The 15th edition of Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival hosted 19 world premieres including Final Destination 5 and The Wicker Tree.
Mikkel Nørgaard’s Clown(Klovn) [pictured] won the Cheval Noir Award for best film at the 15th edition of Fantasia, with the New Flesh Award for first feature film going to Michaël R. Roskam’s Bullhead.
Clown is a Danish comedy about two immature men and one man’s nephew on a road trip. Belgium’s Bullhead is about shady men involved in the meat industry.
It was an Asian clean sweep for the festival’s other main awards with Korean crime thriller The Unjust picking up best actor awards for Hwang Jeong-min and Ryoo Seung-beom while Park Hoon-jung also scooped the best screenplay, Norie Yasui received the best actress award for her performance as an office worker who is approached by a man who promises to change her life in Love & Loathing & Lulu & Ayano and Yoshimasa Ishibashi was awarded best director for his comedy Milocrorze: A Love Story.
A special mention was given to Shunji Iwai’s first English-language film Vampire for its “original and contemplative take on suicide and our society’s fascination with the vampire myth” in the Cheval Noir competition. Sci-fi Love also received a special mention in the New Flesh category for its “resourcefulness and unwavering determination by a director to realize his unique vision”.
The L’Écran Fantastique prize, which awards the winner with a four-page magazine article and free publicity when the film comes out in France, went to Detention, Joseph Khan’s teen horror-comedy about a girl wants to die until a serial killer shows up who is willing to help.
James Gunn’s Super and documentary Superheroes shared the AQCC international prize, while epic Heaven’s Story won the AQCC Asian prize.
13 Assassins, Attack The Block, Redline and Bangkok Knockout were among the films receiving audience awards.
Talking to Screen, co-festival director Mitch Davis praised the audience that attended Fantasia, marking out the fact that the unknown micro-budget Absentia sold out before more well-known Attack The Block. In all, there were more than 100,000 attendees of this year’s festival (July 14-Aug 7).
“As programmers, it allows us to go out and take all kinds of risks supporting eccentric and atypical indie films that we fall in love with while we’re scouting, because more often than not, the audience is willing to take just as many risks as we are. It also allows us to program all kinds of films that are virtually unclassifiable within genre film definitions, but that still have a place at a festival like ours.”
Mitch also doesn’t believe that next year will see a change in format or duration as they aim to keep the festival an audience-driven event but hopes that they can expand the market section; so far this year, The FP and Hellacious Acres: The Case Of John Glass have been picked up for US distibution.
“We’re regularly asked by industry members why we insist on staying a three-week event staged across only two screens when we could easily be a ten-day event across a ton of screens, the way most festivals work. It’s something that would make the festival much more workable for industry attendees and press, but we’re certain that it would hurt the films and make the festival much less fun for the audience.
“If we had four screens going at once, I think it would be a massacre, with the big buzz films absolutely devouring the new discovery titles, just wiping them right off the face of the earth, and it would be terrible. So in 2012, we may be a day or two longer or shorter, but we don’t see it changing in any major way in either direction.”
Asked about personal highlights, Mitch said that the live conversation between Robin Hardy and Richard Stanley was “absolutely incredible” and the hour-long Q&A with John Landis, who picked up this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award, following the Canadian premiere of Burke And Hare was “certainly the most entertaining one we’ve had in the festival’s history of crazy Q&A sessions”.
Of the 134 films screened, 19 were world premieres and 14 were North American premieres, and 150 directors, actors and producers attended the festival, which ran July 14-Aug 7.