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Fantasia 2009 – A Preview of Fantasia’s Québécois Shorts

Fantasia’s Short Film Highlights


The Astronomer`s Dream

Just at this year’s Fantasia Film Fest sees its features splaying out far from the realm of hardcore genre flicks into other realms, its local shorts, presented in two different categories (Courts Métrages Québécois and Courts Métrages Québécois DIY) display a wide range of genre, approach, form and subject matter, fromt he mundane to the, well, fantastic. Here’s a sampling of what’s on offer this year…

Among the highlights of the first group (itself subdivided into five screenings) are two very different animated pieces. Malcolm Sutherland’s The Astronaut’s Dream (11 m.), a whimsical, if slightly bent, look at the imaginings of a would-be spacefarer. Sutherland’s humor and style reflect a Japanese sensibility, so fans of Miyazaki’s more out-there moments should take heed, though Sutherland’s visuals are considerably busier. Meanwhile, Alain Fournier’s Öko (12 m.) is a seemingly post-apocalyptic puppet mini-epic, a piece so desolate and cryptic that it can’t help but stick with you. The expressive nature of Fournier’s subjects and their surrounding environment makes for an oddly enveloping watch.

On the live-action front, Déraciné (14 m.), directed by Pierre-Antoine Fournier, is a gritty, sad portrait of a family wrecked by alcoholism, touched by a youthful perspective and haunted mood not entirely unlike Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park;  Pierre-Luc Lafontaine stands out as the troubled teen left to deal with a mass of human wreckage. Belle Maman (5 m.), from directors Simon Lamontagne and Sebastien Trahan, is a wry, funny look at inter-generational hypocrisy as represented by an inappropriate, but honest, dinner-time confession. On a totally different wavelength, Izabel Grondin’s Phantasme (15 m.) unsettles with is a deeply unsettling take on violent erotic fantasies, toying with our sense of perspective and reality in its depiction of a date night gone…strange. Patrick Lauzon gets under your skin as the “doctor.” (Ask to see his credentials next time.)

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Not to be outdone, the DIY section, which showcases entirely independent productions, holds three screenings this year, and even a cursory look at a few of these films lets you know you’re in for a wild bunch. Zombie: le Documentaire (25 m.), from Mathieu Handfield and Maurice Vadeboncoeur, is a satirical mockumentary look at the inner lives and daily turmoils of our favorite flesh-devourers as they try to make their way through a world that doesn’t always accept them. On a lighter tip, Jesus Saves! (8 m.), from director Elias Varoutsas, wonders what might happen if our would-be saviour really did return to our cynical planet; the results may not be pretty but they’re certainly trippy. Finally, no look at the DIY portion would be complete without mention of Pierre Ayotte’s weird and wonderful Massacrator (5 m.), a Super 8 take on Terminator 2, axcept Ahnuld is some weird Jay Reatard-looking dude and Robert Patrick is…Elvis. Oh, and the result of their match may not be predetermined. Place your bets!

listen to the interview with Alain Fournier, director of  OKO

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Simon Howell