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Fantasia Adds a New Section: Camera Lucida

The Fantasia Film Festival began in 1996, screening Asian films from Hong Kong and Japan, with a sprinkle of Japanese anime, but throughout the years, the festival has gradually expanded its focus to include genre films from all over the world.

This year, the Fantasia Film Festival opens a new category called Camera Lucida; in reference to Roland Barthes who has always manifested his unabashed passion for popular culture. Labelled rebellious, curious, and innovative, this new section is meant to present audiences with new directions in today’s genre cinema.

Just weeks after having stirred things up at Cannes, the honor of opening the proceedings goes to Rubber by French director Quentin Dupieux. Rubber is the story of Robert, an inanimate tire (yes, a tire) that has been abandoned in the desert, and suddenly and inexplicably comes to life. As Robert roams the bleak landscape, he discovers that he possesses telepathic powers that give him the ability to destroy anything he wishes without having to move. At first content to wreak havoc on small desert creatures and various lost items, his attention soon turns to humans, resulting in gory vehicular-related mayhem.

The second feature in the line-up is Malaysian director Yeo Joon Han’s musical comedy Sell Out. The black comedy irreverently mocks Reality TV, corporations and auteur cinema. Also scheduled is Neverlost by Canadian filmmaker Chad Archibald, a blend of film noir and romance which straddles themes of madness in exploring the personal labyrinth of a failed screenwriter confronted with his inner demons.

Perhaps the highlight of the spotlight rests with Air Doll. Already labeled a master of contemporary cinema, director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Japanese drama is based on the manga series Kuuki Ningyo by Yoshiie Gōda, which was serialized in the seinen manga magazine Big Comic Original. Put simply, the film is about an inflatable doll that develops a soul and falls in love. The movie debuted in the Un Certain Regard section at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival, with reviewers praising Bae Doona’s performance. The Hollywood Reporter’s Maggie Lee described it as “an achingly beautiful meditation on loneliness and longing in the city” and suggested its themes would particularly appeal to female audiences.