Fantasia 2012 Wrap: All Our Reviews, More Awards, & a Special Message from RESOLUTION Filmmakers

Editor, Festivals; Los Angeles, California (@RylandAldrich)
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 Fantasia 2012 Wrap: All Our Reviews, More Awards, & a Special Message from RESOLUTION Filmmakers

Things are all finished up at Montreal's impressive genre fest Fantasia 2012. Our crack team had every corner of the festival covered with a whopping 26 reviews in the can (and more to come). We've got them all linked below as well as some thoughts on how the festival ended up. Scroll to the bottom for a list of the late winners, including the audience awards. Finally, don't leave until you see the special thank you message from our friends Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson, and David Clarke Lawson Jr. - the guys behind the film RESOLUTION.

Features & News
Fantasia 2012 Award Winners by Kurt Halfyard
TOAD ROAD Clip: How to use Vick's to get High by Kurt Halfyard
If You've Heard it All Before, You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet! PONTYPOOL CHANGES by Kurt Halfyard
Witness The Twin Horrors Of DEAD SUSHI's Villainous Tuna Man And Asami's Robot Dance! by Todd Brown
Exclusive 2nd Teaser for TOAD ROAD by Ryland Aldrich
Trailer for Teller & Robbins' PLAY DEAD by Kurt Halfyard

FUNERAL KINGS' The McManus Brothers by Kurt Halfyard
TOAD ROAD's Jason Banker and Jorge Torres by Kurt Halfyard

THE AMBASSADOR Review by Kurt Halfyard
AMOK Review by Kurt Halfyard
AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT Review by Joshua Chaplinsky
BLACK POND Review by Kurt Halfyard
BLACK'S GAME Review by Andrew Mack
THE CAPTURED BIRD Review by Kurt Halfyard
CHAINED Review by Kurt Halfyard
DEAD SUSHI Review by Peter K.
DESPITE THE GODS Review by Kurt Halfyard
FOR LOVE'S SAKE Review by Kurt Halfyard
FUNERAL KINGS Review by Kurt Halfyard
HEADSHOT Review by Katie Smith
JACKPOT Review by Kurt Halfyard
LOVE STRIKES Review by Andrew Mack
MONDOMANILA Review by Kurt Halfyard
PLAY DEAD Review by Kurt Halfyard
RESOLUTION Review by Kurt Halfyard
ROBO-G Review by Andrew Mack
ROLLER TOWN Review by Andrew Mack
TOAD ROAD Review by Kurt Halfyard
WRONG Review by Kurt Halfyard

Kurt Halfyard

What was your overall favorite film?

The 4.5 hour roadshow edition of Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale in the Hall theatre at Fantasia easily qualifies as the best cinematic experience at this year's festival. Epic in the literal sense of the word, both in visual grandeur and running time, it offers a traditional colonization/resistance story told with a visual flair and excellent sense of character.  Plus, the highest body count by a country mile.

How about your biggest disappointment?

Starship Troopers: Invasion seemed to have all the right ingredients. Going fully CGI to get back the scope of the original Verhoeven film (not seen in the two cheapo sequels) and having Team-Appleseed integrate the original power suits and some Mecha elements into the mix seemed like an easy win. However, the film is saddled with one of the worst screenplays ever written and everything falls painfully flat in both the character and the storytelling departments.

What was your top discovery of the fest?

Black Pond offered a pleasantly different spin on the over-used mock-doc format and then served up a truly hilarious not-quite-crime-but-close fable. Across the board great performances, particularly from a Steve Coogan-esque Chris Langham, and air-tight direction that lets those characters breathe - or hang themselves with their own rope. Highly recommended.  As Peter K. will elaborate upon below, the Filipino Spotlight at this years festival was across the board surprising.  Mondomanila was marvelously joyful and highly inventive gutter-cinema, and Amok was a thing of tension-building beauty and featuring superb location shooting in the Pasay Rotonda district.  I cannot wait to see Graceland.

Finally, what was your favorite non-film fantasia-tastic moment?

It is always a delight to see all my Fantasia Friends, as well as meet and talk with filmmakers, programmers of the growing tide of genre festivals and film enthusiasts alike either over beers at the Irish or over Smoked Meat at sunrise.  However, the most heavenly moments of this years festival took place in Cacoa70 cafe on Rue Ste. Catherines where a brandy-snifter full of decadent dark chocolate was brought out with a pot of steamed milk blended with chocolate to allow for my own mixing.  The result was easily best hot cocoa I have ever had in my life (and I have had more than a few in my day.)  Combine that with no less than three superb sushi meals and one 7am feast of lamb skewers and Fantasia is a rapidly becoming a food-focused fiesta worthy of Asheville, North Carolina's ActionFest.

Andrew Mack

What was your overall favorite film?

Three way tie between Roller Town, Robo-G, and Killer Joe. Roller Town made me laugh a lot. I like Shinobu Yaguchi's feel good comedies. And it has been a long time since I have heard dialogue sizzle on screen like Tracey Letts' screenplay did. Hot stuff.

How about your biggest disappointment?

The Tall Man. Pascal Laugier's follow-up to Martyrs starts out just fine but Laugier is determined to pull the rug out from under his audience so much that you lose all enthusiasm for the film. It downright bogs down and grinds to a halt once he starts pulling his abracadabra tricks. This is getting boring Laugier.

Who gave the best performance?

I agree with the award given to James Davidson and his role in Toad Road. Though no one on the cast in an actor by trade, and when I last heard have no desires to be actors in films ever again, Davidson was surprisingly good. Perhaps best that he put no thought into it lest he try to act and not be able to pull it off.

What was your top discovery of the fest?

Roller Town. Made by Canadian Comedy troupe Picnicface. Completely went into this expecting it to suck and not be funny because a promo I saw prior to my arrival in Montreal did not convince me otherwise. I could not have been more wrong. I laughed. We all laughed. Throughout the entire film. This is comedy gold.

Finally, what was your favorite non-film fantasia-tastic moment?

The first night I got into Montreal was the annual Karaoke Night and the tail end of the Market weekend so lots of friends, old and new, were still in town and looking to blow the roof off the Katacombes Bar. Many beers and shots of Bushmills later, I had a festival companion for the upcoming week and a desperate need for a 4am taxi.

Peter Kuplowsky

What was your overall favorite film?

While I saw plenty of better movies (at least by conventional standards of cine-evaluation), none filled me with the enthusiastic joy of an 8-year-old huffed up on his second bowl of Fruit Loops as much as the barrage of inspired kaiju antics that pervaded the entire hour and a half runtime of the ambitiously titled Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend: The Movie. Justin Decloux's review on ScreenAnarchy (see above) does not lie: the kung-fu-fighting, exploding, and man-in-suit mayhem rarely lets up, only compounding towards a climax that sees a gang of endearingly naive, but badass Ultramen battle a hundred eccentrically costumed monsters all at once. This is the stuff my adolescent dreams are made of.

How about your biggest disappointment?

It is indicative of the quality of Fantasia programming that out of the 20+ films I saw during this mammoth festival, only two genuinely disappointed me. Incidentally they were both animated films, both spin-off sequels to classic movies and both exemplary of how uninspired, rote and aesthetically drab contemporary Japanese anime has become. Starship Troopers: Invasion was a humorless and frustratingly inert affair, completely missing the sarcasm of the Verhoeven original and even its lesser DTV sequels, while Blood-C: The Last Dark mistakenly assumes that the strikingly beautiful and gory original needed more infantilized characters and keyboard tapping hacking in lieu of any legitimate action. An early car-chase between slick, well textured CGI rectangles also hammers home just how much of an adrenaline shot Redline's partially hand-drawn vehicular mayhem were to the medium. Ultimately Invasion is the most profound disappointment, as I thought director Shinji Aramaki (Appleseed) could at least be relayed on to provide some visceral thrills, but even the copious amounts of bug-blasting in this extended video-game cutscene is a bore.

Who gave the best performance?

While I'm prone to give full kudos to the indomitable William Finchtner who seems to channel Pete Postlethwaite's Kobayashi from The Usual Suspects to a hysterical effect in Quentin Dupieux's sublimely surreal Wrong, I cannot abide failing to champion the incredible ensemble cast that Tom Kingsley and Will Sharpe have assembled for Black Pond, especially in their casting of MVP Chris Langham whose Alan Partridge-esque performance anchors the film's extraordinary movements between quirky side-splitting wit and heart-aching pathos.

What was your top discovery of the fest?

Over the past few Fantasia's, the programming team has been making a point to champion new waves in various national cinemas with, from Norway to Serbia, and the discoveries yielded from these programs always manage to impress, but perhaps none so more than this year's spotlight on Filipino Cinema. Though I only saw two films in the spotlight, the network-narrative par excellence Amok, and Graceland, a haunting riff of Kurosawa's High and Low (my review impending), both deeply impressed me with their exceptional depiction of urban jungles in states of high anxiety and moral corruption.

However, I would be remiss not to mention my surprise in finally watching The Sword Identity (my review also impending), a film that reportedly was met with a rather blasé, bored reaction at TIFF, but which received an enthusiastic ovation of laughter from Fantasia's more discerning audience. After doing some investigating, it turned out that TIFF's program note chose to emphasize the film's austere aesthetics and philosophical mediations, only passingly alluding that the film is a very, very funny absurdist po-faced slapstick comedy. For me it was half-way between Stephen Chow and Luis Buñuel - a kind of wu xia Exterminating Angel that had me and the Fantasia audience giggling for its entire runtime.

Finally, what was your favorite non-film fantasia-tastic moment?

It might have been the dinner and lunch I had with David Wu (interview impending), renowned editor (The Killer, Peking Opera Blues) and director of Cold Steel (review also impending), and my subsequent pitching to him of a Mad Men-style television series about the exploits of Shaw Brothers studios in the late 70s and early 80s - inspired by his many anecdotes. Or it could have been sharing a Robot Jox "crash and burn" handshake with the immortal Stuart Gordon (click pic above for full size). But, I guess these are all film moments...

How about joining fellow ScreenAnarchy writer Kurt Halfyard for a chocolate laden breakfast worthy of the Cafe des Deux Moulins from Amelie. Or seeing Paul F. Tompkins at Just for Laughs or meeting a Creative Director from Ubisoft and discussing the merits of Manborg, Shakma and Half-Life 2 over pints at the Irish Embassy... Or... or... there were so damn many... just come to Montreal next summer and see for yourself.

More Awards from Fantasia 2012

AQCC Jury - Asian Section

President: Daniel Racine, with Élodie François and Serge Abiaad


AQCC Prize: 11/25 THE DAY MISHIMA CHOSE HIS OWN FATE by Koji Wakamatsu

For its re-evaluation of biopic conventions, choosing to rely on a sober staging and a stripped-down screenplay. A film carried by the grace and assurance of its main actor Arata Iura, who contributes to the intensity and exaltation of this unique portrait of quiet strength.


Special Mentions:


HENGE by Hajime Ohata

For restoring kaijū eiga to its former glory, and doing so in such modest circumstances.


MONDOMANILA by Khavn De La Cruz

For the accuracy with which the director looks at his country's most disadvantaged, uncompromising but full of humanity.


Séquences Jury - International Section

President: Donato Totaro, with Pascal Grenier and Ismaël Houdassine


Séquences Prize: HAIL by Amiel Courtin-Wilson

For its original blend of intimate poetry and its bold formal experimentation. For its austere approach and visceral performances by non-professional actors. And for its touching portrayal of a former prisoner struggling with his demons.


L'Écran Fantastique Jury

Yves Rivard


L'Écran Fantastique Prize: BLOOD-C: THE LAST DARK by Naoyoshi Shiotani

The amazing editing and horrifying Lovecraftian bestiary, as well as attention to textures and lighting make this production a great animation film which caters as much to fans of fantasy horror as Japanese animation.


Audience Awards:


Best Asian Feature: ACE ATTORNEY by Takashi Miike (Gold), VULGARIA by Pang Ho-Cheung (Silver), DRAGON (WU XIA) by Peter Chan (Bronze), ROBO-G by Shinobu Yaguchi (Bronze) (TIE)


Best European / North-South American Feature: GAME OF WEREWOLVES by Juan Martinez Moreno (Gold), JUAN OF THE DEAD by Alejandro Brugués (Silver), TURN ME ON, GODDAMMIT by Jannicke Systad Jacobsen (Bronze)


Best Short Film: ATTACK OF THE BRAINSUCKER by Sid Zanforlin (Gold), MATHILDA by Matthew Zuang (Silver), THE CAPTURED BIRD by Jovanka Vuckovic (Bronze), PETITE MORT by Louise Archambault (Bronze), STAY AT HOME DAD by Andrew Kasch and John Skipp (Bronze) (TIE)


Best Canadian or Quebecois Feature: COLD BLOODED by Jason Lapeyre


Best Animated Feature: ASURA by Keiichi Sato, A LETTER TO MOMO by Hiroyuki Okiura (TIE)


Best Documentary: WE ARE LEGION: THE STORY OF THE HACKTIVISTS by Brian Knappenberger


Most Innovative Feature: WRONG by Quentin Dupieux


Guru Prize for the Most Energetic Feature: SINGHAM by Rohit Shetty

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Kurt HalfyardAugust 14, 2012 1:07 AM

Fans of The Bourne Legacy's locations, particularly the Manilla foot chase, should note that it was filmed in Pasay Rotonda.

Check out AMOK (review aboce) a tense ShortCuts-esque drama shot entirely there which also uses the tight chaos of the location for some pretty impressive action beats.

I just watched Bourne4, and I was looking for many of the Amok Characters as Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz made their way down the steps before hopping on a motorbike and exiting with police and crazy Thai killer in pursuit.

Joe YoungAugust 14, 2012 7:22 PM

"However, the most heavenly moments of this years festival took place in Cacoa70 cafe on Rue Ste. Catherines where a brandy-snifter full of decadent dark chocolate was brought out with a pot of steamed milk blended with chocolate to allow for my own mixing."

Judging from the pics, you and Mr Kuplowsky had a good time. Thanks for the wrap up, Twitch Crew.