01 MAY — 11 MAY 2024

01 MAY — 11 MAY 2024

Mouth of Madness: to the bravest audience

The festival’s section dedicated to the disconcerting and the bizarre, 2023 offers us an extensive and varied selection, with choices that range from acid cringe comedies to adaptations of Japanese sci-fi classics. There are seven feature films in total, by authors with a history in the festival, such as Quentin Dupieux and Kristoffer Borgli, and newcomers in these fields, such as Beth de Araújo and Chloe Okuno.

This year, the highlight is Pearl, the new film by Ti West, one of the great authors of genre cinema today. An authentic horror crowd-pleaser, the film uses violence as a lure to ask serious questions – what consequences can isolation, repression and family conditioning have? The film, a prequel to 2022’s X, is both an homage to the sumptuousness of classic Hollywood cinema and a handcrafted work, which Ti West directs, writes, assembles and produces. A future classic of horror cinema, with an iconic performance by protagonist Mia Goth.

Watcher, Chloe Okuno’s first feature, takes the setup of classic thrillers as a starting point for an unsettling film, a feminist twist on Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Living in a country where she doesn’t speak the language, the protagonist’s sense of isolation and paranoia is constantly downplayed by those around her, in an effective and impactful slowburner that works loneliness masterfully.

Soft and Quiet departs from a usual gimmick – the film consisting of only one shot – to create one of the most tense and disturbing cinematic experiences of the year. Set in the midst of post-Trump America, debutant Beth de Araújo’s film follows a group of women over the course of an afternoon where current issues are discussed: race, gender, women’s role in society and the family.

A hybrid of satirical found-footage and demented mockumentary, Stephane focuses on a director desperate for a hit and a bigger-than-life character, the Stephane of the title, and how a random encounter can escalate into bizarreness. A fun and eccentric film that uses the archetypes of the genres it explores against the viewer’s expectations.

In Shin Ultraman, Shinji Higuchi returns to the quirky universe of Japanese superhero films in an adaptation of Ultraman, a cult sci-fi series from the 1960s. Here, the author of Neon Genesis Evangelion works on a question – how would the government of Japan, notorious for its bureaucratic processes, approach a possible alien invasion? Answer: with excessive bureaucracy.

Quentin Dupieux returns to the festival with a new delirious exercise. A troupe of superheroes vaguely inspired by the Power Rangers have a single agenda – to use nicotine to combat smoking. Told in short episodes, each more bizarre than the last, Fumer Fait Tousser has everything to be welcomed with open arms by the most adventurous viewers.

Kristoffer Borgli, Scandinavian director who has already been at IndieLisboa with the short films Former Cult Member Hears Music for the First Time and Whateverest returns with the feature Sick of Myself. In a seemingly very clean wrapping, the film feeds on black humour to work on superficiality and contemporary immediacy, in a farce focused on a couple competing for attention, at all costs. Speaking of attention: watch out for the cameo by Anders Danielsen Lie, Joachim Trier’s fetish actor.

In the short films, the body and its limits – in pain and in pleasure – are the themes of Claudio’s Song and In The Flesh, humorous and absurd exercises. Honeymoon at Cold Hollow and A Folded Ocean address couples’ tensions, the former with a grindhouse aesthetic, the latter more melancholic and abstract. Meantime makes subtlety its narrative engine, while Pipes, a very short BDSM animation, uses sex and humour in your face in an original way. To close, The Diamond, is an authentic treatise on the absurd. A delight.

List of films

Feature films:

Fumer Fait Tousser, Quentin Dupieux, 2022
Pearl, Ti West, 2022
Shin Ultraman, Shinji Higuchi, 2022
Sick of Myself, Kristoffer Borgli, 2022
Stéphane, Timothée Hochet, Lucas Pastor, 2022
Soft & Quiet, Beth de Araújo, 2022
Watcher, Chloe Okuno,2022

Short films:

Claudio’s Song, Andreas Nilsson, 2022
The Diamond, Vedran Rupic, 2022
Honeymoon at Cold Hollow, Nat Rovit, 2022
In The Flesh, Daphne Gardner, 2022
A Folded Ocean, Benjamin Brewer, 2023
Meantime, Guillaume Scaillet, 2022
Pipes, Kilian Feusi, Jessica Meier, Sujanth Ravichandran, 2022