Monday, August 12, 2013

Fantasia 2013 Overview

To follow up on my presentation of the Fantasia 2013 programmation, I am adding here a few comments on this 17th edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival that just concluded.

This year the Japanese selection of the festival was offering thirty-three movies (including eight anime and three shorts). Unfortunately, I don't have time anymore to queue to watch every Japanese movies like I used to do, and I also feel that I don't fit with that kind of young, over energetic crowd anymore. But at least I was able to watch one movie and review two: Thermae Romae and Library Wars. There are a few more movies that I wished I would have been able to screen, like the Rurouni Kenshin live-action or Garden of Words, the latest Makoto Shinkai's anime.

If you want to know more about the Japanese movies offered at this year's Fantasia, I can recommend you the very interesting review by Claude R. Blouin at Shomingekiblog about seven of those movies (in french). Mr. Blouin says:
I draw the attention of literature' lovers on a film whose spirit should reach readers of Gabrielle Roy, The Garden of Words, as well as on The Great Passage, which is about the life of words. About the world of image, Helter Skelter is noteworthy. Also Key of life for the relationship between play and adaptation. The introduction should give everyone some leads to go to the movies more likely to answer their concerns.
In a press release, the festival announced that it has reached “record attendance numbers this year, boasting more than 125,000 festival-goers for its 17th edition, surpassing last year's record of 109,000 (a 15% increase). Over the course of its three-week film marathon, it presented over 131 features from 31 countries and more than 220 shorts from across the globe.” They also proudly announced this year’s prize-winners. Here we will list only those from Asia:

Fantasia Awards:
  • Best Director: Hou Chi-Jan (Taiwan) for When a wolf falls in love with a sheep
  • Best Actor: Cho Jae-hyun for The Weight by Jeon Kyu-hwan (South Korea)
Audience Awards:
  • Best Asian Feature:
    - Gold: HK/Forbidden Super Hero by Yuichi Fukuda (Japan)
    - Silver: Lesson of the Evil by Takashi Miike (Japan)
    - Bronze: How to Use Guys with Secret Tips by Lee Wonsuk (South Korea)
  • Best Animation Feature: The Garden of Words by Makoto Shinkai (Japan)
  • Guru Prize For Most Energetic Film: HK/Forbidden Super Hero by Yuichi Fukuda (Japan)
You can find more information on the prize-winners over at Anime News Network.

I'd like to share one last thought about a complain that I heard again and again over the years: the line-ups. I guess that the festival is a victim of its own success. It is a problem that has always plagued the festival and that keeps people from attending. I heard many time (even this year) people saying that they would not come to Fantasia because they didn't like the long line-ups (I, myself, abhors waiting in line and it's one of the reasons that kept me from attending lately -- besides being quite busy and not being a fan of the loud, rowdy crowd that seems to favours Fantasia). You line-up to get the tickets and then line-up again to get into the theatre. In a way, it's a boon for the festival since most shows are sold out and not much can be done anyway to improve the experience for the viewers...

When I went to see Library Wars I must admit that I didn't wait for the tickets, but, since I arrived only an half-hour early, I ended up waiting in line way over the corner of Ste-Catherine street, a little past the Centre Hi-Fi! Of course, the VIPs (guests, press or “friend” of the festival) have their own, much shorter line-up, but, surprisingly, it seems that even the $250 “Fantasia Passport”, giving access to every films, does not give priority access to screenings. I surely miss the time when it was worth for me to get a press accreditation. Now I am too busy and won't bother with the accreditation process just for one or two movies. It's too bad because the Fantasia selection of movies always includes some very interesting titles that can't be ignored.

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