Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Ant Timpson talks the Incredibly Strange at the 2017 NZIFF

Ant Timpson talks the Incredibly Strange at the 2017 NZIFF

Well, I think this is our annual questionnaire on your choice of programming, you must be excited?
I​ think we may have a different understanding of the term excited - but either way the answer is not really.

Ant Timpson
So, it seems to me like your take on cinema has seen you banished from the centre of Auckland town to the Hollywood Avondale - or I'm assuming you see it as more of a home-coming spiritual return to the hallowed walls?
​As per usual, your intel on the festival is as murky as Trump's gene pool. The Incredibly Strange section is ​playing in the CBD as well as the Hollywood theatre. You are correct that the historic Hollywood has a long history with cult cinema being the original home of the long running Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Moving away from the thinly veiled abuse, how has the selection process been this year?
​Some years everything just falls into place and I have a hard time culling down for my section. This year I found many of the buzzed about latest titles weren't that exciting when I finally caught up with them. I didn't want to play something just because it was new - I feel that everything I play has to be justifiable and there for a reason. There was the usual late big title that we didn't manage to lock down - but I'm not too crestfallen as it'll be out on Netflix within a few weeks.

Tell me about Dark Night - a film that no US distributors appeared to want?
I just remember being really floored when I saw it -  very much not what I expected. I thought it was going to be some misguided cash-in on a recent tragedy but it's really a profound work by a gifted film-maker. It's one of these titles that should probably play in the main section but I've been wanting to screen it down here for some time now so am stoked to finally see it screen. It's obvious why many were frightened by it when it first premiered but now I think the critical weight outweighs any fears of upsetting members of the public. It's very much a slow burn and doesn't feature any overt violence, it's just one heavy visceral experience.
The Evil Within
The Evil Within

You've described The Evil Within as Wes Craven trapped by Tommy Wiseau in a Lynchian landscape - qualify that statement please
​I don't need to qualify that statement as the film ​itself qualifies it rather easily. This film is a very rare beast - there's really nothing quite like it and I think horror fans in general are going to be in a genuine state of awe. Too many times have genre press over -yped films to the fans with phrases like 'unlike anything you've ever seen' - well for once, they are actually being honest.

Blade of The Immortal I imagine is going to look great up on a big screen - is it as OTT as its description sounds? And do you think this is still a genre that needs mining?
​You really are lobbing me softballs of inanity to arouse me from my travel slumber aren't you? You have the gall to ask whether the sword fighting fantasy genre needs any more mining? Is that what you mean? Not only is that a cultural insult, it's an insult to cinema period. This is like asking whether the US has mined the political thriller to death.
Of course there are numerous more great films to come from this genre because there is not only an incredibly rich history to mine from, it's still being added to yearly. Those who saw 13 Assassins know that the wonderfully prolific director Takashi Miike is very happy working with these elements and it being his 100th film he's delivered something entertaining and accessible for audiences.

Isn't Hounds of Love just a new take on Natural Born Killers? 
Hounds of Love
Hounds of Love
​You sound like you work for the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards and want to connect some dots. HOUNDS is based on a real-life couple in Perth - NBK was a Badlands type script by Tarantino that was juiced up into a vicious satirical piece by Stone. The only common ground is that the feature a couple who kill but that's pretty much where any commonality ends. I can't recommend HOUNDS enough for audiences jaded on a over-saturated diet of crime. The performances in this film will shatter very fibre and you'll need a few hours recovery time afterwards - not an easy night out but a rewarding one for those looking for cinema with some real bite.

A digital restoration for 1970's Multiple Maniacs, from John Waters - justify its presence in this section please?
​Water's Pink Flamingoes played the very first Incredibly Strange festival​ and so when a new restoration of MM became available it felt like I'd be committing some sort of high cult treason if I didn't screen it for a new generation of weirdos.

My Friend Dahmer you say is nothing short of remarkable. What is it about serial killers which continue to enthral you or is it this film in particular?
​This films enthrals because​ it's not about the end (as we all know how it ends) but it's the revealing glimpse it offers of a first hand perspective of someone who grew up friendly with Dahmer as a teen. It's that intimacy and the very fact that we all grow up amongst people who may go on to do monstrous things that always attracts us to these kinds of killers.
We are all only one degree of separation away from someone who might eat you. This is a very different film about a serial killer - we haven't seen anything told in this manner. Those who have read the award-winning graphic novel may have some idea but I doubt it. This is Dahmer the high-school years and it's as weird, funny and offbeat as you'd expect.

I see you have a Secret Screening - what's that about? Still trying to sort something in a PT Barnum Way - I know this is one of the tactics that you use with the Marathon, so you hoping the simulcast will work? (And is the film Prevenge??) 
​I've always wanted to do a secret screening and I just managed to convince everyone this year to let me go for it. If I was a fest goer I think I'd be pretty curious to see what it was. And no it's not PREVENGE...

Super Dark Times and Tragedy Girls seem to share similar ideas - that a fair assumption?
​Not in any way do they share similar ideas. Did you even read their descriptions? That's like comparing RIVERS EDGE to TUCKER & DALE vs EVIL.​ You just asked that one because you're trying to bait me to attack you right? Try harder.
The Love Witch
The Love Witch

I see The Love Witch in all its arty surreality is here to bewitch (35mm at the Hollywood) - what is it about this one that stands out to you - aside from its glorious aesthetics and rather alluring lead?
​The auteur (yes she is one) behind this jaw-dropping one-off cine-oddity Anna Biller is the real deal. She is in total control of every single aspect of the film right down to creating the costumes. Her films are literally celluloid manifestations of her feelings and desires. Homages and pastiches are the work of lazy xeroxers, pillaging material from decades ago for exploitative purposes - whereas Biller's film seems to come from the ether, appearing both old and new at the same time. It's just great to see a strong laser focused women's POV working with sexually provocative elements that in clumsier hands would come off as garish and sleazy.

Which of the rest of the programme would you recommend us seeing?
​GOOD TIME - say no more.  And check out my Staff Recommends on the NZIFF site.​

I notice for once, there's no film with your co-producing / exec producing mitts on - you got something in the bag for later in the year? Or are you finally retiring?
​Probably good to have a break shilling my own films in the line-up at least for a year or so.

You can check out the full list of titles Ant Timpson's programmed as well as the rest of the NZIFF schedule at

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