Glass Eye Pix wants you to celebrate Shocktober this and every year by joining us in counting down the days to our favorite night of the season: HALLOWEEN! What better way than with our SHOCKTOBER NIGHTS calendar. Behind each of the 31 die-cut passages lurks a monstrous and ghoulish delight, brought to life by Glass Eye Pix artist Brahm Revel.
In celebration of the World Premiere of Rigo Garay’s short film SIZE UP
at the 2021 Woodstock Film Festival, composer D.Catalano releases an unused
track from the Size Up score.
Catch SIZE UP at Woodstock, Oct 2.
Get your tix!
Translation by Google Translate
A film review by Bianka-Isabell Scharmann
THE PRESERVATION OF HUMANITY
A meadow traversed by ditches in the fog, a mud hole fenced in by barbed wire at night, a humvee rolling under a rolling sun, three theaters of war, three “foxholes”: the American Civil War, World War I and one of the desert wars of the past 20 years are fast (Iraq or Afghanistan are almost irrelevant) identified, it’s about America. These three scenes become arenas for questions of moral principle.
Since the 1910s at the latest, war has been part of the history of film in the form of news, as a documentary film or as narrative mass spectacle. While the heroization of the winners is part of the fixed repertoire – often of American color – there are also anti-war films or satires again and again. I’m thinking of Stanley Kubrick’s Paths to Fame or Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. Now Jack Fessenden, screenwriter, director and also responsible for editing and music, a newcomer – and war films are expensive because of the crowd scenes, the locations to be re-enacted. You can tell from the film that Foxhole was produced on a budget: the cast is small, the special effects simple. But it is precisely this reduction that makes the economic decisions aesthetically interesting and Foxhole a focused, intelligent and thoughtful film. Reduced to a technical spectacle, something emerges that is overlooked or neglected in all the explosive spectacle: that wars demand everything morally, ethically, and humanly from the actors in the field.
Foxhole’s means of choice is to turn concrete moral conflicts into a dump for larger political issues. Do the white soldiers help a wounded African American who, when the war is over, “will probably have it better than before?” Do the Americans shoot a German spy on the spot, a de facto execution – a war crime – or do they take him prisoner? Will fire open on civilians who have come to collect, mourn, and bury their dead? All these concrete questions arise in the discussion between the members of the groups on the question of the meaninglessness or meaninglessness of their own actions. “What are you fighting for?” The black soldier is asked in the First World War. “For the same thing as you: democracy.” In the war of positions, where enemies still clash in their humanity, personal interaction is possible in order to recognize one another, in the last episode the enemy – the one outside – remains invisible. “Why the hell are we still out here?” The answer “orders” replaces the conviction that we are fighting for something with the simple execution of actions. And so the moral undermining of American politics becomes visible in all its clarity.
Translation by Google Translate:
Oldenburg – powerlessness, inner turmoil, despair, fear and the question of the meaningfulness of their actions: the viewer in the film “Foxhole” is very close to the emotions and thoughts of American soldiers. “Foxhole” celebrates its world premiere at the 28th Oldenburg Film Festival.
The consequences of the decisions that the US soldiers have to make weigh heavily, e.g. when it comes to the question of how to deal with a prisoner. Excessive demands, fear of death, mistrust, questions of morality and attitude, the unpredictability of the moment – all this is the subject of “Foxhole”. It is also interesting that in the three Chapters / episodes of the film the same actors are used, and thereby demonstrate a great variability in their representations.
What the life of the soldiers looked like before the war, what makes them tick as a private person, does not play a major role here, it is the emotional impact of the moment that counts. It may not always be easy to identify with individual characters, but “Foxhole” has a pull. It’s an amazingly mature and reflective film for such a young director.
Instead of a sprawling plot with a variety of visual values and scene changes, he focuses on the tense emotional world of the soldiers, e.g. in the trench enclosed by a smoke screen or in a humvee that drives through the Iraqi desert under the glaring sun. Again and again with close-up
Men and close-ups worked, longer shots, quiet moments in which the soldiers’ gazes tell from their inner life.
The permanent threat situation creates anxiety, especially since the enemy is mostly invisible. Suddenly shots fall out of nowhere. Chaos breaks out. The war is within reach.
Tue. Sep. 28, 2021 – 7:30 pm PDT – 9:00 pm PDT
Instructed by: Larry Fessenden, Graham Reznick
Horror has been a key component of video games since the medium’s inception. From Haunted House for the Atari 2600 to this year’s Resident Evil: Village, video game designers have tasked players with something wholly unique to the genre: live through the horror, or die trying. The artistry behind crafting compelling stories with stimulating and responsive game mechanics requires a singular perspective and skill set. Miskatonic is proud to welcome genre legends Larry Fessenden and Graham Reznick to discuss their role in the craft behind such hit horror video games as Until Dawn and The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan. This lecture will be an in-depth exploration of their approach to the maze-like structure of horror video game scripts, and how they make sure the audience never gets lost in the process. Horror has always pushed the boundaries of sensation, and Fessenden and Reznick know firsthand how powerful, and terrifying, this relatively new medium can be.
Fessenden with DP Carson Bailie and writer/ director/ lead Riley Cusick
on the set of THE WILD MAN in Dallas, Texas
produced by Xander McCabe
Hollywood on the Hudson with Film Director, Larry Fessenden
Larry Fessenden is an actor and producer and the director of the art-horror films, No Telling, Habit, Wendigo, and The Last Winter, which is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. He was the winner of 1997’s Some to Watch Spirit Award and nominee for the 2010 Piaget Spirit Award for producing. Fessenden founded and has operated New York-based Glass Eye Pix since 1985.
As part of our Hollywood on the Hudson series, we sat down in Larry Fessenden’s barn with Woodstock Film Festival Co-Founder and Artistic Director, Meira Blaustein, to discuss the value of film festivals, the versatility of the Hudson Valley as a filming location, and what selling out actually means.
HOLLYWOOD ON THE HUDSON
With Larry Fessenden, Director, Producer, Writer, Actor
Hosted by Meira Blaustein, Co-Founder, Executive & Artistic Director Woodstock Film Festival
Meira Blaustein: Hello Larry. We’re sitting here in your interesting barn, surrounded by some of your artifacts from the films that you’ve made, including this big dead fish here–what film was it from?
Larry Fessenden: “Beneath,” a much-loved picture.
Meira Blaustein: So, Larry, you’ve been making films for how long?
Larry Fessenden: Since the 70s.
Meira Blaustein: Did you ever have this aha moment, when you realized that you wanted to make movies?
Larry Fessenden: Well, the truth is that I came to movies through acting, I wanted to be an actor. I did a lot of stuff, you know, even in grammar school where I managed to make an impression by playing a dragon in the school play. I fell over the stage backward onto my head, and everybody was talking about it for a week. So that’s where I got the bug. And then, in the late 70s, like 79, I got a Super 8 camera and I started filming. I realized that the camera told the story; where you put the camera, the first shot, leading to the next shot. So, I sort of discovered how movies were made. And I became more and more interested in all the aspects, even beyond acting, that made movies. But the thing is, movies were much more mysterious about how they were made back in those days. It was much more piecemeal, and it was a great process of discovery to become a filmmaker.
Meira Blaustein: Do you remember your first film and where you made it?
Larry Fessenden: Well, the first movie I made, I would shoot Super 8 outside with friends and sort of find my way, I really loved that. I still think it’s a great way to learn filmmaking. Obviously, now you could do it on an iPhone, but to compose and to sort of edit in-camera and really think about how one shot leads to the next. My first four films: one was about a car that runs over a child. One was about a man chopping up another man in a bathtub into little pieces with an axe; that was played by my brother. And then I made an existential drama about the history of humanity. These films were all Super 8. And that’s how I found my way.
Meira Blaustein: Larry, I know that many of the films that you have been making the past few years have been shot in the Hudson Valley. Can you talk a little bit about what makes you want to shoot in the Hudson Valley? What is unique about it? Does it affect the style or the subject matter of the films because you’re shooting it in Hudson Valley instead of any other place?
Larry Fessenden: Well, I believe very strongly that one of the main characters in a movie is the setting. And I’ve shot in New York City with great affection for the colors, the streets, the energy and the sounds. But we moved up to the Hudson Valley in 1999. We’d been visiting for five or seven years before that. And once I have a love for a place, then I want to put that on film. And, all the seasons are great. I made a movie up here in the snow, and there’s so much richness. And now as I get older, I just like being at home, and sort of realizing, you know, you can shoot something just down the road. And if it’s composed, right, and it’s part of your story, it becomes really exciting to capture something that you know; the light and all the things that you’re familiar with in one place. I’ve shot in Iceland. I’ve shot in Tennessee and Mississippi. But I always tell people to shoot upstate. There’s vitality and enthusiasm here. Even though now it’s HBO and Netflix, we still make independent films up here and I believe in holding to that ideal.
Meira Blaustein: You are the epitome of independent filmmaking. You’re considered the uncrowned King of Horror Film, especially in the independence genre. Can you talk a little bit about the meaning of selling out in film?
Larry Fessenden: The whole idea of selling out. I’ve had friends over the years who were frustrated with me because they thought I should be more famous, or just famous for that matter. And you know, you can’t actively sell out. What selling out really means is getting a job in a big budget studio. And I’ve had many interviews over the years to try to make bigger pictures. I came very close to making a movie with Guillermo del Toro called The Orphanage. And it’s funny when it fell through, everyone assumed that I asserted my independence and said “to hell with Hollywood”, and walked away in a huff. But that’s not it at all, I wanted to make the film. I love the artisans, the professionalism of the Hollywood system. But the reality is, when I sit down to conceive of a project, it has an offbeat nature because I’m interested in riffing on cliches that are known in cinema, especially my genre, and then bringing something very personal in. So, there’s enough of a contradiction there that it appears to be uncommercial. I would say that I have a very long sellout in that I’ve set up what Jason Blum does. Over the years, I made the idea of personal horror films my little corner of the world, and now that’s much more popular. Even a movie like Hereditary and other artful horror movies sort of spring from that genre. So, I’m just a slow sellout.
Meira Blaustein: Thinking back about your career, be it acting, producing, directing, or nurturing young budding filmmakers, is there anything that you can take from those experiences? And think of it as one of your favorites? And if so, why?
Larry Fessenden: Well, I’m very lucky because the way I interact with the business is very varied. Sometimes I’m a very small actor in a big movie, I’ve done that. I’ve worked with Jodie Foster, Adam Driver, Bill Murray, and wonderful movie stars that I love as a fan. I’ve been in a Scorsese movie. I was in the Jim Jarmusch movie twice. These are seminal moments because you’re working with people that you like, as a consumer of cinema, so to speak. They are cherished memories, but usually, they’re fleeting. Then, on the other hand, I have my own films that I lived with, and to actually realize them on screen is so meaningful. Wendigo was a fulcrum because it was both extremely personal and it was in this very location, the Hudson Valley. I also had wonderful actors Patricia Clarkson and Jake Weber, so that’s kind of a great memory. But then there are other things that I cherish because I fought so hard to finally got it made, like my film Depraved, which is my Frankenstein movie. I went to Hollywood, and I pitched it for seven, eight years. I finally made it for very little money and now it’s on the screen, or as I say, it’s on the shelf, because I like physical media. So many, many cherished memories. I’m very lucky. I feel like I’m a journeyman more than what everyone says– that I have a successful career. I always correct them and say, “No, but I have had many wonderful experiences in the movies, the business of movie-making”.
Meira Blaustein: You’ve been part of the Woodstock Film Festival, at least since 2001. Many of your films have been at the festival, and films by your friends or people that you’ve supported have been in the festival. What do you think the role of the film festival is, for a filmmaker’s career as well as just the film industry at large?
Larry Fessenden: Film festivals are essential, especially for indie filmmakers. Very often you found the money, and you’ve made the movie and now you have to sell it. So, it’s an important business venture to go to a film festival. But more importantly, it’s where you learn whether your film is going over in front of an audience. There’s a ritual of going. You meet people and you scheme. You talk about your movie and have the actual applause and the Q&A, or the silence, and then the interrogation. But either way, you’ve just finished your movie and you finally get into a festival. I can also say, festivals bring great heartbreak because unfortunately, there’s a hierarchy as with all things in movies, and so you want to be in Sundance, and then you don’t get in. It’s just like trying to be with the popular children. It’s like everything in life. There’s this hierarchy that you’re always dealing with, so it brings sadness as well. It’s great vindication and happiness–I’ve sold some movies out of festivals.
I love the Woodstock Festival because it feels like home. And it’s fun to be in your own environment going to events and feeling a consistency because I have been through my films and films made by my friends. I always enjoy the vibe of the festival up here. But that’s also because I like being at home. I’ve traveled to exotic festivals all around the world and it’s always thrilling. You’re in a bubble of cinephiles.
Meira Blaustein: I know that you’re working on a number of projects, can you talk a little bit about what’s coming up for you?
Larry Fessenden: I don’t usually talk about my own films, because I have many superstitions. I’m writing a movie that I will shoot in upstate New York, in this beloved area. And that’s what I was talking about. I literally want to shoot on the road next to this–I don’t even have to get my car. In a funny way, it requires a great many locations in our community. I’m going to have to see if the shopkeepers will let me just quickly drop in. So that’s all in the next six to eight months that I’ll be scheming to do that. More importantly, I was the producer of my son’s film, which is called Foxhole and I’m very excited that it’s playing at the Woodstock Film Festival. It will be premiering in the US here. And I can’t wait to show it, I’m very proud of the film. It had an extended life because of COVID, so we sort of took a year, waiting around for the opportunity to show it. We filmed right in the backyard, as we like to do, and yet it’s a very ambitious and quite a beautiful film. I’m also a proud father. I produced a movie that’s still shooting in California. I help films get made in different ways. Sometimes small investments, sometimes I give them my insurance, sometimes I give them a word of encouragement and recommendations. So, there are many ways that I’m involved in movies, and I’m acting in some films as well.
2 out of 8 aint bad…
(Fessenden involved in 2 titles as producer and actor)
The House of the Devil is one of the first ‘80s throwback horror films I remember seeing. It perfectly captures the look and feel of the 1980s and also works as a master class in slow-burn tension building. Of the period horror films set in the ‘80s, this tale of a babysitter running afoul of a satanic cult feels the most like it could actually be a lost relic from that decade. The wardrobe, styling, and set pieces are all on point.
Yes, We are Still Here atechnically takes place in 1979. But I couldn’t live with myself if I left it off this list. Ted Geoghegan’s horror period piece captures the essence of Fulci but tells its own terrifying story of a haunted house in search of a sacrificial offering. The wardrobe and set design really invoke a long gone era. Not to mention, Barbara Crampton and Larry Fessenden are a delight in their respective roles.
“A triptych of vignettes set in places where
exhaustion, tedium, fear and duty collide to make moral reasoning difficult,
Foxhole marks the second feature so far by a filmmaker barely out of his teens.
Jack Fessenden (son of genre fixture Larry, a producer here) wears many hats,
most of them very well, teaming with a fine cast to deliver a war film
where happy endings may be imagined but bloody ones are never in doubt…
Fessenden directs and edits tense dialogue sequences with skill…
a movie that almost entirely rises to the height of its ambitions.
Let other films argue whether war is ever defensible or
pit one conflict’s righteousness against another’s;
Foxhole cares about the individuals tasked with fighting,
in the hours that challenge them most.”
—John Defore, The Hollywood Reporter