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Fantasia International Film Festival wrap up

The 16th edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival has just come to an end, and our team is celebrating the resounding success of this year’s edition. With over 109,000 spectators and industry attendees, this year saw record crowds flock to the event—up 7,000 people over last year. We would like to express our deep gratitude to the 150 directors, actors, screenwriters and producers who came from the four corners of the world to present their films, making this year’s edition our most impressive to date on an international scale. Fantasia's overwhelming success is due in large part to the valuable contribution and hard work of almost 200 media representatives in attendance, with most of them hailing from the USA, as well as Europe. Over 250 members of the film industry were accredited at this year’s inaugural Fantasia Industry Rendez-Vous, firmly establishing the festival as one of the foremost meeting places in the genre film industry.
The festival opened with audience favourite, Takashi Miike’s, North American premiere of FOR LOVE’S SAKE, which was only the first in a series of exciting special events that took place over the course of the festival. The festival closed with the Canadian premiere of the new 3D stop-motion comedy/thriller from animation studio LAIKA, with Directors Sam Fell and Chris Butler in town to present PARANORMAN, in collaboration with Alliance Vivafilm.
Other memorable events included: a master class on Hong Kong cinema with legendary film scholar, David Bordwell, who also hosted a special screening of LA JETÉE in memory of Chris Marker, and was honoured with a Lifetime Excellence Award; a mini-tribute to Jennifer Lynch with the world premiere of CHAINED and the Quebec premiere of DESPITE THE GODS; the world premiere launch of a special all-star touring poster show, IF THEY CAME FROM WITHIN: AN ALTERNATIVE HISTORY OF CANADIAN HORROR; a retrospective celebrating the centennial of Nikkatsu, Japan’s oldest and most influential studio, presented in collaboration with the Cinémathèque québécoise and the Festival du nouveau cinéma; a special midnight screening of THE DEVIL'S CARNIVAL, featuring sideshow performers; the debut of two new programming sections: AXIS, devoted to international animation cinema, and ACTION!, highlighting action films in our lineup; the official program launch and outdoor projections hosted in collaboration with the Société des arts technologiques (SAT); DJ XL5’S ITALIAN ZAPPIN’ PARTY, a program celebrating the best and the worst (and the best of the worst!) of Italian genre film; and, finally, the world premiere screening of the HD restored Quebec cult genre film, DANS LE VENTRE DU DRAGON, in the presence of director Yves Simoneau, and actors: Michel Côté, Rémy Girard, Pierre Curzi, Andrée Lachapelle and David La Haye.
The 16th anniversary programming was our broadest and most exciting yet. More than 50% of our feature length films were world, international, North American or Canadian premieres (82 out of a total of 160). Among this impressive selection from over 36 countries, were 20 world premieres, including Jordan Galland’s ALTER EGOS, Jennifer Lynch’s CHAINED, Teller’s PLAY DEAD, Valentín Javier Diment’s MEMORY OF THE DEAD, Steve Kerr’s COLOMBARIUM, Charles de Lauzirika’s CRAVE, Paul Hough’s THE HUMAN RACE, Eron Sheean’s ERRORS OF THE HUMAN BODY, Patricio Valladares’ HIDDEN IN THE WOODS and Noboru Iguchi’s DEAD SUSHI. Also memorable were Kern Saxton’s SUSHI GIRL and Kevin & Matthew McManus’ FUNERAL KINGS, which were 2 of the 5 international premieres. Also worth noting were the 12 North American premieres, including Óskar Thór Axelsson’s BLACK’S GAME, Steffen Haars & Flip Van der Kuil’s NEW KIDS NITRO, Koji Wakamatsu’s 11/25 THE DAY MISHIMA CHOSE HIS OWN FATE, John Cairns’ SCHOOLGIRL APOCALYPSE, Wuershan's PAINTED SKIN:THE RESURRECTION and Daigo Matsui’s AFRO TANAKA. Fantasia fans were also treated to Richard Bates Jr.’s EXCISION, Amiel Courtin-Wilson’s HAIL, Justin Benson & Aaron Scott Moorhead’s RESOLUTION, Shunichiro Miki’s THE WARPED FOREST, Ciarán Foy’s CITADEL, and Alex de la Iglesia’s AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT, 6 films out of 45 which had Canadian premieres at the festival. William Friedkin’s KILLER JOE, Casey Walker’s A LITTLE BIT ZOMBIE, Michael Peterson’s LLOYD THE CONQUEROR, and Juan Martínez Moreno’s GAME OF WEREWOLVES were 4 exciting films among 44 to have their Quebec premieres at Fantasia.
The festival also kept up its tradition of inviting more guests each year, with a record-breaking 150 directors, actors, screenwriters and producers coming to the festival to present their films at this edition. Iconoclastic director Jennifer Lynch (SURVEILLANCE), was on hand for the world premiere of her film CHAINED, as well as the documentary DESPITE THE GODS. Michael Biehn (ALIENS, THE TERMINATOR) attended the festival for a second year in a row to introduce the world premiere of his directorial debut THE VICTIM, as well as present SUSHI GIRL with fellow cast and crew members: Mark Hamill (STAR WARS), Tony Todd (CANDYMAN), James Duval (DONNIE DARKO), Noah Hathaway (THE NEVERENDING STORY), Andy Mackenzie (SHOOT ’EM UP), Co-Writer / Producer / Actor Destin Pfaff, producers Neal Fisher and Suren M. Seron, and Director / Co-Writer Kern Saxton. Noboru Iguchi (KARATE ROBO-ZABORGAR) returned once again to Fantasia to present two films: ZOMBIE ASS and the World Premiere of DEAD SUSHI, accompanied by actress and martial artist Rina Takeda (HIGH-KICK GIRL). Arnab Chaudhuri also came a long distance to present his film ARJUN: THE WARRIOR PRINCE, as did DOOMSDAY BOOK Co-Director / Co-Writer Yim Pil-sung, THE KING OF PIGS Director / Writer / Editor Yeon Sang-ho, and THE WARPED FOREST Director / Co-Writer / Producer Shunichiro Miki, while Director, regular John Woo collaborator, and 40-year veteran editor of Hong Kong action films, David Wu (HARD BOILED, RED CLIFF) hosted the Canadian premiere of COLD STEEL and received a special Legendary Action Editor Award. Buddy Giovinazzo (COMBAT SHOCK) was in town to present A NIGHT OF NIGHTMARES, while Duane Graves and Justin Meeks (THE WILD MAN OF THE NAVIDAD) presented their film BONEBOYS, and the great American illusionist, Teller (PENN AND TELLER) performed live, logic-defying, feats, along with star Todd Robbins, at the screening of their film PLAY DEAD. Award-winning Special Edition DVD producer, and frequent Ridley Scott collaborator, Charles de Lauzirika (BLADE RUNNER SPECIAL EDITION DVD), made his first Fantasia appearance to host the screening of his directorial debut CRAVE. In a rare, tantalizing appearance, director HPG (ON NE DEVRAIT PAS EXISTER, LES MOUVEMENTS DU BASSIN) presented his new film IL N'Y A PAS DE RAPPORT SEXUEL. Experienced Canadian actor Stephen McHattie (PONTYPOOL) was in no less than three films at Fantasia this year: A LITTLE BIT ZOMBIE, EDDIE: THE SLEEPWALKING CANNIBAL and THE TALL MAN. Actor Michael Eklund (THE DIVIDE) was back at the festival with the world premiere of ERRORS OF THE HUMAN BODY. Danny Masterson (MEN AT WORK, THAT ‘70S SHOW), Kris Lemche (FINAL DESTINATION 3), Joey Kern (CABIN FEVER) and Brooke Nevin (BREAKOUT KINGS, CALL ME FITZ) were all in town, along with director Jordan Galland, to present ALTER EGOS; Wunderkind director Richard Bates Jr. and leading actress AnnaLynne McCord (90210) were on hand for EXCISION; Mike Smith (TRAILER PARK BOYS) mingled with local LARP'ers at the LLOYD THE CONQUEROR screening; and Casper Van Dien (WATCH OVER ME, STARSHIP TROOPERS) was in town presenting THE PACT and STARSHIP TROOPERS: INVASION.
The festive atmosphere of Fantasia’s 16th edition will live on for several directors whose acquisition deals were announced during the festival: Boris Rodriguez, the Montreal director of EDDIE: THE SLEEPWALKING CANNIBAL, is celebrating his new contract for a theatrical release in the United States with Music Box Films. As well, Kern Saxton’s SUSHI GIRL was recently picked up by Phase 4 and Magnolia, while Quentin Dupieux’s WRONG will be distributed by Drafthouse Films.
The last juries have finished deliberating on this year’s competitions and are pleased to announce the following winners:
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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