The Fantasia Film Festival is coming to a close this weekend and so we want to look back one last time at the highlights of the fest. It was an incredible year with many strong first time features, a batch of incredible short films and a ton of special guests. Michael, Simon, Justine and I, all worked extremely hard in delivering around 50 film reviews, six interviews, a dozen or so articles and six podcasts (with more on the way), in order to fully cover the three and a half week long event. So in other words we watched a shit load of movies, averaging around 30 each. Below you can find a list of our five favourite films, but before you get to that, I want to mention a few things/people that made the 15th year so memorable.
I can’t even begin to praise the amount of great shorts that screened at this year’s festival, with two making my top five list (see below). Along with Legend Of Beaver Dam and Night Fishing, some other notable entries were Animal Control, My Avatar, Crépuscule and The Dungeon Master.
The Irish Embassy
Perhaps the biggest difference between Fantasia and other film festivals, is that you can always rely on heading out to one specific bar and running into everyone from the fest, be it filmmakers, programmers, volunteers, critics or just die hard fans of the festival. There is no easier way to network and meet new friends than at Fantasia, and what better way to do it, than while drinking the night away on the back patio.
The Screening Room
This won’t really apply to the general public, but I can’t stress how great the new screening room is. It’s a great way for industry and press people to catch up on any films they may have missed screenings to.
You have to admire the programmers who leave just enough TBA’s for additional screenings of popular movies that sell out.
Everyone knows that Fantasia has the best festival audience in the world. Not only is the audience always full of energy and quick to cheers along with the films, but they attend the festival first and foremost for the movies. This isn’t an audience that cares for red carpets and celebrities but an audience who each and every year takes chances on small independent films.
The entire staff at Fantasia were so incredibly welcoming once again and went out of their way to really help us out with our coverage, but nobody has ever supported our small, no budget indie film magazine like programmer Mitch Davis. Mitch would not only rave about us to filmmakers but pass along phone messages, buy us a late night dinner at Dunn’s restaurant and continuously tell us how good of a job we were doing.
Now here is the list of our favorite films from the festival.
Ricky D’s Five Favourites
For those looking for something new, Bellflower is a solid calling card, full of youthful ambition. It’s the bastard son of Two Lane Blacktop and Blue Valentine, a very personal film about relationships destined to self destruct, and a searing portrait of the disintegration of the love that once fueled it.
Clocking in at only 33 minutes, Night Fishing is by far one of the best films of the year; a surprisingly polished work by director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) and his brother Park Chan-kyong that is shot entirely on the iPhone 4. Watch the opening clip below to get an idea of just how brilliant this film is.
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Attack The Block
Science-fiction movie buffs looking for a change of pace from Hollywood fare will appreciate this thoroughly entertaining but clever low-budget British action-comedy. On its surface, Attack the Block is about unlikely heroes saving the world from an alien invasion, but it’s really a metaphor for all the obstacles these kids face on a daily basis. Without a doubt the most energetic and fun screening at this year’s festival.
Cult director Takeshi Miike (Ichi the Killer, Audition) delivers a bravado period action film that is both a vivid samurai drama to an absolute work of genius. The visually spectacular, stunning wide-screen cinematography, impressive, full-scale sets and special effects and incredibly immersive action scenes, places 13 Assassins right up there among the finest in the genre.
The film’s title is Latin for “in the absence”, and is a legal declaration stating that a person is considered deceased if their whereabouts have been unknown for an extended period of time. Mike Flanagan’s Kickstarter-funded horror flick was the biggest surprise of the year. An instant indie gem from a director to watch out for.
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