ScreenAnarchy's Best of 2012: Best Fests
In 2012, the ScreenAnarchy family has grown even more global. With a line-up of contributors that stretches right around the planet, we've had the means to see a huge proportion of the new films that have emerged in the past 12 months from some of the world's most far-flung regions - and we want to tell you all about them! Whether they be the ones we love, the ones we hate, or all those that fall somewhere in between, we want to share.
So enjoy ScreenAnarchy's Best Fests of 2012!
Todd Brown - Founder and editor
I've gotta go with Fantastic Fest purely because I got directors drunk and then made them write about their own movies.
Joshua Chaplinsky - Contributing Writer
I've toured around the world from London to The Bay, and the best gull dern talking picture festival I've been to is still Fantastic Fest. From the programming to the people to the atmosphere - it's hands down, up, and sideways the best time you can have watching movies. Where else would I have been able to embarrass myself re-enacting the "Not Penny's Boat" scene from Lost to the chagrin of Dominic Monaghan? Take that, Cannes.
J Hurtado - Contributing Writer
The only festival I traveled to this year was Austin's fabled Fantastic Fest, and I'll be damned if it doesn't continue to live up to its reputation as the finest genre festival in the world. Good friends, many beers, and the best films of the year mean that Fantastic Fest is my home away from home. Only ten more months...
Ryland Aldrich - Festivals Editor
Sundance will likely always be my favorite festival and Fantastic Fest will always be the most fun, but I was lucky enough to make my first visit to Cannes this year, which takes the cake for most prestigious festival on the cinematic circuit. While I saw plenty of great films, it's also a whole lot of fun just to roam the market floor, looking for wacky posters (here).
Brian Clark - European Editor
It sounds hokey, but every festival I attended this year was special in its own way. In brief, Sitges had the best parties and the most enthusiastic audiences, Cannes reminded me the most of La Dolce Vita, and Berlin was the coldest.
But for actually seeing movies, the best festival I attended this year required no traveling. Perhaps it's the dearth of genre-film programming in Paris throughout most of the year, but L'Etrange Festival never fails to bring an enormous amount of joy to my life. Founded and managed by a dedicated group of unpaid cinephiles who simply want to share the films they love with as many people as possible, this year's program was responsible for most of my favorite discoveries of the year, including Vanishing Waves, Resolution and The Outing. The atmosphere is genial, and the films they unearth for their repertory screenings are not only rare, but almost always amazing.
Pierce Conran - Contributing Writer
Busan International Film Festival
2012 was the first year that I really had a chance to spend a good deal of time on the festival circuit. It's hard to pick a favorite as each offered it's own unique blend of programming, scale and atmosphere. As far as programming goes, I would pick the Fribourg International Film Festival: the line-up was simply impeccable. The most relaxing and convivial fest was without a doubt the Udine Far East Film Festival, which all takes place in one big theater in a beautiful and sleepy Italian town at the height of Spring.
The most fun event for me was the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival: karaoke, Korean barbecue and great genre Cinema were in abundance but sleep was hard to come by! Most impressive was the Busan International Film Festival, during which rubbing shoulders with big stars, endless parties and big premieres were the order of the day. I'm dying to return to all the aforementioned events, but I'm also excited to try out some new fests in 2013!
Jason Gorber - Contributing Writer
Toronto International Film Festival
A big reason that I call Toronto home is the multiplicity of festivals that seemingly occupy every week. TIFF and Hotdocs are absolutely world class, unequaled festivals, the finest public-accessible places to see feature films or documentaries anywhere. I once again had the chance to fly to Austin and take in the pseudo-fest "Butt-Numb-a-thon" which was as always a real pleasure. Also kudos to the folks down in Ashville, NC who, along with a bunch of fellow travelers from Toronto, made Action Fest a wonderful extension of TIFF's Midnight Madness program.
Kurt Halfyard - Contributing Writer
Toronto International Film Festival
ActionFest for its discussions with old-school stunt guys and the truly spectacular local Asheville food. Fantasia for its convivial and casual Montreal atmosphere among filmmakers, programmers and online writers. Also for the wonderful Philippines retrospective as well as what seemed like a significant bump in quality of so much genre Cinema from around the world.
And through either karma or luck, this year's edition of The Toronto International Film Festival ran like well-oiled clockwork. The staggering variety of Cinema, the sheer number of run-ins with old friends (thanks social media!) on the streets, in the lines or in the bars, and the murderous pace of things all seemed to invigorate rather than burn out this year. After 11 days, I could have done a few more - and that is the first time in 14 years I can say that.
Peter Gutiérrez - Contributing Writer
Tribeca Film Festival
I'm not a huge festival guy, but I do attend a few annually, and am surprised by how definitively Tribeca (TFF) has become my favorite. Yes, I saw a few clunkers there in 2012, but what's struck me over the last few weeks when I've been compiling these "best of" lists is how many of the contenders I first encountered at Tribeca... and, even more impressively, the range of those films in terms of style, subject matter, and genre.
My favorite documentary of the year, for example, was Nisha Pahuja's The World Before Her - it just never stopped provoking me. It also occurs to me that not only were several of my other favorite docs of 2012 screened at Tribeca (Booker's Place, Town of Runners), but that my #1 doc of 2011 (Alma Har'el's Bombay Beach) screened there the previous year. Nice track record.
In addition to those, Tribeca also introduced to me the horror-comedy I most loved in 2012 (Boris Rodriguez's Eddie The Sleepwalking Cannibal), my preferred unclassifiable title (Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead's Resolution), and a thriller that's in my personal Top Ten of all films (Frédéric Jardin's Sleepless Night). And that's not to mention a foreign language film that impressed me hugely at the time and which I'm now glad to see has earned a fair amount of critical recognition (Kim Nguyen's War Witch).
I know I must be leaving out some TFF films, but that's kind of my point: it's hard to track all the great stuff you end up seeing.
James Marsh - Asian Editor
Yubari International Film Festival
2012 was the year of Festageddon, an epic global adventure that took me to some extraordinary festivals in some of the world's most far-flung corners, including the US, UK, Middle East and Far East. I'll be writing a separate feature detailing my on-the-road experiences over the past twelve months, suffice to say that the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival in Hokkaido, Japan was one of the coldest, weirdest, yet surprisingly wonderful festival experiences of my life.
Shelagh M. Rowan-Legg - Contributing Writer
This year I was privileged to be on the Melies jury at the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival; this jury selects the best in European fantastic film (the Melies d'Or, short and feature, for 2012, and the Melies d'Argent, short & feature, at Sitges), and the best feature in the panorama section. An event I attend every year come hell or high water, to be on the jury was an honor, and quite a daunting task. Never again will I look at jury members with envy (except for their free hotel rooms).
Having to give out a total of six awards (not as many as the official jury, granted) was far more difficult that I had anticipated, especially considering how many amazing films there were. Of course, there were a lot of bad films as well, some I'm afraid that could be dismissed within the first ten minutes of viewing. Overall though it amazes me how many great films I get to see that so many people will not, and how glad I am of home viewing platforms such as DVD/Blu-ray, DVR, Vimeo, etc, that hopefully one day world audiences will get to see how much there is out there, rather than relying solely on the multiplex showing the latest Transformers.