Last night, the inaugural Fantastic Asian Film Festival
-- with gory, insane help from Yoshihiro Nishimura -- kicked in the door of Melbourne cult film culture with blood-soaked steel-capped chainsaw boots, and carved its mark in the festival calendar.
The city, which brags the best major festival in Australia, has been crying out for something like this for ages. That major festival, MIFF
, has always had impressive Asian cinema strands, but movie fans have had to rely on the steady diet of DVD releases by Melbourne-based Madman Films to get their fix of anything edgier.
Likewise the local cult film festivals have tended to hone in on genre, such as the Hello Darkness
focus on horror, and while MUFF
has always laid claim to being the edgy, fringe, cult upstart of Melbourne, it has never really evolved from a bedsheet-in-a-bar since starting 12 years ago.
And so last night, with apparent ease - and help from a bloody nunchaku zombie baby - the inaugural Fantastic Asian Film Festival thundered onto the landscape with an opening night for the ages.
The relentless zombie mayhem in the opening night film, Yoshihiro Nishimura's Helldriver, was topped off with a guest appearance by the director, who ran into the cinema afterwards dressed as a sumo and brandishing the zombie baby from the film over his head.
New York Asian Film Festival director Marc Walkow joined him as his translator and the jam packed cinema heard just where Nishimura got all his ideas to create he madness on screen. We heard Helldriver cost about $500,000 to make, consisted mostly of first takes, was shot with only one camera, had 800 FX shots which were done in a month, and that the film was originally going to have a skateboard, bicycle and motorbike made from severed zombie limbs, being ridden by a zombie.
Then there was the party, a wild, wild jungle bar affair that stretched into the night with help from a surf band, go-go dancers and burlesque, free rum punch and drinks all night, and a couple familiar faces like Not Quite Hollywood director Mark Hartley and Wolf Creek director Greg McLean rubbing shoulders with the worst of us.
And it's not over yet. For the next three days, FAFF will be camped at Melbourne's Cinema Nova (which awesomely lets you take beers into the cinemas!) showing such gems as The Yellow Sea, Let the Bullets Fly, I Saw the Devil, Wu Xia, Zombie Ass, Guilty of Romance and closing with Underwater Love. Let's hope FAFF is here to stay.
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