May 24, 2022

the best films of the tenth PIFFF

For its anniversary edition and after a cancellation, the PIFFF put the small dishes in the big and guts on the screen of Max Linder.

End-of-year rush obliges, it is with a little (a lot) delay that we return to our experience at the Paris International Fantastic Film Festival 2021, which was held from December 1 to 7 in… Paris. Its rich and often daring programming has been delighting genre lovers for ten years now, 11 years to be precise. The pandemic played spoilsport last year, reducing the festival to a retro edition before it was canceled outright. Fortunately, at the end of 2021, this edition fell through the cracks. A small selection of his most beautiful (and bloody) moments.

A theme came up regularly…

big hits

To celebrate its tenth anniversary, the festival invited (symbolically, given the situation) at the opening and closing two filmmakers dear to its identity: Alex de la Iglesia and Ben Wheatley. The first is in the process of unveiling to the world the first volume of the new horror anthology which he is co-producing, alongside Carolina Bang, Amazon and Sony: The Fear Collection. Son Venicephrenia, which he directed alone, had everything to inaugurate this saga in the making with great fanfare and seduce fans of his baroque and political cinema. Unfortunately, he often struggles to convert the essay, as we explain in our article about him.

The second, once erected as a little prodigy of genre cinema before losing his luster during his Hollywood career, returns to his first love with In the Earth. Although preceded by an uninviting reputation, he largely convinced the author of these lines, yet generally quite hermetic to the style of its director. It begins as a classic tale of folk-horror – a genre that blew the filmmaker up with Kill List – before taking a much more experimental direction and the opposite of other films “which talk about a pandemic” by exploring the connections between folklore and science (difficult to do more current!). All with a radicality that makes you think of the unloved Annihilation.

In the Earth : photo5G chips are starting to take effect

Obviously, the PIFFF could not resist the two recent big festival sensations: the highly anticipated Mad God and the pleasant surprise The Sadness. A literal descent into hell in the throes of war and a provocative and aggressive tripaille fair, particularly in its place in the programming, alongside the hilarious Category III Ebola Syndrome. We had already talked about it in a dedicated article and in our report of the Strange Festival.

A few suites have also joined the party, such as Wyrmwood: Apocalypse, Australian B series mixing zomblard film and sub-Mad Max frantic. The thunderous and very long last act entertains as much as it hurts the head. Greeted with suspicion after Viral, the 4th opus of the found-footage sketch film saga V/H/S has meanwhile satisfied fans of the first two parts. Unsurprisingly, the feature film remains uneven, but certain sketches, in particular those of Steven Kostanski (a naughty little interlude), Timo Tjahjanto (part of Doom super generous) and Chloe Okuno (the creepy, then funny creation of an urban legend), remain truly excellent. Hail Raatma.

V/H/S/94 : photoAmbiance

always short

Impossible to ignore the selection of short films, still impressive and – we hope – revealing the great artists of tomorrow. The French section, made up almost exclusively of fairly long films, with one brilliant and hilarious exception, reflected a certain trend in French so-called “genre” cinema, the vision of a necessarily metaphorical, minimalist and very serious fantasy. Whether we share it or not, it had its success since it was its most direct representatives who won three prizes and a mention: The Wart and the varu.

On the international section side, the diversity and originality of the programming commanded respect. The various courts ranged from humble entertainment to aesthetic tour de force. If the public prize (the golden eye) rewarded the funniest of them, the incredibly inventive Cuckoo!, they were numerous to deserve honors of the same ilk.

Cuckoo! : photo, Frank LammersCuckoo! or comic efficiency

The animated movie Uncle, for example, tackles the question of child labor with an evocative power and a visual mastery that keeps him away from any demonstration of pathos. In the comedy department, the fun Shiny New World tries out the outmoded exercise of horrific parody (with here Evil Dead in the crosshairs), but adds an extra idea to stand out. In the same way The Relic embarks on the oh so difficult exercise of Lovecraftian terror, with success, since it reappropriates more a form of unveiling than precise figures. The result, full of effervescence and a very viscous gulp, will satisfy anyone who adores John Carpenter and Stuart Gordon.

Nevertheless, the most striking courts were also the most original. The post apo The Archivists begins as yet another vaguely denunciatory dystopia before branching off and taking us from the rear, for a daring and frankly moving celebration of popular art that will particularly affect music lovers. Finally, we were blown away by the awesome A Tale Best Forgotten, a technically staggering tale (we still wonder about the process), capable of inspiring terrible anxiety in barely three or four camera movements. It may be better forgotten, it will be remembered for a long time.

A Tale Best Forgotten : photoThe moving beauty of A Tale Best Forgotten

Unexpected bull shots

Of course, we usually come to the PIFFF to take a few unexpected slaps, often ambushed in the competition. Even though the various retrospectives have made it possible to rediscover great films (Ebola Syndrome, The City of Lost Children, The Conveyor, Evil Dead Trap, Innocence, the always so funny Dobermann and many others) on one of the best screens in Paris, it is this selection that stands out the most, as she regularly takes back.

The proof with The Feast, an eco-friendly slow-burner filmed in Welsh, which could have fallen into the traps of the horrific “auteur” productions of the time, if it did not carefully avoid the traps set in order to nuance it thanks to millimetric writing and a setting scene having fun gradually smearing the wide format the devastating carelessness of human beings.

The Feast : photo, Annes Elwy“Which bin should I recycle it in?”

Two films stood out according to the public, their votes and their reactions. Already, there is the big winner of this edition, the Golden Eye, the Bull directed by Paul Andrew Williams. The filmmaker, co-screenwriter of the sympathetic The Children and director of the engaging horror-comedy Welcome to the cottage, tries his hand at a gritty, even ruthless revenge thriller, the particularity of which (which above all must not be revealed) gives it much more ambitious implications. A real curiosity, very daring, which has since found refuge on the Shadowz platform. No more excuses, then.

Nevertheless, the biggest surprise of the festival will remain the screening of Stéphane, barely a few weeks after the end of its post-production, in world premiere therefore. A humorous found-footage produced by Monsieur Poulpe and Vanessa Brias and directed by the duo Timothée Hochet (Calls) / Lucas Pastor.

A project that has everything from a filmed sketch… until the writing envelops it in a good dose of uneasiness, considerably acidifying the bursts of laughter, to the point of flirting with an almost creepy fantasy! This kamikaze UFO should turn in festivals one more year before looking for a distributor. By then, it will have acquired a certain reputation, and the PIFFF 2022 will have announced its programming. We look forward.