The Imagine Film Festival, which will take place from 12 to 22 April in EYE, Amsterdam, pays close attention to up-and-coming film talent. The selection for 2017 currently includes no less than fourteen feature film debuts from five different countries.
Prior editions of the festival have confirmed that Imagine has a keen eye for new talent: three of the four audience award winners were debut films. That offers bright prospects to the fourteen debut films that Imagine has selected to date.
There are two animation films in the selection: the hand-drawn Nova Seed, in which humanity has to rescue the world from Mad Doctor Mindskull, and the exuberant coming-of-age fantasy My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea, in which a high school slowly disappears into the sea after an earthquake (with voices by Lena Dunham and Jason Schwartzman, amongst others). Another coming-of-age fantasy is the Australian Girl Asleep, about Greta, who is hurled into a parallel world on her 15th birthday. Also from Australia is The Death and Life of Otto Bloom, about a man who experiences time backwards and only remembers the future.
There are also three American indie dramas with a fantastic edge. In Man Underground, a lonely man makes a film about himself. The Transfiguration is about a boy in an impoverished neighbourhood who turns out to be a vampire. And in Always Shine, two actresses provide their rivalry with a new twist. In addition, there are the festival favourites: Are We Not Cats, with outsiders who eat their own hair, The Eyes of My Mother, about a girl who processes the death of her mother in her very own way, and The Greasy Strangler, the most disgusting film of Imagine 2017 for the time being.
Strong debut films can be found elsewhere in the world as well: the Hungarian Loopcombines time travel with a critical view on our society. The Irish-British K-Shop wraps its criticism on society in a fascinating cannibal film. We also show that other cannibal film and the horror sensation: Raw. Things are significantly calmer in the absurdist Aloys, in which a lonely detective becomes embroiled in a phone game.
Director: Tobias Nölle | Cast: Georg Friedrich, Tilde von Overbeck, Karl Friedrich, Kamil Krejci
Switzerland, France 2016 – 91 minutes
A shy loner is lured out of his isolation but loses his mind in a funny, wry and captivating mystery thriller.
Director: Sophia Takal | Cast: MacKenzie Davis, Caitlin FitzGerald, Lawrence Michael Levin
US 2016 – 89 minutes
Two friends discover more about themselves and each other than they can handle, in an intensely acted psychological thriller.
Are We Not Cats
Director: Xander Robin | Cast: Michael Patrick Nicholson, Chelsea Lopez, Michael Godere
US 2016 – 78 minutes
Two outsiders come together in an amusing and bizarre love story that combines romance with body horror.
The Death and Life of Otto Bloom
Director: Cris Jones | Cast: Xavier Samuel, Rachel Ward, Matilda Brown, Rose Riley
Australia 2016 – 84 minutes
The bizarre story of a man who lives his life backwards is a heartwarming love story disguised as science fiction.
The Eyes of My Mother
Director: Nicolas Pesce | Cast: Kika Magalhaes, Will Brill, Olivia Bond
US 2016 – 76 minutes
A young woman goes to extremes to dispel her loneliness after the death of her mother in a stunning southern gothic.
Director: Rosemary Myers | Cast: Bethany Whitmore, Harrison Feldman, Amber McMahon
Australia 2015 – 77 minutes
Australian coming-of-age fantasy.
The Greasy Strangler
Director: Jim Hosking | Cast: Michael St. Michaels, Sky Elobar, Elizabeth De Razzo
US 2016 – 93 minutes
Everything is glistening with grease in this Sundance hit that can easily compete with the filthiest films of John Waters.
Director: Dan Pringle | Cast: Ziad Abaza, Scot Williams, Kristin Atherton, Reece Noi
Ireland, United Kingdom 2016 – 115 minutes
Powerful debut goes beyond Sweeney Todd and combines family tragedy, grisly horror and social comments.
Director: Isti Madarász | Cast: Dénes Száraz, Dorina Martinovics, Zsolt Anger
Hungary 2016 – 95 minutes
A dealer enters a time loop after leaving his girlfriend, in a Hungarian mix of Groundhog Day and Source Code.
Director: Michael Borowiec & Sam Marine | Cast: George Basil, Andy Rocco, Pamala Fila, Felix Hagen
US 2016 – 95 minutes
Willem and Todd make a film about Willem’s encounters with aliens. An X-Files¬ premise turns into a heartwarming tragicomedy about likeable outsiders.
My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea
Director: Dash Shaw | Cast (voices): Lena Dunham, Jason Schwartzman, Reggie Watts, Susan Sarandon, Louisa Krause, John Cameron Mitchell
US 2016 – 74 minutes
Psychedelic animation blends coming of age story with a disaster movie.
Director: Nick DiLiberto | Cast: (voices): Joe DiLiberto, Nick DiLiberto, Shawn Donovan, John Jellinek
Japan, Canada 2016 – 64 minutes
Reluctant superhero takes on evil in wacky, hand-drawn animation with bizarre characters and a touch of the psychedelic.
Director: Julia Ducournau | Cast: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Nait Oufella, Laurent Lucas
France, Belgium 2016 – 98 minutes
Sure-fire horror sensation is a stylish and gruesome fairy-tale, in which sisterly love, body horror and cannibalism go hand in hand.
Director: Michael O’Shea | Cast: Erric Ruffin, Chloe Levine, Aaron Moten
US 2016 – 97 minutes
Black adolescent Milo wanders around the New York Queens district like a vampire. Confrontational horror against a background of social misery.