Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
Man, it’s killing me that I’m not going this year. Sure, all my reasons are great and exciting, but damn it... I look forward to Fantasia every year. It’s an amazing experience, a great group of people, and just plain fun from start to finish.
They just finished with the press conference where they announced all the films they’ll be playing, and instead of half-assing it, I’m going to just run their press releases so you can sift through all the amazing titles for yourselves, starting with their Korean Cinema Showcase:
Since its beginning, the Fantasia festival has presented more than 50 Korean films, including 16 this year. It was in the late ’90s that Korean fantastic genre cinema truly began to blossom again. Several Korean production companies opened branches in Hollywood last year, including SINCINE (My Sassy Girl, Gingko Bed) and CJ Entertainment (Musa, The Uninvited, Memories of Murder and many more). More and more, Korean actors and directors are taking steps to collaborate with Hong Kong, China and Hollywood. Korean actors are causing a stir among the younger generation across Asia. It is amazing to witness this revolution in Korean cinema happening so fast.
This year at Fantasia, national representative director Im Kwon-Tack returns to his action-flick roots with Low Life: In the early days after WWII, an angry, fearless youth from a broken home raids a rival high school to settle a score with his fists. Low Life follows the vibrant life and times of a remarkable man, but it’s no hagiography, nor is it an attempt to have a man stand in for his nation in trying times. Low Life was invited into official competition at the 57th Cannes festival.
Maverick Korean director Ryoo Seung-Wan is behind one of this year’s opening films, Crying Fist, which treads turf familiar to fans of his earlier efforts Die Bad and No Blood No Tears. Relentlessly tough and emotionally raw and accurate, Crying Fist is built upon a brilliantly simple device—tell the separate stories of two desperate men, and then devote the third act to their confrontation, from which only one can emerge victorious. Crying Fist won a jury prize in the section of Director’s Fortnight at 58th Cannes, 2005.
Two social action films from Kang Woo-Suk, the director who brought us the inimitable Public Enemy, are Another Public Enemy and the powerful true story Silmido: in 1968 the South Korean intelligence service press-ganged 31 men, mostly convicted criminals, into a fierce training regimen for their intended assignment—punch deep into North Korea and kill the "Great Leader" Kim Il-sung. Unit 684, as they were called, had become a dangerous burden to the South Korean leadership as the mission was scuttled by political changes. They’re trapped on the isolated island Silmido...
From the same director of Crying Fist, Ryoo’s previous film, Arahan, is bellylaughs and fisticuffs—a potent mix of comedy and fantasy action, taking the concept of the philosophical kung-fu comedy and putting a distinctive Korean spin on it.
Fighter in the Wind, from director Yang Yun-ho, is based on the true-life story of Choi Baedal, also known as Masutatsu Oyama, a fierce fighter from Korea who stunned and excited Japan by winning 270 martial-arts fights in a campaign to be the nation’s greatest, and later established the Kyokushin Karate school, training Sonny Chiba among others. But it’s actually adapted more directly from a popular Korean comic strip, and just the right liberties have been taken with Choi’s tale.
Check out the chilly Three… Extremes, R-Point, Some (Director Jang Yun-Hyun, from the film Tell Me Something) and Spider Forest by the renowned director Song Il-Gon, a modern-day fairy tale for adults, perhaps even a love story, though one with a number of shocks and an eerie, constant atmosphere of foreboding. TV producer Kang Min comes to in a forest, not far from a desolate cabin. There, he finds the brutally butchered body of a middle-aged man, and in another room, his girlfriend Su-yeong, on the verge of death and gripped by nameless dread…
A groundbreaking and important film in the history of Asian cinema, as it marks the first theatrical animation collaboration between Japan and Korea is Phantom Master: Dark Hero From Ruined Empire. There’s also the delightful romantic comedies Please Teach Me English, Ghost House, the modern Asian gangster film Marrying the Mafia, and finally, get a kick out of… Spin Kick!
For the first time ever, Fantasia will present a Korean television drama. Most of Asia and Europe have already been introduced to Dae Jang-Geum, AKA A Jewel in the Palace. One of the most popular dramatic series in Korean history, it gained notoriety after its phenomenal impact in Hong Kong. Restaurant owners cried that they were losing business because nobody went out to eat while the show was on! Based on the true story of a 16th-century woman who became the supreme royal physician, it stars Lee Young-Ae, who played the leading role in JSA (Fantasia 2001) and now stars in Park Chan-Wook’s new film, Sympathy for Ms. Vengeance. As a gift to our loyal audience, Fantasia will present Highlights of Dae Jang-Geum, four back-to-back episodes specially packaged by MBC (Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation). While some scenes have been cut for the sake of narrative clarity, the story maintains its originality and charm.
In a broader view of Korean television drama, Fantasia knows that Dae Jang-Geum was not the only popular series in 2002. The soap opera Winter Sonata broke ratings records in Japan and Korea. The star of that show, Bae Yong-Jun, is said to have surpassed Brad Pitt’s celebrity status. The setting of the series, Nami Island and the village, Chuncheon, have become major tourist attractions; every day more than 300 people visit the area.
The new wave of Korean television drama isn’t subsiding yet. New and increasingly sensational stories are being introduced, including the soap opera Fall Story (which Hollywood has acquired the remake rights to), the epic martial arts fantasy Damo and Heo Jun, the touching true-life story of a traditional Korean doctor. Popular throughout Asia, Korean television has recently been influenced by and, in turn, influential on the film industry in terms of visual quality, production scale and international marketing.
Here’s a batch of titles from all over the place, some of the bigger catches for the festival, as well as some multi-media/spoken word presentations:
Spain Dir: Eugenio Mira
North American Premiere
A very unusual, real-time black comedy that only reveals its true horror-film colours after lulling the audience into a false state of comfort, The Birthday is a coolly distinctive feature debut for director Eugenio Mira. An odd bird indeed, Mira’s film opens with the tone of an ’80s comedy, introduces its horror aspects with a deliberately campy approach at the half-way mark then tears through the roof with a last act of nightmarish, Lovecraftian ferocity. And it stars Corey Feldman!
Canada Dir: Paul Fox
Director Paul Fox, screenwriter Will Zmak and producer Brent Barclay will be present.
An amazing film – from Canada, no less – that might prove to be the single most powerful horror production to emerge from any country this year. The Dark Hours depicts the ordeal of a criminal psychiatrist and her family being held hostage by a vicious former patient. We dare not spoil a frame more in synopsis. Dark Hours is a harrowing portrait of psychological mutation in the face of physical decay, anchored with strong, authentic characters. At times, the film is almost unbearable in its intensity. Director Paul Fox is a huge emerging talent. Not since the arrivals of John Fawcett and Vincenzo Natali has there been such an exciting new voice in Canadian horror cinema.
Spain Dir: Miguel Courtois
This edgy period thriller, Spain’s 2nd top grossing film of last year, blasts cleansing light on the true story of Mikel Lejarza, a small-time felon who, under the code name Lobo ("wolf"), infiltrated the fierce Basque terrorist group ETA’s highest level and caused more damage to the outfit then the entire Spanish police force were ever capable of. Stars Eduardo Noriega (Open Your Eyes, Devil’s Backbone…), was co-produced by journalist Melchor Miralles, and was directed in the best Costa Gavras tradition by French filmmaker Miguel Courtois, famous for having been publicly threatened by right wing maniac Jean-Marie Le Pen.
SURVIVE STYLE 5 +
Japan Dir: Gen Sekiguchi
Easily the wildest and most inventive film of Fantasia 2005. Former cult advertisers Gen Sekiguchi & Taku Tada’s already-legendary feature debut hits home with five highly bent stories of rampant crime, undying love, hypnotism gone wrong and failed body disposals, all criss-crossing into one another.. Visually dazzling, daringly experimental and wittily scripted, this eccentric comedy masterpiece plays like a blender crush between the sensibilities of Sabu, Todd Solondz, Takashi Miike, Monty Python, Vermillion Pleasure Night and Gregg Araki. An absolute must-see!
Thailand Dirs: Banjong Pisanthanakun, Parkpoom Wongpoom
One of the most commercially successful productions in the history of Thai cinema. Fox-Regency have already signed up for a US remake! Without giving too much away, Shutter concerns a photographer and his girlfirned haunted by ghostly apparitions in photographic work, after a recent hit and run accident. Aside from using the familiar for calculated misdirection in order to take its themes to surprising, unexpected places, the film is notable for having incorporated actual examples of spirit (or ghost) photography in several key sequences. It is Thai horror in the grandest tradition.
Belgium Dir: Harry Cleven
North American premiere
Writer / Director Harry Cleven will be present
Gripping existential horror with spikes of perverse, dark wit .is the order of the day in this baroque chiller from veteran Zulawski actor-turned-director Harry Cleven. What would you do if you were informed out of the blue that you had a long-lost identical twin? This is the creepy situation that successful photographer Matyas (La Pianiste’s BenoÃ®t Magimel), freshly settled into a new family life, finds himself in. The mere revelation brings back uncomfortable childhood memories and cracks begin to form in his seemingly perfect home life. Upon meeting Thomas, his twin, Matyas becomes disoriented and slightly delusional. Thomas seems like a calmer, more perfected and much more controlled version of himself. The twin instantly wins over Matyas’ pregnant wife Claire (Criminal Lovers’s Natasha RÃ©gnier), and their son Pierre. Matters gradually evolve into an understated dream tone. Identities begin to blur. A chilling series of events are set into motion. Trouble is a fascinating, disquieting piece of work that should be of particular interest to fans of early Polanski.
WITH BLOOD ON MY HANDS: PUSHER II
Denmark Dire: Nicolas Winding Refn
North American Premiere
Nine years after exploding onto the Danish film scene with his seminal new-wave crime drama Pusher, Nicolas Winding Refn has returned to that film’s shadowy universe with this gripping existential successor.In spite of featuring several A-list stars among its cast, With Blood… was shot quick and dirty, in an engrossing veritÃ© style that adds enormously to the film’s grit. Refn is a screenwriter who cares about his characters and with this film, he has made a compellingly human entry in the annals of crime cinema, strapped with flashes of tragicomedy and a melancholic sense of vulnerability spread wide amongst virtually every figure that walks within its frames. Star Mads Mikkelsen's intense and honest performance justly won him the 2005 Danish Film Critic's Award.
Spoken word / Multimedia shows
RETINAL STIGMATICS: AN EVENING WITH JOE COLEMAN
The visionary and notorious painter / performance artist, widely hailed as this era’s Salvador Dali, will be making his first-ever Montreal appearance to present a special 2 hour midnight multimedia show entitled RETINAL STIGMATICS: AN EVENING WITH JOE COLEMAN. A rare chance to explore the shattering universe of one of the greatest living surrealists with the artist performing live spoken word, projecting imagery and screening rare footage!
STEPHEN R. BISSETTE’S JOURNEYS INTO FEARS
The esteemed Comic Book artist and Film Journalist will be in town to host a pair of informative slideshows documenting the early history of horror comics entitled STEPHEN R. BISSETTE’S JOURNEYS INTO FEAR
LLOYD KAUFMAN’S HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN MOVIE
The unstoppable father of all things Troma will be performing a spoken word show about the perils of D.I.Y filmmaking entitled HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN MOVIE. Following the seminar, Kaufman will present a rare 35mm screening of the original TOXIC AVENGER.
Next up, there’s the international showcase, which features European titles as well as films from North and South America:
From Basque terrorists, Russian sorcerers and American serial killers to Danish dope pushers and existential familial apocalypse (from Belgium, as if you needed to ask), Fantasia 2005's eclectic European-North/South American programming line-up features something unusual for "everyone"!
Featured below are but a few highlights of many. Be brave and read through our programme guide. Treasures and discoveries abound.
2001 Maniacs, USA, Tim Sullivan, Canadian Premiere Hosted by Director Tim Sullivan
Co-produced by Cabin Fever director Eli Roth, Tim Sullivan’s gore soaked and blackly comic updating of HG Lewis’ 60’s grindhouse classic 2000 Maniacs has been dropping people’s jaws wherever it’s unveiled. Travelers take a wrong turn and wind up in a strange little town comprised of Civil War ghosts from the south - who enact a series of outrageously gruesome South Vs North assaults - in this odd satire that trashes both red states and blue states alike. Features Robert England doing a feature-length George W. Bush impersonation as the town’s homicidal mayor!
Antibodies, Germany, Christian Alvart, Canadian Premiere
A dense, involving, and horrific serial-killer tale from that evolves into a series of chilling religious parables over the course of its running time, Antibodies ranks one of the most unsettling selections of this year's festival. In spite of featuring one of the vilest screen villains ever burned into light, the real subject at hand is the importance of closure and the thin line between madness and normalcy. Stunningly well-directed, there are images and moments in this film that will haunt you for a long, long time.
Breaking News, Hong Kong, Johnnie To, Montreal Premiere
This spectacular film from the great Johnnie To (a former guest at Fantasia) has deservedly won heaps of prizes on the international festival circuit as well as a 2005 Hong Kong Film Critics Society Award. Desperate to regain their credibility and newly convinced of the power and influence of television, a group pf shamed police officers co-opt the medium in order to convey their well-intentioned but totally fallacious message. Waging a simultaneous war on crime and credible news reporting, the police propaganda machine goes into overdrive. Things go apocalyptically wrong - complete chaos erupts and Hong Kong watches it all unfold on TV! Breaking News is a timely and scathing dose of social commentary and a must-see aria of soulful, tour de force filmmaking.
Devil'S Rejects, USA, Rob Zombie, Canadian Premiere
Fantasia is proud to be the site for the special Canadian premiere of Rob Zombie's highly anticipated 2nd feature, Devil’s Rejects, a ferocious production that rests halfway between The Wild Bunch, House of 1000 Corpses and Badlands. This visceral film, which several prominent journalists have described as what might have happened had Sam Peckinpah chosen to direct a visceral horror road movie, stars Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie, Sid Haig, William Forsythe, Ken Foree and Michael Berryman and was made possible by the brave, good people at Lions Gate, Maple Pictures and Christal Films.
Eye 2, Hong Kong-Thailand, Danny Pang and Oxide Pang, North American Premiere
The Pang Brothers’ sequel to their supernatural mega-hit takes every possible risk and scores powerfully on all counts. Eye 2 bravely bears no relation to the original and actually manages to surpass much of that film’s nightmarish impact. It is a poetic, stylish and unsettling mix between Buddhist philosophies and shrieking surrealistic terror. For several reasons, it is a film perhaps best avoided by the pregnant...
Live Freaky! Die Freaky!, USA, John Roeker, Canadian Premiere
There's no polite way to put this. LFDF is an ultra-twisted, two-years-in-the-making, very x-rated, stop-motion animation musical comedy retelling of the Manson crimes (!), featuring more assaulting bad taste than the entire John Waters canon! This insane little ditty is the inaugural production of Rancid/Operation Ivy frontman Tim Armstrong’s Hellcat Films. Armstrong also did voice acting - as did members of Blink 182, AFI, The Lunachicks, Good Charlotte, X, The Transplants and The GoGo's, not to mention Kelly Osbourne and Asia Argento! The snarling voice of Green Day vocalist Billie Joe Armstrong stars as Manson (now called Hanson)! You simply will not believe what you're seeing. Social taboos and sacred cows are torn limb from limb, with virtually every frame being calculated to outrage. No matter how relaxed you may consider yourself, you will be shocked. The height of antisocial punk rock puppet perversity!
Nightwatch (Official Closing Film), Russia, Timur Bekmambetov, Canadian premiere
The official closing film of Fantasia 2005. Adapted from the popular novel by Sergei Lukyanenko, Night Watch is far and away the biggest domestic box-office success in post-Soviet Russia, and was that country's 2004 contender for the Oscar. It boasts action, special effects and production values to match what Hollywood has to offer, a wicked streak of Russian black humor throughout, and moreover a cast of faces familiar across Russia, pop stars and Soviet-era icons alike. Night Watch has also redefined the external possibilities of Russian cinema. Picked up by Fox Searchlight, this is in fact the first part of an impressive trilogy, the final episode of which, Twilight Watch, will be co-produced by Fox.
Popaganda: The Art & Crimes of Ron English, USA, Pedro Carvajal, Montreal Premiere
Popaganda is a priceless documentary on Ron English, father of Agitpop and a genuine “illegal artist”. Blessed with a subversive wit, English takes his art to the billboards of America, replacing existing advertisements with his own political and pop-cultural parodies. While English’s name might not be instantly recognizable to everyone, you’re almost certainly familiar with his imagery. One example of many: English designed the morbidly obese Ronald McDonald art so memorably featured in Super Size Me. Shot, fittingly, guerilla-style over a span of nearly 10 years, Pedro Carvajal’s documentary covers all phases of English’s eccentric, ongoing career. On the subject of confrontational American art, be sure to take a look at the Spoken Word / Performance Art events we have lined up this year, which includes shows by Joe Coleman and Stephen R. Bissette!
The Roost, USA, Ti West, Canadian Premiere, hosted by director Ti West
25-year-old Ti West’s acclaimed feature debut is a spookshow love letter to yesterday’s American exploitation film culture, designed to play as if you tuned into it on a late night TV broadcast, complete with charming horror host segments featuring Tom Noonan (Manhunter)! Intervals are comic but West plays all horror elements straight. Gritty and unusual stuff. It was a huge success at this year's South By Southwest film festival.
Straight Into Darkness, USA, Jeff Burr, Canadian premiere, Hosted by Director Jeff Burr
A different kind of war film, independently made on a low budget, that evokes Malick with the contemplative imagery of Robert Frost and the darker ponderings of Edgar Allan Poe as a group of AWOL soldiers seek recluse in the center of madness. Moody, atmospheric, and completely enigmatic, Straight Into Darkness is a genre-bending work with tremendous conceptual audacity.
Then there’s the New Japanese Cinema showcase:
The Fantasia Festival is putting the spotlight on the new Japanese Genre Cinema this year. Indeed, we have witnessed, in recent years, to an effervescence of new popular cinematic trends and to the development of a new generation of directors. With important budgets and the support of prominent Japanese film studios, this trend attests of a willingness to mix different genres to create a new culture that mirrors the sensitivity and preoccupations of these innovative artists. Fantasia wishes to highlight the quality, the abundance and most of all the originality of these new emerging genres, which doesn’t seem to consist of a precise cinematographic tradition, nor of American formulas.
Even if these features are made for a mainstream audience and to take over the younger generation, the artistic approach and the decisively adult topics of these works confirm that it really is a new type of auteur cinema. Features such as Taste of tea, Cromartie High School, Kamikaze Girls, Karaoke Terror, Otakus in Love or Survive Style 5+ are all evidential examples of this recent cinematic emergence. Animation films such as A Place Promised in our Early Days and Mind Game also attest to this cultural emergence, but through the art of Japanese animation.
Ashura, Japan, Yojiro Takita, 2005, International Premiere
This visually rich and captivating film is a direct adaptation of a tremendously successful recent stage play which drew on both the classic kabuki theatre and contemporary trends in Japanese pop culture. The result is a magnificent, exciting and ultimately heartbreaking spectacle. Fierce action and tragic romance, myth, magic and magnificent visual splendour—Ashura offers it all!
Godzilla: Final Wars, Japan, Ryuhei Kitamura, 2005, Canadian premiere
What better way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Godzilla than to go all the way. With 15 monsters in one single film, Godzilla: Final Wars features all the favourites. To helm the magnum opus, Toho hired the sensation of the moment Ryuhei Kitamura (Versus, Aragami: The Raging God of Battle and Azumi).
Izo, Japan, Takashi Miike, 2004
From the hyper-prolific, genre-jumping, deliberately challenging, always surprising bad boy of Japanese pop-art cinema, Takashi Miike, comes Izo—a mind-blowing, metaphysical rumination on the never-ending cycle of life and death and the unshakable drive to violence in our species that just happens to be a ferocious, unpredictable barrage of surreal, gory Japanese action that shifts in time and space as though God himself is channel-surfing.
Karaoke Terror, Japan, Tetsuo Shinohara, 2004
While hilarious in places and extreme in others, Karaoke Terror is a very smart, introspective and often whisper-quiet work. the film is perfectly at ease with exploding into absurdist set-pieces and ultra-violence whenever it feels like it, making for a consistently surprising and ultimately apocalyptic viewing experience. It also boasts the most shockingly nihilistic ending of anything at this year’s fest.
Mind Game, Japan, Yuasa Masaaki, 2004
A Japanese anime film unlike any other, Mindgame is closer to Yellow Submarine and Waking Life than to anything with giant robots and big-eyed schoolgirls. Its wild, free-association narrative swings vertiginously from one tangent to the next, from a noodle bar to heaven (where God appears in infinite guises) to the belly of a whale to a fantastic planet in the far reaches of space—and right back to modern Japan, where the whole thing ties up gracefully with a solid point. The crew responsible previously did the excellent shorts “Cat Soup” and “Noiseman Sound Insect.” Colourful, shocking, beautiful, hilarious and philosophical—a psychedelic animation masterpiece.
Taste of Tea, Japan, Katsuhito Ishii, 2004
Katsuhito Ishii (Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl, Party 7) is responsible here for an outlandish and entirely unexpected work, a magical, mind bending auteur film that didn’t fail to stun and surprise when it opened the Quinzaine des RÃ©alisateur at the prestigious Cannes festival in 2004. Somewhere between magic realism, an inspired humanism and unhinged comedy as funny as it is weird, The Taste of Tea is a strangely distracting film of such haunting quality.
Finally, there’s the Hong Kong Showcase:
Hong Kong has one of the most dynamic film industries. The films Hong Kong produce, as many of its talents, have gained wide recognition in the international film arena. In 2004, 64 local films were released in Hong Kong, with the local box office standing at $71 million. Hong Kong is also among the world’s largest film exporters.
In 2001, Hong Kong won 46 awards at 17 major international film festivals, while in 2003, 36 awards were won at 14 different major film festivals. Outstanding award-winning movies of the past five years include “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “In the Mood for Love”, “Shaolin Soccer”, “Hero”, “Infernal Affairs” and “2046”. Hong Kong, being the gateway to the fast growing China market, has many talented filmmakers, directors, actors, producers and technical crews, who are best known for their creativity.
As the official representative of the Hong Kong Government, the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office (HKETO) in Canada is responsible to promote Hong Kong, through trade and culture. In this Context, the HKETO is the official sponsor of the Fantasia 2005 Honk Kong film selections.
This year at Fantasia, four very special films comes from Hong Kong; the fascinating One Night in Mongkok, the kinetic Breaking News, the entertaining White Dragon, the surprising Love Battlefield and one segment of the Asian trilogy, Three Extremes.
One Night in Mongkok, Hong Kong, Derek Yee, 2004, Canadian Premiere
The Mongkok neighbourhood is one of Hong Kong’s most fascinating corners. Now it’s the turn of Derek Yee (Lost in Time, Double Tap, Viva Erotica) to pay homage to this edgy, nocturnal environment, famous for being one of the most densely populated places in the world. With Yee’s decision to have the film take place in a very concentrated area, over a very limited span of time, Mongkok becomes, in a way, a character in itself. The neighbourhood’s chaos bears witness to the anonymous tragedies of its inhabitants—behind this breathless film noir, intersecting with a desperate romance, there lies a vivid sociological assessment of those who survive as they can on the fringes of modern Hong Kong. At the last Hong Kong Film Awards (Hong Kong’ "Oscars"), One Nite in Mongkok took home prizes for both best direction and best screenplay.
Breaking News, Hong Kong, Johnnie To, 2004
This lively and energetic film has everything you could want from a Johnnie To film, including satirical social commentary, relentless camerawork, split-screen shenanigans, and playful camera movements of every kind. Even at the age of 50, Johnnie To offers excitement and hope for the future of Hong Kong action cinema. Winner, Hong Kong Film Critics Society Award 2005.
White Dragon, Hong Kong, Wilson Yip, 2004, Canadian Premiere
A lighthearted, smirking kung-fu farce, White Dragon is mixing the modern and the classic in a wild and high-spirited way while running roughshod over the clichÃ©s of the silk-and-swords genre (the famous "Wu Xia Pan"). Featuring Francis Ng, White Dragon is directed by Wilson Yip, who previously delivered the memorable Bullets Over Summer and Juliet In Love, also with Francis Ng.
Love Battlefield, Hong Kong, Cheang Pou-soi, 2004, Canadian Premiere
Earning a special mention at this year’s Hong Kong Film Critics’ Society Awards, Love Battlefield lies somewhere between drama, romance and the post-Johnnie To police movie. Love Battlefield is a straightforward, sentimental work that mixes the aesthetic compositions of Hong Kong cinema with the social realism of China’s. An agreeable surprise, far from the glitzy baubles of Hong Kong’s tendencies these days.
Three Extremes, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Fruit Chan, 2004
Three… Extremes is a transgressive trilogy of medium-length short films from South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong, each an assaulting exploration of egoism, with shared imagery revolving around destruction/rejuvenation of the flesh, and a shattered entertainer at its core. The most disturbing entry is Fruit Chan’s Dumplings, which proved so strong that the filmmaker released a longer, feature-length version in his homeland. Hong Kong’s art house auteur has delivered what might well be the most confrontational horror fable in recent memory.
Following the wild success of the last two year’s Shaw Brothers special presentations, The Fantasia Festival is proud to present 3 new remastered copies of some of Shaw Brothers’s golden gems.
New One Armed Swordsman, Hong Kong, Chang Cheh 1971
Heroes of the East, Hong Kong, Liu Chia-Liang, 1975
Shaolin Temple, Hong Kong, Chang Cheh, 1976
Finally, Fantasia will present 1973’s Way of the Dragon, which represents Lee's only venture as a director, with a new remastered video copy restored here in Montreal by Vision Globale.
Now, I’m sure that’s not everything they’re doing this year. For example, take a look at their list of special guests:
As the fans of the Fantasia International Genre Film Festival have grown accustomed to, we again have the honour this year of greeting the many directors, producers and screenwriters who are coming to introduce their films.
The festival will start in a big way on July 7, 2005, with the screening of two opening films in the presence of its respective directors. First of all, Ashura, a Japanese feature having its international premiere, will be introduced by its director, Yojiro Takita. Then Fantasia will be saluting the genius of South Korean auteur Seung-wan Ryoo with a screening of his masterful boxing drama Crying Fist, which was shown at the Quinzaine des rÃ©alisateurs at Cannes and won an award from the FÃ©dÃ©ration de la presse cinÃ©matographique.
On July 8, the Japanese director and screenwriter Masaaki Yuasa, whose experimental Nekojiro-so was a big success at Fantasia 2001, will present his animated masterpiece Mind Game.
Seung-wan Ryoo will present another film on July 9, the Canadian premiere of Arahan, which was completed in 2004 and has since received the Jury Prize for Best Feature at the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival.
Tim Sullivan, the American screenwriter and director of 2001 Maniacs, will be in attendance for the Canadian premiere on July 9.
Screenwriter and director Jeff Burr will introduce the Canadian premiere of his American feature Straight Into Darkness on July 11.
06 Tiros, 60 ml, part of the short-film show International DIY, screening on July 11, will be introduced as an international premiere by its Brazilian screenwriter and director, AndrÃ© Kapel, who is also one of Brazil’s top FX artist.
Clark Balderson, producer of Firecracker, will present this American movie, winner of the Jury Prize, Best Actress (Karen Black) at Fantasporto 2005 festival.
The co-director of the ThaÃ¯ feature Zee Oui, Buranee Rachjaibun, will be in attendance for the screening of the movie on July 13.
The Dark Hours, a Canadian feature, will be introduced on July 14 by its director, Paul Fox, its producer, Brent Barclay, as well as its screenwriter, Wil Zmak. This film was a great success this year at the Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival.
Joe Coleman, the notorious, visionary painter and performance artist, widely hailed as this era’s Salvador Dali, will be making his first-ever Montreal appearance to present a special two-hour midnight multimedia show entitled Retinal Stigmatics: An Evening with Joe Coleman, on July 15.
The esteemed comic-book artist and film journalist Stephen R. Bissette will be in town to host a pair of lectures on the early history of horror comics, entitled Stephen R. Bissette’s Journeys Into Fears. The first part will be on July 16, the second part on the following day, July 17.
The North American premiere of L’Ã©trange portrait de la dame en jaune, part of the short-film show Small Gauge Trauma screening on July 16, will be introduced by the multiple-award-winning Belgian co-directors HÃ©lÃ¨ne Cattet and Bruno Forzani.
Producer Larry Fessenden, a guest at previous Fantasia festivals for his films Habit and Wendigo, as well as screenwriter and director Ti West, will introduce the Canadian premiere of The Roost, screening on July 20. The feature was a huge hit at this year’s South by Southwest Festival.
The Belgian screenwriter and director Harry Cleven will be present on July 21 for the North American premiere of Trouble, winner of the Grand Jury Prize of the Fantastic Film Festival of Gerardmer.
Lloyd Kaufman, the American director, independent producer and father of Troma will be performing his lecture How to Make Your Own Damn Movie, followed by a screening of Toxic Avenger in a newly restored 35mm print, on July 22.
The world premiere of Shadow: Dead Riot will be screened on July 23, in the presence of the producer Carl Morano and the screenwriter Michael Gingold.
For the first time in Fantasia history, a Lifetime Achievement Award will be awarded to an international genre-cinema craftsman. The first laureate is Ray Harryhausen. On July 24, Mr. Harryhausen will hold forth on his career and present a few of his rare early works, followed by a screening of Jason and the Argonauts in a new 35mm print, and concluded by a Q&A period. Three hours with the stop-motion master, whose special effects inspired the likes of James Cameron, Peter Jackson, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.
Finally, on July 25th, to conclude the festival, the Singapore director Tzang Merwyn Tong will present the Canadian premiere of A Wicked Tale, which won a Gold Remi Award at the WorldFest of the Houston International Film Festival.