Took some time off from the fest and went to see our own Chris Gore who was in Montreal promoting his new film. “My Big Fat Independent Movie” at the Just For Laughs Festival.
We talked mostly about movies, the town, and women. Chris gave me the best advice about clothes I’ve ever gotten: “Always wear a shirt one size too small. It makes you look bigger and acts as a man corset.” You da man Chris! Hope you like that local beer I gave you.
This was one of the biggest film geek days of the festival. “Jason and The Argonauts” played with Ray Harryhausen in attendance. The place was literally packed, and it was nice to see that a lot of people brought their kids. Fantasia isn’t G-rated most of the time so it was cool that they included something for families.
Watching the film again surprised me. It’s a lot faster paced than I remember and the effects look a lot less dated than I thought they would. Sure, you can tell this is “old” but at the same time it’s a lot more realistic than some CGI drenched films today. It’s really amazing what Harryhausen accomplished with little money in what was arguably the late stone age of special effects. Hell, it wasn’t until “Jurassic Park” that we began to be able to top his work without using animatronics. Filmwise, the story of Jason’s quest has always touched a nerve with viewers. You can see the influences of this film in everything from “Gladiator” to “Conan.”
Before the showing I got to meet Christopher Hyatt (AKA Dawgzilla67 from the Back Talk board) and afterwards we hung out. Chris wrote and directed “Eye of Cruelty” which will be shown on the last day of the fest. He was one cool mofo and we jabbered about movies for a few hours. It was his first time in Montreal and I was pleased that he seemed to like it.
Last day. Went to see “A Wicked Tale” and “Eye of Cruelty” with Christopher Hyatt, Rob Olmstead and Chris Maag (“Eye”’s Director, Producer and Actor respectively). Both films played to a full house and got a pretty good response from the audience considering how surreal and experimental they were; “Eye” much more so than “Wicked.” After Hyatt’s movie played we all went to a nearby bar and hung out there for a little while enjoying the free drinks and talking movies. Once the drinks had run out though we went to see the last film of the festival. “Night Watch.”
You heard it here first people. If any film is going to break that whole “fear of subtitles” thing with English speaking audiences, it’s this one. You can’t help but like this movie. It’s low budget, yes, but its scope is so damn huge and it’s so fearless in treading forth where lesser films dare not thread that at worst you’ll respect the hell out of it.
It’s a modern day Tolkien-ish fantasy about how the forces of darkness and light have come to an uneasy truce; each one watching what the other does and trying to get the upper hand. Anton Gorodetsky is a member of the Night Watch, a group of seers and magicians who police from dusk to dawn, making sure Vampires and Witches don’t break the rules of the truce. During an assignment where he has to save a young boy from being the victim of vampires, Anton discovers a plot by the leader of the forces of darkness to bring about the end times and tilt the balance in favor of perpetual night.
With a budget of 4.2 million dollars, director Timur Bekmanbetov has managed to make a movie that rivals “The Matrix” in the effects department. It’s not wall-to-wall CGI like the Keanu Reeves film, but the effects we see are damn good; everything from a woman transforming into a tiger, to an evil magician tossing a truck in the air like a toy, to a plane crashing down over Moscow. It’ll make you rethink the possibilities of low budget cinema, to be sure.
So that was it. The end. When the film’s credits rolled, it got a standing ovation and me, Chris, Rob and Chris filed out into the lobby where we met up with Mitch and the rest of the Fantasia people to hang out.
As we walked out to go to yet another watering hole, we saw… THE SINGING HOBO…
Man, this was like something out of “After Hours” by Martin Scorsese. It was fitting that the festival end this way, really it was. Here’s what happened. We’re all walking down the street and there’s a homeless guy with a guitar begging for spare change. He sees us, sees our Fantasia stuff and starts singing “Fantasia! It’ll amaze yah… nah-nah-nah!!!” I’m no musician, but I’ve written a couple of tunes in my day and I know the sound of a spur of the moment made up song when I hear one. Still, it was cute and a couple of people gave him a buck. Fast forward down to a bar a few streets away and where we’re all relaxing, talking about how awesome “Night Watch” was. The singing hobo thing had occurred a few hours earlier and we’d all pretty much forgotten it, except…
“Fantasia! It’ll amaze yah! NAH-NAH-NAH-NAHHHHHHHHHH!!!”
We all turn around and the m**********r followed us! He’s right THERE on the sidewalk.
Okay, now it’s getting creepy, but a few guys gave him money so he’d go away and he did, finally!
A few more hours pass and it’s closing time. I got the chance to speak with Harry Cleven and tell him how I enjoyed his film and its nuances, which was cool; and chat a bit with Mitch Davis, one of the international programming directors for the festival and a hella nice guy. He’s the one who got me to re-evaluate David Lynch’s “Lost Highway”, and damn if he’s not right about it being better than I remembered. I also talked to King Wei-Chu (associate programmer and Shaw Brothers aficionado) about inviting Nora Miao to host a restored print of Bruce Lee’s “Fist of Fury”, which must have been a childhood fantasy come true for him.
So it’s all over, the bar people are kicking us out, but it’s okay since we’re all pretty much tired and ready to knock off for the night. Me, Chris, Chris and Rob are walking back to our cars too exhausted to say much and just enjoying each other’s company in that way you do with people you really connect with.
“Fantasia! It’ll amaze yah! NAH-NAH-NAH-NAHHHHHHHHHH!!!”
Jesus Jumping S**t… My redneck, country bumpkin, backwoods, not-used-to-the-city a*s was thissss close from going Speedy Gonzales on everyone and just bolting while I screamed, “IT’S EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF!!!!” But I remembered that I was supposed to be a guy or something and I stuck with my pals. Eventually our troubadour went away, but not before we got all paranoid and started casing the lot where we’d parked our cars to make sure he wouldn’t pop like an a*****e jack-in-the-box SINGING THAT STUPID F*****G SONG. I tell you, when I got home, I was looking under the freakin’ porch.
In closing, special thanks to Mitch Davis, King Wei-Chu, Mi-Jeong Lee, Pierre Corbeil and Marc Lamothe for another amazing festival. See you all next year! Oh, and my sincere apologies to Joe Coleman for missing his show, Retinal Stigmatics. I would have gone but I had been so overworked from my day job that I was almost narcoleptic a week after the festival started. By way of apology let me mention here that I heard nothing but good things about it and that my own personal opinion of Joe is that he’s one of the last true damaged psycho rebel artists; a man who can imprint his own pain on canvas like light on film negative.
(picture: JCMDcandlemod picture by josh townsend small.jpg TAGLINE: Joe Coleman and Mitch Davis wish you pleasant dreams)
The official jury of the Fantasia Festival was presided by Érik Canuel, director of many Quebecois genre films, and composed of Daniel Andréani (Diesel Agency), Nabi-Alexandre Chartier (Musique Plus), Pierre Dalpé (Partners Montréal), Michèle Grondin (Radar Films) and Patrick Masbourian (Ztélé and TQS), who present their list of laureates to the public.
Best film: ^ Mind Game (Japan, Yuasa Masaaki)
Best director: (tie)
Gen Sekiguchi – Survive Style 5 + (Japan)
Yuasa Masaaki – Mind Game (Japan)
Best script: ^ Yuasa Masaaki – Mind Game (Japan)
Best cinematography: ^ Kosuke Matushima – The Taste of Tea (Japan)
Best actor: ^ Choi Min-sik – Crying Fist (South Korea)
Best actress: ^ Kate Greenhouse – Dark Hours (Canada)
Special Award – Visual Accomplishment: ^ Yuasa Masaaki – Mind Game (Japan)
Best Asian Film
Golden Prize: (tie)
Survive Style 5 + (Gen Sekiguchi, Japan, 2004)
The Taste of Tea (Katsuhito Ishii, Japan, 2004)
Silver Prize: ^ Crying Fist (Ryoo Seung-wan, South-Korea, 2005)
Bronze Prize: (tie)
Arahan (Ryoo Seung-wan, South-Korea, 2004)
Godzilla – Final Wars (Ryuhei Kitamura, Japan 2005)
Best European / North – South American Film
Golden Prize: (tie)
El Lobo (Miguel Courtois, Spain, 2005)
Trouble (Harry Cleven, Belgium/France, 2004)
Silver Prize: ^ The Devil’s Rejects (Rob Zombie, USA, 2005)
Bronze Prize: ^ Night of the Living Dorks (Matthias Dinter, Germany, 2004)
Best Animated Film
Golden Prize: ^ Mind Game (Yuasa Masaaki, Japan, 2004)
Silver Prize: ^ The Place Promised in Our Early Days (Makoto Shinkai, Japan, 2005)
Bronze Prize: ^ Live Freaky! Die Freaky! (John Roecker, USA, 2004)
Most Groundbreaking Film
Golden Prize: ^ Survive Style 5 + (Gen Sekiguchi, Japan, 2004)
Silver Prize: ^ Mind Game (Yuasa Masaaki, Japan, 2004)
Bronze Prize: ^ The Taste of Tea (Katsuhito Ishii, Japan, 2004)
Best Short Film
Golden Prize: ^ Kakurenbo (Shuhei Morita, Japan, 2005)
Silver Prize: ^ Flat Life (Jonas Geirnaert, Belgium, 2004)
Bronze Prize: ^ Redrat: La Rata Retobada (Guillermo Kloetzer,Uruguay, 2004 )
Best Quebec DIY Short:
Golden Prize: ^ Alex Vampire Slayer (Al Kratina, Québec, 2005)
Silver Prize: ^ Cogne Fou (Donald Caron, Quebec, 2005)
Bronze Prize: ^ Séquestrée (Denis-Steve Giguère, Québec, 2005)