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High School Drag and Cannibals - just another day at Cinequest

There's nothing better than being able to attend screenings of films so diverse in their outlooks that it almost borders on the surreal. Now that Cinequest has concluded, and with this in mind, I would like to reflect upon couple more favorites of mine, Russell P. Marleau's The Curiosity of Chance, and Chris Power and Nathan Hynes' Long Pigs.

The Curiosity of Chance is a hugely entertaining high school musical romp that is everything the John Hughes collection should have been. Russ Marleau, ably supported by director of photography Jack Messitt, has crafted a gorgeous looking movie that skips along as lightly as its main character, Chance Marque. I've seen plenty of movies in my time concerning the school outsider who doesn't quite fit and is eventually accepted by their peers for who they are, but never about an openly gay guy who discovers his true calling in drag. For this reason Curiosity is wonderfully refreshing, and allows Marleau to poke some gentle fun at other stereotypical teen movies, while at the same time remaining sensitive to his subject matter.

The attractive cast, led admirably by Tad Hilgenbrinck, delivers great performances and looks the part in their 80's clothes, hair and attitudes. I was particularly impressed by Marleau's decision not to travel the tired old route of having Chance at odds with his father (played sympathetically by Chris Mulkey), but instead to focus on bemused acceptance followed by mutual respect. The musical numbers are bright and toe-tapping and the wonderful supporting cast of drag queens is a feast for the senses.

Russell P. MarleauRussell P. MarleauRuss Marleau, a graduate of San Jose State, told me he had wanted to write a teen comedy for a while, and when this opportunity came about, he and his crew found themselves shooting Curiosity in Belgium. This helped keep the budget at a reasonable level, and even though a couple of Euro accents crept into the scenes, this did not distract from the tale. Filming a musical is no easy feat, and the fact that Marleau's team managed to pull this off with twenty five, twelve hour days is commendable - every ounce of that energy is up on the screen.

If you want to learn more, or even want to speculate just what is in the suitcase, go wallow in the site that is www.thecuriosityofchance.com

At the opposite end of the spectrum comes Long Pigs, a darkly humorous tale of suburban cannibalism. Before I get to this though, I would like to talk about Free Range, a short film by director Steve Friendship and producer Nicola Clayton. Free Range is a fun exercise in bad taste, concerning one couple's drastic solution to their lack of food and excess of lodgers. Friendship, a native of Leicestershire, UK, shot the film using the DVX100A, which has turned out to be the camera of choice for many a low budget filmmaker, and he has proven once again that in the right hands, the DVX can look great. The film zipped along from one wickedly funny scene to the next and was a perfect appetizer for the main feature to come.

Steve FriendshipSteve FriendshipAs I chatted with Steve I found him to be an extremely affable chap, and seemed to me to be made from the same mold as Ridley Scott and David Slade, directors with art backgrounds and an eye for composition. He explained to me how he is interested in creating edgy shorts involving dubious moral decisions, and how he especially enjoys black comedies; if a film is too straight then it doesn't always engage on all levels. I heartily agree. Look for more from this talented filmmaking team at http://www.pooka.co.uk/

Suitably warmed up by Free Range, I was able to dig into Long Pigs, and this film took me completely by surprise.

Long Pigs is a 'documentary' about Anthony McAlistar, an extremely likeable, soft-spoken mass murderer. The doc (filmed by Chris Power and Nathan Hynes playing themselves) follows Anthony as he goes about his daily life, working as a restaurant valet, playing hockey, and brutally killing and butchering innocents to fill his larder. As the film progresses, its outcome seems inevitable, but along the way the audience is suddenly confronted by their own voyeuristic intent. The film spins about and forces us to consider the real life consequences of what we are seeing in an uncomfortable sequence dealing with the loss and death of a child. Chris and Nathan certainly have something to say, and this scene, punctuated by a stunning shot of the 'third' crew member, hits home. This is a bold move by the filmmakers, and I am interested to see how it is received as the film plays to more festival crowds.

The scenes concerning Anthony's murderous cuisine are outstanding, in no small part due to the excellent, matter of fact, acting of Anthony Alviano and the incredible special make up effects of Chris (Saw III, Dawn of the Dead) Bridges, although I could have done with at least one more evisceration. Uh oh, perhaps the message didn't get through...

Chris Power and Nathan HynesChris Power and Nathan HynesChris and Nathan are a couple of extremely likeable guys from Ontario, Canada. From their first meeting, when Nathan met Chris off a plane, they knew they were like-minded enough to work together on films that interested them, and due to Nathan owning a prop gun, a flourishing partnership was formed. Nathan's father told him the story of Robert Pickton, a Canadian pig farmer who has been charged with the first degree murders of twenty-six women, many of them prostitutes and drug users from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Researching more deeply into this case took them into territory they wish they hadn't ventured into, and they came away with a strong desire to not only tackle the subject matter, but to address society's attitudes to reported crime. Contrary to the way that the daily news has become the newest soap opera for many, Chris and Nathan made a conscious decision to tackle the inner gore hound within all of us, and with this multi-layered approach to their work, I can only expect even more entertaining and challenging films from them in the future.

To learn more about Anthony's recipes, visit www.longpigsmovie.com

by Neil Baker

www.StudioMoraine.com

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About Cinequest

Colon Antonea
(Cinequest)

CINEQUEST is a vanguard organization that fuses creativity with technological innovation to empower, improve, and transform the lives of people and communities.

CINEQUEST FILM FESTIVAL: February 28 - March 12, 2017


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