Canada, 1999 (MIFF 2017, Sci-Fi)

Director: David Cronenberg

'A sci-fi thriller about sexy keyboard jockeys, corporate espionage and the infecting spread of terrorism, Cronenberg's ode to immersive gaming … [is] a great unheralded Nineties treatise on our perpetual addiction to a life lived online.' – Rolling Stone

David Cronenberg's first original screenplay since Videodrome (MIFF 1984) found Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jude Law in a Möbius film strip of characteristically macabre weirdness as venerated game designer Allegra Geller and her bodyguard Ted, on the run from thieves and assassins in an immersive bio-simulation game that may or may not be real life.

Inspired by the fatwa on author Salman Rushdie, Cronenberg crafted a story about the intersection of extremism and reality, via video-gaming culture, that resonates as powerfully today as it did in 1999. For his efforts, he won the Berlin Film Festival's Silver Bear that year, although the film's release less than a month after the Wachowski's similarly themed The Matrix cast a shadow on its box-office success. Since then, however, eXistenZ has found a second life and is now a widely admired cult classic, as much for its ghoulish, darkly sexual humour as for its slyly far-sighted, if still somewhat OTT script.

Also featuring Willem Dafoe, Ian Holm, Christopher Eccleston and Sarah Polley, eXistenZ is model midnight movie fare: a peerlessly demented nightmare vision of a future ever in danger of becoming our present.

'Cronenberg's most criminally slept-on and under-appreciated opus, an out and out masterpiece.' – Kill Screen

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