Fantasia film festival menu makes me hungry for the full, tasty feast

Mitch Davis, one of the general directors of the Fantasia International Film Festival, in his usual mood, which is very animated and highly enthusiastic! Davis has been known to knock over plants and other such stage props, which is probably one reason why there aren't any plants on that stage. Photo by Liz Ferguson

Mitch Davis, one of the general directors of the Fantasia International Film Festival, in his usual mood, which is very animated and highly enthusiastic! Davis has been known to knock over plants and other such stage props, which is probably one reason why there aren’t any plants on that stage. Photo by Liz Ferguson

On Tuesday, July 7, 2015, more than 200 people came to Cinéma de Sève at Concordia University to get the latest lowdown on the films, guests, venues and assorted events that make up the 19th edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival.

The festival will show comedies, dramas, horror, thrillers, action films, animated films and documentaries. There will be spirits, vampires, martial artists, good cops and bad, adorable characters and despicable ones.

There were enthusiastic speeches from the usual suspects, and some trailers, too. I appreciate those trailers immensely – a description from someone who likes a film is nice, but there’s nothing like seeing for yourself!

I saw many intriguing snippets; some of the Japanese films look really quirky, and I mean that in a GOOD way! And I want to see most, probably all, of the 12 Korean films that will be shown at the fest.

Some films are probably too gory for me, because I’m a big scaredy-cat, but that’s OK, I know that others like them. It’s difficult enough to see all the films that I want to see, so being able to rule some out is almost a blessing.
This year, the festival will show 135 feature films from 36 countries; obviously only a few could be mentioned at the press conference. That’s where the Fantasia catalogue and/or web site come in. I do like having a printed catalogue and a printed schedule, but I also appreciate the Fantasia International Film Festival web site, where I can find films by name, country, genre, or director. That’s great for those who want to read about all the documentaries or all the films from a particular country.

In venue news, there will be outdoor screenings on Concordia grounds; the McCord Museum will show films suitable for children (Fantasia shows more of those than you might think!); some films will be shown in the lovely auditorium of the Grand Bibliothèque, near the Berri-UQAM métro.

Among the revelations – Fantasia will show Roar, a rarely-seen film from 1981 that’s been given a new lease on life through Drafthouse Films. I’ve read many articles about it in the past few months, so I’m really eager to see it.

Roar features more than 150 wild cats who were being kept as pets by writer/director Noah Marshall and his family. That family included actressTippi Hedren (from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds) her daughter, actress Melanie Griffith, and two sons. They all act in the film. From what I’ve read, they were lucky to come out of the experience alive. Few people escaped unmauled, or unscratched, though. The film is being marketed with a catchphrase along the lines of: “No animals were harmed in the making of this film, but 70 people were.” Cinematographer Jan de Bont had his scalp torn off, and it took 120 stitches to sew it back onto his head.

Fantasia will also show Haemoo, a Korean film based on a tragic, real-life life incident. Kim Yun-seok is the star, it was produced and co-written by Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer, The Host, Memories of Murder, etc., etc), and directed by Shim Sung-bo, who was one of Bong’s co-writers for Memories of Murder.

Maybe this was announced earlier and I didn’t see it, but Kevin Bacon will come to present the film, Cop Car. Bacon plays a very bad sheriff hot on the trail of two young boys who have stolen his cruiser. There will be a Q&A after the film, and Mitch Davis encouraged everyone to come and ask Bacon lots of questions. He was chortling, in an infectious way, at the possibilities.

For me, the Fantasia press conference, and the festival itself, is like an ideal version of a high-school reunion – fun, friendly, all smiles, no bullies.

There is so much to say about the Fantasia International Film Festival; I guess the best thing is to write several posts, and not to go on and on with this one!

But I would like to say “thank you” to Fantasia organizers for holding their press conference in a place that had enough seats for the invitees. I wish that every organization would do that! Standing up for more than one hour, while also trying to take notes – it isn’t fun at all!

The Fantasia International Film Festival runs from July 14 to Aug. 4, 2015.
Tickets can be bought online from Admission and at the box office. Many films sell out amazingly quickly and many will only be shown once, so if something sounds good to you, avoid disappointment and buy tickets sooner rather than later.

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