The AF Bio: Gabriella Wright

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A model, a humanitarian, a musician, an actress, and an artist, Gabriella Wright has enjoyed a rich and varied life behind the camera since since her film debut in 2004. She is best known for playing Queen Claude of France in the series The Tudors and “Gina” in the action thriller The Transporter Refueled.

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She will next be seen as a woman in danger in our upcoming thriller, Lucas Pavetto’s The Perfect Husband, available July 26th on DVD!

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The AF Bio – Bret Roberts

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Bret Roberts, star of our upcoming feature, The Perfect Husband, is a producer, actor, writer and musician who was born in Anchorage, Alaska in 1975. He made his screen debut as a sailor in Pearl Harbor (2001) and began producing in 2007 with “Blind Man”. His rugged good looks and rough-hewn appearance have led to him being typecast as a blue-collar tough, and he has portrayed a number of bad guys in cult horror films such as “Red Velvet” and “Raven”. Although he has almost 50 films to his credit over the span of a 16-year career, mostly in supporting roles or as a bit player, it was his role as real-life murderer Richard Ramirez in the 2002 horror documentary Nightstalker (film) that made audiences sit up and take notice. A cameo as Jim Morrison in My Dinner with Jimi (2003) led many to remark on his uncanny resemblance to the legendary musician. Roberts appeared in a Little Big Town country music video and has written a song for a video documentary, “Utah Too Much”.
WATCH THE PERFECT HUSBAND ON DVD JULY 26TH

Artsploitation Films Picks Up American Indie Horror The Anatomy of Monsters

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Cannes, May 12, 2016 – Artsploitation Films has announced that is has acquired the North American rights to the edgy and dark American independent film The Anatomy of Monsters directed by Seattle-based filmmaker Byron C. Miller.

The film revolves around a seemingly normal yet homicidal young man who ventures out one night in search of his first kill. At a lonely bar he meets a young woman, takes her to a hotel room and prepares to slash her throat…until he discovers she harbors secrets far worse than even he could imagine.

Ray Murray, President of Artsploitation, called the film, “Refreshingly gritty, the kind of film John Cassavetes would have done if he ventured into genre filmmaking. The storyline is original, the tension palpable and it features a star-making performance by Tabitha Bastien as the far from innocent victim.” He says of the director and co-writer Miller, “Byron ignored the constraints of his limited budget to make a creepy, dark, disturbing and immensely creative thriller.”

Miller, who previously directed the feature Night and is currently attached to direct the genre film, Unwelcome, called his film, “midnight poetry in that attempts to create “the feeling of late night hours and sinister urges,” and commented, “It truly is an honor to work with Artsploitation Films, and be included among their stunning library of titles. Paul Morgan (screenplay, cinematographer), and I put our souls into this film and brought it to life with a beyond dedicated cast and crew. I can’t wait to share this monster with the world!”

The Anatomy of Monsters trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcU0QPXg8xA
The Anatomy of Monsters is scheduled to be released on DVD and VOD early fall, 2016.

The AF Interview – Raphael Neal

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We asked director Raphaël Neal 11 questions about his feature debut film, “Fever“, releasing on May 24:

1. Your movie, Fever, is partially based on the famous Leopold & Loeb murder case of the 1920’s which was also the subject of two other films: Compulsion and Rope. Have you seen those films and did they impact or effect your treatment of the subject matter?

As a Hitchcock fan, I knew about Rope for a long time. I discovered Compulsion while working on Fever and it showed me another possibility of dealing with the same story. But I realized that a lot of movies – and books too – actually deal with the idea of the perfect murder, the murder without a motive. For instance, I love Edward Dmytryk’s film-noir Crossfire, starring Robert Ryan as the murderer. There is that amazing scene in which the detective explains how, without any clue, he found out about the murderer’s identity: he questioned the roots of the motive, which is Ryan’s hatred for the victim. Hatred was the clue, the hidden motive. Although I absolutely admire all those movies, it was important for me to have a different take on the subject. I was dealing with the “banality of evil”, which meant that the hatred has to be hidden, suppressed, sort of diffused in every day’s life. In Hollywood movies, especially the older ones, the bad guys are obviously bad, or scary. I wanted my characters to be sort of less spectacular.

2. Your primary career is photography – why the leap?

I’ve always wanted to make movies – as a matter of fact, a lot of my photo series involve creating fake movie stills! “Fever” arrived at the right moment in my career – maybe I wasn’t ready before. I also like to try out new things and not repeat myself. Directing and producing a movie seemed like an exciting challenge!

3. How did this help in the making of the film?

Although I had a director of photography, I was extremely clear on what I wanted on the visual aspect of the movie. I showed Nicolaos Zafiriou (the D.O.P.) several movies and photos. I knew I wanted something very bright, I kept telling him to show the criminal’s faces without any shadow. I remember hearing people say that the fact that I was a photographer could handicap the film and make it too aesthetically pleasing. So it was important for me to remain objective, somehow. Again, nothing spectacular.

4. What made you decide to use that famous case as a jumping-off point?

The case inspired the book “Fever” which my movie is adapted from. I liked the author’s take on the case. In real life, Leopold & Loeb committed their crime before the Second World War, with an admiration for philosophers like Nietzsche. What is fascinating – but also scary – with Leslie Kaplan’s story is that the exact same sort of crime happens decades after the war, when everybody kind of thought we’d learnt the lesson.

5. Both Damien and Pierre alternate between sleeping and insomnia but at different times. Is this because guilt and remorse effect each differently or is there a grander statement?

Yes, they both react in different ways. It is something I loved in Kaplan’s book: not only that they react in different ways, but each character sort of changes a lot throughout the story. Even though they have committed a murder, they switch from fear and remorse to plain joy or making jokes. Again, that was something that seemed unusual for a movie, and yet very realistic I think. People can do terrible things and yet, life goes on.

6. Is it significant that Damien’s grandfather was a Nazi sympathizer, while Pierre’s grandma is a Jew. Why?

I think it is, yes. This was in Kaplan’s book – which is very daring. Although Damien’s grandfather is not a nazi but suspected of being a collaborator. It is interesting to see that decades after the Second World War, this sort of friendship exists and leads to such an awful crime. I think both Damien and Pierre want to break free from a heavy past, and yet sort of repeat history. To me, it says a lot about where we’re at right now in France.

7. The number 69 is mentioned twice in the film; accident or deliberate?

This story about that woman who was sent to a concentration camp because the list only had 69 people and some officers wanted a round number is true. It is dreadful and says a lot about the idea of a crime without real motive. The fact that this number comes back in the movie was a way to evoke Pierre and Damien’s sort of fascination about those awful stories, to a point that is almost like madness. Eventually, my cowriter, Alice Zeniter and I found it funny to use a number which evokes a sexual position, while Pierre and Damien seem so obviously to be virgins.

8. Why the drag routine? Is it a sublimation of their homosexual desires or of something else?

This scene was not in the book, it’s one of the scenes I totally invented. It’s a reference to my photo work (I do a lot of self-portraits) but also a way to show Damien’s madness. He’s desperately trying to make fun of the crime they committed… and yes, it may be a way to express something more mysterious to him. If homosexuality is there, I wanted it to be subtle, and open to any interpretation.

9. By equating the “unmotivated crime” with the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Nazis in WWII, are you saying that destiny, or GOD himself, is the criminal rather than man himself?

There is this terrible feeling that a lot of things just won’t ever change – despite the lessons that History teaches us. Wars just never stop. As an optimist, I like to think that people can change, if they express themselves – whether it’s love, anger, sadness or grief. I think that this idea is at the core of the movie. Damien and Pierre just want to express something but people around them won’t listen. Like their philosophy teacher. Of course they’re responsible… but society has its share of culpability too.

10. The Heydrich drinking and smoking sequence was a masterstroke of both comic relief and of communicating the idea that history is in the eye of the beholder. What were you trying to say with that?

Again, that was in the book. It’s one of the sentences that Damien and Pierre repeat to the point of driving themselves mad, like a mantra. I liked the idea of young people repeating a sentence, an idea – because it gave them an intellectual dimension. Damien and Pierre are fascinated with words, with ideas. What we’ve added here from the book is the scenes where Damien and Pierre are repeating this sentence to people in the streets and shops. I liked the fact that they were desperate to get any attention. They wanted to share with the world their discovery about the banality of evil, but nobody cared.

11. The scene with Pierre breaking down in class was very powerful and emotional, but was it motivated by remorse or fear?

It’s a good question and I like that it remains open to interpretations. Their motive, like their emotions remain mysterious, even to themselves. I’ve never wanted to make a movie about remorse. What was shocking in Leslie Kaplan’s book, is how these two guys didn’t really seem to feel any remorse. They didn’t really consider that woman like a human being – like in that “69” scene. I think, if we were to keep just one reason why he cried, one word, it would be sadness.

WRITER/DIRECTOR JONAS GOVAERTS TALKS CUB, AUTHENTIC BOY SCOUTS, AND YES, THE DOG SCENE

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As you might remember from my review of seeing Cub at Fantastic Fest, it was one of the most satisfying film experience I had the whole festival. When a lot of other movies are experimenting with combining lots of different genres to try to stand out, Cub was a straight-forward, brutal story of kids camping in the woods. It also featured some of the best cinematography and original music in any horror film in recent memory, making the film highly enjoyable in many different respects. Unfortunately, I felt like Cub didn’t get as much appreciation out of the festival as it deserves, specifically because of a scene involving violence towards a dog that was too intense for audiences to judge it from its many other strengths. I got to chat with the film’s writer/director, Jonas Govaerts, about his first feature length horror film and to let him address some of the issues audiences might have had with the dog violence. He also sent over some exclusive behind-the-scenes shots from the making of the film from photographer Erik De Cnodder.

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Jonas Govaerts on set

WolfMan: The experience of watching Cub both felt unique in comparison to most contemporary horror movies but also had a sense of familiarity to it, like it was combining a lot of elements of horror movies I loved. What were you influences or inspirations when developing Cub, both aesthetically and narratively?
Jonas Govaerts: That’s a tough one right off the bat! There are definitely some conscious visual references in there: our ‘death pit’ was inspired by the climax in Dario Argento’s Phenomena, for example, and the idea to use these ingenious death traps came from a little-known Japanese film called Evil Dead Trap which I’ve always adored. But once the movie was finished, I started noticing other influences, that must’ve sprung from my subconscious: I suddenly remembered reading a comic as a child called “Alinoe,” in which a little boy befriends a strange feral child. And the father of our lead Maurice Luijten pointed out a scene that he thought was ripped off from Alien: again, not a conscious nod, but the similarities are striking. Narratively, though, we’re not really paying homage to anything: we just took a very simple premise and let the events flow naturally from there.
WM: The setup of the film and the stories about the monster in the woods told by the scout masters felt like they could have been based on real events or real stories. Were there any real world inspirations for the events in Cub?
JG: All the scouting stuff you see comes from my own experiences as a boy scout: the den yells, the songs, the night games, the camp stories made up by the leaders to scare us… Even all the different whistle signals you hear are correct. I’ve seen a lot of summer camp horror movies, but never one where the camp stuff felt real, at least to me. The lair of the bad guy was inspired by something called the Ark II: in the eighties, some crazy Americans built their own make-shift bomb shelter out of about forty buried school buses, which was later closed down by the government. You can still find some pictures of it online. Of course, the horror elements are all fictional: those were the kind of things I fantasized about when lying awake in my dark tent at night, listening to the sounds of the woods… There’s a reason the scout totem given to me was Imaginative Toucan.

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WM: Having these horrible things happen to such young children was a bold choice. They’re old enough to be developing their personalities, yet young enough to be considered “innocent.” What was the process like of deciding how old the children would be, especially considering the traumatic things that happen to them? What was the casting process like for the kids?
JG: For me, having Sam and the other cubs be about twelve was perfectly logical: it’s a time when your imagination runs wild, and you don’t know enough about the world yet to separate fantasy from reality – thus it’s the perfect age for a horror story like this. Adults will often underestimate kids, which is what happens in the film as well: I remember some very dark thoughts going through my twelve-year-old head, yet I was perceived as this little innocent boy. Children are more complex creatures then we give them credit for, especially in movies.
The casting process was a combination of luck and very hard work: I found my lead pretty early on, in a short film called “The Gift” (pretty accurate title, now that I think about it!) by Ralf Demesmaeker. Then, I brought in an actress friend of mine, Joke De Bruyn, who’s very good with kids: we started mixing and matching until we had the perfect scout troupe. By the way, Joke also provided the creepy guttural sound the Feral Child makes in the movie, and she appears as Sam’s ‘mother’ in the photograph he carries around.

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WM: A highly controversial, highly talked about scene involves violence towards a dog. You don’t have to convince me why it’s integral to the story, but what is your message to anyone who might be turned off from the whole film because of it? Were you ever pressured to tone that sequence down?
JG: It’s an odd one, isn’t it? If all the events that occur in the movie would take place in real life, I’m pretty sure no one would even mention the dog! Yet for some reason, in cinema, we value animal life more than we do human life. I certainly knew the scene had the potential to turn off certain viewers: that’s why I chose what I considered to be the most non-sympathetic, evil-looking breed of dog in existence. Not that it helped: some people still find him adorable! All I can say is that for me the scene has a very specific narrative purpose: it’s a key moment in the film, not just a cheap tactic to shock a jaded horror audience. Visually, it was toned down a bit in the end, but only for practical reasons: I originally wanted to do some things to that dog that just weren’t possible! Now, the sequence is a little more suggestive, which seems to make it even more disturbing to some people.
I should point out it seems to be a cultural thing as well, though: in Belgium and France, the scenes where we make fun of Walloons (French-speaking Belgians) seem to cause more outrage than the dog scene!

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WM: Tying back into that sense of the familiarity would be the heavy synth score from Steve Moore. How did he get involved in the project? What guidance, if any, did you give him for what you wanted the music to be like?
While writing the script, all I listened to was Zombi’s Spirit Animal, just to get me in the right mood. So when the time came to find a composer, I only had one guy in mind, and that was Steve Moore. Luckily, he was on Facebook, had some time on his hands, and didn’t cost a fortune – though I’m confident that that will soon change! All the stuff he sent me was great, but his first themes were sometimes a bit too Carpenter-esque: more cool than actually truly scary. Then, my editor Maarten Janssens suggested Steve should listen to the music they used in True Detective, and that seems to have really triggered something within Steve: he sent me an email with the header ‘Revelation!’, and attached was what is now the opening theme of the film. Just. Fucking. Perfect.

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“this Finnish flick is the vomit of American sex comedies from the ‘90s mixed with the outlandish gloop and glop of Dead Alive. It’s a tawdry mess really, but oh-so entertaining. Bunny the Killer Thing is the National Enquirer of contemporary slasher films” — www.ravenousmonster.com

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Finland is a magical, mystical country. It snows all the time, metal is always on the radio, and eleven months out of the year you can catch Santa Claus relaxing at his home in Rovaniemi. Finland is also sex-obsessed, pussy-obsessed, and dick-obsessed. Finland is the kind of place where redneck mad scientists engineer walking fuck machines that look like giant rabbits. Their clientele, who are fellow Baltic hillbillies, like things this way. After all, one needs something to do to pass the time during those twenty-four hours of sunshine. You’re probably not going to find this information from Finland’s tourism bureau. However, you can find it if you watch Bunny the Killer Thing.
In director Joonas Makkonen’s film we have the perfect horror setup: a group of Finnish teenagers want to have a party in the woods. As luck would have it, one of them knows an uncle who owns a cabin…a cabin the woods. Check the first box, please. Second, while driving to their destination, a Finno-Ugric foursome stumble upon an English-speaking trio. Not just any trio, but a Cockney Indian, a gay, black Londoner, and a Chinese man from Northern Ireland. This ragtag rainbow coalition also happens to be criminals who have abducted the Swedish pop star Lara Jessica Svensson. Why? Well, because the aforementioned redneck scientists want to shoot Ms. Svensson full of secret goo in order to turn her into a sex slave for two carrot-loving thugs.

Unbeknownst to the soon-to-be victims, an earlier victim, a British writer named Mr. McRain (played by Gareth Lawrence), managed to escape his imprisonment after being subjected to the same secret serum. Unfortunately, Mr. McRain got all hoppy hoppy and transformed into a bloodthirsty wererabbit. His lust is “fresh pussy” and his weapon is his abnormally large schwanz. Think of him as Jason Voorhees except with a leaky prick that he’s always “helicoptering.” Previous generations had axes, chainsaws, and knives, today’s generation, the generation of Bunny the Killer Thing, has a rape rabbit that molests detached limbs, eye wounds, and t-shirts that look like vaginas. It’s all so damnably endearing!
Obviously, sex plays a major role in Bunny the Killer Thing. There’s the normal puke-on-a Friday-night type of sex embodied by Vincent (played by Vincent Tsang) and Sara (played by Enni Ojutkangas) and Emma (played by Katja Jaskari) and Jari (played by Rope Olenius). Of course there is also the sketchy sex enjoyed by Nina (played by Veera W. Vilo), a British schoolgirl who rapes the drunken and asleep Sara while the preteen Jesse (played by Olli Saarenpää) sniffs panties and watches from the closet. Frankly, the film’s only normal couple is Mise (played by Jari Manninen) and Tim (played by Orwi Manny Ameh). This pair of odd birds call each other Mr. White and Mr. Black, drink beer and vodka in the garage, and generally crack on with things. Mr. Black also has an enormous yogurt slinger, which proves to be providential near the film’s end.

There’s absolutely no subtlety in Bunny the Killer Thing. The humor is like Sylvester Stallone—over the top. As for the violence, it’s gore galore with a little semen sprinkled in for good measure. There’s even some great one-liners, such as when the mad rabbit dines on the recently shagged Emma and remarks “Dirty pussy.” Let that be a lesson to you kids, don’t pull a Damone (“Hey, this is great ice tea”) with your gal pal because a sex murderer might just say something nasty about her lady parts.
Overall, this Finnish flick is the vomit of American sex comedies from the ‘90s mixed with the outlandish gloop and glop of Dead Alive. It’s a tawdry mess really, but oh-so entertaining. Bunny the Killer Thing is the National Inquirer of contemporary slasher films and we should thank Mr. Makkonen for that. I hear through the grapevine that he’s considered “promising” by the horror elites. Let’s hope that this tour-de-force of tits, farts, and ding dongs doesn’t drag him down into the abyss of superhero sequels or anything written by Max Landis. I’ll pray for you, my friend.

‘3 Beauties’ (‘3 Bellezas’): The Hollywood Reporter – Panama Review

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Carlos Caridad Montero’s fest-vaunted feature debut is a darkly comic satire on the excesses of the Venezuelan beauty industry.

Venezuela famously has more international beauty pageant winners than any other country, with thousands of the country’s mothers prepared to do what it takes to get their daughter to the top — and their family out of poverty. One such mother — unhinged, dangerous and compellingly played by Venezuelan Diana Penalver — is the target of Carlos Caridad-Montero’s satirical gaze in 3 Beauties. What initially looks like a local dark comedy can easily be seen as an entertaining attack on the suffering and insecurity generated by the international beauty industry to serve its own ends, and it’s presumably this universality which has led to multiple festival bookings for the pic, with more surely to follow.

One-time beauty queen Perla (Penalver) is the single mother of the marvelously named Carolina de Monaco Camacho Camacho (played as an adult by Fabiola Arace) and her sister, Estefania (Josette Vidal), as well as the heavily sidelined Salvador (Fabian Moreno). Perla is a monomaniac, whose single life goal is to prepare Carolina for beauty pageant stardom: “You must learn to betray,” she exhorts Carolina, whilst teaching her how to lose weight by vomiting; later she suggests to Carolina that she’ll probably have to sleep with a few old guys to get ahead.

“Princes don’t exist — there are only princesses,” she adds bitterly, and indeed the girl’s father is entirely absent from the film, not referenced even once. This is another LatAm movie which men are either animals or absent, part of an ongoing attempt to undermine the continent’s abiding machismo.

When the action moves forward some 10 years following an accident which nearly kills Carolina, the family is in the powerful grip of another kind of religion. The script cleverly points up that both the Catholic church (as presented here) and the beauty pageant business can be similarly manipulative, materialistic and dangerous. “We beseech you, Lord,” Perla pleads in the film’s best line, “to speed up our metabolisms.” As Carolina — and Estefania, too, driven by envy — prepare for the Miss Republic contest, it’s through the early scenes of this lengthy second section that 3 Beauties really shows its teeth, with the girls lined up and defined as either ‘tenderloin’ or ‘spam.’

The big gala finale is impressively shot but lightweight given what has come before, failing fully to capitalize on all the sense of threat that has been built up and descending too easily into an implausible combination of farce and tragedy. But the final scene — with its sideways wink at Some Like It Hot — is very nicely done, indeed.

There’s a political reading of 3 Beauties which says that it’s about Venezuelan dictators (Perla) and unquestioningly manipulated masses (her daughters). That may be over the top, but neither is it quite enough to say that Caridad-Montero is exclusively focusing on the country’s beauty contests. The film is taking a general look at our image-based culture.

To the eyes of a more politically correct culture, Perla, as superbly played by Penalver, is a slightly overweight, bustling seamstress, the very definition of middle class. But her wish to do the “right thing” for her girls makes her a monster, concealing a very dangerous woman who unfailingly does the wrong thing, causing them all kinds of damage (plastic surgery is just the beginning) and effectively breaking up the family in the name of her distorted ambition.

One effective moment has Estefania trailing blood around the stage from underneath her pageant dress; the girls’ attempts at getting a boyfriend, El Chino (Diego Guerrero), are also screwed up by the beauty pageant business. This is dark stuff, but the film doesn’t seem to want to confront the full consequences, preferring to linger on the surface consequences rather than explore troubled minds — so that while Penalver’s is a fine performance, it is not a deep one. But then again, there’s the troubling suggestion that in the case of Perla, there may in fact be no depths to explore.

Variety and Unity: Michal Kosakowski on German Angst

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By Paul Risker.
The question is an integral part of the interview, but equally it was a question that was the spark for Michal Kosakowski, Andreas Marschall and Jörg Buttgereit’s collaboration on the anthology film German Angst (2015). As Kosakowski explained: “Andreas told me about an idea that he’d had for an anthology movie. When he was traveling with his films to festivals he was ultimately asked why there are no anthology movies from Germany? And so, this was the moment the idea was born.” He adds: “We came up with three different stories that had nothing to do with each other. But finally they fitted together because we somehow saw in the stories a day in Berlin, in which the first story of Buttgereit (“Final Girl”) plays in the morning, mine (“Make A Wish“) plays in the afternoon and Marschall’s last episode (“Alraune“) is the bedtime story. And all the stories on a different level play with the topic of reality and fiction; dreams and real life.”

As a collection of stories seemingly with nothing to do with one another, a connection revealed only later, German Angst reflects the nature of storytelling whose foundations lie in its ideas and themes as a collective language. And in spite of Kosakowski, Marschall and Buttgereit’s individuality, there is a collective convergence, although here the connection is one that represents a lesson or reminder to the filmmakers. “We actually found this out at the end when the movie was already done and we saw that there were so many similarities” offers Kosakowski. “It is about perception of time and memories, yet we did three completely different movies because each of us comes from a different angle of filmmaking. Andreas is the guy who is very much in love with the Dario Argento movies and the Italian Giallo genre, while Buttgereit is well known for his legendary underground movies from Berlin, and that’s why we thought we had to do something together.”

In conversation with Film International Kosakowski reflected on the role the past has played in shaping and informing his creativity, film as a cathartic experience and the responsibility of film towards history. He also shared his thoughts on the challenges of producing films, the reality of the festival circuit and the way in which audience participation through crowd funding is shaping the future of film production.

Why a career in filmmaking? Was there an inspirational or defining moment?
Yes, it definitely has a lot to do with my past and where I grew up. I was born in Poland and when I was ten I moved with my parents to Austria. As a child being in a communist country like Poland I saw some really violent scenes in the street, especially during the winter of ’81 when Solidarity was very strong and they had the state of emergency. So as a child witnessing those violent scenes and also growing up in an area where people were always playing around and doing stupid things, I saw some really cruel stuff. Then coming to Austria and suddenly having access to a video library – before which I didn’t even know existed – I suddenly became a total moviegoer. I just watched a lot of movies and when my father brought the first VHS camera I suddenly discovered my passion. I started making my own movies when I was twelve and it was just playing with filmmaking, and doing a lot of experiments – learning by doing.
After school I applied to the Film Academy in Vienna where I studied production and editing. But after two years I broke it off because I didn’t like it, and because I already knew so much from my own experiences. Then I worked together with Oliviero Toscani, the guy from Benetton. He was the photographer responsible for the campaigns in the eighties. I was working there in the Fabrica Communication Research Centre in North Italy, and it was kind of study mixed with a concrete project that we were doing. There I could really discover my abilities and I had lots of budget and interesting film projects. So that’s how it started for me, and at that time when I was with Benetton at Fabrica, I was only twenty.

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What was the Genesis of German Angst and the circumstances by which you, Andreas Marschall, and Jörg Buttgereit became collaborators?
I was at the Transylvania Film Festival in 2012 where I had the world premiere of my first feature length movie Zero Killed (2012). During the festival I met by chance the director Andreas Marschall, who also had a screening of his movie Masks (2011). We discovered that we were neighbours in Berlin and we lived a few minutes around the corner. We became friends because we are both horror fans and we both like dark topics and dark movies.

Hypothetically if you’d gone through another producer or had taken an alternative route to independently producing the film, how significantly would this have impacted your creative intentions? Was that freedom important in shaping the film that we have today?
Definitely, because if there was support from public and state funding then of course we would have ultimately been in the TV commissioners hands, which would have definitely limited our ideas and especially the extreme character of the movie. This is a major difference because as an artist and producer I could guarantee that we could make a movie that looked the way we wanted it to look. But at the same time let’s say we knew this would be the last project that we would produce like this because it is a very idealistic way of producing. Of course I had a sales agent even before we started producing the movie and we already had a German distributor. So we knew there was a strong interest and that it would do well in certain territories. In Germany it is doing well, but it was very difficult to produce because I was depending on private investors. We had this crowd funding campaign that was successful in the beginning that gave us the start money to work on that, but it is a tough job because basically filmmaking on the small scale that we were working on is a little bit risky. But we did it and this it what counts in the end. We have had great responses from all over the world, but it’s a balance between festivals and sales, and it’s going slow, but it’s going constantly.

You talk about playing festivals as being a balancing act, but the circuit allows filmmakers and their films a chance to find distribution, while for other films it is a chance to reach an audience they may never have an opportunity to reach. In reality how important is the festival circuit for filmmakers?
In our case since we had a sales agent, and he was responsible for the sales and festival coordination. And this is very important because many independent filmmakers that have no sales agent of course apply to every festival possible. It costs a lot of money too in some countries, although in others it’s free. But if you show the movie at too many festivals within a short time then you kill the movie. There are more and more festivals coming up, but you have to be really careful how you place it and that’s why it’s good to have a sales agent who knows the market pretty well, and who is well connected to the buyers from the territories. But you have to find a balance and actually festivals have nothing to do with sales. In some cases the festivals can be a possibility to attract a distributor and to network, but it is definitely important to have a sales agent because without that it really is a bigger job to get it sold than it is to produce the movie. And this is what you need as a filmmaker because you have a lot of investments for which you have to hand back the money.

Ultimately a lot of people look at the filmmaking process and see it as concluding once the film is completed. But in some respects this is only the beginning, as once you have made it you then have to get the film in front of an audience. Would I be correct to say that filmmakers have to do more across the process now than they have ever had to do before?
It also depends whether you do a short film or a long feature. If you do a short film then festivals are the perfect spot for presenting your movie because it is really difficult to get a distributor for short films. There are DVD collections of short films that you can get in on, but very little money is paid, and so short films are basically for the filmmakers…. They are a kind of a calling card of what they can do, what their quality is and how they deal with filmmaking. But the moment you produce a long feature film then you have ultimately invested more money and so you have to really put a lot of energy into promoting the film. On the one side you have all the social media, which when you know how to use the tool can allow you to reach a great audience. You can even use the VOD platforms that are offered such as Vimeo, and I think YouTube has one as well. I think you definitely do a different kind of viral marketing than twenty years ago because the tools to produce a movie are also much cheaper today than they were twenty years ago. Today there are movies already shot on iPhone and you just have to create the ideas and have the energy to make something out of them. But it’s definitely a big change and shift. When we did the crowd funding campaign at the beginning of this movie, we were promoting the project ‪24/7. It is a full time job and you have to be communicative, and to present your film so that it is visible to the audience.

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The collaboration between the filmmaker and the audience is a vital one and crowd funding has created a new level of interaction that now exists through the audience’s active participation to help make a film. How do you perceive the way that film is evolving and the benefits of this level of interaction?
I have seen many projects recently that have been developed by audiences. There is a movie now produced by a friend of mine called Sky Sharks, a German production about Nazi zombies flying on sharks [laughs], and when they launched the crowd funding campaign they were actively involving the audience to create the content as well. I think for the future it depends where you want to have the money come from. If you want to have money from the crowd funding audience then you will have to involve them more and more in the process. You will have to make them feel as though they are stars and I think this is the direction it is going. Although there are also other possibilities where you have filmmakers who are going the traditional way of getting a lot of public funding and bigger investors. In the end it is about how to create a genius idea that doesn’t cost so much money, like the movie It Follows (2014). I saw it yesterday with Andreas in the cinema and I was so fascinated by the simple way of filmmaking. There were five or six visual effects shots, and the whole was made with an incredible combination of image, sound and music. I think it is a good example of how first of all you have to have a great script, story or idea, and then you try to find a way to put it into a very minimalistic and simple way that doesn’t cost so much money, but which can be very effective.

The first segment of German Angst leaves a question over whether she is awake or whether she is dreaming, as well as the question of action versus the desire and fantasy to act. Your following segment possesses an almost fairy tale like feel that offers the unpicturesque setting an almost dreamy feel. Perhaps it can be attributed to your use of music or the physical performances of your actors, but it forced the contemplation of how cinema can juxtapose beauty with ugliness.

Yes, and I think it is also important to mention how the idea for this episode was born. I told you that when I was ten I moved to Austria. I didn’t speak German at all and I was experiencing xenophobia in schools where I was sometimes beaten up by the pupils because I didn’t speak the language. I always had this wish, this fantasy at the time to change the rules and just let the perpetrator experience what it feels like to be a victim. I took this idea from my experience and I put it into this fairy tale way of telling the story. I think that this fairy tale feeling also comes from the music, which is in the background constantly. But it was important for me to show that it’s actually just a game in your head, and once you are in an awful situation which you have no way out of, then the human mind makes up your own reality that allows you to survive.

In many ways your segment is centred on opposites, of the physical versus the psychological and specifically how the two form different dimensions of existence.
Yeah, and that’s why at the end of my episode the girl survives, so that physically she can continue her life, but psychologically it was the biggest nightmare she went through. Her boyfriend was burnt alive and the idea was to show that you can survive because it is a wishful thinking that you have in this moment. And how when your imagination is strong enough, it can sometimes help you to survive.

To address the Nazi presence in your segment, I don’t want to use the phrase that I’ve found it hard to believe what happened, but I just find it more difficult to comprehend with age. Discussing or considering whether your character can psychological survive raises the larger question of whether we can ever escape this chapter in our history that has left such a deep scar.
I feel the same way. Being born in Poland, a country that suffered a lot during the Second World War, and from the stories of my grandparents who both survived the war, I am still trying to comprehend what the cruelty was about. I am forty now and it is so unimaginable. In my episode it was important to me to build a bridge between the past and the present, in which the Neo-Nazi scene is growing and growing. It is not only a geographical phenomenon here in Germany, it is all over the world. You can find them in North and South America, Europe and Russia. I just wanted to show that this problem is growing and it was important to show that the same cruelty is depicted in both the the past and the present. And this is what I am criticising a lot here in Germany, especially of fictional movies about the Second World War that are showing it in a very soft way. It’s really deforming the memories of the war and what war actually means, especially the Second World War. I wanted to show this directness and why it was possible was because it was an independent movie. I could allow myself to go that far, especially with the baby scene, which is still something that hurts me as well when I see it. But it was a story from my grandfather who saw that happen during the Second World War, and through his words I created such an horrible image that I had to get rid of it by shooting it.

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So much of our understanding of history is shaped through entertainment and you pick up on an important concern of history not being responsibly depicted through film. There is nothing wrong with using history as the basis for entertainment, but we should also remember the importance of paying tribute to and the need to depict our history accurately. Ultimately it is important to be cautious of not creating a disconnect from historical truth, but are you concerned that over time this will be a problem we will be forced to confront? I could speak for hours about this topic because it is really interesting. But let me start with this for example. The flashback sequence in my episode of the Second World War was acted by a Polish reenactment group that are actually doing a lot of reenactments in Warsaw about the Second World War, and especially the Warsaw uprising during ‘44. They are reenacting it for large audiences, usually on Sunday’s and in public spaces, or the original places where it actually happened. This group is very interesting because on the one side they try to depict how it really was – the cruelty of war and what actually happened, and on the other hand they try to engage with young people so that they’ll familiarise themselves with their own history. The young audience watching these Second World War reenactments are into history books, which is proof that they are more into reading about what happened in their country. And I think one interesting fact about the reenactment group is that there is a sensibility now for history. Poland is a very young country. It has existed for twenty five years and now it can really process it’s past. There is a danger that when a tragedy is further from the present then the foggier it becomes, but we can understand it through movies that are produced about those times, whether it is mainstream or independent cinema. But it has much to do with witnesses from the time, and there are still many witnesses alive from the Second World War. But in ten years they will probably all be gone and then it’s the responsibility of filmmakers to present the history in a way that is understandable in that same way. So when a director decides to make a popcorn film about this, then you have to clearly communicate it is such – how the facts in the movie can be changed. But then there are movies like Son of Saul (2015), which won a prize in Cannes about Auschwitz, where the camera follows one guy constantly. And this is quite serious stuff, but it is a very good movie and I’ve just seen the trailer. I read a good critical piece about it and this is very responsible filmmaking. So I think you have to clearly communicate what it is. If you use history in computer games then of course it is a computer game, and you have to be aware that it has changed. But communication to know what it is remains important.

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You spoke about being told this one particular horrific story by your grandfather. Do you therefore look upon German Angst as a cathartic or a self-healing experience, and do you perceive film as having the potential to offer a cathartic experience to storytellers?
It somehow has something to do with self-healing, especially for me to understand the past. And in my case I just wanted to show that the violence that is depicted in the movie is very hardcore, but translated into the psychological pain that I had, it is actually the same. It is actually worse, and it was important for me to show it in that radical way that really hurts. It really hurt me and that’s what I like to do with my movies. I always take a directness like in Zero Kill where people talk about murder and they depict it that was the same kind of painful catharsis for these people that were reenacting their own fantasies. So this is also a kind of style that I use to transport a certain idea that I want to tell. And of course there are people who understand it and there are people who both can’t and don’t want to understand it; who don’t want to look at what is beneath the surface. If you just want the surface of a movie then this is the wrong movie too watch.

German Angst is an uncomfortable film that takes us to a dark place, which we have to endure. There will be those that will perceive it as having excessive violence beyond which there is little else, but when you look beneath the surface the film is exploring a range of ideas. I wouldn’t want to say you are targeting an intellectual audience, rather you are seeking an audience that is willing to interact with the film, embrace it and look beneath the surface.

It is important for me as a filmmaker to produce movies that are raising more questions than are offering answers. If you start asking questions about yourself then this is what great movies are about. But of course I love popcorn cinema as well. If I want to switch off my brain for two hours I’ll go and watch Jurassic World (2015), which is fine as well and it has a right to exist. But cinema and a movie in itself has so many possibilities to play with, from the aesthetics to the content that it’s always bad to not take the chance if you have the opportunity to create an emotional buzz.

Christoph Behl remarked to me: “You are evolving, and after the film you are not the same person as you were before.” Would you agree with this idea of change and if so how has the experience of German Angst impacted you both personally and professionally?
There is a very simple answer – it’s like getting pregnant and then giving birth to a child. It really is like this. I have four kids so I know what it is when a baby is born, and I would compare it to that. First of all, you just have to take responsibility, and then like when you have a child it changes you. Afterwards you are not the same person because everything around you changes and it is the same with movies. It is born and then you have to continue taking care of it, like now. We are doing this interview and so I try to promote it as best as possible. So I think this is the best comparison and I agree that it changes you as you are different than you were before the movie. And you grow with movies, so the next movie you shoot will again be a different topic, and it will lead you down a different path – again another child. And the great thing about filmmaking is that it is never the same. It is always a new experience and it’s always an incredible task. But you have to carefully choose your project because that’s what will remain from it.

German Angst in now available on home video in the US from FilmRise and Artsploitation Films.
Paul Risker is an independent scholar and film critic who contributes regularly to Film International. He is an Editor for Mise-en-scène: The Journal of Film and Visual Narration, which will launch in Fall 2016.

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Killer reviews for horror/comedy BLOODY KNUCKLES

Is Matt O.’s horror/comedy Bloody Knuckles our most critically-acclaimed release of the year?

“Puerile, pharmacy juvenile, viagra grotesque fun.” – AllThingsHorror.com

“a bizarre concoction, see which is totally nuts and yet surprisingly entertaining.” – BigGayPictureShow.com

“A bloody, funny blast!” – Bloody-Disgusting.com

“Two fistfuls of fun.” – Body Count Rising

“Satisfies almost every entry on my subconscious genre film check list!” – Cinedelphia.com

“Sure to earn the admiration of its target audience and the disdain of everyone who is too pussified to take a joke.” – CinemaSlasher.com

“The gorehound equivalent of a popcorn movie.” – DocTerror.com

“Crass, sleazy and violent.” – DVDNewsFlash.com

“A blood-spattered Valentine to underground comics and ’80s cult cinema…highly recommended!” – DVDTalk.com

“A five-finger exercise in fun frights.” – Fangoria

“Filmmaker Matt O.’s debut feature is one to make note of.” – HorrorUnderground.org

Bloody Knuckles is vulgar, distasteful, and offensive – I loved every minute of it!” – ItsBlogginEvil.com

“Outrageously offensive yet insanely funny.” – MoviePilot.com

Bloody Knuckles has to be considered among the best of the year.” – TheMovieRat.com

“It’s fun, brash and wears both its excesses and inspirations with pride. Recommended.” – Paracinema.net

“This is not a movie for those easily offended.” – PopCultureBeast.com

“A gloriously nasty, Troma-esque mash note to freedom of speech.” – ScreenRelish.com

“A heck of a lot of fun, and it’s a great flick all the way around.” – ShatteredRavings

“A potential cult classic in the making.” – TheRottingZombie.com