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The latest from French provocateur Marina de Van, the second
feature from RABIES duo Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, Neil Jordan’s new
vampire tale, festival favorite V/H/S/2 and the long-awaited FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY lead the Spotlight and
Midnight sections of New York’s Tribeca Film Festival. Fango reveals the slate
and speaks with programmer Cara Cusumano.
“We’ve had midnight for a long time and then we changed the
name to Cinemania for a couple of years.
This year, we’re returning to Midnight and kind of going for more of a
classical approach to programming genre filmmaking and the section,” Cusumano tells
Fango, before previewing the genre-centric section. “We just really didn’t want
to feel limited by the section and we felt like Cinemania sort of implied
something wacky and zany, and while we have that, we didn’t want to be closed
off at all to the full breadth of what people were really doing. I think that’s
how we make it Tribeca, because in all of our sections, we really want to not
approach programming with any agenda, but let the films show us what they are
and we kind of represent that and convey it in all its diversity to the
In what could be their strongest s slate yet, Tribeca sees
the return of Keshales and Papushado, who brought the world premiere of their
darkly hilarious RABIES to the fest two years ago and took off greatly from
there. Of course, that would lead us to question which of the more unknown
selections could break out come May: New Zealand cannibal comedy FRESH MEAT? Mad
Scientist cyborg story THE MACHINE? “We’re really excited about that, first of
all. RABIES was something we kind of discovered and launched and we are so
proud of them; to be able to bring them back in Spotlight with this bigger film
is very triumphant for all of us,” the programmer says. “It’s always hard to
predict what’s going to kind of pop, so I’d be nervous to prognosticate on
record, but I think all of these have a lot of potential and they’re all so
different from each other, that I’m hoping that the people who love action are
going to be excited by RAZE and the people who love horror/comedy are going to
be excited by FRESH MEAT; sci-fi, THE MACHINE. We’re really hitting a lot of
different points, whereas last year was a lot of thrillers, which was great but
I think this year has so much more breadth. I’m hoping more of the films will
really strike a chord with their individual audiences.”
One of the biggest catches is undoubtedly de Van’s DARK
TOUCH. She who brought us the graphic, unnerving IN MY SKIN and the
Hitchcockian identity crisis DON’T LOOK BACK, explores child abuse in an
Ireland-set shocker she previously spoke to Fango about here. “It’s our opening
night film, which is great. We started last year with doing opening nights for
our competition sections and this year, we’re expanding that to include Midnight,
as well. It’s just a perfect way to kick off the section. First of all, this is
a female filmmaker working in genre film, which is rare and very exciting for
us. And her last film was in Cannes, so it does have a sort of sophistication
to it that’s a great way to kick off the section. At the same time, it’s
incredibly scary and definitely a full horror film. It’s something that we’re
really excited about and I think, speaks to what we’re trying to do across the
board in this section.”
As Women in Horror Month just wraps up, with de Van having
been our first spotlight, there seems to be certain women’s touch this year
that extends from filmmakers, to protagonists, to those behind the scenes that
bring these very films to our attention. “I started programming out of grad
school. I went to NYU for Cinema Studies and started programming for the Hamptons
Film Festival and then Tribeca and being able to work/focus in midnight is just
my personal taste, some that I’d always hoped to do and I’m really excited that
Tribeca gives me that opportunity and that they love that about me. So, being
able to contribute to the team, in the area that I love to personally watch is
incredibly rewarding,” says Cusumano. “I think a lot of the women on our team
are the ones who are most excited about things like this, or the most difficult
to impress because they’re such purists and die-hards, which I love to see and
be around, because I think it’s not necessarily the public perception. That
doesn’t reflect real audiences for these films. If we can spotlight that with
Marina de van, or female programmers focusing in Midnight, that’s all the
Speaking further on the subject, she adds, “We are a little
reluctant to prescribe themes, because we prefer the films to organically speak
for themselves and we don’t want that to be informing our process, but in just
sort of talking about this section, it has become clear, speaking of women,
that not only the filmmakers, but the characters—there’s a lot of strong women
in the program. The main character of THE MACHINE, Caity Lotz gives this
amazing performance as this really intense superhuman warrior, and then in
RAZE, too. Zoe Bell, who’s fantastic and legendary in her own right, is in this
film that’s all about women fighting women in this HUNGER GAMES-esque plotline.
These powerful female characters have been definitely a thorough line. It
Without further ado, here’s what you can expect from Tribeca’s
Midnights, as well as the genre-touching films in Spotlight and Viewpoints, as
• DARK TOUCH (pictured above), directed and written by Marina de Van.
(France) – World Premiere, Narrative. Niamh is the lone survivor of a bloody
massacre after the furniture and objects in her family’s isolated house take on
a monstrous life of their own. The police ignore her wild stories and the
family friends and social worker who take her in try to introduce a new life.
But in this psychological thriller, Niamh is unable to leave her violent past
behind her, endangering everyone who crosses her path.
• FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY, directed by Richard Raaphorst,
written by Chris W. Mitchell and Miguel Tejada-Flores. (Netherlands) –
International Premiere, Narrative. In the waning days of World War II, a team
of Russian soldiers finds itself on a mysterious mission to the lab of one Dr.
Victor Frankenstein. They unearth a terrifying Nazi plan to resurrect fallen
soldiers as an army of unstoppable freaks and are soon trapped in a veritable
haunted house of cobbled-together monstrosities. Frankenstein’s Army is the
wild steampunk Nazi found-footage zombie mad scientist film you’ve always
• FRESH MEAT, directed by Danny Mulheron, written by Briar
Grace-Smith. (New Zealand) – New York Premiere, Narrative. After a poorly
executed escape from the police, a gang of dysfunctional criminals flees to the
suburbs and gets more than it bargained for when it crash lands in the garage
of an upper-class Maori family whose refined palates have developed a taste for
human flesh. This action-packed horror comedy tells a blood-spattered tale of
basement butchery and shifting allegiances as these unlikely adversaries enter
a deadly showdown. A Tribeca Film release.
• THE MACHINE, directed and written by Caradog James. (U.K.)
–World Premiere, Narrative. Caradog James adds another layer to the
Frankenstein story in the latest gripping sci-fi adventure to come out of the
U.K.. Already deep into a second Cold War, Britain’s Ministry of Defence seeks
a game-changing weapon. Programmer Vincent McCarthy unwittingly provides an
answer in The Machine, a super-strong human cyborg played by the impressive
Caity Lotz (The Pact). When a programming bug causes the prototype to decimate
his lab, McCarthy takes his obsessive efforts underground, far away from
• MR. JONES, directed and written by Karl Mueller. (USA) –
World Premiere, Narrative. Scott (Jon Foster) is a filmmaker in need of
inspiration. He and his girlfriend Penny move into a desolate house hoping to
make a breakthrough. Then they discover their neighbor, the elusive Mr. Jones.
Famous for his haunting sculptures, Mr. Jones has remained a mystery to the
world. Scott and Penny, convinced that they have found the perfect film
subject, sneak into his workshop and realize that their curiosity may have
chilling consequences. Who is Mr. Jones?
• RAZE, directed by Josh Waller, written by Robert Beaucage.
(USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Stuntwoman Zoe Bell (Inglorious Basterds,
Kill Bill 1&2) headlines this sly subversion of the women-in-prison genre.
After Sabrina (Bell) is abducted, she finds herself in an underground lair,
forced to do battle with other innocent women for the amusement of unseen
spectators. Each of these reluctant warriors has something to lose, but only
one will remain when the game is done. Violent and relentless, Raze takes its
video game aesthetic to the deepest and darkest places, rarely surfacing for
air. Includes Rachel Nichols and Tracie Thoms.
• V/H/S/2 (Our Review), directed by Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Eduardo
Sanchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Evans, Jason Eisener, written by
Barrett, Jamie Nash, Tjahjanto, Evans, Eisener, and John Davies (USA,
Indonesia) – New York Premiere, Narrative. Investigators break into a house,
find a vast collection of VHS tapes and play them one by one. The videos
include visions of the paranormal, flesh-eating zombies, a shockingly genuine
scene of hell on earth and a slumber party gone horribly awry. This highly
anticipated sequel to last year's horror breakout V/H/S features contributions
from contemporary genre filmmaking’s leading talents, including the creators of HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, THE RAID, YOU'RE NEXT and THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. In
English, Indonesian with subtitles. A Magnet Release.
• BIG BAD WOLVES, directed and written by Aharon Keshales
and Navot Papushado. (Israel) – World Premiere, Narrative. A vigilante cop and
a vengeful father capture and interrogate an accused serial killer. Aharon
Keshales and Navot Papushado’s brutal follow-up to Rabies (TFF 2011) examines a
horror that most would not want to imagine: what would you do if someone hurt
the one you loved most? A revenge thriller with teeth, Big Bad Wolves delivers
on its raw tension and operatic drama. In Hebrew with subtitles.
• BYZANTIUM, directed by Neil Jordan, written by Moira
Buffini. (U.K., Ireland) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative. Neil Jordan’s exploration
of vampirism began with Interview with the Vampire. Now he returns to this
lurid, malevolent realm through Clara (Gemma Arterton) and her daughter Eleanor
(Saoirse Ronan). Creatures from Clara’s past come calling, and these immortals
are forced to relocate. Dire consequences follow anyway when Eleanor makes a
connection with a local boy (Caleb Landry Jones) and slowly reveals the truth
of who they are and how they survive. An IFC Films release.
• THE MOMENT, directed by Jane Weinstock, written by Jane
Gloria Norris and Weinstock. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. After a
tumultuous affair between international photojournalist Lee (Jennifer Jason
Leigh) and troubled artist John (Martin Henderson) ends in John’s
disappearance, Lee lands in a mental hospital to recuperate. She strikes up a
friendship with a fellow patient bearing an uncanny resemblance to her missing
lover. The pair works to uncover the truth behind the disappearance, but Lee’s
precarious sanity comes under threat when the clues lead to the last place she
would ever expect.
For much more, visit Tribeca Film.
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