Well, this is completely unexpected… if anything, if this was going to premiere on the film festival circuit (which I assumed it would), I had it pegged as a Sundance Film Festival world premiere, and not a Slamdance Film Festival world premiere.
No shade to Slamdance at all, but I don't think I'm stepping out of bounds when I say that, between the two Park City, UT festivals, Sundance wins the clout trophy.
Does it thus imply that the film may not have been good enough for Sundance? No, it doesn't. There are so many other factors to consider. The filmmakers actually may have been gunning for Slamdance over Sundance, all along, for any number of reasons.
But no matter at this point, because it's going to make its world premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival next month.
It's a project we first profiled in August 2011, but have heard very little about since; so you folks may actually have forgotten all about it.
Vipaka – the southern gothic psychological thriller that stars Forest Whitaker, Anthony Mackie, Sanaa Lathan, Nicole Ari Parker and Mike Epps, and centers on 2 enemies who eventually go head-to-head in a match that will "test each man's belief in what they're certain is the truth."
The film was shot in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the summer/fall of 2011, so it's been a little while since photography ended, and post-production began. Obviously, it's finally complete.
You'd probably think that this would go straight to theaters, bypassing festivals, given who's involved, but, as I noted in previous posts, an early 2013 festival run to help build buzz, leading up to its eventual theatrical release, was likely. Note that the film doesn't have a distributor yet.
French/Lebanese director Philippe Caland (Boxing Helena) directed the film.
As a recap, Vipaka centers on 2 enemies who eventually go head-to-head in a match that will "test each man's belief in what they're certain is the truth."
French/Lebanese director Philippe Caland (Boxing Helena) is directing.
Described as a horror/thriller, the film's official synopsis reads:
An earnest life-coach/author, Thomas Carter, is mysteriously abducted by a deranged client, Angel Sanchez, who delves into Thomas' teachings and uses his spiritual messages of Karma – action and reaction (Vipaka), against him to terrorize him and his family for their past sins.
Mackie plays Thomas, and Whitaker plays Angel. Lathan plays Mackie's wife, who's caught in a love triangle that includes her husband (Mackie) and Mike Epps’ character, who plays his brother.
She added in a past interview that Epps is doing "a really dark, complicated edgy role," and that "people are gonna be so blown away by him in this movie."
But don't expect any voodoo or witchcraft, as lathan also noted in that same interview, saying that "there’s definitely some freaky shit in it. It will keep people on the edge of their seats. You’ll be jumping and screaming, but it’s also really deep and really layered. I’m not interested in doing a straight horror film. I’m excited because there are good moments in Vipaka that I don’t think people have seen Black people do on screen lately."
Needless to say, I'm excited to see this – given its cast, characters, story, etc. On paper, it all reads well, and I'm hoping that the execution is just as engaging.
By the way, the word "Vipaka" is a Buddhist term meaning the result of karma.
Still no media to look at yet; but I've reached out for something – a few images would be great; a clip or trailer, even better.