First Wave of Fantastic Fest Picks: Keanu Reeves’ ‘Man of Tai Chi,’ Plus a Whole Lot More

Man of Tai Chi

There are many film festivals on the long, slow path to awards season (a march that begins a mere five months after this year’s Oscars), yet in a season full of festivals all touting potential awards winners, Fantastic Fest stands out from the crowd. Austin’s own beloved festival, with its focus on genre flicks and cult films, is a few steps off the beaten path.

Today comes the initial lineup for Fantastic Fest, which offers a hearty blend of Bollywood, gooey horror, and crime stories from all over the world. Keanu Reeves‘ directorial debut – Man of Tai Chi – will also be making an appearance, along with Reeves himself. The film stars Tiger Chen as a martial artist competing in an underground fight club run by Reeves’ character. Robert Rodriguez‘s Machete Kills will open the festival. The newly announced list of films can be seen after the break.

BIG BAD WOLVES (Israel, 2013)
Texas Premiere
Director- Navot Papushado & Aharon Keshales, 110 mins
The directing team behind the 2010 cult smash RABIES return to Fantastic Fest with one of the best genre films of 2013.

BORGMAN (The Netherlands, 2013)
North American Premiere
Director – Alex van Warmerdam, 113 mins
Something wicked this way comes in the form of the ordinary, the polite and the normal as a drifter and his followers invade the home of a bourgeois family.

CHEAP THRILLS (United States, 2013)
Regional Premiere
Director – E.L. Katz, 85 mins
A recently fired father facing eviction is paid to take on an escalating series of insane challenges from a rich couple with a twisted sense of humor.

US Premiere
Director- Dilip Ghosh, 120min
Singing! Dancing! Extreme violence and goofy one-liners from Bollywood’s answer to Tony Jaa and Marko Zaror! If Cannon Films were to relocate to India, COMMANDO would be the result!

EEGA (India, 2012)
Austin Premiere
Director – SriSaila Sri Rajamouli, 107 mins
A murdered man reincarnates as a fly to wreak vengeance on the villain who took his life and his lover. EEGA is an inventive, insane take on a revenge story unlike anything you’ve seen before.

HALLEY (Mexico/The Netherlands, 2013)
Texas Premiere
Director – Sebastian Hofmann, 83 mins
Though Beto’s life may technically be over, he allows himself to experience it one last time before his body completely falls apart in this unique and contemplative horror film.

KID’S POLICE (Japan, 2013)
North American Premiere
Director – Yuichi FUKUDA, 100 mins
When evil criminal organization Red Venus strikes, there’s only one team of highly specialized cops who can help. Unfortunately, they’ve been dosed with anti-aging gas that has turned them all into children.

LFO (Sweden/Denmark, 2013)
World Premiere
Director – Antonio Tublen, 94 mins
A solitary man discovers audio frequencies that open the human mind wide to hypnotic suggestion and, ultimately, his total control in this slyly deadpan dark comedy from Sweden.

MAN OF TAI CHI (United States, 2013)
US Premiere
Director – Keanu Reeves, 105 mins
Keanu Reeves stars in and directs this epic tale about a young martial artist who must compete in an underground fight club to protect his way of life. As the fights intensify so does his will to survive.

NARCO CULTURA (United States, 2013)
Texas Premiere
Director – Shaul Schwarz, 103 mins
NARCO CULTURA is a graphically disturbing documentary that examines the parallels between the Mexican drug war and the increasingly popular musical style of narcocorridos (drug ballads).

NIGHTBREED – THE CABAL CUT (United Kingdom, 2012)
Texas Premiere
Directors – Russell Cherrington, 144 mins
NIGHTBREED: THE CABAL CUT is a new director’s cut of Clive Barker’s horror classic that places the film in an entirely different light.

NORTHWEST (Denmark, 2013)
Regional Premiere
Director – Michael Noer, 91 mins
A teen hoodlum in Copenhagen becomes entangled in the criminal underworld

North American Premiere
Director – Katrin Gebbe, 110 mins
Tore, a member of the counter-culture Christian movement Jesus Freaks, is befriended and taken in by a family who play an increasingly cruel, violent game and push his capacity to love to its limits.

ON THE JOB (Philippines, 2013)
US Premiere
Director – Erik Matti, 200 min
Corruption abounds in this stylish, Cannes-selected, ripped-from-the-headlines story of prisoners released on a day pass to work as killers. The cops must bring them in, never knowing how far the corruption spreads and who they can trust.

Regional Premiere
Director – Guido van Driel, 89 mins
Adapted from his own graphic novel by first time writer-director Guido van Driel, RESURRECTION OF A BASTARD tells the darkly funny, Coen-esque tale of a career thug caught in an existential crisis.

SHE WOLF (Argentina, 2013)
North American Premiere
Director – Tamae Garateguy, 92 mins
A sexual predator roams the streets and trains of Buenos Aires, a beautiful woman who uses sex to lure in her victims. A potent, punk rock spin on Euro-sleaze influences in this raw, erotic thriller.

VIC + FLO SAW A BEAR (Canada, 2013)
US Premiere
Director – Denis Côté, 95 mins
An ex-con named Vic and her lover Flo retreat to a sugar shack in a small Quebec town to start anew. Their attempt to live a normal life slowly and disastrously unravels.

Adam Bellotto is a freelancer writer from Virginia who moved to California because movies are super neat. His work can also be read at Perihelion Science Fiction and Starpulse, among other places.

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