Less than one month to go before the sixth annual CHATTANOOGA FILM FESTIVAL (CFF) is underway, and the second half of the 2019 lineup of films, workshops and events is here.
HARPOON | Director Rob Grant
*Closing night film | Rob Grant in attendance along with producers Michael Peterson and Kurtis David Harder
It’s an honor to close out our sixth year with one of our favorite recent discoveries. Rob Grant’s HARPOON is a brilliantly executed dark comedy that circles around three best friends who become stranded on a yacht.
Synopsis: Rivalries, dark secrets, and sexual tension that emerge when three best friends find themselves stranded on a yacht in the middle of the ocean under suspicious circumstances.
WILD ROSE | Director Tom Harper
This year’s Sonic Cinema block is packed with amazing films celebrating musical genres from black metal to punk rock to Memphis blues, and to those ranks, we’re proud to add just a little bit of country in the form of WILD ROSE. This film is a genuine charmer of a musical comedy-drama that centers around a single-mom fresh out of jail in Glasgow who dreams of becoming a Nashville star. Jessie Buckley’s performance as the titular Rose-Lynn truly seals the deal.
Synopsis: A musician from Glasgow dreams of becoming a Nashville star.
MODEST HEROES | Directors Yoshiyuki Momose, Akihiko Yamashita, Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Studio Ponoc, the new animation studio founded by two-time Academy Award®-nominee Yoshiaki Nishimura (THE TALE OF PRINCESS KAGUYA, WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE) and featuring many artists from the venerable Studio Ghibli, made an immediate splash with their acclaimed debut film MARY AND THE WITCHES FLOWERS last year. The studio returns this year with MODEST HEROES, an ambitious anthology of three thrilling tales created by some of the greatest talents working in Japanese animation today.
Together, the stories “Kanini & Kanino,” “Life Ain’t Gonna Lose,” “Invisible,” explore ideas of heroism in everyday life. The infinite potential of the short film format allows the directors and Studio Ponoc to experiment with breathtaking, action-packed visuals, concise human drama, and gorgeous fantasy worlds in this unforgettable showcase that is a further demonstration of the studio’s exciting future.
CONFESSIONAL | Director Brad T. Gottfred
From director Brad T. Gottfred and producer Milan Chakraborty (My Friend Dahmer, Assassination Nation) comes this twisty single room thriller.
Synopsis: After two mysterious deaths at a college on the same night, seven students, somehow connected, receive invitations to a confessional booth hidden on the campus. Their confessions slowly unveil the truth behind, not only the deaths, the booth as well. The dark, twisty, dialogue-driven and emotionally-complex mystery is entirely confined to the video confessional.
MEMPHIS ‘69 | Director Joe LaMattina
Resembling a southern-fried MONTEREY POP, MEMPHIS ’69 documents the 1969 Memphis Country Blues Festival thanks to the discovery of nearly 50-year-old footage acquired by legendary blues label Fat Possum Records. Shot over three days in the same venue where the Klu Klux Klan staged white power rallies, the festival displayed how blues music could transcend turmoil and unite a crowd of strangers that had gathered to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Memphis, barely a year after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in the city. Featuring performances from Johnny Winter, Bukka White, Rufus Thomas and many more.
Synopsis: A year after Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated, a group of blues legends came together to celebrate the 150 year anniversary of Memphis, TN. This concert documentary, shot over 3 days in June of 1969, celebrates an American art form that unites us all.
WOMAN AT WAR | Director Benedikt Erlingsson
This film is a tightly wound thriller/comedy/drama that Variety hailed as “near perfect” and that The New York Times called “an environmental drama wrapped in whimsical comedy and tied with a bow of midlife soul-searching.”
Synopsis: Halla is a 50-year-old environmental activist who crusades against the local aluminum industry in Iceland. As her actions grow bolder, her life changes in the blink of an eye when she’s finally granted permission to adopt a girl from the Ukraine.
DEADTECTIVES | Director Tony West
In our minds, comedy and horror are two genres that when combined carefully and in the correct proportions make something truly special. Very few films have managed to achieve this alchemy over the years (GHOSTBUSTERS springs to mind as a shining example) so when one gets it (please excuse the pun) DEAD right, we have no choice but to fall all over ourselves and share it with our CFF audience. Pulling off the truly incredible balancing act of weaving scares, laughs and some serious heart into one delightful package. We firmly agree with one of our favorite film critics Meredith Borders, who called the film a “non-stop Blast” and said, “There’s not a single beat that doesn’t work in this hilarious, spooky film, and that’s a rarity, indeed.”
Synopsis: DEADTECTIVES follows a team of hapless paranormal investigators on a reality TV series who go on a quest to Mexico’s most haunted house in the pursuit of better ratings. However, when the true dark secrets of the mansion begin to reveal themselves, the hapless presenters quickly discover that this house is no hoax. With zero ghost-hunting skills (or really any other applicable skills) the team has to figure out how to bust the ghosts and escape the house with their lives.
A BREAD FACTORY PART 1 and PART 2 | Director Patrick Wang
Matt Zoller-Seitz of RogerEbert.com summed things up perfectly when he reviewed A BREAD FACTORY PART 1 and A BREAD FACTORY PART 2, “The most original filmgoing experience of the year… as thorough and thoughtful a statement on art and life as any American filmmaker has given us.”
Set in the imagined community of Checkford, New York, a modest arts centre known as The Bread Factory struggles to retain both its relevance and resources as their annual funding from the city council risks being diverted to a decidedly more corporate arts institution fronted by an ostentatious pair of performance artists. As The Bread Factory’s founders Dorothea (Tyne Daly) and Greta (Elisabeth Henry-Macari) marshall the community to come to their support, a cavalcade of eccentric personalities are introduced, each character with their own personal discord to resolve, and both buoyed by an exceptional performance. Thoughtfully photographed on gorgeously grainy 16mm, the end result, across two epic halves, is a profound reminder of the transformative power of art and a communal tapestry as vivid and endearing as those found in the works of Robert Altman, Ingmar Bergman and David Lynch.
Synopsis: After 40 years of running their community arts space, The Bread Factory, Dorothea and Greta are suddenly fighting for survival when a celebrity couple–performance artists from China–come to Checkford and build an enormous complex down the street catapulting big changes in their small town.
THE GIRL ON THE THIRD FLOOR | Director Travis Stevens
We’re big fans of Travis Stevens’ work as a producer, as his films CHEAP THRILLS and BUSTER’S MAL HEART have graced CFF screens over the years. Now we have the honor of sharing Mr. Stevens brilliantly spooky directorial debut THE GIRL ON THE THIRD FLOOR. Featuring a score composed in part by the legendary Steve Albini and a winning leading man turn by wrestler CM PUNK, Stevens’ film plays out like a horror version of THE MONEY PIT with some serious things to say about toxic masculinity and enough strange fluids to make you want to wash your hands immediately after viewing. THE GIRL ON THE THIRD FLOOR is a hellaciously effective debut by one of our favorite working filmmakers.
MONOS | Director Alejandro Landes
The Guardian called filmmaker Alejandro Landes MONOS “Apocalypse Now on shrooms”. We call it one of the tensest, gorgeous and fast-paced pieces of pure cinema you’ll see this year. MONOS wowed audiences at Sundance this January and CFF is proud to present it for our 2019 audience.
Synopsis: On a faraway mountaintop, eight kids with guns watch over a hostage and a conscripted milk cow.
THE NIGHTSHIFTER | Director Dennison Ramalho
*Presented by Shudder
Filmmaker Dennison Ramalho’s Brazilian chiller is definitely a film fans of genre cinema aren’t going to want to pass up a chance to see on the big screen.
Synopsis: Stênio, the nightshifter of a morgue, has the ability to communicate with the cadavers that are brought to him every night.
GHOSTBOX COWBOY | Director John Maringouin
Variety Magazine called filmmaker John Maringouin’s GHOSTBOX COWBOY “Fear and Loathing in the Chinese Economic Miracle” and that sums the freewheeling absurdist tone of his fascinating and anarchically fun satire. Anchored by winningly weird lead performances by indie cinema stalwarts David Zellner (who CFF fans will recognize from our screenings of his fantastic films DAMSEL and KUMIKO THE TREASURE HUNTER) and Robert Longstreet, a jarring but beautiful aesthetic achieved by shooting with hacked DSLR cameras, GHOSTBOW COWBOY just might be the feel weird hit of the festival and it’s a ride we hope fiercely intelligent cinephiles we’re proud to call our audience will really dig.
Synopsis: A dullard Texas entrepreneur reinvents himself as a cowboy in China’s tech wild west, but finds himself at the mercy of corrupt American expats looking to reinvent him once more.
SADISTIC INTENTIONS | Director Eric Pennycoff
*Director Eric Pennycoff and Star Jeremy Gardner in attendance.
CFF fans will be thrilled to see longtime festival favorites Jeremy Gardner and Larry Fessenden in a film that truly lives up to the phrase “metal madness”. Eric Pennycoff’s directorial feature debut is twisted and insanely fun.
Synopsis: A psychotic musician lures a fellow bandmate and an unsuspecting woman to a remote mansion for a night of romantic deceit and grinding metal mayhem.
MANGOSHAKE | Director Terry Chiu
Film critic Andrew Todd (Birth.Movies.Death.) called Terry Chiu’s MANGOSHAKE “A manic DIY coming-of-age film that detests coming-of-age films.” In a single sentence, Mr. Todd beautifully sums up the spirit of Chiu’s unpolished gem. This movie has as much fun wilfully flouting the language and structure of cinema as it does perfectly execute great cinematic moments (though often in the roughest and tumble possible ways) with a palpable sense of fun and friendship layered into almost every moment.
Synopsis: Set in the window of a single summer, MANGOSHAKE is a glance into the bonds formed, lost, and held onto between kids hanging around a lemonade stand — but instead of lemons, it’s mangos.
FREAKS | Directors Zach Lipovsky, Adam B. Stein
Emile Hirsch, Bruce Dern and 7-year-old newcomer Lexy Kolker star in this mind-bending mash-up of dystopian drama, action and science fiction. Not perhaps what you would expect as the follow up from the filmmakers of Disney Channel action comedy “Kim Possible,” but clever directing duo Zach Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein’s prove themselves capable of anything in with this paranoid gem of a picture we’re sure is destined to be one of the sleeper hits of CFF 2019.
Synopsis: In this genre-bending psychological sci-fi thriller, a bold girl discovers a bizarre, threatening, and mysterious new world beyond her front door after she escapes her father’s protective and paranoid control.
COWBOY WHO? | Presented by Peter Kuplowsky
CFF BFF and TIFF Midnight Madness film programmer Peter Kuplowsky will be on hand to present this retrospective look at one of the strangest and most magical children’s television shows of all time complete with an all you can eat Saturday Morning Cereal bar.
THE FARE | D.C. Hamilton
This whimsical and mysterious romance by filmmaker D.C. Hamilton charmed the hell out of us. It doesn’t hurt that every frame of the film is a love letter to classic cinema and we think our many cinema savvy CFF attendees will agree. THE FARE tells the tale of a taxi driver and his passenger fall for each other as they try to escape a mysterious and endless nighttime cab ride where each turn of the meter resets their trip to the beginning. To say more is to spoil a genuinely delightful mystery we hope festival-goers will seek out.
Synopsis: When a charming fare named Penny climbs into his taxi cab, Harris, her world-weary driver, finds himself engaged in the only kind of courtship he can have with a passenger — one that lasts as long as her trip. That is, right up until she disappears from the back seat without a trace. When confusion gives way to reality, he resets his meter and is instantaneously transported back to the moment when she climbed into his cab.
SUBURBIA |Director Penelope Spheeris (1983)
This unbelievable early ’80s punk rock megablast follows a group of semi-homeless outsider teens (played by ACTUAL semi-homeless outsider teens!) in their nonstop war against parents, rednecks, cops, society and each other. Authentic and relentlessly entertaining, it’s packed with comedy, action, power, pain, and amazing performances from both the cast and the best bands of the era. From the director of legendary music doc The Decline of Western Civilization, Suburbia is not only the best fictional movie ever made about punks… it’s legitimately one of the greatest films of all time. SEE IT OR DIE.
Synopsis: When household tensions and a sense of worthlessness overcome Evan, he finds escape when he clings with the orphans of a throw-away society. The runaways hold on to each other like a family until a tragedy tears them apart.
THE DEAD CENTER | Director Billy Senese
A hospital psychiatrist’s own sanity is tested in writer/director Billy Senese’s haunting thriller which was produced by and also stars CFF fan favorite Shane Carruth (PRIMER, UPSTREAM COLOR). We’re proud to share THE DEAD CENTER and we think festival goers that choose to give it spin will find that it gives them the best kind of goosebumps and sticks in their head far into the future.
Synopsis: A hospital psychiatrist’s own sanity is pushed to the edge when a frightened amnesiac patient insists that he has died and brought something terrible back from the other side.
Nightmarish Conjurings got the chance to see it at LAFF, so please do check out our review here.
CFF 2019 SHORTS PROGRAM
Also being rolled out now are the many masterful short works that make up the CFF 2019 Shorts Program. Comprised of five jam packed blocks of different types of short films culminating in Sunday’s traditional Tennessee Filmmaker Showcase.
Highlights of this year’s program include new works by CFF fan favorites Izzy Lee, Steven Degennaro and Tim Reis, as well as exciting new short works from newcomers Meredith Alloway, Will Goss and many more. This year’s shorts program is truly the equal of our carefully curated feature line-up.
EVENTS + WORKSHOPS
PUMPKIN PIE SHOW | Presented by Clay McLeod Chapman
For over 20 years, author Clay McLeod Chapman and his rigorous storytelling session The Pumpkin Pie Show have offered a view into the minds of the most depraved Southern Gothic monstrosities. Sometimes darkly humorous, sometimes strangely heartbreaking, and most definitely always in-your-face, these tales of madness and macabre explore the domestic horrors of every day, finding terror within our very own households. This one-of-a-kind performance delves deep into the darkest recesses of those mad men and women who drift along the periphery of humankind. Still not sold? The Scotsman says, “Clay McLeod Chapman is like Stephen King transmogrified into a post-punk preacher poet.” We bet you’re in now.
DESTROY ALL MOVIES!!!: The PUNKS ON FILM Panel! | Presented by Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly
20th-century punk historians and full-time goon bags Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly attack the audience with the ludicrous and completely impossible facts (and fictions) of Hollywood vs. the punk rock movement when horror films and party comedies became infested with mohawks and mayhem. Including a special punk, clips show from Everything Is Terrible!
PITCH WORKSHOP | Led by David Lawson, Jr.
Longtime CFF collaborator and Rustic Films producer David Lawson, Jr. (SPRING, THE ENDLESS) leads this rousing and informative workshop designed to teach aspiring filmmakers the art of the pitch and advise them on their journey to tell amazing stories through the medium of film.
*Please note for this workshop, attendees will have to have a finished script to work with.
FUNDING YOUR FILM WITH INVESTORS | Presented by Steven Degennaro
Making the jump to one’s first feature film is probably the hardest maneuver a filmmaker has to do. A great many first-time filmmakers settle for raising $20-100k via crowdfunding or credit cards because they assume that they don’t have the skills to be a “real producer.” In filmmaker Steven Degennaro’s (STOP, FOUND FOOTAGE 3D) class, filmmakers will learn that there is a mystique surrounding film financing, one deliberately cultivated by producers, that discourages filmmakers from even attempting to produce a film for $500k-1M on their first go-around (or EVER). The truth is that it’s not nearly as daunting as many assume. It’s a lot of hard work, and not for the faint of heart, but it can be done with just a little determination and the right people by your side. Attendees will also be given exclusive access to various documents and audio-visual materials including a successful film business plan and pitch materials.
IP MAN: PROTECTING YOUR FILM’S INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY | Presented by Barham & Maucere LLC
Let’s face it – it’s tough to keep your creative ideas safe. And unless you make movies in a cave, you need to protect your film. This panel will focus on an overview of intellectual property in independent film – and more importantly, how it’s important to you. We’ll cover works for hire, licensing, acquiring rights to other works, and fair use from the perspective of protecting the filmmaker. All in a fun, informal environment where you’ll have a chance to interact and ask questions from our panel of industry experts, filmmakers, and entertainment attorneys.
CHATTANOOGA WHISKEY COCKTAIL COMPETITION
If you’ve attended CFF in the past you’ll know that Chattanooga Whiskey isn’t just our official whiskey, it’s the official liquid of the Chattanooga Film Festival. We love it, ya’ll love it and that’s why we’re mega-pumped to announce that the mixology master-minds at Chattanooga Whiskey and Dr. Thatchers will be presenting a complimentary cocktail competition for CFF badge holders.
In addition to the lineup above, CFF also is announcing the rest of their parties, including an opening night Heavy Metal Madness party celebrating heavy metal in cinema complete with themed cocktails crafted by the bar at The Moxy (one of them is called MegaDeth!), metal face painters and other opening night mayhem to celebrate CFF’s 2019’s metal selections SADISTIC INTENTIONS & LORDS OF CHAOS. Back again is the annual I’m Ok, You’re Karaoke VOL 4.! Our pals the talented brewmeisters at the Chattanooga Brewing Company will be generously hosting the festival’s now traditional karaoke party. Join us as we sip on some of the finest local brews and tastiest snacks our city has to offer, and deeply and irrevocably butcher hours of classic tunes with the help of our special CFF KJ.
This year the festival returns to the Chattanooga Theatre Centre (400 River St.), with a select number of events taking place at The Moxy (1220 King St.) Badges for CFF and individual tickets for some events are on sale now via chattfilmfest.org.
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