Category Archives: Thriller

Being DISCREET with director Travis Mathews


We caught up with director Travis Mathews to talk about the origins of DISCREET his chilling new thriller that is being distributed by Peccadillo.

What was the genesis of this project?

Late in the summer of 2015, I had just stepped away from a much-delayed project and needed to do something that felt urgent and unafraid.

I dropped into my surroundings and listened to what was going on around me. At the time, I was driving around central Texas in a borrowed van that was a radio/cassette situation, so I indulged in
talk radio. Having grown up in rural Ohio, I was familiar with the A.M. dial, but what I heard sounded noticeably different, like the drumbeat to war. There was an unhinged desperation in these
voices and the rumbling sounds of the “alt-right”.

If these conservative voices were to be believed, some justifiable violence against “outsiders” seemed imminent. White, rural America was prepared to make their country great again!

The zeitgeist was so thick with unease, I wanted to write something that embodied this kind of “nation on the edge” anxiety. I set out to write a story that explored the ways in which populist insecurities about losing power intersected with, and informed, individual views on masculinity and sexuality. Alex, the hero in the film, is a distillation of this caustic soup. He’s unwell, to put it mildly.

As Alex’s mental state came into focus, every creative and editorial choice was made to service his cinematic representation. For me, this is one of the most exciting parts of the process. As a character comes into view, especially one as complicated as Alex, there’s a real joy in discovering what visual or sound expressions would most represent him. It’s also a process that brings real cohesion to the filmmaking team because we start to share ownership of this vision.

How does this film comment on contemporary gay male sexuality?

In Texas towns, both big and small, I turned on gay hookup apps like Grindr and Hornet to see how 2015 was translating among locals. I expected to find closeted guys, but I wasn’t prepared for the degree of racism, internalized homophobia, and the general fear of being seen, that was rampant. What fascinated me most were the profiles labeled discreet, and the men hiding behind black boxes in lieu of faces or even anonymous torsos. Shame was feeding the darkness, amplifying mythologized ideas of what a real man should be. It was the same wholesome mythology being propagated by rural -assumed straight- white conservatives.

Many of these guys on the apps are no different than the men on conservative radio. They’re both terrified of being outed as a lesser version of this kind of a Marlboro man ideal. It’s fear of being emasculated. And as demographics shift, turning America more brown, more tolerant, more fluid and more urban, their entire way of life is felt as under attack. This is how I understand the right’s
perverse and draconian actions and also the black boxes men hide behind.

This film delves deeply into one man’s brutal psyche – what was your cinematic process to create and visualise his internal world?

I think in all my work I’ve put a premium on men who express vulnerabilities very candidly. I’ve
explored this with sex and intimacy, but also in terms of loneliness and isolation. In Discreet, these same themes are explored with Alex, while I’ve also tried to make him an amplified reflection of the zeitgeist. As we all know, it’s pretty damn dark out there. But to be honest, Alex initially entered my head much more innocently. I was at Barton Springs in Austin with one of my producers, just riffing off of each other in the water. It was a little like a Richard Linklater moment, which I think is hilarious, thinking back. Anyway, my producer tells me about this Texas guy who films construction sites, dump truck videos more specifically, and has millions of views. It’s just one camera set up, one shot, for hours. He has all sorts of videos that take distinct sounds and/or images and puts them on a multi-hour loop. An early favorite of mine is a looping 8-hour video of bacon frying. Something really clicked with that one, so I started imagining the kind of person who would think to film this. That’s where my exploration of Alex started, before I knew anything else about him. He could have had a quirky romantic comedy in front of him, but it didn’t turn out that way.

His videos were my first entry point, and where I let my mind wander. When it clicked that his videos were actually a strange attempt to find calm, control, and some sort of psychic peace, it started to make sense with the zeitgeist and his character started to emerge. All around us, there’s the sense that something bad is coming, it feels like dread, like the setup to a dystopian thriller or a horror movie. And it’s only gotten worse since I wrote the early drafts of Discreet. This kind of madness in the air had a real impact on the evolution and the final outcome of the film. Initially, the story was more overtly political, more linear and more violent. But as months passed between the summer of 2015 up to the weeks following the US presidential election, the story of Alex started to take on a more surreal and restrained kind of internal horror. He – like most of us – was trying to survive this onslaught of crazy the best he knew how.

Jonny Mars’ central performance as Alex anchors the film – what was your collaborative process like?

Jonny and I were introduced by the filmmaker, and mutual friend, Kat Kandler. She and Jonny had worked together on Kat’s great Hellion short, where Jonny plays an aging heavy-metal God trying to do right in the world. That was my introduction to Jonny Mars. And when I started to share the bigger ideas of who I thought Alex was, and could be, almost everyone suggested that I connect with him. We were in different cities at the time, so before meeting, we spent a lot of long phone calls just deep diving into politics. Jonny’s really smart, and fully committed to his strong moral compass. He’s also up to do virtually anything on film, if it’s a smart choice that’s right for the character. This was reassuring because I knew from the start that “Alex” would be in some fucked up situations and head spaces.

Jonny jumped into the pool and we became fast friends. We also shared the same sense of urgency about making a film that would speak to this moment. It quickly made sense to bring Jonny even closer, and to have his involvement as a producer. Jonny, myself, and Don Swaynos – our tireless lead producer – were at the center of constructing Alex all the way through, and despite the heavy nature of the film, we tempered it with a lot of playfulness. Both Don and Jonny wore a lot of hats. Jonny, in particular, was somehow able to deliver these gutting performances then switch on a dime with production notes for something unrelated, and happening on another day. I also think that because we were independent, we had the creative freedom to go bold, which is what was required for this story to work. It’s that kind of creative freedom that allows a cohesive team to purr.

What does your film say about technology as something that is alienating society?

There’s a lot of isolation and long-distance attempts at intimacy via strange uses of technology in the Discreet world. It’s almost like traditional coping methods and ideas of intimacy have been proven to be ineffective and Alex is trying out new ones with imperfect results. The connections in Discreet seem transactional, based on primal needs for survival. It’s as if simple desire has become
so scarce that it’s maybe not to be trusted. And you see how that tug of war over desire plays out in Alex’s head. He’s tortured by it and distrustful of it.

As a country, I see us increasingly moving in this protectionist direction, which drives personal isolation and nativist tendencies. There’s the sense that things aren’t good out there, so close the borders, close your doors and just sit with your phones. What’s real, who can you trust? A lot of rational minds feel like we’ve entered a new epoch, and it has the smell of 1984 or Brave New World. There’s so much free-floating anxiety in America right now, that many people’s impulse is to cave inward and to isolate. Alex is a manifestation of all this.

What are your cinematic / aesthetic influences for this film?

Early on we were quite attuned to the Travis Bickle Taxi Driver nature of Alex. I also took deep dives into psychological thrillers like Polanski’s apartment trilogy, and horror, e.g., The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. While I was writing, I binge-watched How to Make a Murderer. Many of my initial dream locations came from freeze frames in that series. The rural community it depicts has a perverse loyalty to maintaining power at any cost, even at the risk of destroying lives. It’s a theme echoed in Discreet.

Unrelated to movies, I was obsessed with the freeways in Texas. Beyond being synonymous with America, the Texas freeways (the interchanges especially) always seemed unnecessarily jumbo-sized. As someone who lives in San Francisco and hasn’t owned a car in almost 20 years, I’m sure it was amplified for me, but it all seemed a little ridiculous. Because Alex is a drifter who lives out of his van, always on the road, it made sense to pay more attention to the freeways in the film’s world. Here are these man-made monsters, an expression of Texas muscularity, that Alex can’t get away from. In almost every location in the film, the freeways are always looming or threatening to strangle.

DISCREET can be seen as both a timely and timeless statement not only one man’s violent internal struggle, but an allegory on social strife in America and even the world. What are your thoughts on this viewing of your film?

By now, we all know that there are populist movements happening around the world, especially in Europe. Right wing nationalists are securing power with the rabid support of voters who feel pushed out by globalization. And this is so often done by appealing to people’s base desire for scapegoats, simple, answers, and fairytales about reverting back to a “more pure” time. From Texas to France, these are mythologies about national muscularity, brute masculinity that doesn’t
answer to anyone.

So, despite the film’s focused critique of America, with few changes Alex could be a Frenchman or an Englishman struggling with the same issues. These “patriarchy on the run” mythologies are not the exclusive domain of America.

Writer Director Travis Mathews

Our Top 10 Bestselling DVDs of 2016 & Interview with Tom

What a dramatic year 2016 was for films,  dramatic in other  ways too, but we’re going to focus on the films. To get an industry insider’s perspective we’re bringing you an exclusive interview with our MD Tom Abell to get his take on a wonderful year of films and the changes affecting our industry.

But first; to celebrate a bumper year at Peccadillo Pictures we’re taking you on a tour of our top 10 bestselling DVDs of the year. We searched the world to bring you the most thought-provoking, entertaining and captivating films possible. Whether they were hidden gems like GIRLS LOST or global behemoths like EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT, each DVD is etched with our passion, love and care. Enjoy.

Peccadillo Top Ten DVDs of 2016

10 THEO & HUGO

The steamy French romance that was ‘too sexy’ for most cinemas, careened into tenth place despite being one of our last releases of the
year.

09 CLOSET MONSTER

A beautiful 21st century “coming of age” tale complete with teenage angst, a thumping electronica score and an Isabella Rossellini-voiced Hamster.

08 The GIRL KING

Our captivating drama based on the scandalous life of Queen Kristina of Sweden, and her “royal bed-warmer” Countess Ebba Sparre.

07 CHEMSEX

A brave and unflinching journey into the hidden world of modern, urban gay life. Told through the eyes of ‘slammers’, survivors and the health workers fighting to protect them.

06 BOYS ON FILM 14: WORLDS COLLIDE

Once again the powerhouse that is Boys on Film has been a top seller this year, worlds collide in more ways than one in this stunning collection of award winning short films.

05 BOYS ON FILM 15: TIME & TIED

A sensation as always, the latest Boys on Film collection is our hottest to date. Between a time traveling closet, a 1976 trouser bar and a “zombie infested” sauna, it will have you re-examining your concept of time, age and the ties that bind us.

04 HOLDING THE MAN

The powerful true life story of a forbidden high school romance that was to last a lifetime. Holding the Man will have your heart plunging and soaring. Australian gay cinema has never been so strong.

03 DEPARTURE

An intimate film about love, loss and moving on that charts the beginning of the end of a mother’s marriage, the coming of age of her sexually confused son and an awakening that will make or break their new, unfamiliar family. Juliet Stevenson soars in this beautiful British drama set against the stunning backdrop of southern France.

02 THE GERMAN DOCTOR

A lonely 12-year-old girl unknowingly becomes friends with one of the world’s most terrifying Nazi war criminals in this dark, intense thriller. Based on true events, THE GERMAN DOCTOR will have your skin crawling and heart pumping all the way up to it’s dramatic, final minutes. This “Mesmerising and haunting” Argentinian film was a huge success across the board, particularly in stores.

01 EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT

Karamakate, a warrior shaman and last of his tribe, transcends the worlds of men and seeks truth through their dreams. Based on the diaries of Theodor Koch Grunberg and Richard Evans Schultes, the only known accounts of many Amazonian cultures, this extraordinary “Oscar nominated” film was destined for our top spot.

 

So, which ones have you seen? Which titles do you need to see? Get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter and let us know!

 

We’re immensely proud of our top 10, and the contribution Peccadillo Pictures has brought to the film world. Our Managing Director Tom Abell, he’s been in the business a “long time” and knows it inside out. Tom’s taken some time out of his very busy schedule to give us a quick interview about the past year at Peccadillo Pictures, the changing face of Film Distribution and our biggest hit of 2016.

 

Did you have any idea how successful EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT was going to be?

 

TOM: We thought it was going to be successful, we knew that it would do well but no, its actual success was far greater than we expected. It was a wonderful surprise that the audience in the UK and Ireland took to the film as passionately as we had.

 

You’re passionate about finding new ways of getting films out there, what has been your most exciting distribution project?

 

TOM: Well, our most amazing campaign was for cinema release of EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT – most definitely. Every aspect of our promotion and marketing of the film worked perfectly in every single area. I can honestly say that in hindsight there isn’t one single thing that we would change, and it’s not often you can say that.

 

I think it’s the best campaigns we’ve ever done and we won the Screen Award specifically for that campaign. Getting that recognition from the industry itself was one of the highlights of last year.

 

Are there any films that you think were unsung heroes of 2016?

 

TOM: GIRLS LOST. It’s a very special film with lots of important social and sexual commentary, but at no point is it overbearing or preachy. Every country in the world has had problems marketing it, because it’s difficult to define a single audience for it – do you target a gay audience, a lesbian or trans audience or do you market it as a Disney film with a dark side?

 

It took us a long time, but I do think we got the tone spot on. Unfortunately, it hasn’t yet translated into sales, despite great acclaim from critics like Mark Kermode. It’s a little gem that many people still have to discover.

 

Peccadillo Pictures will be seventeen years old this year, how has the industry changed in that time and what have been the most dramatic shifts?

 

TOM: It’s changed enormously, the biggest change has been the move from 35mm to digital for projection in cinemas, and whilst it was supposed to make things more diverse it’s done the opposite. It’s made it much harder for smaller films to get into cinemas and now allows most of the cinemas to play the same films, which is not just pointless its tragic.

 

Obviously some screens do offer a more diverse selection of films and we applaud those cinemas who are still supporting non-Hollywood films.

 

How has VOD (Video On Demand) changed the way you distribute home entertainment?

 

TOM: While our VOD side is growing considerably year on year, it hasn’t yet replaced the revenue we were getting from DVDs. While we’re maybe not making as much money from it as we were in the good old days of DVD It is growing well and I’m quite confident that our success with VOD will continue to grow. For example we’re one of a handful of film distribution companies who have their own own page on iTunes, we have our own Peccadillo Player which is powered by Vimeo and every quarter our VOD sales on Amazon are increasing considerably, so the VOD side is really moving upwards for us.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read our blog, you can also keep up with the incredible adventures of the winking black cat on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Check back regularly for exciting new updates, exclusive content and information on our upcoming films before anyone else.

Olivier Ducastel & Jacques Martineau talk Theo & Hugo

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Théo and Hugo encounter each other in a sex club, where their overwhelming desire creates an unexpected intimacy.

Leaving the club they drift down the deserted streets of nocturnal Paris, but reality suddenly confronts them in an unexpected way. Do they want to know more about each other? Can their trust be rewarded? Will love come with the dawn of a new day?

Told in real time this authentic tale of love and intimacy is Ducastel & Martineau’s (Cockles & Muscles, Drôle de Félix, Ma Vie, Born in ‘68) most ambitious film to date and a candid insight into 21st gay life.

Directors Statement:

Olivier Ducastel: As soon as we started writing it, we knew and Emmanuel Chaumet knew that we’d have to stay in what we call the pirate category of films, completely outside the usual circuits of financing for French films. That makes you consider your film differently from the outset. Not only did it give us great freedom, but it also pushed us to see our ideas through to their logical conclusion: there was no point working in the margins if we were only going to make sugar-coated images. Filming the first scene was also an experiment. We wanted to make sure it was possible to film sex outside “moral” (and economic) restrictions. We also wanted to avoid the usual vocabulary of pornographic films that insert close-ups so they can substitute stand-ins.

I wanted a film about the start of a love story. All our films are about love but I wanted to go back to the source. Maybe we were harking back to Jeanne et le garçon formidable, which was about the birth of an impossible love story. This time, we wanted a tale with a happy ending, even if the characters go through hard times.

Jacques Martineau: We were telling a real story and we were all focused on that so it made filming the sex as natural as we’d imagined it when we conceived the project. It’s not just a scene of sexual intercourse and the demands of the story meant that the “performance” of filming actors with erections faded into the background (even if it’s not the same as filming a family meal!). We had to believe in these two people falling in love and the passionate surge of desire. The main thing, for all of us, was the way the characters looked at each other.

The start of love is also about taking risks. Love itself is a risk. We’re not saying that fucking without a condom is proof of love. This is fiction that presents the moment we realize we’re falling in love and we accept that love even if we know that sooner or later, the price to pay may be high. The risk is also there because nobody really knows what it means to “be in love”. You feel something, you decide it’s love but there is no way to know if it has solid foundations.

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Theo and Hugo opens in cinemas and on-demand September 9th 2016. 

POUTfest 2016 Is Here!

Next week is going to be an exciting and busy time for the Peccadillo team. We will be celebrating the launch of POUT Fest 2016 with Holding the Man at Picturehouse Central on May 18th so come on down and join us for some excitement.

Following on from the fantastic success of POUT 2015, we are bringing you all an opportunity to experience another POUT with all new titles and events ready to take up your calendar.  POUT Fest 2016 aims to promote LGBT cinema with a variety of short films and feature length films that can inspire, move and emancipate the audience. To know more, read on at your leisure.

Departure1 TGK

Holding the Man perfectly encapsulates what POUT Fest 2016 aims to achieve; it’s daring, entertaining, touching and makes one proud to be who they are. POUT Fest 2016 will also see the launch of The Girl King, a historical film that covers the reign of the first native, female sovereign of Sweden as she is thrust into an all-male court that has no tolerance for her awakening sexuality. Enchanting visuals and intrigue map the film throughout. Girls Lost is another fantastic addition to the line-up. The hypnotic film follows three girls who discover a curious plant that has a rare magical ability; transforming the three girls into boys. As their genders change, so does the world around them leaving their responses to this change profound. We are also honoured to be showing the classic film, My Beautiful Laundrette, starring Academy Award winner Daniel Day-Lewis and Gordon Warnecke. The film is a classic example of identity and inexorable love. For some laughter and fun we also have the cult film Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same gracing the POUT screens with its witty and humorous tale of romantic emotions. For all you documentary lovers we have the privilege of showing Limited Partnership, which tells the inspiring story of the first same-sex couple in the world to be legally married; taking on the US government in court to prove the legitimacy of their affection for one another.

GIRLS CLOSET

On May 20th Peccadillo will also be celebrating the release of Departure, a British drama starring the talents of Juliet Stevenson (Bend it like Beckham and Truly, Madly, Deeply) and Alex Lawther (The Imitation Game). The stunning debut from Andrew Steggall confronts the issues of family, first love and the dawning of one’s sexuality. With impressive visuals and an incredible cast, this is one film that will arouse the senses of the audience and anyone who has dealt with the issues presented. Get on down to the cinema to show your support for this years’ most incredible debut!

For more on POUT visit poutfest.co.uk

The Treatment: The Crime Thriller They Didn’t Want You To See

We had such an exciting ride with THE TREATMENT. When four of us saw it in the market at the Cannes Film Festival last year, we just knew that we wanted it. It was gripping, exciting and proper edge of your seat drama. Since then we’ve had a real journey to bring it to the audience. Getting involved with Mo Hayder (the author of the original novel) and the publishers, who have been brilliant at pushing information about the film out to the fans of the Mo’s books. Continue reading

THE TREATMENT has terrified and enticed UK film critics

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Hans Herbots’ terrifying and controversial feature THE TREATMENT, based on the bestselling novel by UK crime writer Mo Hayder, is screening at cinemas across the UK this weekend. Only at selected venues that are brave to show it

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Now that it’s been unleashed on the UK film critics, I don’t think they have seen anything like it for a while. Take a look below at what just a handful of the press are saying on the film:

THE TREATMENT brought me close to a panicked run for the cinema door on a number of occasions, but I held steady… Clever editing and atmospheric cinematography makes a tense and powerful drama.”

– Kate Muir, The Times

“It will certainly find its audience among fans of Nordic noir classics such as THE KILLING and French drama THE SPIRAL… [THE TREATMENT] crawls under your skin and remains there long after.”

– The Sun

“Harrowing but brilliant… Taut, tense and at times very close to being too disturbing to watch, THE TREATMENT is a fine adaptation by Belgian director Hans Herbots of a novel by British crime-writer Mo Hayder…. Just be aware you might not be able to stop thinking about it for some time afterwards.”

– The Daily Mail

Claustrophobic and disquieting, put over with gruesome conviction… Gripping and brutal Belgium Noir

– Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

THE TREATMENT is unlikely anything we’ve released before, but you HAVE to see this film. It’s an unforgettable emotional juggernaut, by turns terrifying and totally compelling, and though it’s shocked critics, cinemas and audiences up and down the country, we’re proud to be bringing THE TREATMENT to the UK – dare you see it?

Rebel, rebel (girls on film)

A desire to resist authority, control, and convention, these are just some of the things that come to mind when thinking about rebellion. We’ve all at some point in our lives performed a rebellious act. Refusing an order from a parent, a teacher, or a working task. When we’re told what to do and when to do it, how to act, how to feel and how to look, at what point do these authorities become too much?

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A young 16 year old, Alex is a high school dropout who is considered a failure due to her mixing with bad crowds, use of drugs and self-harm. Faced with hardships at a young age, her adoptive mother sends her to a Northern German farm to work with horses. Monika Treut, director of OF GIRLS AND HORSES (2015), presents a display of misbehavior that transcends into a journey of self-discovery and a portrayal of female bonding. A beautiful story that deals with the coming of age with girls and the soothing landscapes of the most Northern tip of Germany at the ocean near the Danish border. Be sure to check this film out!

With rebellion in mind, I thought I’d take a look at rebellious heroines and the theme of female bonding in a selection of my favorite films. Sarah Hentges, in her book, Pictures of Girlhood: Modern Female Adolescence on Film, says that most mainstream films about rebellion are, for the most part, set in the past…the rebellion in these films is usually directed toward parents or society, but in some cases this rebellion has a larger goal to dismantle the structures. These behavioral patterns are triggered in moments of restriction, this upsurge is pushed further if the rebel is in the process of exploring her sexuality.

Chinese Daughter Chinese Daughter 1

Love has no limits, especially when its up against the Chinese government. Set in the 1980’s in China, THE CHINESE BOTANIST’S DAUGHTER (2006) tells the story of a young orphan, Li Ming, who takes up an internship at a botanist’s garden and forms a sensual yet forbidden relationship with the daughter of the botanist, during a time when homosexuality was a punishable offence. The film is a beautiful story of two women who attempt to defy every rule of a totalitarian system, that in the end, love will always be the winning answer. No matter what your gender or sexual orientation is, the film brings a relatable urgency of how far one is willing to go for the person they love. The last few minutes of the film will no doubt leave you in tears.

SS1 savage

Back track to the 1980’s streets of Los Angeles, littered with fast cars, over-the-top fashion and a group of friends who hit the streets to the theme song of ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stand In Our Way’ by John Farnham. Linda Blair stars in SAVAGE STREETS (1984), an exploitation flick that explores independence against an authoritative society, and a young teenager who must take action into her own hands. After her handicapped sister is raped at school (shot in the Pacific Palisades, the same location as Brian De Palma’s CARRIE (1976) – another film dealing with rebellious teens), Brenda seeks out revenge in a revealing tight leather outfit and cross-bow. The film highlights different levels of female bonding from a girls night out, to sibling love. While the horses in OF GIRLS AND HORSES become the catalyst between the two girls, this female bonding is expressed in the beautiful transition in which Brenda’s sensitive side is revealed only through the love she has for her sister and girlfriends, to a quick mood change of fierce attitudes and the rejection of all order. One cannot forget a naked Linda Blair in a brawl in the showers of the school locker room – a must see!

heavenly heavenly1

A teen movie like no other, HEAVENLY CREATURES (1994) is based on a true story from 1954 of two best friends, Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker who form a close bond in which they both share every possible day with each other. Stuck in their own fantasy world, the concerned parents attempt to separate them. To ensure their everlasting connection, they both seek out revenge against their moralistic families. Before we all knew her as Rose from Titanic, Kate Winslet stars alongside Melanie Lynskey in this coming-of-age story; a real testament of teenage friendships and the worlds we invent to escape harsh reality. Sarah Hentges describes these girl genres as empowering in myriad ways, not only for girls and women, but for anyone who recognizes a lack of fit between mainstream expectations and reality. Rebellion in the form of murder, the girls met their tragic ending in a 5 year prison sentence, but the ultimate punishment was on the condition that the girls never see each other again.

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The last film on my list breaks away from the coming-of-age genre of teen flicks. Similarly to SAVAGE STREETS, this film marks an important entry into the exploitation genre of rape revenge films which came about in the 1970s. Ms. 45 (1981) directed by Abel Ferrera, is a brutal portrayal of a young adolescent out for revenge after being savagely raped twice in the same day. Taking matters into her own hands, Thana, a mute seamstress, picks up a 45. caliber handgun and hits the streets on a killing spree. This transition from an innocent girl to a cold blooded killer is marked by the ritual process of applying red lipstick, slicking the hair back and dressing from head to toe in black, a common aesthetic in the films from this genre. While the social structures failed in moments of need, the female is then positioned in a negotiating state of unconscious decisions which consequence her final behaviors. Hentges further describes that the formal, institutional powers like school, family, religion and law make rules that girls are expected to follow, but the informal rules of adolescence that come from these structures also restrict girls’ behavior, social and sexual development.

From the coming-of-age teen films, exploitation genres to tragic teen love stories, this rebellious movement of bad-ass girls becomes a welcome departure from the typecast roles of stay at home wives and dutiful daughters, although these films deal with the breaking of structures in the form of death and murder, the beautiful moments of female bonding bridge an underlining message that women are capable of much more than being restricted to the confines of what society tells them. Looking back at OF GIRLS AND HORSES, the film is a good example of this transition of a troubled girl caught in the mix of abuse and lack of support to living on the German landscapes with horses as her form of escapism. This sudden shift of rebellion to the coming-of-age could only be achieved by the understanding of sexuality and the removal of societal expectations. In the words of Hentges: ‘hegemony does not have as tight a hold as it sometimes seems’.

 

Peccadillo’s Favourite Sundance Hits

“Sundance was started as a mechanism for the discovery of new voices and new talents” – Robert Redford

Even if you’ve never been to Sundance, but have been immersed in the chilling, and thought-provoking films that have come out of it, then you know what it stands for. You can discern its tastes, its independent, rough-around-the-edges sensibilities, and the fact that it’s actually not sunny but usually freezing cold. There’s that great episode of The Simpsons, where Lisa walks from screen to screen looking for a film to enjoy, but can only find films of heroin-addicted clowns slowly scratching their faces with needles. That’s Sundance.

In an industry that year-on-year seems to become even more polluted with inane blockbuster sequel-prequels-part-three of massive, sugary, cartoonish franchises, Sundance remains a rare beacon of hope for intelligent, socially observant and progressive film-making, shining defiantly in shivering Utah.

Two of our releases this year – Desiree Akhavan’s APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR and Sophie Hyde’s 52 TUESDAYS – are Sundance films. Desiree actually filmed the moment she told her mum she’d been accepted – which is well worth a watch. Here’s some of the festival’s biggest success stories – all with that irreverent, unmissable Sundance edge.

 

1. Blood Simple (1984)

Blood Simple copy

The Coen Brothers – regarded as the masters of Indie cinema – made their debut at the Sundance Film Festival with BLOOD SIMPLE. Their signature style of mixing comedic elements with a homage to the dark film noir genre surprised audiences and the Jury, which resulted in them winning the Grand Jury Prize and went on to gross around $4 million, not bad for a debut! Usually following a complex story which spirals into a cannon of lies, shock and laugh-out-loud moments, BLOOD SIMPLE looks at the story of a bar-owner out for revenge when he suspects his wife cheating on him. Like all Coen films, the film builds to an unforeseen and climatic ending! Be sure to also check out their cult classic FARGO (1996), and one of my favorites from the brothers: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2007).

 

2. Run Lola Run (1998)

Run Lola Run

Breathless is the word to describe this film, literally! Watching Franke Potente run for her life in a race against time, she’s on a mission to obtain 100,000 Deutschmarks with an attempt to stop her boyfriend Manni from robbing a supermarket. The perfect fit for Sundance, with its edgy style of editing and pulsating rock soundtrack, the film is heavy in thematic explorations of free will and psychedelic trips into the unknown. With its unique mix of what ifs captured in a repetitious sequence of events, the film captures the very essence of an Independent Film Festival. You can imagine everyone running to see the film, hence the Audience Award won at the festival!

With a budget of DEM 3,500,000, the film went on to gross $8 million in the USA.

 

3. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Blair

THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT became “the film to watch” before it had even hit Sundance! Directors, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez conducted a viral campaign in which they presented the film as a real documentary. Not being the first film to use found footage, the film is still regarded as one of the best hand-held camera horror films to date. The film mixes styles of amateur acting against believable footage it paved way for the many horror films which followed using these techniques. During Sundance, the filmmakers distributed flyers asking people to come forward with any information regarding the whereabouts of the “missing” students – talk about creating buzz!

The film became the success story of 1999, making $248 million worldwide. Not a bad return on a budget of an estimated $60,000!

 

 4Memento (2001)  

memento              

Before he became an A-list director of thinking-person’s blockbusters like the Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception, director Christopher Nolan grabbed Hollywood’s attention with the ingenious thriller Memento – a story told in reverse about a man with a form of amnesia that prevented him from making any new memories.

It landed at Sundance 2001, where American distributors expressed admiration for the film but were reluctant to buy it, claiming it was too confusing. The film ended up being distributed by its studio, Newmarket Films, and went on to earn $40 million. It won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Awards, but ultimately lost the Grand Jury Prize to The Believer, – which introduced the world to Ryan Gosling.

 

 5. Saw (2004)

Saw

A lot can be said about the SAW franchise (not always positive), but we cannot forget director James Wan’s first SAW, as an entry into the serial killer, slasher genre. Using the tired mechanism of a masked clown serial killer, the film still holds as an intense gore infested story of survival, which pleased horror fans after every screening was sold out. It didn’t take long for Lionsgate at Sundance to pick it up before the film had even premiered. A smart move, the film went on to generate a cult following over the years and has made over $100 million worldwide, and six sequels followed. Unfortunately most of them fall into the Hollywood horror slush of pop-corn entertainment!

 

6. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

LMSS

In a huge bidding war, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE resulted in Fox purchasing the rights to the film in one of the biggest deals made in the history of the festival of $10.5 million. After numerous standing ovations from the audience, the film went on to gross more than $100 million worldwide. A road movie based on a dysfunctional family, who are determined to take their youngest daughter  to compete in a beauty contest on the other side of the country – all inside a Volkswagen T2 Micro Bus. Its not difficult to be sweetened by Abigail Breslin’s performance of Olive. We can’t help but relate to the dysfunctional family and the feelings one gets when positioned in a place of “not-belonging”. It is a fresh take on a family, which seems to get ignored due to the numerous fluffy “perfect family” types constantly being pumped out by Hollywood. For that year, Little Miss Sunshine brought out the sun in a usually cold and dark Utah! Even though it didn’t win an award at Sundance, the film continued to bag countless awards including a pair of Oscars for writer Michael Arndt and actor Alan Arkin.

 

7. Man On Wire (2008)

MAN

One man, one wire, one goal! This intense and nerve-shredding film, captures an eerily, yet beautiful portrait of Philippe Petit’s attempt to walk on a wire from one tower of the World Trade Center to the other in 1974. While one can see why the audience were impressed and shocked at the same time, festivalgoers awarded the film both the Jury and Audience awards in the World Cinema Documentary category. The film plays like an action film, yet poised with a surreal touch of artistic achievement, traversing sky high without safety, an astounding stunt that would put some of Hollywood’s big action stars to shame!

The awards kept coming, as the film won the prestigious double-header of both BAFTA and Oscar and made a worldwide gross of $5,617,067.

 

8. Beasts Of The Southern Wild (2012)

beast

Carried forth by non-actors and a real Louisiana community, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD became a success when the film won the Grand Jury Prize and the Excellence in Cinematography Award. Hushpuppy, a six year old girl part of the Bayou community in Louisiana, finds herself on a journey of poetic discovery, in which she must accept nature’s path and the unraveling mysteries of the universe. As the ice caps melt, and the water rises, she and the small town are faced with an army of pre-historic creatures named Aurochs. Beautifully shot in surreal like landscapes and the town known as Bathtub; the film starts of as a documentation of the struggles of a young orphan girl in a town in danger of being wiped out due to global-warming. The film then switches to an almost post-apocalyptic struggle of storms, rising waters and terrifying creatures. The film received four Oscar-nominations, including one for child star Quvenzhané Wallis, the youngest ever nominee in the Best Actress category – at just nine years of age.

 

9. Appropriate Behaviour (2014)

AB

Our own, proud little piece of Sundance history is Desiree Akhavan’s understated and unequivocally brilliant APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR. A sleeper festival hit, but a slam with the UK critics and audiences, this upbeat but devastatingly realistic indie comedy is Sundance through and through and demonstrates how the festival – although many bemoan its pandering to the studios – maintains and upholds its original mission of nurturing new talent.

10. 52 Tuesdays (2014)

52

Sophie Hyde’s film won Best Director at Sundance, and will be in UK cinemas from us later this summer. 52 TUESDAYS explores the intimate story of a mother-daughter relationship, as Billie’s mother reveals plans towards gender transition. Filmed over the course of a year, once a week, every week – only on Tuesdays, shows a unique style in filmmaking that brings a rare authenticity to this emotionally charged story of desire, responsibility and transformation.

As the world is slowly moving in the right direction towards equality, it is films like this that offer a beautiful insight into a topic many are unaware of and highlight the positive change that is happening in the world. Look out for 52 TUESDAYS coming to cinemas later this summer!

Big Gay Horror Show: Peccadillo’s Top 10 Queer Horror Flicks

There’s always been something queer, something camp about horror. It inhabits that weird space between reality and fiction, between fear and horniness, that gay people (for some reason) seem to know so well. The connection between screams and queens might be (without wanting to get all political) something to do with the fact that, sadly, simply growing up is a bit of a horror show for a lot of gay people – even today.

Anyway – to celebrate the release of our latest weird, wonderful horror – Till Kleinert’s relentlessly glorious THE SAMURAI – I thought I’d run down my favourite horror films that dabble in the dark art of homosexuality.

 

1. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Bride-of-Frankenstein
Featuring one of the best and gayest hairdos ever committed to screen, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN is camp as hell. A creature is shunned from society for his despised ‘condition’ and his creator is lured away from his own wedding night by the seedy and eccentric Doctor Pretorius – and forced to create a new mate for his own monster. That mate is the BRIDE, who is effectively a drag queen.

 
2. Psycho (1960)

Psycho
I don’t want to pander to the stereotype that every gay man has a warped and warping relationship with his mother, but Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal PSYCHO undoubtedly occupies its own queer space in film history. Plus, Anthony Perkins’ was legendarily closeted and, (is it just me?), he’s oddly hot. A queer, Oedipal nightmare which I bet you want to watch again after reading this!

 
3. A Nightmare on Elm-Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

Nightmare-Elm-Street-2
Out actor Mark Patton (who plays Jesse, the sexually confused lead) has called himself one of the first ‘scream queens’. The tagline for this 80s anti-classic was, quite unbelievably, ‘THE MAN OF YOUR DREAMS IS BACK’. A gym coach gets SPANKED TO DEATH in the shower, for crying out loud. This film is, without doubt, terrible, but, as it’s many times been called ‘the gayest horror movie ever made’, we couldn’t not give it a starring role in this list!

 
4. Death Becomes Her (1992)

Death-Becomes-Her
Meryl Streep. Playing a musical theatre star. Wants to outdo, possibly kill her rival (the glorious Goldie Hawn), and live forever. Need I say more?

 
5. Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Heavenly-Creatures
The female of the species is more deadly than the male. So proves LORD OF THE RINGS director Peter Jackson’s campy classic HEAVENLY CREATURES, starring a young and porcelain Kate Winslet as the young school girl who falls in love with another young school girl. Enough of a horror film in itself, and it’s this unforgiving blend of dreadful reality with sumptuous fantasy that makes this a ‘horror’ in the true trembling, shuddering etymological roots of the word.

 
6. American Psycho (2000)

American-Psycho
When it’s recently been suggested by a US study that 1 in 25 business leaders might be a psychopath, year on year Mary Harron’s study of violence and financial capitalism becomes more and more relevant. Reasons why this film is gay? Christian Bale is hot as hell in it, especially in that scene where he’s having sex with a woman but blows kisses to himself in the mirror. Reasons why this film is horrifying? Christian Bale is hot, as are a lot of those City boys, but there’s no escaping that their business, actions and behaviour are increasingly becoming more dangerous and pernicious and it won’t be long until they throw a chainsaw at someone whilst screaming, covered in blood, in their pants.

 
7. Pornography – A Thriller (2011)

Pornography-A-Thriller
Whilst I’d like to wax lyrical about how this is a campy, trashy underground genre flick you love to hate, it’s actually quite frightening. A lot of people watch it expecting trash, sex, gore, and whilst there certainly is that, there’s also something profound, unnerving and uncanny bubbling beneath the surface of this Lynch-meets-THE-FLUFFER puzzle.

 
8. Vampires: Brighter in Darkness (2012)

Vampires-brighter-in-darkne
Now we’re talking. The tagline for the film is the wince-inducing ‘How Deep Is His Bite?’, but believe me, once this film has bitten you won’t be forgetting it any time soon. Shot on a nano-budget in an English castle, filmmaker Jason Davitt’s achievement is commendable, even though the film is totally, totally mad. Love it or hate it, whatever you do, watch it.

 
9. Jack and Diane (2012)

Jack-and-Diane
This is a movie about a lesbian relationship that could, quite literally, get torn apart. Especially when the werewolf transformations start occurring. I personally think this film is yet to receive the attention it deserves: it’s cute, the soundtrack is stunning, and Kyle Minogue makes a cameo as a horny, tattooed woman-lover so, yunno, double gay points.

 
10. The Samurai (2015)

The-Samurai
Well, this is why we’re here in the first place. Although queer horror always does something new, something original, something you’ve not seen before, THE SAMURAI does that with unfettered, gay-as-hell abandon. It’s a bloody, sweaty, sexy genre debut from cult filmmaker TILL KLEINERT where a wild-eyed man in a wedding dress leers straight-laced rural cop Jakob into a dark, solidly Freudian forest and unleashes a side to him Jakob had no idea existed… If you love horror, love queer, love anything on this list, then you’ll lap this up faster than a vampire in Red Cross centre.

The Times’ ★★★★★ Review for EASTERN BOYS

On 6th December 2014, the day we released EASTERN BOYS in the UK, the wonderful Wendy Ide from THE TIMES published the following ★★★★★ review of our ‘nail-biting’ film. Have a read below:

Some films take a while to engage their audience. Others, like EASTERN BOYS, grip you from the first frame. This constantly surprising picture by Robin Campillo (writer of THE CLASS) opens enigmatically. The camera hovers high above the Gare du Nord in Paris; it might have been shot by a surveillance drone. We pick out a group of young men, eastern European immigrants, looking for the opportunities that a crowded station offers. Daniel, an older man, moneyed and suited, gazes at Marek, one of the younger men, with something between hunger and longing. They arrange a meeting at his apartment the next day.

Then the tone of the film changes dramatically – the whole gang turns up. He watches as they drink his booze and empty his home of everything they can carry. It’s a brilliant sequence – sexually charged; fluid; dangerous. The camera gets in close, weaving through the dancing bodies at a party that the host has no choice but to join. It’s a credit to Campillo’s confident writing that despite this trauma a persuasive relationship grows between Daniel and Marek. And that, in a meticulously structured, nail-biting final act, Daniel will do anything to secure a new life for Marek.

– Wendy Ide, The Times

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