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Threading Up Fantastic Fest, 2011 Edition!

The Human Centipede 2 - Opening Fantastic Fest!
by Jason Whyte

Medically accurate ass to mouth. Latin zombies. Debates that end in sparring. Copious amounts of alcohol with like minded film fans. Otherwise known as the most glorious time of the year. Forget Christmas, your birthday, the day you brought your cat or dog home from the first time. For eight heavenly days, die hard film fans from all over the planet descend on a dated little mall called Lamar Plaza in Austin, Texas for the annual edition of Tim League & Harry Knowles’ gem known as Fantastic Fest.

For those of you who follow my coverage of film based events in Austin, you know the reason I make the pilgrimage from my little town in Western Canada. For those that don’t, however, it is important to know that Austin is one of the best cities in the world for its culture, amazing people and of course, the barbecue. Not only that, but Fantastic Fest is also some of the highest regarded days of the year, for it is not just a festival “with all the boring parts cut out”, but rather a celebration of film, life long friendships and simply having a good time in great old Austin. It is a pilgrimage every lover of movies must take not just once in their life, but every year.

The 2011 edition of Fantastic Fest opens on Thursday, September 22nd with “The Human Centipede II: Full Sequence.” For those of you who have seen the first “Human Centipede”, you will remember Tom Six’s somewhat notorious film about a mad doctor who does a rather curious human experiment involving the words “Ass…to…mouth.”. While the first film caused somewhat of a sensation at its 2009 premiere in Austin, this writer lasted about forty minutes through the first film before walking out. Still, I am looking forward to seeing Mr. Six’s “Full Sequence”, likely with a few beers at the Alamo Drafthouse handy to calm the nerves.

Like it or not, however, this film is part of the tone that Fantastic Fest so heavenly provides. Midnight films destined to be cult classics, top Asian cinema, independent genre films searching for distribution and even bizarre documentaries are on tap this year. There are big premieres from Jeff Nichols’ “Take Shelter” and Lars Von Trier’s latest “Melancholia” to Asian imports like “Let The Bullets Fly” with Chow Yun Fat. Every day of the festival will be bringing new, fresh images that may not be exactly all ‘there” when it comes to leading international cinema and film festivals, but that’s all part of the fun.

There are so many features and short films to mention here, so please take some time and look over the schedule which is linked below.

And as always, Fantastic Fest is not without its share of great events to run alongside the festival. The biggest buzz this year is Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League fighting bare-knuckled with Irish champion James McDonagh at the annual Fantastic Debates. The Fantastic Debates is a midnight event featuring filmmakers debating and then brawling in rather unpredictable ways. Over the years I have seen Mr. League battle Michelle Rodriguez and Dr. Uwe Boll (of “Attack on Darfur” fame) and I can safely say that Mr. League is never a sore loser. As of this writing, Mr. League has apparently had a few lessons so I wish him the best on that, of course. Seriously though, he’s going to die.

Another hotly anticipated event this year is a special 35mm screening of “An American Werewolf In London”, where the show’s guest of honor will be Oscar winning makeup artist Rick Baker. No word on John Landis is attending but if you are reading this sir, please get on a plane as soon as possible and join us for the fun.

Also notable every year is former boss Scott Weinberg’s baby “Fantastic Feud”. Mr. Weinberg brings together domestic and international visitors to compete with each other. Usually a lot of free beer, playful (yet amusingly violent) banter and normally beer bottles break. Many of them. And the always happy and playful filmmaker Nacho Vigolando is there too, so anything can happen. Keep bats away from him this time around, please.

This year also makes an interesting turn with all film screenings and event taking place “under one roof” at the Lamar Plaza mall, instead of having screenings at the famed Paramount Theater in downtown Austin. While this takes away from some of the downtown fun, the festival will be more intimate and exciting, and there’s less possibility of missing out on a great screening or event.

This is the third year that has brought you coverage of the annual event and I look forward to bringing continuing coverage over the course of the festival featuring photos and commentary during the festival. Now with that in mind…

Say, you want to meet some Fantastic Fest DIE HARDS?

Over the next week you’re going to meet a group of people that I have lovingly dubbed Fantastic Fest Die Hards! Watch for a daily interview on featuring a good ‘ol human unit that attends Fantastic Fest, be it one of my press colleagues, Austin locals and people traveling from afar just to experience new cinema and events with their fellow film and festival fans. These are people just like you and me, and everyone has a story.

There is always something to do at Fantastic Fest every year. For those of you who have purchased badges or tickets, I’m looking forward to meeting you. While most events have sold out, there are still single event tickets available for most shows. Check on the festival’s official site at for more information.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter and the official Twitter for the most up to date news, commentary, pictures while Fantastic Fest proceeds.

-- Jason Whyte, --

link directly to this feature at
originally posted: 09/22/11 04:37:24
last updated: 09/22/11 04:43:47
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