MOTELX is healthier than ever in 2021: 7 days of horror, female serial killers and a deep dive in the memory of the Portuguese Colonial War.
Between 7 and 13 September, the historic movie theatre receives a programme that reflects the DNA MOTELX has been refining over the years, thus changing the cultural scenario in Portugal's capital by removing the fear of genre cinema and shamelessly crossing it with other artistic expressions.
In a mixture of looking into the future of horror cinema - albeit with an attentive eye to what is happening in the present, the world, and in the arts - this edition takes on a tone of celebration, honourably opening with the national premiere of “The Green Knight” (2021), starring Dev Patel. This is a retelling of Sir Gawain's King Arthur’s legend, as mysterious as it is frightening, as fantastical as it is profound, signed by acclaimed director David Lowery.
Murderous Fury: Women Serial Killers
But, if in 2020, the festival’s programming was focused on the issues of systemic racism, this year will have a selection of feminist films, such as “Black Medusa”, by ismaël and co-directed by Youssef Chebbi, or “Violation”, by Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli, naturally inspired by the #metoo movement. In order to dismantle the stereotype of male representation in horror films, these two movies lay the foundations for the identity of MOTELX 2021 and for a special new programme entitled “Murderous Fury: Women Serial Killers”. This retrospective brings together some of the unfortunately scarce female serial killer films, featuring Erzsébet Bathory's biopic “The Countess” (2009), directed by Julie Delpy; “Monster” (2004), telling the story of the most famous female North American serial killer, directed and masterfully interpreted by Charlize Theron; the shocking film “Baise-Moi” (2000), by Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi; the ritualistic and bewildering “Audition” (1999) by Takashi Miike; and John Waters' puritanical satire, “Serial Mom” (1994).
The official selection also highlights the much awaited “Name Above Title” (2020), by Portuguese director Carlos Conceição, which looks at Giallo films under the light of the bustling era of social media, and the new documentary by Rodney Ascher, “A Glitch in the Matrix” (2020), addressing a theme that has been increasingly taken seriously by the scientific and philosophical world: the idea that reality is a computer simulation. The pandemic is the main character of the Taiwanese “The Sadness” (2021), in which the virus promotes a civilizational regression.
If deconstructing stereotypes is one of the ubiquitous premises of this edition, reflecting on personal and collective memory in the year that marks the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Portuguese Colonial War is the hook for this edition's Lost Room: The Portuguese Heart of Darkness - The (Unfinished) Overseas Trilogy. One of the pieces of this section is the surprising cinematic attempt made by the most successful Portuguese producer/director duo of the 90s, Tino Navarro and Joaquim Leitão, a triptych set in three different times: “Inferno” (1999), is a film set in the post-war period with veterans; “20,13” (2006), taking place in a military barrack in Africa during a bombing; and “Paraíso”, the chapter yet to be made, around young people on the eve of their mandatory conscription day. In these two films, the Spaghetti Western coexists with comedy, action, melodrama, romance, thriller, horror and buddy movie, turning this work into one of the most surprising and entirely unprecedented proposal in our cinematography that we long to see finished.
Special Screenings announced for this edition are “The Amusement Park” (1973), the banned institutional film by George Romero, and the 20-year celebration of the masterpiece “Spirited Away” (2001), by Hayao Miyazaki, in the Big Bad Wolf section.
In the short films category, 7 movies have already been announced for the International Shorts section, highlighting the award-winning “The Earth of No Return” (2020), by Patrick Mendes, winner of the first edition of the MOTELX Award - Best Portuguese Horror Short Film in 2009, and Filipe Melo's harrowing and claustrophobic thriller, entirely shot in one long take, “O Lobo Solitário” (2021). Section X, launched in 2020, becomes official this year, presenting a new space for the promotion of a more experimental and underground horror cinema.