rock with a decaying body. What could go wrong? A Magnet release.

After the Film: Filmmaker Roxanne Benjamin to appear in-person for a Q&A, then join us for a party from 9:00 – 11:00 at Vol de Nuit. Bring your ticket for free drinks! Co-presented by Shudder.

Written & Directed by: Roxanne Benjamin
Starring: Karina Fontes, Casey Adams, Emily Althaus
TRT: 88 min.
Country: U.S.
Language: English


SHADOW (NY Premiere)
Saturday, March 23rd, 9:30PM

Synopsis: Zhang Yimou returns to the screen with an explosive tale of intrigue and action set within the warring Three Kingdoms. A wild and ambitious ruler, his loyal but cunning commander, and a double he’s set up as insurance play games of deceit as war rages through their kingdom. A Well Go USA Release.

Before the Film: Get the inside dope on the world of stunts from New York’s hardest working stuntwoman, Kimmy Suzuki.

Directed by: Zhang Yimou
Written By: Zhang Yimou & Wei Li
Starring: Chao Deng, Li Sun, Ryan Zheng
TRT: 116 min
Country: China
Language: Mandarin (with English Subtitles)


SATANIS: THE DEVIL’S MASS (Restoration World Premiere)
Sunday, March 24th, 12:00PM

Synopsis: This 1970 American documentary takes us inside the infamous “Black House” in San Francisco, where the Church of Satan was established. We also get a glimpse of the neighborhood around it, more and more specifically of the none-too-pleased neighbors, who have quite a few things to say about that damned house. But the heart of the film is a study of Anton Szandor LaVey, former lion tamer and the leader of this cult of devil worshippers, and their ideology that centers around the rejection of guilt, sexual freedom, and self-indulgence. Part of WTF!? 2019’s special focus “Satan Is Your Friend,” a look at contemporary satanism.

Directed by: Ray Laurent
TRT: 86 min.
Country: U.S.
Language: English


We Sold Our Souls – Live Talk and Book Signing
Sunday, March 24th, 2:00PM

About the Talk: Heavy metal — the subject of Congressional hearings, its albums burned by church groups, its musicians taken to court and accused of playing a role in teen suicides again and again… that’s a whole lot of fear over music sung by men wearing too much eye shadow. But heavy metal has always been about horror, and in this special hour-long show, author Grady Hendrix will talk about the scandalicious side of heavy metal, its role in the Satanic Panic of the Eighties, the history of heavy metal in horror, and how all this mayhem led to the creation of his latest novel, We Sold Our Souls.

Hendrix is best known from his acclaimed novels Horrorstör (about a haunted IKEA), My Best Friend’s Exorcism, and Paperbacks From Hell, or from his years as a member of Subway Cinema, NYC’s premiere outlet for Asian film programming. His new novel takes the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s (when some people actually thought you were going to Hell for listening to metal) and puts it in the properly crazed and demented perspective that 30 years of sane, rational thinking can bring.Part of WTF!? 2019’s special focus “Satan Is Your Friend,” a look at contemporary satanism.

After the Talk: Book signing with author Grady Hendrix; copies of We Sold Our Souls will be available for sale on-site.

FREAKS (U.S. Premiere)
Sunday, March 24th, 3:30PM

Synopsis: Chloe (Lexy Kolker) is a young girl who lives with her father Henry (Emile Hirsch) in a massive, abandoned house that’s tricked out like a kind of fortress. Chloe’s never been outside the house before, but she trains every day to make sure she can keep up with the false identity she’ll have to assume when she’s ready to venture outdoors. Henry entertains his daughter and seems like a sweet dad, until a day when she almost  gets out and he flips, shouting at her “You’re not normal yet! You’ll die if you go outside!” But Chloe has other plans, which not-so-accidentally collide with an ice-cream truck and its driver (Bruce Dern) who’s trying to lure little girl out into the big, bad world. A Well Go USA Release.

Before the Film: Join us for an ice cream social!

After the Film: Filmmaker Adam B. Stein will appear in-person for a Q&A.

Written & Directed by: Zack Lipovsky & Adam B. Stein
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Bruce Dern, Lexy Kolker
TRT: 104 min.
Country: U.S./Canada
Language: English


HAIL SATAN? (NY Premiere)
Sunday, March 24th, 6:15PM

Synopsis: Fresh from its Sundance premiere, the film follows the rise of The Satanic Temple, a mysterious organization led by Lucien Greaves that’s calling for Satanic revolution to save America’s soul. The Temple’s first rally was on the steps of Florida’s state Capitol in 2013, in which the  group sported demonic masks and carried a banner proclaiming “Hail Satan! Hail Rick Scott!” But despite its name, the Temple’s true purpose is to remind people that our nation was founded on a separation of church and state, arguing that if you welcome Christianity into the classroom, you’ve got to invite Satan too. As the organization grows, it focuses on promoting social justice, exposing hypocrisy and supporting true religious freedom in all its forms. Part of WTF!? 2019’s special focus “Satan Is Your Friend,” a look at contemporary satanism. A Magnolia Pictures release.

After the Film: Pay a tithe to Satan before film subject and The Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves appears in-person for a Q&A, then join us for a Happy Hour from 8:00pm – 9:00pm at Vol de Nuit. Bring your ticket for free drinks! Co-presented by Magnolia Pictures.

Directed by: Penny Lane
Featuring: Lucien Greaves
TRT: 95 min.
Country: U.S.
Language: English


Closing Night: WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE! (North American Premiere)
Sunday, March 24th, 8:45PM

Synopsis: WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE! is stylized, dark action comedy about a group of people brought together in the apartment of police detective Andrei: his resentful daughter, an angry thug and a cheated cop. Each one of them has a reason to want revenge. The film is a tale of crime, corruption, greed, dysfunctional families, unrequited love and lots and lots of blood — proudly displaying its influences while it forges its own path.

Before the Film: Stand-up comedy! Because who could have more fun with the idea of “why don’t you just die” than comedian Harrison Greenbaum (Last Comic Standing).

After the Film: Filmmaker Kirill Sokolov will appear in-person for a Q&A.

Written & Directed by: Kirill Sokolov
Starring: Aleksandr Kuznetsov, Vitaliy Khaev, Evgeniya Kregzhde
TRT: 100 min.
Country: Russia
Language: Russian (with English subtitles)


Opening night screening of DEPRAVED – Film and Opening Night Party: $25 ($20 IFC Center members), Film only: $20 ($15 IFC Center members)

Tickets for film screenings are $17 adults, $12 IFC Center members

Tickets for talks and panels are $12 adults, $8 IFC Center members.

Tickets for all screenings are available online at WhatTheFestNYC.com, or in-person at the IFC Center box office, 323 Sixth Avenue (at West 3rd Street), open daily 10:30AM-10:00PM.

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Shannon McGrew

Founder/Editor-in-Chief at Nightmarish Conjurings
Shannon is the Founder of Nightmarish Conjurings and a lover of all things horror and haunt related. When she's not obsessively collecting all things "Trick 'R Treat" related, or trying to convince everyone that "Hereditary" is one of the greatest horror films ever made, you can find her designing interiors for commercial restaurants. An avid haunt fan, Shannon spends the entire year visiting haunts and immersive experiences throughout the Southern California area and hopes to one day design her own haunted attraction.
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