eXistenZ

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


See also...

VIDEODROME

A densely-plotted, witty, fatalistic horror-cum-morality tale with truly gruesome special effects. A cable TV director becomes fascinated with the hard core sex-and-torture programmes on Videodrome, a... More »

EXISTENZ

In the near future, a group of players gather to try out eXistenz, the latest in full-immersion VR game technology. eXistenz is the brainchild of the games world's most notorious genius, Allegra Gelle... More »

IKARIE XB-1

Jindřich Polák's pioneering sci-fi masterpiece is little known, but its DNA can be seen throughout the genre, from Star Trek to 2001: A Space Odyssey … and beyond! ... In 2163, the Ikarie XB-1 is on a... More »

LE DERNIER COMBAT

Hot on the vapour trails of his new sci-fi romp Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, go back to where it all began for Luc Besson, with this striking 1983 debut starring his Cinéma du look col... More »

STRANGE DAYS

Starring Ralph Fiennes, Angela Basset and Juliette Lewis, Kathryn Bigelow's 20-year-old, James Cameron-scripted, VR tech-noir is more relevant today than ever. ... Set in LA in the dying hours of the ... More »

DARK CITY:DIRECTOR'S CUT

A world where the night never ends. Where man has no past. And humanity has no future. ... A man awakens in a hotel near a dead body, possessing no memory of who he is or how he got there. Pursued by ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director