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Yellow Fever Independent Film Festival report

September 8th, 2012 by Big Phil Comments

The first two days of Belfast’s Yellow Fever Independent  Film Festival are over and Big Phil has shuffled home and reported back… but was it any good?

DAY 1: Friday Sept 7, 2012

Greetings my fellow Nerd and Nerdettes from the 4th Annual Yellow Fever Irish Film Festival. This weekend will be a collection of shorts and feature premiers, not to mention Live Director’s Commentaries, Zombie Make up classes, casting workshops and meet and greets with legends in Asian Cinema.

Last night was very much like all first nights at coventions and festivals. I was greeted (very warmly) by George Clarke, organiser of the film festival, who very kindly gave me a tour of the facility, which this year is being held at The Stormont Hotel, Belfast. With a packed weekend ahead of me, I was handed my Itinerary and introduced to the a couple of the guests who are attending. First up were Albert Pyun and Cynthia Curran. These names were already etched onto my brain as Albert had directed the original Captain America, Nemesis and Cyborg to name but a few. Cynthia is a Producer and has worked on a number of production with Albert such as Sorcerers, Left for Dead and Road to Hell. Also present was Mike Leeder, a true gentleman both in front and behind the camera as he has worked on The Mummy 3, Rush Hour 3 and Resident Evil 5 to name but a few.

With introductions out of the way, it was time for the screenings to take place. First up was short film enttitled Beach which was tongue-in-cheek horror filmed in black and white. Next up was another short entitled Unjust about a man who is hunted by the father of a boy he killed through dangerous driving. This short film had some great snappy dialogue and was very punchy in its delivery. The final premier of the evening for a feature entitled Murderous.

Murderous is a strange film to classify as it is part art-house, part troubles-inspired. It revolves around the guilt of a father after his son dies under horrific circumstanses. Though this is mostly a dialogue free film, the acting is quite impressive as are the locations and cinematography. This is one of those films that is interesteing to watch and disect as it leaves the viewer with a number of questions unaswered at the end, which is always good for the post film debate (there will be a full list of reviews at the end of the full event).

Rounding off the evening was a slight change to the scheduled film. We received a rare screening of Albert Pyun’s Mean Gnus. A 90s classic starring Ice-T and Christopher Lambert that fans were very familiar with, and still laughed at the set peices.

With tired eyes I headed off home for the evening. But fear not, because Saturday (today) with be the start of the main events!

FTN’s very own Owen Quinn, author or The Time Warriors will be on hand to sign copies of his books. The Emerald Garrison, Ireland’s premier Star Wars costuming club will also be on display with their various costumes and poses for the camera, not to mention a Zombie Charity Walk and rare screeening of George Clarke’s first movie Battle of the Bone. As if this wasnt enough to get you excited, there will a LIVE Director’s Commentary from Albert Pyun with a screening of Captain America.

So see you there later today folks, and prepare to be Zombie-fied!

DAY 2: Saturday Sept 8, 2012

Greetings once again my fellow Nerds and Nedettes for Day 2 of the Yellow Fever Independent Film Festival, which is being held at the Stormont Hotel, Belfast, Northern Ireland. 

After the introducions and meet and greets from the previous evening, Saturday was your typical second day at a festival. Early start as fans were at the venue from 9.30am as were the guests which was great to see. The morning’s programme was a fairly relaxed affair with many visitors registering for the first time this weekend and getting a general feel for what the day and the rest of the weekend would entail. 

The morning revolved around a dazzling display of make-up and effects, specifically in the Zombie field as everyone wanted to get into the spirit of the charity walk that was to take place later on. With fans, from the very young to the very young at heart, it seemed that no-one was safe from the hungry mouths of the zombie plague that had suddenly broke out! Indeed, as if that wasn’t enough of a strange sight to behold, the Emerald Garrison popped down with  Sandtroopers and Stormtroopers to try and restore some sort of order(thanks guys).

At approximately mid-day, the most motley crew of Zombies, Star Wars costumes and humans made their way from the Stormont Hotel right up to the statue on the grounds of the Stormont Estate, and in case you are unsure of the distance, that’s a mile there and back again! 

This was certainly one of the highlights of the weekend as there were participants from the many zombie incarnations through the decades. Highlights included a Zombie Nun (from the original Dawn of the Dead), green faced zombies (from the original Night of the Living Dead), a SWAT team member from the Umbrella Corporation (Resident Evil), oh and let’s not forget the Oompa Loompa twins as Zombies (pictured above), not to mention yours truly (below) as a Nerd Zombie (I did my own make-up in the style of Shaun of the Dead). There was a brilliant feeling among everyone taking part in this event as not only was it for a good cause, but we literally pestered all passers by, stopping cars, trying to raid concession stands and even a tour bus could not stop the hoarde of zombies as we decended upon it.

With our leisurely walk back to the hotel finished, and some refreshements consumed (blood, sadly was not on the bar menu), we all settled in for the afternoon’s screenings.  First up was the Premier and feature presentation by George Clarke, entitled The Knackery which was filmed in Northern Ireland.  This was a very funny, tongue-in-cheek homage to the reality television shows that have sprung up in recent years. The premise of the film was simple yet perfect; take a group of contestants, throw them into a reality show where the last person standing will receive one million pounds. Only one snag: there is a horde of bloodthirsty zombies that want to kill you.  What ensues is a gore-laden, martial arts rock’em sock’em with great one liners and a riveting pace that had the audience cheering for more.

The second feature of the afternoon was a Scottish film entitled Street Fight. This was a feature presentation and set in fictional illegal street fights which could be viewd on pay-per-view via the internet. Though the film had the audience laughing (unintetionally) at the acting, there was some great fight choreography and you could easily tell that the Director had been influenced by The Matrix and Fight Club.

A short while later was the highlight of the evening: a LIVE director’s commentary on Captain America from Albert Pyun with Mike Leeder. This was truly a memorable experience as the entire audience were stunned by some of the revelations that Albert mentioned about the film, from budget constraints, to entire scenes and stunts being abandoned, not to mention changes that were NOT to be made to the title character.  It was truly an experience to hear a director talk openly and frankly about his experience, good and bad, to a very appreciative audience, and everyone was entralled.  Rounding off the evening was a special screening of Albert Pyun’s Nemesis. A violent, futuristic classic from the 1990s and one that the audience were totally captivated by.

Right, I’m off to TRY and get some sleep, though I feel like a child the night before Santa comes…

DAY 3: Sunday Sept 9, 2012

The final day of the Yellow Fever Irish Film Festival started off once again with an early start and a relaxing ‘invitation only’ breakfast at The Stormont Hotel. It was great to sit and have a chat with other fellow attendees in a relaxed atmosphere.

After breakfast, Mike Leeder gave a superb workshop on casting and introducing yourself to agents and directors. This was a brilliant workshop in which his advice was both complimentary to individuals and interspersed with stories from his own experience as a casting agent.

Following the workshop we adjourned to the screening room for an afternoon of shorts, features and premiers:
First up was a documentary called Red Forest Hotel about the plantation of eucalyptus trees inChina. This was a superb documentary and a full review is available by clicking here.
Second was a short entitled Myra: This was a monologue and was based and inspired by the interview Myra Hindley gave to The Guardian newspaper before her death. Though the subject matter was difficult at times to watch, the actor’s performance was superb.
Third screening was an Irish short film called Cops and Robbers. This was a short story about two young brothers who find a gun and the chain of events that occurs afterwards.
Fourth was a UK short called Trunks. This was about a man who finds that when he swims in the swimming pool he believes he may be homosexual.
The fifth film was a UK short called Analogue Love and was a bout a young woman’s love for a large old fashioned television.
The sixth film was a music video called Sham, an anti-war song with some interesting visuals.
The seventh was a UK short called Fall to Grace which was a story of a puppet creating a human and the triumphs and trials that followed.
The eighth was another UK short entitled Buon Giorno, Sayonara which involved an Italian male and a Japanese girl meeting each other by chance and breaking the language barrier.
The ninth film was another UK short called Have You Seen This Girl and was about a man travelling a great distance to find a girl who he only knows by her picture
The eleventh film was an Italian short called And the Winner is which was based on theme of gambling and luck.
The final short in the afternoon’s session was called The Theoretical Proof on the Existence of Fairies and was about a writer and his love wanting to expose fairies for his personal gain.

With these screenings finished the audience took a short break before we were given a very special screening of Albert Pyun’s The Road to Hell.  This was a sequel to the Walter Hill 1980’s classic “Streets of Rage” and was a refreshing change to what we had seen earlier.  You can view the full review of this by clicking here.

We then had an awards ceremony which was presented by George Clarke with awards handed out by Albert Pyun and Mike Leeder for various categories including “The Viewer’s Choice” which went to Albert Pyun for The Road To Hell.

With only 30 minutes until the curtain went up for the premier screening of George Clarke’s Splash Area, it was time to stretch our legs once more before this final screening of the weekend.

Splash Area was a brilliant tongue-in-cheek, low budget, locally made horror film with some great comedic moments and the cast, crew and audience at the screening enjoyed it immensely. You can find a full review of it by clicking here.

As they say “that was that.” The weekend had been brilliant with many screenings surpassing my expectations. The guests were great and very approachable and it seems that everyone is looking forward to this event next year.

I would just like to personally thank George Clarke, Albert Pyun, Cynthia Curran, Mike Leeder, the cast and crew of The Knackery and Splash Area, and everyone who took part in the Zombie Charity Walk for an amazing weekend.

Check out all the pics from the weekend by Simon Hosick  here 

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I arrived on Earth in 1977 and have virtually devoted my entire existence to cult films, television programmes and cartoons. I am a very big fan of Star Wars and Star Trek; I may struggle with foreign languages but I can order live Gagh in Klingon! I’m the Nerd that knows the trivia but I’m hopeless at sport!

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