November 15, 2012

Mad World: Ithaca Film Festival Preview

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To many, Ithaca can seem too secluded and detached from the rest of the world. Every so often, however, Ithaca provides an opportunity to access rare cultural achievements from the entire globe. This weekend, the first Ithaca Film Festival will be celebrated at Cinemapolis and Cornell Cinema. The festival will feature first-class entertainment from South Korea, Australia, Japan, France, Germany and the U.S. Even if you don’t consider yourself a film connoisseur, do not shy away. I sat down with festival organizer Hugues Barbier grad, plant biology, who  promises that the festival will reward every type of student and viewers of any degree of cinematic understanding.Barbier had organized a similar festival in Strasbourg, France that took place every month and focused more on horror movies and underappreciated genre titles. Upon arrival at Cornell, he was disappointed by the absence of a comparable gathering. With the help of other cinephiles in the area, he selected a broad array of films. He described the selection process, “we chose for three different parts: an international competition, a retrospective and special screenings.”

“The international screenings will feature some films that have not been released yet. We have anticipated foreign releases that we think are going to be super good and we want to promote them,” he said. These include films such as Wrong, an absurd tale from French actor-director Quentin Dupieux that follows a lonesome man in search of his dog. King of Pigs, which will be screened at 6 p.m. on Saturday, is a Korean animated feature that flashes its characters back to their revolt against high school bullies. Resolution, an American film which he calls “one of the most original low-budget genre movies of 2012,” at 8 p.m. Saturday, followed by a 10 p.m. showing of Inhuman Resources, an Australian serial killer thriller with a heavy dose of social commentary and humor.

Pay special attention to the retrospective, which will revisit the glories of Australian Exploitation films. The classic Mel Gibson revenge film Mad Max (1979), often cited as one of the most influential action movies to date, will be screened. The film was directed by George Miller who was a Biology/Pre-Med student, a fact Barbier believes emphasizes how these screenings will entice students of any major. Also influential are Patrick, Stunt Rock and Peter Weir’s college tale Picnic at Hanging Rock. Weir is the most noteworthy export of Australian directors and, after his days of Australian New Wave features, came to the U.S. to direct Dead Poets’ Society, The Truman Show and Master and Commander. Quentin Tarantino fans might be glad to learn that the Kill Bill series pays overt homage to Patrick and that Tarantino once said of the Stunt Rock director, “If you don’t like Brian Trenchard-Smith . . . get the fuck out of here!”

Among the special features is Society, a film that Barbier predicts will have a cult following in the near future. Director Brian Yuzna will be at the screening to introduce the film and answer questions from the audience. Also playing are Holy Motors, a French picaresque featuring Eva Mendes and Kylie Minogue and My Amityville Horror, an American documentary recounting the inspiration for the 1978 Long Island haunted house classic, Amityville Horror, and its countless sequels and remakes.

However esoteric these films appear, they are high quality entertainment with universal appeal. Barbier explains, “We’ve seen around 300 different movies and chosen the best. The selection is a trade-off between diversity of locations and quality.” For a student body representing 110 countries of origin, the festival will reach many of the different cultures present at Cornell. These showings hark back to many languages, myriad folklores and countless international film cliques. Those of you hesitant to pay the ticket prices, keep in mind the caliber of film you could be choosing from. The festival ensures that “not only are these movies great and cool to watch with your friends, but they also have a political statement behind them,” Barbier corroborated that independent film “is the perfect way for saying something that in a studio framework, you would not be able to say.”

Take advantage of these windows to foreign countries and historical periods that Ithaca is providing. Ithaca has the ability to float events that would sink amongst apathy and bureaucratic pacing in other larger cities. Barbier credited the residents of Ithaca as especially helpful in producing the event, “Ithaca is interesting. The community is really nice and has lots of possibilities for grants and if you’ve got a nice festival, the institutions and the citizens will support you … I think here we’ve got a crowd of interested college students and a community that is very supportive of the arts. These two things groups build a very strong community here.”The Ithaca International Fantastic Film Festival will be held from Friday to Sunday at Cinemapolis and Cornell Cinema.

Original Author: Henry Staley