Classic Japanese cinema, hyper-kinetic action films, boozy comedy crowd pleasers and a loving salute to Charles Bronson highlight the eclectic final wave of the 2017 Chattanooga Film Festival's feature films, along with Last Comic Standing winner Clayton English as the CFF 2017 Comedy Block headliner.
Also on deck are a pair of top-secret screenings (only available to VIP Badge or Daily Wrist Band holders, or for a limited time through the festival's GoFundMe), a pair of incredible locally made skateboard documentaries and the triumphant return of the long-time CFF staple stand-up comedy/video sketch comedy trio Ladies' Night.
Rounding out the fest's Sonic Cinema music and film block is a hand curated selection of local music videos by the fellas at Underground and filmmaker BJ McDonnell's ambitious collaboration with the infamous heavy metal band Slayer, The Repentless Trilogy.
Another Evil / Director: Carson D. Mell
After encountering a ghost in his family's vacation home, Dan a modern artist and his wife Mary hire an "industrial-grade exorcist" named Os to get rid of the beings. But Dan soon realizes that ridding the home of evil won't be as simple as it seems.
In addition to crafting four short films and a novel about the aging, drug-addled rocker Bobby Bird, Mell's multifaceted resume includes writing for award-winning comedies Silicon Valley and Eastbound & Down. In a perfect world, Mell is the kind of guy to whom Netflix should give a blank check.
Burden / Directors: Richard Dewey, Timothy Marrinan
In the early 1970s, Chris Burden's provocative, often dangerous performance pieces shook the conventional art world. He had himself shot, crawled through a field of broken glass, and attempted to breathe water. It wasn't surprising that the press began calling Burden "The Evel Knievel of the art world," a label he would struggle to overcome for most of his career.
Burden quit performance in the late '70s and reinvented himself artistically. He went on to create a multitude of installations and sculptures. His work has influenced a generation of artists and been exhibited around the world.
Using unprecedented access to Burden's archive as well as candid footage filmed with the artist in the final years of his life, this film documents Burden's shifting motivations and his transition away from the spotlight of performance toward a quieter and more civic minded art-making practice.
Conjure / Director: Josh Shupe
Supervisual / Directors: Alex Rose and Matthew Creasy
With Skate Trick Demo
Some of the most talented young filmmakers in our city have quietly been hanging out under the radar. Josh Shupe, Alex Rose and Matthew Creasy have been producing, directing and self-releasing their movies for years. But if you weren't a part of our city's thriving skateboard culture you might have missed the incredible work these young guerrilla filmmakers put into every video they produce.
Whether you care about skating, these beautifully photographed, painstakingly scored, and massively entertaining films will cast a spell on you. Conjure and Supervisual are local filmmaking and skate culture at its finest.
CFF is proud to present Shupe, Rose and Creasy's latest creations, along with a skate trick demo presented by the folks at Comport Skate Shop and with the Chattanooga Skate Park Project.
Finding Fontinalis / Director: Travis Lowe
In the summer of 1915, John William Cook caught a 14.5-pound brook trout from Ontario's Nipigon River. But the world record was controversial: Some said Cook didn't take the fish on the fly, some said it was one of Cook's native guides who caught the fish, others even said it wasn't even a brook trout. But the record stood.
One hundred years later, three anglers - fueled by an old gaucho's tale that told of "el lugar con el pescado rojo grande," the place with the big red fish - descend upon the Chubut province of Argentina in search of giant brook trout that are no longer found in their native North American range because of habitat loss and degradation.
Photographer Bryan Gregson; Patagonia's director of fishing Bart Bonime: and environmentalist, angler and founder of Patagonia Yvon Chouinard follow Agustin Fox, the owner of Las Pampas Lodge, into an uncharted watershed to chase down the rumors. On the journey, Fox shares his vision for more than a new world record: the protection of not only the fish, but the land, water and culture that surround it.
Happy Hunting / Directors: Joe Dietsch, Lucian Gibson
An alcoholic drifter must battle withdrawal and psychotic rednecks after he becomes the target of a deranged sporting events.
Hard Times / Director: Walter Hill
Pre-film talk by Charles Bronson-ologist Zack Carlson
No one in their right mind would deny that the ultimate human was Charles Bronson, a primal force of detached anger, burning vengeance, and near toxic levels of masculinity. But he had this thing about faces: he loved to destroy them.
Across the best cinematic decades of the 20th century, Bronson ruined more faces than a busload of cross-eyed plastic surgeons on meth. Facial annihilation was Bronson's gift and the world's curse.
In 1975, first-time director Walter Hill (The Warrior, Southern Comfort) convinced him to set aside his signature face-wrecking firearms for plain old bare knuckles, an arguably humane move that resulted in one of the icon's greatest - and most under-appreciated - action epics.
In the train yards and back alleys of Louisiana, a leather-skinned, unstoppable transient (Bronson, of course) makes a meager living by beating other hobos to a pulp in makeshift boxing matches. James Cobum plays his flashy manager Speed, accompanied by an incredible performance by southern legend Strother Martin as the lovably self-destructive Doc Poe.
The Night Watchmen / Director: Mitchell Alteri
With Filmmaker and Cast Q&A
Three inept night watchmen, aided by a young rookie and a fearless tabloid journalist, fight an epic battle to save their lives. A mistaken warehouse delivery unleashes a horde of hungry vampires, and these unlikely heroes must not only save themselves but also stop the scourge that threatens to take over the city of Baltimore.
Mayhem / Director: Joe Lynch
Q&A with Joe Lynch
Matias Caruso penned the script, which tells the story of a virus that infects a corporate law office on the day attorney Derek Saunders (The Walking Dead's Steven Yeun) is framed by a co-worker and wrongfully fired. The infection is capable of making people act out their wildest impulses. Trapped in the quarantined building, our hero is forced to savagely fight tooth and nail for not only his job but his life.
Filmmaker Joe Lynch's latest just might be one of the most fun films we're presenting at CFF this year. Lightning paced, blood soaked and boasting at least one incredible sequence accompanied by a classic Faith No More track.
Uwe Boll Presents: Postal
Live interview with director Uwe Boll beforehand, led by Joe Bob Briggs
Disgusting. Offensive. Stupid. That's not our review of Uwe Boll's infamous 2007 feature Postal - that's literally the tagline on the film's poster.
Chosen by Dr. Boll himself to melt the eyeballs of our favorite folks on earth (cinephiles YOU), Postal sets its scene in the ironically named city of Paradise. A recently laid-off loser teams up with cult-leading uncle to steal a peculiar bounty of riches from their local amusement park; somehow, the recently arrived Taliban have a similar focus, but a far more sinister intent.
Believe us, this doesn't scratch the surface of all the truly bonkers sights and sounds this film has in store for you.
Beforehand, CFF's resident film historian Joe Bob Briggs will be on hand to do a brief career-spanning chat with Uwe, and we'll be offering up our own special salute to Dr. Boll as he retires from film. This is what we've been training for kiddos.
Join us afterward for the boozy blast that will be the Uwe Boll All Nite Stroll - a multi-stop pub crawl in honor of our favorite Raging Boll.
Slayer: Repentless Trilogy
Q&A with director BJ McDonnel and star Jason Trost
Our CFF 2017 Salute to music videos doesn't end with the Underground block. There's a reason iconic metal band Slayer - formed in 1981 - is still widely considered one of the world's greatest, most extreme and most influential heavy metal bands. On its acclaimed 2015 album Repentless, Slayer offered concrete proof that, even after all these years, the band could still live up to its name.
As long-time CFF fans know form our Sonic Cinema block, we're fascinated by the relationship between film and music. The ambitious trilogy of videos made from Repentless tracks - "Repentless," "You Against You," and "Pride and Prejudice" - are joined together here to create a narrative: the brutal, intense, and tragic tale of a former Neo Nazi who chose love over hate, with dire consequences.
The trilogy's mysterious man in the eye patch is long-time CFF favorite Jason Trost (The FP), McDonnell and Trost will both be on hand to let us devil horn salute this incredibly cool achievement.
*CFF PRO TIP Pair this up with fellow CFF 2017 selections Mayhem & The Devil's Candy for the most metal film fest experience of your life.
SUPER SECRET SCREENING
Pre-film talk by Film Editor Josh Ethier
We'd tell you, but then what kind of secret would that be? Not a secret, that's what kind. Featuring a pre-film talk by Film Editor Josh Ethier (Small Crimes, Mayhem), whose unique background in this classic 1980's white knuckler made him the perfect person to contextualize the magic of this under-seen long out of print gem.
SUPER SECRET SNOWFORT SCREENING
Travis Stevens and Dave Lawson of Snowfort Pictures are responsible for an absurd number of our favorite films of recent vintage, and that's why we're honored to have them curate the second of this year's secret screenings. The film they are presenting is a knockout punch sure to become one of the most talked about screenings of the weekend.
The Devil's Candy / Director: Sean Byrne
When filmmaker Sean Byrne's criminally underrated debut feature, The Loved Ones, was released a few years ago, we fell in love. The film was fiercely intelligent and ferocious. Often, when a filmmaker makes such a strong debut it's easy to worry that there could be a sophomore slump. With the spellbinding and strangely satanic The Devil's Candy, Byrne not only didn't fall victim to any slump, he's been added to our short list of filmmakers who truly get and respect the horror genre and its audience.
In The Devil's Candy, a struggling painter is overtaken by satanic forces after he and his family move into what they thought was their dream home in rural Texas.
Starring CFF favorite, Ethan Embry (Empire Records, That Thing You Do) along with Shiri Appleby (Roswell), The Devil's Candy is a critically acclaimed film with a metal soundtrack and one of the creepiest performances we've ever seen by the great Pruitt Taylor Vince.
The Lure / Director: Agnieszka Smoczynska
In many ways, Golden and Silver are typical young girls. They're sisters who love each other, they interested in music and boys, and they only eat people occasionally. They also happen to be mermaids.
After convincing the members of a small band to help them come ashore, the girls start performing with the band at a Warsaw nightclub. They consider heading to America, but their plans slowly derail when Silver finds herself falling in love with the bass player. This happens to coincide with a sharp increase in Golden's bloodlust, which becomes harder and harder to keep secret. But it may be Silver's choices that have set them on a destructive path.
This debut feature from director Agnieszka Smoczynska is distinctly European, with plenty of glitter and glitz set to a thumping bass line.
It's weird and wild and lyrical, a bold and singular vision that plays like a modern fairytale by way of '90s MTV. Sure to mesmerize and delight, The Lure is a strikingly sincere Polish mermaid musical unlike anything you've ever seen before.
Ugetsu / Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
When we heard Janus Films had completed a 4K digital restoration of director Kenji Mizoguchi's finest work, the hauntingly brilliant ghost story Ugetsu, we knew it had to be a part of CFF's 2017 linup.
Made in 1953, Ugetsu is a film for the ages. "Often appearing on lists of the ten greatest films of all time, called one of the most beautiful films ever made, or the most masterful work of Japanes cinema, Ugetsu comes to us awash in superlatives," wrote film historian Phillip Lopate.
Derived from stories by Akinari Ueda and Guy de Maupassant, Ugetsu is a tale of love and loss, with its exquisite blending of the otherworldly and the real.
Undaground Music Video Showcase
Undaground is the first 24/7 streaming radio station curated purely by the Chattanooga region's musicians and tastemakers. Not only are these guys full-on CFF BFF's, their mission to make our city a safer place for music fans and musicians alike is "music to our ears."
We're proud to have the fine gentlemen of Undaground remind us why MTV was once a truly beautiful thing and the art of the music video lives on through collaborations of so many talented filmmakers and musicians.
What Children Do / Director: Dean Peterson
The oft-used term "dramedy" would suggest a tightrope act for the director of such a film, a difficult task to get right. But in skilled hands, the subgenre can wring emotions from all sorts of places and bring new depths to a film's characters. So, it is with What Children Do, which takes us inside the complicated relationship of two estranged sisters forced back together by their grandmother's failing health.
Director Dean Peterson had always wanted to explore the dynamics of sisters, and to do that, he gave his principal characters, Amy (Nicole Rodenburg) and Shannon (Grace Rex), pieces of his own personality and life experiences.
WHISKEY GALORE! / Director: Gillies MacKinnon
The tale of a Scottish island town that ran out of whiskey because of World War II rationing has been told many times, and in many ways.
It began in 1947, when author Compton Mackenzie published a novel called Whiskey Galore he based on actual events that occurred in 1941, when residents on the Hebridean island of Eriskay raided a ship that had run aground, the SS Politician, of its cargo of whiskey.
Mackenzie's novel was so popular it was adapted for a 1949 film of the same name, only with an exclamation point added. Whiskey Galore! was a hit in the UK and eventually released in the United States, albeit under the head-scratching title Tight Little Town because of restriction on using the names of adult beverages in titles.
The story endured. Over the years Whiskey Galore! was adapted into several stage productions, including a musical. Then, in 2016, director Gillies MacKinnon completed a long-gestating remake that had languished in development limbo for more than a decade.
The latest incarnation of Whiskey Galore! is a genuine comedy charmer and we're proud to present it at CFF.
VIP badges, daily passes and individual tickets for all films are now available at www.chattfilmfest.org. For the most up to date information, visit the official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/chattanoogafilmfestival
ABOUT THE CHATTANOOGA FILM FESTIVAL:
The first ever Chattanooga Film Festival was held in 2014, and has been quickly making a name for itself among film-lovers, filmmakers and the film industry. The festival’s record-breaking third year drew more than 10,500 people to its films, workshops and special events. CFF 2017 is set for April 6-9. As always, CFF is proudly continuing its mission to “Respect Cinema,” in hopes of increasing film exhibition, education and production in the state of Tennessee. For more information, visit chattfilmfest.org.