Experimental French filmmaker Bertrand Mandico isn’t for everyone — i.e. an acquired taste whose visions push boundaries of cinematic expression — but he’s achieved something of a cult fandom over the last three decades. After last pairing with the director on 2022’s “After Blue” and 2017’s uninhibited Venice winner “The Wild Boys” — Cahiers du Cinéma’s top film of 2018 — the distributor Altered Innocence again teams with Mandico on another provocation. His 2023 Cannes premiere “She Is Conann,” nominated for the Queer Palm before going on to play at other festivals including Locarno, is an acid-trip transgressive riff on the Conan the Barbarian myth. IndieWire shares the trailer here.

Influences on the film include Tony Scott’s “The Hunger,” the works of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Liliana Cavani’s “The Night Porter,” and Fellini’s “Satyricon.” Throw Ken Russell in there for good measure, with profane images in “She Is Conann” reminiscent of “The Devils.” Starring Claire Duburcq (“1917,” Mandico’s “After Blue”), Christa Théret (“Renoir”), Sandra Parfait (“Lupin”), Agata Buzek (“High Life”), Nathalie Richard (“Irma Vep”), and Françoise Brion (“L’Immortelle”) as the many faces of Conann — from young woman to warrior queen, each succeeding the last — along with Julia Riedler and Mandico favorite Elina Löwensohn who has starred in all his films, in the role of Rainer, the Cerberus guardian of the underworld. The 35mm-shot film follows Mandico’s typical mandate of using only in-camera practical effects with sound that is recorded and synchronized later.

“She Is Conann” first premiered in the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight section earlier this year. The film will open February 2 at select Alamo Drafthouse locations and at the Anthology Film Archive in New York, with other screenings set for Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Denver, and more.

IndieWire’s review of “After Blue,” Mandico’s last film, should set you up nicely for the kind of experience you’re in for with “She Is Conann”: “One part ‘Annihilation’ and one part ‘The Love Witch,’ and cast under the veneer of a sadistic ‘The NeverEnding Story,’ the film creates a lush — sometimes grotesque — alternate universe ruled by unique rules, creatures, and longings. Love it or hate it, you’ve never seen anything quite like ‘After Blue.’”

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