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Fantasia Film Fest: Part VIII

As much as it was becoming a strain watching tons of films – the minute that the festival is over, I feel a void, and now I have the urge to watch even more Asian films. I want more! I’ll be receiving 10 new Asian DVDs by mail in the next few days thanks to Yesasia’s summer sale. I’ll watch those, empty my now full PVR, enjoy what is left of the summer and regain my strength for the film festival season which is starting in a few weeks. There are big three big festivals coming up back to back; The World Film Festival (Aug 26-Sept 5), The New Montreal Film Fest (Sept 18-25) and the New Cinema Festival (Oct 13-23). Considering that press screenings start a few weeks before those festivals and that there are 3 festivals in November (Image+Nation, Cinemania and the Rencontres Internationales du Documentaire), there will be pretty much something to see everyday until the end of November. That can’t be very healthy …

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This year, more than 75 000 viewers attended one or many of the events of this 9th edition of the Fantasia International Genre Film Festival. Half of those tickets were sold during the 2 days of presales before the festival. There was also an encouraging record-breaking number of sold-out screenings and a 18% increase in attendance from last year. Fantasia is getting bigger and bigger and is quickly reaching Godzilla-esque proportions.

I ended up seeing 40 films, about half of all the feature films, which is a pretty good sample. As I said in my first piece, several major releases were not shown at Fantasia this year. Hopefully, Formula 17 (the highest grossing film in Taiwan last summer), Citizen Dog, Casshern and many other recent Asian films missing from the program will make it to the other festivals coming in the next few months. I was disappointed not to see those at Fantasia, but other than that the selection of films ranging from the latest Miike film (Izo) to small scale local productions like Purple Glow made for a nice pleasurable fest.

Official award list of the 9th edition of the Fantasia International Genre Film Festival:

Best film: Mind Game (Japan, Yuasa Masaaki)
Best director: Gen Sekiguchi – Survive Style 5 + (Japan) / Yuasa Masaaki – Mind Game
Best script: Yuasa Masaaki – Mind Game
Best cinematography: Kosuke Matushima -The Taste of Tea (Japan)
Best actor: Choi Min-sik – Crying Fist (South Korea)
Best actress: Kate Greenhouse – Dark Hours (Canada)
Visual Accomplishment: Yuasa Masaaki – Mind Game

On its 50th anniversary, Séquences associated itself with the team of the Fantasia International Genre Film Festival by creating the Séquences Award for the best film amongst the Asian selections. Mr. Élie Castiel, editor-in-chief of Séquences, was the president of the jury for this prize. The journalists Luc Chaput and Alain Vézina were the members of this jury.

Best Asian Film: Shutter, (Thailand, Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom.)
Special Mention: One Nite in Monkong (Hong Kong, Derek Yee)

Every year, the members of Fantasia’s audience are asked to express themselves on their favorite films of the edition’s programming. Here are the winners of the Fantasia People’s Choice Awards 2005:

Best Asian Film: Survive Style 5 + (Gen Sekiguchi, Japan, 2004) / Taste of Tea (Katsuhito Ishii, Japan, 2004)
Best European / North-South American Film: El Lobo (Miguel Courtois, Spain, 2005) / Trouble (Harry Cleven, Belgium/France, 2004)
Best Animation Film: Mind Game (Yuasa Masaaki, Japan, 2004)
Most Groundbreaking Film: Survive Style 5 +
Best Short Film: Kakurenbo (Shuhei Morita, Japan, 2005)

The Fantasia Festival will return to Concordia University to celebrate its 10th anniversary from July 6 to 24, 2006.

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Night of the Living Dorks (Germany, 2004)

After an obscure voodoo experiment fails miserably and after they die in a car accident the same night, a trio of dorks—hence the title of the film—is turned into flesh-eating zombies. The film’s humor is similar to Shaun of the Dead’s and mixes several elements of the high-school comedy genre (Weird Science, American Pie, etc.). They’re not wearing bras on their heads like their Weird Science counterparts nor are they doing it with pies, but as they learn to adapt to their new identity they very soon find out that being a zombie has its advantages: they become very strong, good at sports and, more importantly, all the girls of the college are after them. Who didn’t dream of that? The only disadvantage to their ‘zombiness’ is the fact that their body parts tend to detach sporadically, even some more important ones down there, but what the heck, they can staple them back in place! Under layers and layers of comic elements, several themes have been added to the narrative. The usual suspects for this kind of film, the themes of acceptance at school, relationships, etc., are very well incorporated in the film and it feels genuinely original even though those themes are used in numerous films each years.

Survive Style 5 + (Japan, 2005)

It probably happened to you to before; you watch a film and it’s so brilliant you have an urge to buy the DVD as soon as you finished watching the film. The first time it happened to me was after watching Jesus Christ Superstar a few years ago (don’t ask me why!). It happened to me again after watching Survive Style 5 +.

It’s definitely my best film of the year so far. I don’t want to spoil the film so I won’t provide any synopsis, but the film features 2 very unlikely romances, an eccentric advertisement writer, a man who thinks he’s a bird capable of flying and, of course, a British head hunter played by no other that Vinnie Jones (Snatch). The film carries several very interesting themes about life, death, love and identity which complement perfectly its perfectly-written philosophical humor. If I were to go on a deserted island and I had the choice to bring someone to have sex with or this film, without hesitation I would bring the film; it’s a pure cinephilic orgasm. In my reviews I usually try to be objective, with Survive Style 5+ – I objectively got a blazing hard on for this film.

G.O.R.A. (Turkey, 2004)

A Turkish carpet salesman who happens to be selling allegedly flying carpets and who has a keen interest on taking fake UFO photos is all of the sudden kidnapped by an alien impersonating Prince Charles. Captive on a strange planet far far away the poor salesman and his new friends Bob Marley Faruk(!) and an android will try to escape the planet. The film isn’t a masterpiece but it’s very funny and it parodies in a witty way sci-fi flicks like Star Wars, The Fifth Element and The Matrix. It’s a very bad film in a very good and peculiar way; after all, who doesn’t like B-movies from the 1950s even though they are really awful? There are several very interesting and hilarious flashback sequences and the film is overall very entertaining. G.O.R.A. also has several gay jokes and innuendos. What’s up with that? I mean, most of them were indeed funny … but gay jokes in a Turkish movie? Who would have thought! And, yes, before you ask, the main character does drop his bar of soap in a shower. Ok, well, perhaps this isn’t the most intelligent type of humor out there but if you want to see a 2-hour long movie during which you don’t have to think overtly, G.O.R.A. is actually quite a good pick. So, turn your brain off and enjoy …

Fantasia Film Festival: Part VII
Fantasia Film Festival: Part VI
Fantasia Film Festival: Part V
Fantasia Film Festival: Part IV
Fantasia Film Festival: Part III
Fantasia Film Festival: Part II
Fantasia Film Festival: Guests
Fantasia Film Festival: Intro

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