Wednesday, November 24, 2010

AIFF 2010: Features in Competition - The Wild Hunt

The Wild Hunt is the opening movie at this year's Anchorage International Film Festival. 

Wikipedia tells us about the (actual) Wild Hunt:
The Wild Hunt is an ancient folk myth prevalent across Northern, Western and Central Europe.  The fundamental premise in all instances is the same: a phantasmal group of huntsmen with the accoutrements of hunting, horses, hounds, etc., in mad pursuit across the skies or along the ground, or just above in
The hunters may be the dead or the fairies (often in folklore connected with the dead). The hunter may be an unidentified lost soul, a deity or spirit of either gender, or may be a historical or legendary figure like Theodoric the Great, the Danish king Valdemar Atterdag, the Welsh psychopomp Gwyn ap Nudd or the Germanic Woden (or other reflections of the same god, such as Alemannic Wuodan in Wuotis Heer ("Wuodan's Host") of Central Switzerland, Swabia etc.)
The movie itself involves a modern reenactment of the old Wild Hunt.  The synopsis from the movies website:

A MODERN MEDIEVAL SAGA, The Wild Hunt tells the story of Erik Magnusson, a young man who decides to follow his estranged girlfriend Evelyn into a medieval re-enactment game when he discovers that she has been seduced by one of the players.
As the down-to-earth Erik treks deeper into the game in search of his love, he inadvertently disrupts the delicate balance of the make believe fantasy-land.
Passions are unleashed. Rules are broken. Reality and fantasy collide. The good-hearted game turns into a tragedy of mythic proportion...

You probably also should know about LARP, which stands for Live Action Role Playing.  Unlike those who play games on computers, these are people who do it for real.  As I was writing this, I discovered that Movieset has already written my post, citing Wikipedia on LARP and on the specific LARP location and event where The Wild Hunt is set - Bicolle.  I'll just give you a snippet of what they have and you can see the rest for yourself at Movieset:

What is L.A.R.P.?
From Wikipedia:       
A live action role-playing game (LARP) is a form of role-playing game where the participants physically act out their characters' actions. The players pursue goals within a fictional setting represented by the real world, while interacting with each other in character. The outcome of player actions may be mediated by game rules, or determined by consensus among players.
The first LARPs were run in the late 1970s, inspired by role-playing games and genre fiction. .  .
 What is The Duchy of Bicolline?
From Wikipedia:
Bicolline is a fantasy live action role-playing game (LARP) campaign in Quebec. Events take place at a dedicated venue covering 140 hectares called the Duchy of Bicolline located in Saint-Mathieu-du-Parc near Shawinigan, Québec.

The most passionate players involved over the years have built a medieval village with roads, bridges, ditches, an inn and a castle at the Duchy of Bicolline venue.  Players are responsible for their buildings and must follow standards of construction. The village is composed of one hundred buildings, with more being added. The demand for construction sites is such that one Bicolline staff member spends all year controlling applications, validating the plans for buildings, ensuring that projects are feasible, and so on. [Read it all at Movieset]
Sounds like they have their own version of zoning restrictions.  The actual Duchy of Bicolline site is in French.

Double Click to enlarge to see it clearly or go to original here.
 And The Wild Hunt was partially filmed at Duché de Bicolline.  The site has a poster of The Wild Hunt with this announcement:
Long métrage tourné au Duché de Bicolline incluant des scènes de la Grande Bataille 2008 et la participation de nombreux joueurs et joueuses. 
 or as Translate.reference interprets that:
Feature film shot in Duchy of Bicolline include scenes of the Great Battle of 2008 and the participation of many players and players
As Roger Ebert tells it:
Evelyn has left for the big weekend, where she will be captured, held hostage and otherwise be the center of attention. Erik is fed up. He goes out to the forest to talk sense to her, but his role-playing brother Bjorn (Mark A. Krupa) makes him wear a costume because It Is Not Permitted to Wear Just a T-Shirt.
If you want to check, you can read the Régles du Combat for Bataille du Bicolline.  My French is limited to words that look like English words and that page isn't copy-able so I couldn't find a rule about T-shirts.  Probably because those look like the rules of combat.

Ebert has a lot more to say and you can check out his review if you want to know more. Generally, he liked the movie and identified a bit with Erik. 

Twitchfilm also thinks you should see this (it's not clear who wrote the review - the byline is Todd Brown, but it also thanks Andrew David Long for the review.) This is from last December:
Alexandre Franchi just might be a genius, and his first feature shows the same lyric creativity and the same commitment to themes of imagination he displayed in his stellar collection of short films (Fata Morgana, Troll Concerto, etc.), all while suggesting - contrary to his earlier works - that reality must eventually destroy fantasy. . .

I would be remiss in neglecting to mention Claudine Sauvé's lovely 35mm cinematography, which nimbly integrates small crew documentary-style shoots and some intricate night scenes, and gives form to Franchi's lyric bent. 
Do yourself a favour and chase down a screening of The Wild Hunt.  You'll be glad you did, whether or not you believe Ragnarok is nigh. [This is the beginning and end of the review, for all of it go to Twitchfilm.]
It won the Best Canadian First Feature at the Toronto International Film Festival (2009) and the Audience Award for Best Narrative at Slamdance (2020.) 

This is said to have been done under a Canadian$500,000 budget.  I suspect doing it at the actual Duchy de Bicolline saved money on sets and costumes.  Also, the director knows something about money.  The website says:
After pursuing a successful banking career in Canada, the Persian Gulf and Central America, Alexandre decided to follow his passion for film and quit the business world for good. His stories, in which characters escape a dreary reality and find solace in the imaginary world, are a grim reminder of his old banking job. The Wild Hunt is his first feature.

Click on the link for a list and overview of all the Features in Competition.
Individual posts on other Features in Competition:

The Temptation of St. Tony

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