July is rising and our mad extended family (over 90 000 strong!) is about to reunite in darkened halls for a 3-week jubilation of vital, eclectic filmmaking from every corner of the globe. I'm ecstatic to tell you that even by our mad standards, this is a year packed with revelations.
As an antidote to conventional, multiplex-squatting blockbuster blandness, get set for over 120 bursts of filmmaking that rocket the spectrum from the adorable to the grotesque, the hilarious to the horrific and the inspirational to the absurd. You're about to discover brilliant new work from long-time Fantasia favourites (I'll eat a Miley Cyrus CD if Sion Sono's latest doesn't find itself in many of your Top 10's at the end of the year!) and you will meet a stunning assortment of first-timers on the brink of infamy. As always, we urge you to read through this guide carefully because there are masterpieces to be found, many screening for the first time in this part of the world, some screening for their first time ever Fantasia is a place where risk-taking is rewarded, for filmmakers and audiences alike.
On to some of this year's spotlights:
2009 marks the 100-year anniversary of Hong Kong's film industry, and Fantasia will celebrate a century of HK ingenuity with Hong Kong Cinema: 100 Years.
If your sci-fi tastes lean more towards STALKER than STAR WARS, be sure to explore Vers les étoiles: Cerebral Science Fiction Cinema, an extraordinary collection of the kind of filmmaking that has become rare in this age.
Love sometimes hurts, but who's to say that pain can't be fun? Flirting With Chaos collects a series of wild, audacious films that could best be described as "anti-romantic comedies" from Japan, Germany, South Korea, Canada and Quebec!
A role-playing game based on the Columbine massacre, a now shut-down website catering to the darkest of BDSM inclinations, the life and crimes of an outlaw family and a group of unlikely cult celebrities comprise the return of Documentaries from the Edge — a provocative pack of docs that are all-but-guaranteed to spark much post-screening discussion and debate.
Hell on Earth: the Films of Buddy Giovinazzo pays tribute to one of the USA's most unsettling independent voices, known for his haunting depictions of everyday horrors.
Behind the Pink Curtain is a touring series of vintage Japanese erotic cinema - "Pinku Eiga", or "Pink Films", unspooling for the first time in this country through a special collaboration with the Cinémathèque Québécoise.
Switching continents, we'll be giving a Lifetime Achievement Award to Brazil's transgressive master of horror José Mojica Marins, in honour of his near 50-year career creating some of the most surreal, assaulting and individualistic work the genre has ever seen.
Add to this a pair of Clive Barker premieres, new work from Park Chan-wook, Michel Houellebecq, Takashi Miike, Adam Mason, Kim Ki-duk, Yoshihiro Nishimura, Studio 4°C and Wilson Yip, to name but a few, live DJ's from CJLO Underground Radio spinning sonic bliss in the Hall between shows and extended Q&A sessions with visiting filmmakers after screenings, and you'll begin to get a picture of what kind of July this is going to be.
By the time the lights come up at the end of the month, we promise to leave you in a state of absolute exhilaration.
On behalf of the entire Fantasia team,
Co-Director of International Programming