It all came to an end last night in Montreal as the Fantasia International Film Festival came to a close with the closing film A Taxi Driver. After three long weeks the festival has wrapped up and notions like a good night's sleep and nutritional meals will slowly come back to the staff and volunteers who took care of attendees and guests during that long haul.
Screen Anarchy was out in full force with what was likely our biggest group yet. Even better, other than just mooching off the grub at various cocktails and functions throughout the festival two of our family members, Izzy Lee and Shelagh Rowan-Legg also had short films in the festival. Shelagh and Jason Gorber were also on jury duty. Screen Anarchy founder and editor Todd Brown was also on site but largely had his XYZ Films pants on offering insight and guidance to budding filmmakers attending the Frontieres Co-Production Market and pestering me with text messages while I was trying to take notes during the Pitch Sessions. I think we did very well this year, don't you?
And thus with the end come the joy of spreading the wealth of awards from the many, many categories honored each year. There was no clear winner this year, taking in more than anyone else, which means that a lot of filmmakers will be very happy. We are also pleased as punch to see that Shelagh's film Flow took home an honor today too.
Everyone's a winner when they get to attend Fantasia, just some are more winners than others.
Montreal, Quebec - Thursday, 3 August 2017 – After three full weeks of unbelievable, unhinged genre film madness, the 21st edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival wrapped yesterday with its celebrated 2017 closing night film, Jang Hoon's A TAXI DRIVER.Known worldwide as North America’s longest-running genre film festival, Fantasia returned triumphantly to Concordia University’s Hall, J.A De Sève, and D.B. Clarke Theatres in 2017 for its most exciting, original edition yet. And for its eighth consecutive year, Montreal's legendary genre film festival succeeded in attracting nearly 100,000 spectators for 220 indoor screenings, two outdoor screenings, twelve virtual reality films, and numerous sold-out special events.The festival’s numerous World Premieres included Ryan Prows' LOWLIFE, Steve Mitchell's KING COHEN, Patrick Demers' ORIGAMI, Ted Geoghegan's MOHAWK, Giordano Giulivi's THE LAPLACE'S DEMON, Navin Ramaswaran's POOR AGNES, Gina Haraszti's GEEK GIRLS, Gela Babluani's MONEY'S MONEY, Gabriela Amaral Almeida's FRIENDLY BEAST, Caroline Labrèche and Steeve Léonard's RADIUS, Robert Morin's LE PROBLEME D'INFILTRATION, Gabriel Claveau's PUNK FU ZOMBIE, and Synapse Films' 4K restoration of Dario Argento's 1977 classic SUSPIRIA.Additional highlights of Fantasia 2017 included appearances from actor Robert Pattinson and directors Josh and Benny Safdie to celebrate the North American Premiere of Cannes sensation GOOD TIME; actor Michael Moriarty presenting a Lifetime Achievement Award to iconic American director Larry Cohen; special screenings of ATOMIC BLONDE and VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS; an appearance by A GHOST STORY director David Lowery; the latest three features from Takashi Miike (including the North American Premiere of his 100th film, BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL); director Yoshihiro Nishimura attending the Canadian premiere of KODOKU MEATBALL MACHINE; actor Matthew Gray Gubler wowing throngs of fans at the Canadian Premeire of 68 KILL; an appearance from animation legend Masaaki Yuasa; the International Premieres of A DAY and YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE (with directors in attendance); actors Kaniehtiio Horn, Justin Rain, and Jonathan Huber (WWE Superstar Luke Harper™) attending the World Premiere of MOHAWK; a Lifetime Achievement Award for Luchador film icon Mil Mascaras; Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson celebrating the Canadian Premiere of their Tribeca hit THE ENDLESS; director Joe Lynch delivering one of the most epic Q&As in Fantasia history following the Canadian Premiere of MAYHEM; and the honored attendance of director Jeong Byeong-Gil at the North American premiere of THE VILLAINESS, the festival’s sold out opening night film.Fantasia is also immensely proud to have hosted "Claymation Horror", a special live presentation from celebrated British stop-motion animator Lee Hardcastle; the debut performance of bestselling author Grady Hendrix's oral history of modern horror novels, "Paperbacks from Hell"; the launch of Spectacular Optical's latest cinematic tome, "Lost Girls: The Phantasmagorical Cinema of Jean Rollin"; and SpectrumFest, a original short film showcase which seeks to empower those with Autism by helping them express themselves through the creation and enjoyment of genre film.Over 700 international guests, including more than 400 film industry professionals, flocked to Montreal over the course of this year’s massive three-week festival and its Frontières International Co-Production Market. The festival team is delighted to have welcomed over 70 international journalists, including esteemed representatives of The Hollywood Reporter, Screen International, Film Journal International, Indiewire, Nerdist, The A.V. Club, Ebert Digital, IGN, and more.FANTASIA UNVEILS ITS 2017 AWARD-WINNERSThe Fantasia International Film Festival is deeply proud to announce the names of its 21st edition's Juried Award Winners.The festival's Best Film Award was presented to Agnieszka Holland's gripping crime thriller SPOOR (POKOT). The subversive Polish masterpiece was previously selected to compete for the Golden Bear at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival and won that festival's Alfred Bauer Prize.The awards in each of Fantasia's categories were chosen by carefully selected juries of filmmakers, scholars, journalists, and industry professionals.Cheval Noir AwardBest Film: SPOOR (POKOT), d. Agnieszka HollandBest Director: Nattawut Poonpiriya, BAD GENIUSBest Screenplay: Marianna Palka, BITCHBest Actor: Song Kang-ho, A TAXI DRIVERBest Actress: Violetta Schurwlow, COLD HELL (DIE HÖLLE)Special Mention: LOWLIFE, d. Ryan ProwsFilmmaker Richard Stanley presided over the 2017 Cheval Noir Jury, which was comprised of critics Chris Bumbray and Paul Kazee, and filmmaker/author Shelagh Rowan-Legg.Says the jury, ""Veteran writer and director Agnieszka Holland's late season masterwork is not only a sumptuously photographed and compellingly crafted forensic thriller but a genuinely radical work of cinema, interrogating timely themes of gender, animal rights and humanity's precarious relationship with nature, issues that are dear to our hearts here at Fantasia. We are proud to honor a film maker working at the very height of her provocative talents.The Cheval Noir jury also awarded a special prize to LOWLIFE, for "audaciousness, energy, and perfectly embodying the anarchic Fantasia spirit."New Flesh Award for Best First FeatureBest Film: SPLIT, d. Choi Kook-heeSpecial Mention: NIGHT OF THE VIRGIN (LA NOCHE DEL VIRGEN), d. Roberto San SebastianFilmmaker William Lustig presided over the 2017 New Flesh Jury, which was comprised of writer/producer Katarina Gligorijevic, journalist Jason Gorber, producer Joshua Sobel, and distributor Antoine Zeind.Says the jury, "For its surprising sweetness, its assured direction, and its intense collision between sports film and crime drama that feels like THE BIG LEBOWSKI meets RAIN MAN with balls, and with characters that never stray outside their lane and have heart to spare, the jury was bowled over by SPLIT."The New Flesh Jury also awarded a special prize to NIGHT OF THE VIRGIN, for "its scatological sophistication, its wry look at relationships, and sly political messaging fueled by a gonzo spirit. This cautionary yet endearing tale of lust earns the Jury’s special mention for unabashed weirdness and button-pushing bravado."Action! AwardWinner: CONFIDENTIAL ASSIGNMENT (GONGJO), d. Kim Sung-hoonMention: JAILBREAK, d. Jimmy HendersonThe 2017 Action! Jury was comprised of producer Hughes Barbier, filmmaker Érik Canuel, and programmer Peter Kuplowsky.Says the jury, "We couldn't take our eyes off of CONFIDENTIAL ASSIGNMENT's kickass action choreography and were captivated by its fun and funny script, putting the film above its contenders. In the vein of Walter Hill’s RED HEAT, CONFIDENTIAL ASSIGNMENT brings back the late 80’s action comedy with a splash, and we hope audiences will enjoy it as much as we did."The Action! Jury also awarded a special prize to JAILBREAK, "for its inspired fight and camera choreography. The filmmakers achieve a rare and innovative alchemy between camera and cast, that transforms the operator from observer to literal combatant."AQCC-Camera Lucida AwardWinner: A GHOST STORY, d. David LowerySpecial Mention: TOWN IN A LAKE (MATANGTUBIG), d. Jet LeycoJournalist/professor Donato Totoro presided over the 2017 AQCC-Camera Lucida Jury, which was comprised of programmer Paul Landriau and AQCC vice-president Jean-Marie Lanlo.The jury awarded A GHOST STORY their top honor, "for its nuanced cinematic treatment of material and spiritual time across human landscape."The AQCC-Camera Lucida Jury also awarded a special prize to TOWN IN A LAKE "for the facility in which the filmmaker invites the viewer to discover a world progressively veering toward the supernatural."Séquences AwardBest Film: BAD GENIUS, d. Nattawut PoonpiriyaCritic Pascal Grenier presided over the 2017 Prix Séquences Jury, which was comprised of critic/filmmaker Mathieu Houle-Beausoleil and critic Maxime Labrecque.Says the jury, "For its clever mixture of suspense and humor, skillful approach to the theme of manipulation, and for its complex staging, we are proud to present the Séquences Award for Best Film to BAD GENIUS."The Barry Convex Award for Best Canadian FilmBest Film: POOR AGNES, d. Navin RamaswaranSpecial Mention: ORIGAMI, d. Patrick DemersThe 2017 Barry Convex Jury was comprised of critic/author Kier-la Janisse, filmmaker Douglas Buck, and filmmaker George Mihalka.Administered by Spectacular Optical with support from the Paul A. Ray Memorial Fund, The Barry Convex Award is an annual juried prize for which all Canadian features or co-productions making their World, International, North American, or Canadian Premiere at Fantasia are eligible.Says the jury, "Navin Ramaswaran’s POOR AGNES was chosen to represent the 2017 Barry Convex Award not only for its impressive direction, darkly comic storytelling and overall unified vision, but for its challenging attitude. Coming out of a country with a system where voices of subversion against, and challenges to, the mainstream status quo are few and far between -- and yet more important than ever – POOR AGNES acts as a daring and powerful middle finger against establishment filmmaking."The Barry Convex Jury also awarded a special prize to ORIGAMI for "its deft direction, sophisticated visual aesthetic, strong performances, and the successful blending of genres in a complex story told in a refreshingly unconventional manner."Axis: The Satoshi Kon Award for Excellence in AnimationFeature: HAVE A NICE DAY (HAO JI LE), d. Liu JianSpecial Mention (Feature): JUNK HEAD, d. Takahide HoriShort Film: COCOLORS, d. Yokoshima ToshihisaSpecial Mention (Short): YIN, d. Nicolas FongThe 2017 Axis Jury was comprised of director Greg Bailey, graphic novelist Dave Cooper, director Nadja Cozic, and cartoonist Jean Lacombe.Says the jury, "HAVE A NICE DAY stands out for the implacable mechanic of its script, its acute dialog, and for the quality of its voice talent" and, referring to the short film winner, COLOLORS, "It clearly stood out above the other films in the category. Great animation, design, story, voices, backgrounds, and sound. There are a number of scenes that will always be etched in our memory."The Axis Jury also awarded a special prize to JUNK HEAD, "to acknowledge the tremendous work accomplished in the making of this movie as well as the artistic direction that seduced us" and another of YIN, noting, "The animation is amazingly inspired, inventive and fluid, drawing us effortless from one imaginative, visual surprise to the next."International Short Film Competition AwardBest Short Film: iMEDIUM, d. Alfonso GarcíaFilmmaker Gary Sherman presided over the 2017 Short Film Jury, which was comprised of filmmaker Aisling Chin-Yee and Vimeo curator Ina Pira.Says the jury, "The direction by Alfonso Garcia, the script by Vincet Blonde, the frantic cinematography of Jesus Velez, Sebastian Roque’s music, J.L Canalejo’s sound design, and Jose Bermudez’s stellar performance all blended perfectly together to create an emotionally charged, frightening six minutes. From the opening graphics, one could not divert their attention from the screen. As frenetically as the film begins, it manages to build in intensity and never back off. All of us on the jury were astounded by this feat."Fantasia 2017's Audience Awards, presented by the festivals thousands of genre-loving patrons, are as follows:Best Asian Feature Film- BAD GENIUS (Gold Prize)- BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL (Silver Prize)- A DAY (Bronze Prize)Best North American, South American, or European Feature Film- BETTER WATCH OUT (Gold Prize)- LOWLIFE (Silver Prize)- MAYHEM (Bronze Prize)Best Canadian / Quebec Feature Film- ANOTHER WOLFCOP (Gold Prize)- DEAD SHACK (Silver Prize)- GAME OF DEATH (Bronze Prize)The GURU Prize for Best Action Feature Film- JAILBREAK (Gold Prize)- THE VILLAINESS (Silver Prize)- ATOMIC BLONDE (Bronze Prize)Most Innovative Feature Film- BAD GENIUS (Gold Prize)- THE LAPALCE'S DEMON (Silver Prize)- JAILBREAK (Bronze Prize)Best Animated Feature Film- NAPPING PRINCESS (Gold Prize)- LU OVER THE WALL (Silver Prize)- NIGHT IS SHORT, WALK ON GIRL (Bronze Prize)Best Documentary Feature Film- KING COHEN (Gold Prize)- 78/52 (Silver Prize)- GEEK GIRLS (Bronze Prize)Best International Short Film- RUE (Gold Prize)- IT BEGAN WITHOUT WARNING (Silver Prize)- NOCTURNALLY YOURS / FLOW (Bronze Prize - tie)Best Canadian or Quebec Short Film- PAST AND FUTURE KINGS (Gold Prize)- NO WAVE (Silver Prize)- APOCALYPSE BABIES / BABYSITTER (Bronze Prize - tie)