David Cronenberg is making a new speculative drama, Crimes Of The Future

Seven years after his last feature, the revered Toronto writer-director is gearing up to make a new film in Athens

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      David Cronenberg isn’t done yet.

      The venerated Canadian writer-director from Toronto is heading to Greece with an international cast—among them Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart, Scott Speedman, and Don McKellar—to shoot a new speculative drama, Crimes Of The Future. Principal photography is scheduled to commence in August in Athens.

      “I have unfinished business with the future,” Cronenberg was quoted as saying in a press release from Serendipity Point Films announcing the production. It’s his first entirely original screenplay since eXistenZ in 1999.

      The announcement was received with no small amount of joy in the Canadian film community, since Cronenberg hasn’t made a movie since 2014’s Maps To The Stars, and had been musing about retiring, or maybe adapting his novel Consumed as a miniseries for a streaming service. He’s been enjoying a side gig as an actor, appearing in Sarah Polley’s Alias Grace and Albert Shin’s psychological thriller Disappearance At Clifton Hill, and turning up a recurring role in the most recent season of Star Trek: Discovery.

      Cronenberg’s body of work reaches back more than half a century; his early horror films Shivers, Rabid, The Brood, Scanners, and Videodrome paradoxically helped make Canadian cinema respectable on the global stage during the tax-shelter years with their pervasive themes of body horror and transgressive science. In the '80s and '90s, Cronenberg moved into the mainstream with projects like The Dead Zone, The Fly, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, and Crash, which just received the re-release and Criterion treatment.

      In 2005, he cast Viggo Mortensen in an adaptation of the graphic novel A History Of Violence, beginning a collaboration that would run for a decade and a half. Crimes Of The Future marks his fourth film starring Mortensen, and their fifth project together; Mortensen cast Cronenberg as a proctologist in his own directorial debut, Falling.

      Set in a future “where humankind is learning to adapt to its synthetic surroundings”, Crimes Of The Future will follow a performance artist named Saul Tenser as he embraces “Accelerated Evolution Syndrome”, which causes him to produce mutated organs which he then removes to delight his audience. But as his performances become more popular, they bring Tenser to the attention of various shadowy groups.

      The new film shares a title with a student film Cronenberg wrote and directed in 1970, and which is currently available to stream on the Criterion Channel. That film was set in the dystopian future of 1997 where a chemical plague had killed all adult women, leaving men alone with their fetishes.

      It seems unlikely that the new project is a sequel or a remake.