The Circuit of Excess: Film Industry, Taboos and Online Conversations

I have just come back from a pretty intense full immersion session in taboos, censorship and cinema hosted at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Yes, in the Czech Republic, right where Fifty Shades of Grey‘s sex symbol Jamie Dornan was presenting his latest film, Anthropoid. At this time of the year this city has a quite interesting multifaceted vibe: elderly people convene there for the thermal baths, but you can also easily party all night long or go for a stroll in the nice venues and meet iconic stars the like of Harvey Keitel and Udo Kier.

The 4th TorinoFilmLab Alumni Meeting at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

I had a very refreshing experience there, as always with the TorinoFilmLab Alumni Meetings. The topic for this year’s edition was “Provocative cinema – Addressing taboos, dealing with censors, generating debate and acting for change.” Having spent the past few months teaching a module on “Transgressive Culture” at Middlesex University, which is run by Dr Theresa Cronin at the School of Media and Performing Arts, the focus of the Meeting seemed an appropriate coincidence. So I felt I had to propose a case study focused on transgression and cinema.

Getting ready for "The Circuit of Excess: Film Industry, Taboos and Online Conversations" at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

I teamed up again with my friend and former Audience Design participant Juan Morali. This time we also had an amazing technological partner on board in the agency Sentisis, which works with big data and specialises in sentiment analysis and monitoring of online conversations in Spanish-speaking countries.

We focused on a topic that has proved a very popular theme across decades and film genres: cannibalism. We specifically analysed the buzz surrounding Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno and introduced the provisional findings of a study which considers viewers’ media habits, primary discussed assets in online conversations, preferred devices, as well as geo-localised insights on fans of the horror genre.

Final poster for Eli Roth's film "The Green Inferno".

I framed our analysis within transgression as a promotional tool involving the wider film industry: festivals, niche distributors, academic approaches and fan communities. The aim of my talk “The Circuit of Excess: Film Industry, Taboos and Online Conversations” was to address transgression as a commodity and consider censorship and taboos within cinema mainly drawing on Mikita Brottman‘s analysis of the impact and legacy of “offensive films” such as Cannibal Holocaust, Faces of Death, Snuff and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Mikita Brottman's "Offensive Films" book cover.While on 9 July I discussed Roth’s mainstream horror paying homage to the cult Italian cannibal cycle, that same day TFL Alumnus Edwin presented his personal experience with Indonesian cinema and censorship. On the 10th Azize Tan, the director of the Istanbul Film Festival, explained why last April Turkish filmmakers pulled out their films over a censorship row. Finally, documentarist Peter Kerekes introduced us to his cinematic international exploration of censors as “manual workers”. Oh, of course we had plenty of nice food and drinks too, because TFL takes great care of its Alumni.


“What Happened to Teresa?” Creativity, Business and Guitar Players. Part 2: Slash

There is little doubt that Slash has a pretty strong work ethic. Since leaving Guns N’ Roses in the mid-1990s, the iconic guitarist has collaborated with countless artists, founded (and dismantled) two bands, Slash’s Snakepit and Velvet Revolver, before happily going solo.

Now that he has found an ideal creative team in singer Myles Kennedy and supporting band The Conspirators, the top-hatted guitar hero has set up a routine that seems to fit him perfectly. This includes recording an album, touring to promote it while working on new songs, going back to the studio right after to arrange and record the new material, then hitting the road again.

Slash performs at Super Bowl XLV Halftime Show at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Despite being busy bringing his latest studio effort Apocalyptic Love to the world, Slash has already announced that he’s working on its follow-up. In the meantime he has recently released the new DVD/CD Live At The Roxy and teamed up with the International Fund for Animal Welfare to protect elephants and end the ivory trade. With such a schedule, it’s hard to believe that he could find the time to consider any other creative outlet.

Yet The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer perfectly fits my series of posts on creativity and the music business, as he is not only one of the best musicians of his generation, but also a long-time avid fan of classic horror films who started a production company himself. Focused on the genre he loves most and aptly named Slasher Films, his venture released the supernatural horror film Nothing Left to Fear in 2013 and is now developing a new project titled The Hell Within.

Poster for "Nothing Left to Fear" directed by Anthony Leonardi III

With production scheduled to begin in January 2016, what we know so far is that Slash has been mobilising his fans for the chance to win three signed Epiphone guitars and an autographed AFD Les Paul Performance Pack. The hashtags #TheHellWithin and #WhatHappenedToTeresa have been launched, while social media profiles related to the film have already been flooded by fan artwork.

Artwork for "The Hell Within"

So if you’re curious to know who Teresa is and what happened to her, all you have to do is to follow the project on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and join Slash in his celluloid madness.

How Short Can Fear Be? Meet the 1-Minute Horror Film “Tuck Me In”

Is there anything more intimate than your young son asking you to tuck him in? It looks like the perfect portrait of a happy family, so I suppose it was about time for a fan of horror film to twist this idyllic cliché and conceive one of the creepiest short films that I’ve seen in a while.

Playing with the uncanny rather than the gore and violence, Spanish director Ignacio F. Rodó conceived Tuck Me In in 2014 and won last year’s Filminute award for best film. This “micro-horror” barely reaches one minute in length and is based on a story by Juan J. Ruiz. It is set at bedtime and features Mark Schardan, who plays the role of a father who is requested to perform what every son (in this case Alex, portrayed by Luka Schardan) usually asks for: to check if some dreadful creature is lurking under his bed.

Luka Schardan as Alex in "Tuck Me In"

You can discover for yourself what happens next by watching the short here. If we have to believe how the project began, everything started one year ago, when users on the AskReddit forum started to answer the question “What is the best horror story you can come up with in two sentences.” Ruiz’ entry, posted under the nickname justAnotherMuffledVo, proved to be the most popular: “I begin tucking him into bed and he tells me, ‘Daddy check for monsters under my bed.’ I look underneath for his amusement and see him, another him, under the bed, staring back at me quivering and whispering, ‘Daddy there’s somebody on my bed.’”

What happened next can be credited to Rodó and his crew’s talent, as well as the viewer’s imagination that screens the rest of the story in their own minds.