Southern Living recently deemed the Chattanooga Film Festival "The Sundance of the South." With four days of independent films, parties and panels, it's no wonder this festival is quickly becoming the southeastern hub for good cinema. Hurry up and buy your badge, before you miss out. The CFF is also looking for volunteers.
Here's a glimpse at this year's lineup. Check CFF's website for the schedule of showtimes.
This year, the festival will open with:
Dave Made a Maze / Director: Bill Waterson
Dave, an artist who has yet to complete anything significant in his career, builds a fort in his living room out of pure frustration, only to wind up trapped by the fantastical pitfalls, booby traps, and critters of his own creation. Dave Made a Maze is Goonies meets Gilliam meets Gondry and we can’t wait to share it with our CFF 2017 audience on the giant downtown IMAX screen! Trailer Here
The New Radical / Director: Adam Bhala Lough
CFF Truth Bombs Opening Night Film with Post Film Technology Discussion
Uncompromising millennial radicals from the United States and the United Kingdom attack the system through dangerous technological means, which evolves into a high-stakes game with world authorities in the midst of a dramatically changing political landscape.
S is For Stanley / Director: Alex Infascelli
S Is For Stanley is the story of Emilio D'Alessandro, Stanley Kubrick's personal driver. A Friendship that lasted through 30 years of their lives, helped create four cinema masterpieces, and brought together two apparently opposite people, that found their ideal journey companion far away from their homes.
Dayveon / Director: Amman Abbasi
In the wake of his older brother's death, 13-year-old Dayveon spends the sweltering summer days roaming his rural Arkansas town. When he falls in with a local gang, he becomes drawn to the camaraderie and violence of their world.
24x36 / Director: Kevin Burke
A documentary that explores the birth, death and resurrection of illustrated movie poster art. Through interviews with a number of key art personalities from the past 4 decades – 24×36 aims to answer the question – What happened to the illustrated movie poster? Where did it disappear to, and why? Trailer Here
On the Sly: In Search of the Family Stone / Director: Michael Rubenstone
Director and super-fan Michael Rubenstone sets out in search of long-time reclusive funk legend, Sly Stone. Along the way, he meets with some success, but finds countless more failures in trying to capture a man who refuses to be contained.
Buster’s Mal Heart / Director: Sarah Adina Smith
A mountain man (Rami Malek of “Mr. Robot”) on the run from authorities survives the winter by breaking into people's empty vacation homes. He has reoccurring dreams of being lost at sea... only to find that he is the man lost at sea. He is one man in two bodies. This is the story of how he split in two.Trailer Here
My Entire High School is Sinking into the Sea / Director: Dash Shaw
An earthquake causes a high school to float into the sea, where it slowly sinks like a shipwreck in this animated film which features the voices of Jason Schwartzman, Lena Dunham, Reggie Watts, Maya Rudolph and Susan Sarandon. Trailer Here
A Dark Song / Director: Liam Gavin
A grieving woman with many secrets rents a secluded home and hires an occult scholar to help her perform a black magic ritual. The ritual will take six months to complete. During that time, and with only a circle of salt around the house to protect them, the pair cannot leave the house or risk the ritual not working. This stunning Irish supernatural drama knocked us flat and has without question the biggest jaw drop of an ending of any film at CFF 2017. Trailer Here
Bitch / Director: Marianna Palka
The provocative tale of a woman (Marianna Palka) who snaps under crushing life pressures and assumes the psyche of a vicious dog. Her philandering, absentee husband (Jason Ritter) is forced to become reacquainted with his four children and sister-in-law (Jaime King) as they attempt to keep the family together during this bizarre crisis.
The Monster Squad / Director: Fred Dekker
Among connoisseurs of classic ’80s cinema, there’s a film many hold so dear that they dare to mention it in the same breath as bona fide classics Goonies and Gremlins. At CFF, we submit that The Monster Squad, from its classic script by legendary screenwriter Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, The Nice Guys) to its breezy crowd-pleasing direction by the underrated Fred Dekker, deserves a place in those hallowed cinematic halls. That’s why we’ve invited the film’s cast members Andrew Gower and Ryan Lambert to join us for a special screening (make sure to catch their live Squad Cast podcast during the festival as well). When you immediately leave the theater and feel compelled to purchase the film’s soundtrack, we promise not to say I told you so.
Hatchet / Director: Adam Green
When a group of tourists on a New Orleans haunted swamp tour find themselves stranded in the wilderness, their evening of fun and spooks turns into a horrific nightmare. Adam Green’s love letter to classic slasher cinema is now a classic itself and along with his Movie Crypt podcast co-host Joe Lynch Adam is on hand to celebrate the 10th of this blood splattered, comedy/horror classic. Trailer Here
Menashe / Director: Joshua Z. Weinstein
Set within the New York Hasidic community in Borough Park, Brooklyn, Menashe follows a kind but hapless grocery store clerk trying to maintain custody of his son Rieven after his wife, Lea, passes away. Since they live in a tradition-bound culture that requires a mother present in every home, Rieven is supposed to be adopted by the boy’s strict, married uncle, but Menashe’s Rabbi decides to grant him one week to spend with Rieven prior to Lea’s memorial. Their time together creates an emotional moment of father/son bonding as well as offers Menashe a final chance to prove to his skeptical community that he can be a capable parent.
Kedi / Director: Ceyda Torun
Before watching Kedi, we wouldn’t necessarily have considered ourselves “cat people.” Sure we’d petted a few cats in our day, but we never really understood what all the fuss was about. Dogs were our pets of choice. After Ceyda Torun’s glorious and unique Kedi, we’re ready to adopt a few hundred. Kedi is one of the coolest and unique docs we’ve seen this year. If you’ve ever spent even 30 seconds going down a YouTube rabbit hole of cute cat videos, Kedi is—if you’ll pardon the pun—pure catnip. Trailer Here
Our Heavenly Bodies / Director Hanns Walter Kornblum
In 1925, German director Hanns Walter Kornblum wanted to create a film unlike any before it, a summation of all the astronomical knowledge available at the time and a dreamy investigation of what wonders might await humanity at the advent of space travel. One of the silent era’s most gorgeous visionary films together with an electrifying live score provided by Coupler, a Nashville-based band founded by Ryan Norris (Lambchop) that describes itself as “an exploration of the intersections of man and machine, live and recorded, composed and improvised, stasis and flux.”
The Void / Directors: Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski
In the middle of a routine patrol, officer Daniel Carter happens upon a blood-soaked figure limping down a deserted stretch of road. He rushes the young man to a nearby rural hospital staffed by a skeleton crew, only to discover that patients and personnel are transforming into something inhuman. As the horror intensifies, Carter leads the other survivors on a hellish voyage into the subterranean depths of the hospital in a desperate bid to end the nightmare before it's too late. For fans of a good old fashioned practical effects filled spook show The Void. Trailer Here
Anti-Porno (*Tennessee Premiere) / Director: Sion Sono
A new film by Japanese outlaw filmmaker Sion Sono is a cause for celebration and Anti-Porno his latest does not disappoint. In a film Indiewire called a “feminist take on sexuality” Sion weaves the strange tale of Fashion star Kioko is bored in her apartment, waiting for a meeting with Watanabe, a chief-editor who’s interviewing her. In the domination and humiliation game between her and her assistant, the roles will slowly invert. Unless it’s all fiction
David Lynch - The Art Life / Directors: Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes
David Lynch takes us on an intimate journey through the formative years of his life. From his idyllic upbringing in small town America to the dark streets of Philadelphia, we follow Lynch as he traces the events that have helped to shape one of cinema's most enigmatic directors. David Lynch the Art Life infuses Lynch's own art, music and early films, shining a light into the dark corners of his unique world, giving audiences a better understanding of the man and the artist. As Lynch states "I think every time you do something, like a painting or whatever, you go with ideas and sometimes the past can conjure those ideas and color them, even if they're new ideas, the past colors them." Trailer Here
SCORE: A Film Music Documentary / Director: Matt Schrader
What makes a score unforgettable? SCORE: A Film Music Documentary, will tell you. The film shows how painstaking the process of writing any score, let alone a memorable one, can be, and features interviews with many of the world’s finest film score composers, including John Williams (Star Wars, Jaws, Indiana Jones), Danny Elman (Batman, Spider-Man) and Hans Zimmer (Driving Miss Daisy, Rain Man, Pirates of the Caribbean). Trailer Here
Wrong Turn 2: Dead End / Director: Joe Lynch
A group of reality show contestants find themselves fighting for their survival against a family of hideously deformed inbred cannibals who plan to ruthlessly butcher them all in filmmaker Joe Lynch’s crowd pleasing cult classic. CFF is proud to have Joe in attendance to celebrate the 10th birthday of this backwoods genre gem. Trailer Here
Sullivan’s Travels / Director: Preston Sturges
Tired of churning out lightweight comedies, Hollywood director John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea) decides to make O Brother, Where Art Thou?, a serious, socially responsible film about human suffering. After his producers point out that he knows nothing of hardship, Sullivan, disguised as a hobo, hits the road. En route to enlightenment, he encounters a lovely but no-nonsense young woman (Veronica Lake)—and more trouble than he ever dreamed of. This comic masterpiece by director Preston Sturges is among the finest Hollywood satires, and a high-water mark in the career of one of the industry’s most revered funnymen. Trailer Here
The Crest / Director: Mark Covino
At CFF we love filmmaker Mark Covino, and since his debut feature, the life-altering, rad A Band Called Death screened with us several years ago, Mark has been kind enough to come to our festival and teach documentary filmmaking. Now he’s given us another gift in the form of his latest work, The Crest. On the surface, the film is a gorgeously shot and edited surf documentary, but a closer look reveals a timely tale of family, of immigration, and the importance of preserving traditions and cultures. Trailer Here
Whose Streets? / Director: Sabaah Folayan
The activists and leaders who live and breathe this movement for justice bring you a documentary about the Ferguson uprising. When unarmed teenager Michael Brown is killed by police and then left lying in the street for hours, it marks a breaking point for the residents of St. Louis County. Grief, long-standing tension, and renewed anger bring residents together to hold vigil and protest this latest tragedy. In the days that follow, artists, musicians, teachers and parents turn into freedom fighters, standing on the front lines to demand justice.
Beauty is Embarrassing / Director: Neil Berkeley
Beauty Is Embarrassing is a funny, irreverent, joyful and inspiring documentary featuring the life and current times of one of America’s most important artists, Chattanooga’s own Wayne White, whose multi-faceted talents are on display at Wayne-O-Rama. Wayne will be on hand to introduce this film and do a post-film Q&A. ***This is a free event that will be shown at Neural Alley – Passageways in partnership with River City Company, Wayne-O-Rama and generously sponsored by Maclellan Apartments. Trailer Here
Automatic at Sea / Director: Matthew Lessner
Eve, a young Swedish traveler, finds herself stranded on a private island with Peter, a wealthy heir whom she hardly knows. While waiting for other guests to arrive, Eve becomes trapped in an unstable reality punctuated by feverish visions, dimensional shifting and secret pizza. How can she escape if she's not even sure she's there?
My Life as a Zucchini / Director: Claude Barras
After his mother’s sudden death, Zucchini is befriended by a police officer, Raymond, who accompanies him to his new foster home, filled with other orphans his age. At first he struggles to find his place in this at times strange and hostile environment. But with Raymond’s help and his newfound friends, Zucchini eventually learns to trust and love, as he searches for a new family of his own. Trailer Here
Lost in Paris / Directors: Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon
Fiona visits Paris for the first time to assist her myopic Aunt Martha. Catastrophes ensue, mainly involving Dom, a homeless man who has yet to have an emotion or thought he was afraid of expressing. This crowd pleasing comedy looks and feels like a classic screwball picture and gave us some serious warm fuzzies.
Lake Bodom / Director: Taneli Mustonen
Every camper's worst nightmare came true at Lake Bodom in 1960 when four teenagers were stabbed to death while sleeping in their tent. The Hollywood Reporter called this a “superior Finnish slasher movie” and we couldn’t agree more from its eerie atmosphere to its based in fact creepy as hell script Lake Bodom is a must see for thrill seeking cinephiles attending CFF this year. Trailer Here
Donnie Darko / Director: Richard Kelly
Deus Ex Machine: The Philosophy of Donnie Darko / Director: Daniel Griffith
Daniel Griffith in attendance. The 15th Anniversary 4k Restoration along with new documentary about the classic film Deus Ex Machine: The Philosophy of Donnie Darko. Also an evil Easter Bunny photo booth in the CFF tent will help us celebrate this honest-to-god contemporary classic. Trailer Here
Another Evil / Director: Carson D. Mell
After encountering a ghost in his family's vacation home, Dan a modern artist and his wife Mary hire an "industrial-grade exorcist" named Os to get rid of the beings. But Dan soon realizes that ridding the home of evil won't be as simple as it seems. In addition to crafting four short films and a novel about the aging, drug-addled rocker Bobby Bird, Mell’s multifaceted resume includes writing for award-winning comedies Silicon Valley and Eastbound & Down. In a perfect world, Mell is the kind of guy to whom Netflix should give a blank check. Trailer Here
Burden / Directors: Richard Dewey. Timothy Marrinan
In the early 1970s, Chris Burden's provocative, often dangerous performance pieces shook the conventional art world. He had himself shot, crawled through a field of broken glass, and attempted to breathe water. It wasn’t surprising that the press began calling Burden "The Evel Knievel of the art world," a label he would struggle to overcome for most of his career. Burden quit performance in the late ’70s and reinvented himself artistically. He went on to create a multitude of installations and sculptures. His work has influenced a generation of artists and been exhibited around the world. Using unprecedented access to Burden's archive as well as candid footage filmed with the artist in the final years of his life, this film documents Burden's shifting motivations and his transition away from the spotlight of performance toward a quieter and more civic minded art-making practice.
Conjure / Director: Josh Shupe
Supervisual / Directors: Alex Rose and Matthew Creasy
Some of the most talented young filmmakers in our city have quietly been hanging out under the radar. Josh Shupe, Alex Rose and Matthew Creasy have been producing, directing and self- releasing their movies for years. But if you weren’t a part of our city’s thriving skateboard culture you might have missed the incredible work these young guerrilla filmmakers put into every video they produce. Whether you care about skating, these beautifully photographed, painstakingly scored, and massively entertaining films will cast a spell on you. Conjure and Supervisual are local filmmaking and skate culture at its finest. CFF is proud to present Shupe, Rose and Creasy’s latest creations, along with a skate trick demo presented by the folks at Comfort Skate Shop and with the Chattanooga Skate Park Project.
Finding Fontinalis / Director: Travis Lowe
In the summer of 1915, John William Cook caught a 14.5-pound brook trout from Ontario’s Nipigon River. But the world record was controversial: Some said Cook didn’t take the fish on the fly, some said it was one of Cook’s native guides who caught the fish, others even said it wasn’t even a brook trout. But the record stood. One hundred years later, three anglers—fueled by an old gaucho’s tale that told of “el lugar con el pescado rojo grande,” the place with the big red fish—descend upon the Chubut province of Argentina in search of giant brook trout that are no longer found in their native North American range because of habitat loss and degradation. Photographer Bryan Gregson; Patagonia’s director of fishing Bart Bonime; and environmentalist, angler and founder of Patagonia Yvon Chouinard follow Agustin Fox, the owner of Las Pampas Lodge, into an uncharted watershed to chase down the rumors. On the journey, Fox shares his vision for more than a new world record: the protection of not only the fish, but the land, water and culture that surround it. Trailer Here
Happy Hunting / Directors: Joe Dietsch, Lucian Gibson
An alcoholic drifter must battle withdrawal and psychotic rednecks after he becomes the target of a deranged sporting event. Trailer Here
Hard Times / Director: Walter HIll
Pre-film talk by Charles Bronson-ologist Zack Carlson
No one in their right mind would deny that the ultimate human was Charles Bronson, a primal force of detached anger, burning vengeance, and near toxic levels of masculinity. But he had this thing about faces: He loved to destroy them. Across the best cinematic decades of the 20th century, Bronson ruined more faces than a busload of cross-eyed plastic surgeons on meth. Facial annihilation was Bronson's gift and the world's curse. In 1975, first-time director Walter Hill (The Warrior, Southern Comfort) convinced him to set aside his signature face-wrecking firearms for plain old bare knuckles, an arguably humane move that resulted in one of the icon's greatest—and most under-appreciated—action epics. In the train yards and back alleys of Louisiana, a leather-skinned, unstoppable transient (Bronson, of course) makes a meager living by beating other hobos to a pulp in makeshift boxing matches. James Coburn plays his flashy manager Speed, accompanied by an incredible performance by southern legend Strother Martin as the lovably self-destructive Doc Poe. Trailer Here
The Night Watchmen / Director: Mitchell Alteri
With Filmmaker and Cast Q&A
Three inept night watchmen, aided by a young rookie and a fearless tabloid journalist, fight an epic battle to save their lives. A mistaken warehouse delivery unleashes a horde of hungry vampires, and these unlikely heroes must not only save themselves but also stop the scourge that threatens to take over the city of Baltimore. Trailer Here
Mayhem / Director: Joe Lynch
Q&A with Joe Lynch
Matias Caruso penned the script, which tells the story of a virus that infects a corporate law office on the day attorney Derek Saunders (The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun) is framed by a co-worker and wrongfully fired. The infection is capable of making people act out their wildest impulses. Trapped in the quarantined building, our hero is forced to savagely fight tooth and nail for not only his job but his life. Filmmaker Joe Lynch’s latest just might be one of the most fun films we’re presenting at CFF this year. Lightning paced, blood soaked and boasting at least one incredible sequence accompanied by a classic Faith No More track.
Uwe Boll Presents: Postal
Live interview with director Uwe Boll beforehand, led by Joe Bob Briggs
Disgusting. Offensive. Stupid. That’s not our review of Uwe Boll’s infamous 2007 feature Postal—that’s literally the tagline on the film’s poster. Chosen by Dr. Boll himself to melt the eyeballs of our favorite folks on earth (cinephiles YOU), Postal sets its scene in the ironically named city of Paradise. A recently laid-off loser teams up with his cult-leading uncle to steal a peculiar bounty of riches from their local amusement park; somehow, the recently arrived Taliban have a similar focus, but a far more sinister intent. Believe us, this doesn’t scratch the surface of all the truly bonkers sights and sounds this film has in store for you. Beforehand, CFF’s resident film historian Joe Bob Briggs will be on hand to do a brief career-spanning chat with Uwe, and we’ll be offering up our own special salute to Dr. Boll as he retires from film. This is what we’ve been training for kiddos. Join us afterward for the boozy blast that will be the Uwe Boll All Nite Stroll—a multi-stop pub crawl in honor of our favorite Raging Boll. Trailer Here
Slayer: Repentless Trilogy
Q&A with director BJ McDonnell and star Jason Trost
Our CFF 2017 Salute to music videos doesn’t end with the Undaground block. There’s a reason iconic metal band Slayer—formed in 1981—is still widely considered one of the world’s greatest, most extreme and most influential heavy metal bands. On its acclaimed 2015 album Repentless, Slayer offered concrete proof that, even after all these years, the band could still live up to its name. As long-time CFF fans know from our Sonic Cinema block, we’re fascinated by the relationship between film and music. The ambitious trilogy of videos made from Repentless tracks—“Repentless,” “You Against You,” and “Pride in Prejudice”—are joined together here to create a narrative: the brutal, intense, and tragic tale of a former Neo Nazi who chose love over hate, with dire consequences. The trilogy’s mysterious man in the eye patch is long-time CFF favorite Jason Trost (The FP). McDonnell and Trost will both be on hand to let us devil horn salute this incredibly cool achievement.
SUPER SECRET SCREENING
Pre-film talk by Film Editor Josh Ethier
We’d tell you, but then what kind of secret would that be? Not a secret, that’s what kind. Featuring a pre-film talk by Film Editor Josh Ethier (Small Crimes, Mayhem), whose unique background in this classic 1980’s white knuckler made him the perfect person to contextualize the magic of this under-seen long out of print gem.
SUPER SECRET SNOWFORT SCREENING
Travis Stevens and Dave Lawson of Snowfort Pictures are responsible for an absurd number of our favorite films of recent vintage, and that’s why we’re honored to have them curate the second of this year’s secret screenings. The film they are presenting is a knockout punch sure to become one of the most talked about screenings of the weekend.
The Devil’s Candy / Director: Sean Byrne
When filmmaker Sean Byrne’s criminally underrated debut feature, The Loved Ones, was released a few years ago, we fell in love. The film was fiercely intelligent and ferocious. Often, when a filmmaker makes such a strong debut it’s easy to worry that there could be a sophomore slump. With the spellbinding and strangely satanic The Devil’s Candy, Byrne not only didn’t fall victim to any slump, he’s been added to our short list of filmmakers who truly get and respect the horror genre and its audiences. In The Devil’s Candy, a struggling painter is overtaken by satanic forces after he and his family move into what they thought was their dream home in rural Texas. Starring CFF favorite, Ethan Embry (Empire Records, That Thing You Do) along with Shiri Appleby (Roswell), The Devil’s Candy is a critically acclaimed film with a metal soundtrack and one of the creepiest performances we've ever seen by the great Pruitt Taylor Vince. Trailer Here
The Lure / Director: Agnieszka Smoczynska
In many ways, Golden and Silver are typical young girls. They're sisters who love each other, they're interested in music and boys, and they only eat people occasionally. They also happen to be mermaids. After convincing the members of a small band to help them come ashore, the girls start performing with the band at a Warsaw nightclub. They consider heading to America, but their plans slowly derail when Silver finds herself falling in love with the bass player. This happens to coincide with a sharp increase in Golden's bloodlust, which becomes harder and harder to keep secret. But it may be Silver's choices that have set them on a destructive path. This debut feature from director Agnieszka Smoczyńska is distinctly European, with plenty of glitter and glitz set to a thumping bass line. It's weird and wild and lyrical, a bold and singular vision that plays like a modern fairytale by way of ’90s MTV. Sure to mesmerize and delight, The Lure is a strikingly sincere Polish mermaid musical unlike anything you've ever seen before. Trailer Here
Ugetsu / Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
When we heard Janus Films had completed a 4K digital restoration of director Kenji Mizoguchi’s finest work, the hauntingly brilliant ghost story Ugetsu, we knew it had to be a part of CFF’s 2017 lineup. Made in 1953, Ugetsu is a film for the ages. “Often appearing on lists of the ten greatest films of all time, called one of the most beautiful films ever made, or the most masterful work of Japanese cinema, Ugetsu comes to us awash in superlatives,” wrote film historian Phillip Lopate. Derived from stories by Akinari Ueda and Guy de Maupassant, Ugetsu is a tale of love and loss, with its exquisite blending of the otherworldly and the real. Trailer Here
What Children Do / Director: Dean Peterson
The oft-used term “dramedy” would suggest a tightrope act for the director of such a film, a difficult task to get right. But in skilled hands, the subgenre can wring emotions from all sorts of places and bring new depths to a film’s characters. So, it is with What Children Do, which takes us inside the complicated relationship of two estranged sisters forced back together by their grandmother’s failing health. Director Dean Peterson had always wanted to explore the dynamics of sisters, and to do that, he gave his principal characters, Amy (Nicole Rodenburg) and Shannon (Grace Rex), pieces of his own personality and life experiences.
WHISKEY GALORE! / Director: Gillies MacKinnon
The tale of a Scottish island town that ran out of whiskey because of World War II rationing has been told many times, and in many ways. It began in 1947, when author Compton Mackenzie published a novel called Whiskey Galore he based on actual events that occurred in 1941, when residents on the Hebridean island of Eriskay raided a ship that had run aground, the SS Politician, of its cargo of whiskey. Mackenzie’s novel was so popular it was adapted for a 1949 film of the same name, only with an exclamation point added. Whiskey Galore! was a hit in the UK and eventually released in the United States, albeit under the head-scratching title Tight Little Town because of restrictions on using the names of adult beverages in titles. The story endured. Over the years Whiskey Galore! was adapted into several stage productions, including a musical. Then, in 2016, director Gillies MacKinnon completed a long-gestating remake that had languished in development limbo for more than a decade. Trailer Here