Black Film Festival starts tonight with special guests Martin Luther King III and Pras Michel

Fabienne Colas, left, founder of the Montreal International Black Film Festival, speaks to journalists at the festival's press conference. (Don't let the empty seats fool you - the event was quite well attended, but many guests chose to sit at the back of the room. )
Fabienne Colas, left, founder of the Montreal International Black Film Festival, speaks to journalists at the festival’s press conference. (Don’t let the empty seats fool you – the event was quite well attended, but many guests chose to sit at the back of the room. )

The Montreal International Black Film Festival starts tonight, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015 and runs until Sunday, Oct. 4.

The films include features, shorts and medium-length works, from Canada, Benin, Brazil, Bahamas, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Mali, South Africa, Senegal, Spain, Swaziland, Trinidad and Tobago, the U.S., the U.K., and Zambia.

There are dramas, documentaries, and animation, including Battledream Chronicle, the first feature-length animated film from Martinique.

In addition to the fims, there will be panel discussions, a film market and dance parties.

Guests include Martin Luther King III, musician Pras Michel, filmmakers Paul Haggis and David Belle (who will be honoured on Friday Oct. 2, 2015), filmmakers Souleymane Cissé, Moussa Touré, Abderahmane Sissako, and Pierre Magny (who will take part in a panel discussion on North-South collaboration on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015.)

Graduates of the Ciné Institue, in Jacmel, Haiti, will present their films on Friday, Oct. 2, 2015.

Tuesday’s opening film is the documentary Sweet Micky For President, in which Pras Michel of The Fugees travels to Haiti to help the presidential campaign of musician Michel Martelly, (aka Sweet Micky). Martin Luther King III will be given a 2015 Humanitarian Award before the film screening. These events take place at the Imperial Cinema.

The closing film, on Sunday Oct. 4, is Black Panthers: The Vanguard of the Revolution, in the Hall Theatre of Concordia University. Other films will be shown at Concordia’s DB Clarke Theatre, Cineplex Quartier Latin, and the former National Film Board cinema on St. Denis St.

Admission to the opening film is $25, the closing film costs $20, and others are $10. Several packages are available as well. Check the Montreal International Black Film Festival web site, www.montrealblackfilm.com/ for further pricing details, the film schedule, film synopses and trailers.
The Montreal International Black Film Festival has a Facebook page, too.

Fantasia 2015 Review: Possessed – animated mayhem and a diabolically good time!

Damian is possessed. He needs an exorcist! Scene from the Spanish claymation film Possessed (Pos eso) one of sveral animated films being shown at the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal.
Damian is possessed. He needs an exorcist! Scene from the Spanish claymation film Possessed (Pos eso) one of several animated films being shown at the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal.

Possessed (Pos eso) is an irreverent claymation horror comedy from Spain. It spoofs The Exorcist, The Omen, Poltergeist and more; skewers hypocrisy, religion, celebrity culture, gossip tabloids and trash TV. It has amazingly detailed sets.

It includes the “you lookin’ at me?” speech from Taxi Driver, a reference to The Day The Earth Stood Still, flowers like the ones in Little Shop of Horrors, a musical duel in the Underworld and the sight of Exorcism For Dummies in a priest’s briefcase. It’s the goriest, most splattery animated film I’ve ever seen. All these things make it quite appropriate as the almost-midnight movie for Friday, July 24 at the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival.

Trini is a world-famous flamenco dancer, with a dead husband and a possessed son, in the Spanish animated film Possessed (Pos eso).
Trini is a world-famous flamenco dancer, with a dead husband and a possessed son, in the Spanish animated film Possessed (Pos eso).

Little Damian is the son of renowned flamenco dancer Trini and beloved bullfighter Gregorio. (The story of this couple sounded so familiar – it reminded me of a docudrama about a real-life dancer that I saw years ago.) Damian has been acting quite strange since his father died in a freak (cough, cough) accident. He does the old head-spinning thing from The Exorcist; the shrink who comes to analyze him is sent away totally befuddled. His mother and grandmother don’t know what to do.

A visit to a gypsy provides the answer – Damien is possessed, but Father Lenin has the power to free him. First they will have to find him, though – Father Lenin has lost his faith, left the church and is hanging out under a bridge. His horrible boss, the  bishop (who has the voice of Santiago Segura)  is the man reason for that.

Actor Santaigo Segura, who plays a corrupt cop in the Torrente film series, has all the evil roles wrapped up in the animated film Possessed (Pos eso). He plays an evil and corrupt bishop, the possessed boy Damian and Satan himself.
Actor Santaigo Segura, who plays a corrupt cop in the Torrente film series, has all the evil roles wrapped up in the animated film Possessed (Pos eso). He plays an evil and corrupt bishop, the possessed boy Damian and Satan himself.

Many people are thanked in the credits of Possessed; they include animator Bill Plympton, musician Slash, and the band Metallica.The film is dedicated to the memory of Ray Harryhausen, master of stop-motion animation and to flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia. How often do those two names appear together?

The Spanish animated film Possessed (Pos eso) includes a musical faceoff in hell - the devil and his drumsticks vs Trini's feet, stomping out flamenco rhythms. Trini is driven by the love of a mother and powered by the elusive duende.
The Spanish animated film Possessed (Pos eso) includes a musical faceoff in hell – the devil and his drumsticks vs Trini’s feet, stomping out flamenco rhythms. Trini is driven by the love of a mother and powered by the elusive duende.

Possessed (Pos eso)
Director: Sam
Screenplay: Rubén Ontiveros, Sam
Voice cast: Anabel Alonso, Josema Yuste, Santiago Segura, Nacho Vigalondo
Company: FilmSharks

Friday, July 24, 2015, 11:55 p.m., J.A. de Sève Theatre, in the J.W. McConnell Building of Concordia University, 1400 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W.

 

The Fantasia International Film Festival runs from July 14-Aug. 4, 2015. Read more about the festival at fantasiafestival.com

 

2015 Fantasia Film Festival will show 12 feature films from South Korea

Go Soo, left, and Han Suk-kyu in the Korean film The Royal Tailor, one of 12 feature flms from South Korea being shown at the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal. The Royal Tailor is a period film with beautiful costumes and court intrigue.
Go Soo, left, and Han Suk-kyu in the Korean film The Royal Tailor, one of 12 feature flms from South Korea being shown at the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal. The Royal Tailor is a period film with beautiful costumes and court intrigue.

The Fantasia International Film Festival (July 14- August 4, 2015) is showing 12 feature films from South Korea this year. Two of them, A Hard Day and Socialphobia, will be shown twice, the rest get one screening only. There are two animated films, Crimson Whale and On the White Planet, palace politics in The Royal Tailor, larger world politics in Assassination, tragedy at sea in Haemoo, gangsters and real estate in Gangnam Blues, gangsters and gambling in Tazza: The Hidden Card. A man is manipulated into playing a deadly game in Big Match. Read below for more information about the films. To see more photos from these films, check out a post I wrote for the Korea-Canada blog.

South Korean films at The Fantasia International Film Festival, by date:

Thursday, July 16, 21:30: OFFICE
Saturday, July 18, 14:15: CRIMSON WHALE
Monday, July 20, 17:15: A HARD DAY
Monday, July 20, 21:40 GANGNAM BLUES
Wednesday, July 22, 17:15: THE ROYAL TAILOR

Friday, July 24, 16:00 ON THE WHITE PLANET
Sunday, July 26, 11:45 TAZZA: THE HIDDEN CARD
Monday, July 27, 21:50 HAEMOO
Wednesday, July 29, 18:45: BIG MATCH
Saturday, August 1, 21:45: SOCIALPHOBIA

Monday, August 3, 12:30: A HARD DAY
Tuesday, August 4, 12:30: SOCIALPHOBIA
Tuesday, August 4, 18:36: ASSASSINATION

South Korean films at The Fantasia International Film Festival are listed below, in alphabetical order, with plot details, stars, directors and dates and theatres. Click on a film’s title for more information; that will take you its page on the Fantasia web site.

ASSASSINATION
A political thriller set in 1933, when Korea was under Japanese occupation. Directed by Choi Dong-hoon, with Gianna Jun, Lee Jung-jae, Ha Jung-woo, Oh Dal-soo, Cho Jin-woong.
Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, at 18:35, Concordia Hall Theatre

BIG MATCH
Lee Jeong-jae plays a mixed-martial artist suspected of murder in this thriller-action-comedy directed by Choi Ho. Other stars include Shin Ha-kyun, singer BoA, Lee Seong-min, Kim Eui-sung.
Wednesday, July 29, at 18:45, Concordia Hall Theatre

CRIMSON WHALE
Science-fantasy set in a devastated future, directed by Park Hye-mi, with voices from Lee Ji-sook, Kim Sung-in, Lee Young-gi, Kim Ji-hyung
Saturday, July 18, 14:15, J.A. de Sève Theatre

GANGNAM BLUES
Set in the 1970s when the now ritzy neighbourhood was just farmland and violent and unscrupulous types with dreams of riches made a killing, in more ways than one. Directed by Yoo Ha, with Lee Min-ho, Kim Rae-won, Jung Jin-young, Kim Ji-soo, Kim Seol-hyun
Monday, July 20, 2015, 21:40, Concordia Hall Theatre

HAEMOO (SEA FOG)
Greed and fear lead to horrific events at sea. Haemoo is based on a real-life tragedy. Directed by: Shim Sung-bo, with Kim Yun-seok, Park Yu-chun, Han Ye-ri, Moon Sung-keun, Kim Sang-ho.
Monday, July 27, 21:50, Concordia Hall Theatre

A HARD DAY
A crooked cop with lots to hide gets calls from someone who knows way too much about his illegal activities. Directed by Kim Seong-hun, with Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Jin-woong, Shin Jung-geun, Jung Man-sik.
Monday, July 20, 2015, 17:15, Concordia Hall Theatre
Monday, Aug. 3 • 12:30, J.A. de Sève Theatre

OFFICE
A murderer is on the loose in an office building. Directed by Hong Won-chan, with Ko A-sung, Park Sung-woong, Bae Seong-woo, Kim Eui-sung, Ryu Hyun-kyung.
Thursday, July 16, 21:30, Concordia Hall Theatre

ON THE WHITE PLANET
“A brooding existential nightmare unfolding within a densely detailed landscape of surreal biological monstrosity, animator Hur Bum-wook’s award-winning debut feature is an intense and troubling tale of violence and vulnerability, hope and despair. Canadian premiere.” Directed by Hur Bum-wook, voices from Hong Bum-ki, Cho Min-su, Seo Yoon-sun, Son Chong-hwan.
Friday, July 24, 16:00, J.A. de Sève Theatre

THE ROYAL TAILOR
Beautiful costumes and palace intrigue in a period drama.
Directed by Lee Won-suk, with Han Seok-kyu, Ko Soo, Park Shin-hye, Yoo Yeon-seok, Ma Dong-seok.
Wednesday, July 22, 17:15, Concordia Hall Theatre

SOCIALPHOBIA
“Social media has scary consequences for two police-tech students and an Internet troll in this masterfully executed first feature film by Hong Seok-jae. Filled with stunning twists and keenly constructed characters . . Winner of the NETPAC and DGK Awards at the Busan Film Festival.” Directed by Hong Seok-jae, with Byun Yo-han, Lee Ju-seung.
Saturday, August 1, 21:45, J.A. de Sève Theatre
Tuesday, August 4, 12:30, J.A. de Sève Theatre

TAZZA: THE HIDDEN CARD
The violent, dirty double-crossing world of gambling. Sequel to Tazza: The High Rollers, with Kim Yun-seok as the baddest of the many bad guys and Choi Seung-hyun, (T.O.P. of boy band Big Bang) as the sort-of hero.
Directed by Kang Hyoung-chul, with Choi Seung-hyun, Shin Sae-kyeong, Yoo Hae-jin, Kwak Do-won, Kim Yun-seok
Sunday, July 26, 11:45, Concordia Hall Theatre

The Fantasia International Film Festival runs from July 14-Aug. 4, 2015. Read more about the festival at fantasiafestival.com

The Hall Theatre is in the Hall Building of Concordia University, 1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W.

The J.A. de Sève Theatre is in the J.W. McConnell Building of Concordia University, 1400 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W.

Animation film festival wraps up with three films about heroes

Teacher Ralph Whims us ready to defend his students from an invading motorcycle gang, in the short film, The Chaperone.
Teacher Ralph Whims us ready to defend his students from an invading motorcycle gang, in the short film, The Chaperone.

The closing event of the 2015 Montreal Animated Film Festival is all about heroism.
The feature film is 108 Demon Kings. That film takes elements from the Chinese classic novel Shuihui Zhuan (known in English as The Water Margin, Outlaws of the Marsh, or All Men Are Brothers) which is based on 12th century events and first published around 1368, and adds a young prince to make it even more appealing to a young audience. (Though, what with good guys and bad guys, demons, monsters, battles, etc., it ought tobe pretty appealing already!)

Image from the animated film 108 Demon Kings.
Image from the animated film 108 Demon Kings.

The The Water Margin is sometimes compared to Robin Hood to give Westerners an idea of the flavour.

The last minute addition of two shorts emphasizes the heroic theme. They are both Canadian and one is local, too!

High school dance, circa 1972, in The Chaperone.
High school dance, circa 1972, in The Chaperone.

The local one, The Chaperone, is based on a memorable event that took place at Rosemount High School, in east end Montreal, back in the 1970s (though I don’t think the school is named in the film.) One teacher and one DJ are the only adults at a high school dance. (In a recent radio interview, one of the filmmakers said that these days there’d be 10 teachers and eight parents or something like that.)

Anyway, scary-looking members of a motorcycle gang crash the dance. Oh, oh! Teacher Ralph Whims tells DJ Stefan to lock the doors and then proceeds to teach the bikers a lesson, so to speak, using chairs, fists, feet, etc. Just like in the movies! But it really happened! The film uses thousands of crayon drawings, puppets, stop-motion animation scenes showing the outside of the school, passing traffic, and the eventual arrival of police cars, shreds of paper from the explosions of dozens of pinatas, an hilarious live-action segment inspired by B-movies, AND a cheesy (in a good way) soundtrack inspired by blaxploitation films. There are some 3D parts, too. In other words, a bit of everything. It’s truly quite amazing. I watched it at home without the benefit of the 3D aspect, I’m sure it will be even more mind-blowing on the big screen. The film is made by Fraser Munden and Neil Rathbone. Fraser Munden knew the story well, because his father had been one of Ralph Whims’s students.Here’s a link to an article in Spectacular Optical about The Chaperone.

 

mynarski crop

Mynarski

The other Canadian short is Mynarski Death Plummet. It’s about Andrew Mynarski of Winnipeg, a gunner with the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II. On June 12, 1944 his plane was badly damaged by gunfire and everyone was ordered to don their parachutes and jump from the burning plane. But Mynarski struggled through the flames to try to free tail gunner Pat Brophy, who was trapped at the back of the plane. This film blends live action and animation and ends with a fantastic creation unlike anything else I have ever seen before. The film contains 21,000 hand-painted 35 mm frames!

Here’s a quote from Greg Klymkiw’s Film Corner:

“This is such a great film. I could have watched all seven minutes of it if they’d somehow been elongated to a Dreyer-like pace and spread out over 90 minutes. That said, it’s perfect as it is. The fact that you don’t want it to end is a testament to director Matthew Rankin one of the young torchbearers (along with Astron-6) of the prairie post-modernist movement which hatched out of Winnipeg via the brilliantly demented minds of John Paizs and Guy Maddin. Blending gorgeously arcane techniques from old Hollywood, ancient government propaganda films with dollops of staggeringly, heart-achingly beautiful animation – bursting with colour and blended with superbly art-directed and costumed live action. . .”

108 Demon Kings, The Chaperone, and Mynarski Death Plummet are part of the Closing Ceremony and Awards Presentation of 2015 Montreal Animated Film Festival.
The event begins at 7 p.m., Sunday April 19, 2015 in H-110 of the Hall Building of Concordia University, 1455 de Maisonneuve W.
Visit the website lemiaff.com for prices and more information.

Montreal International Animated Film Festival – lots to see in four days

108 Demon Kings is based on the classic Chinese novel The Water Margin.
108 Demon Kings is based on the classic Chinese novel The Water Margin.

Montreal has dozens of film festivals, but it seems that there’s always room to squeeze in another one.

The Montreal International Animation Film Festival starts tonight, Thursday, April 16 and will run until Sunday, April 19, 2015. The festival will include animated features, shorts, panel discussions, a masterclass, a market AND time for partying.

The screenings and discussions will take place at the downtown campus of Concordia University; the partying will be at Restaurant Rosalie, a short walk away at 1232 de la Montagne.

The films come from Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey and the U.S.

Local animators taking part include Gerald Potterton, Co Hoedeman and Steven Woloshen.
The opening night film is described this way on the MIAFF web site: “The Land of the Magic Flute is a captivating browser-experience produced by the Interactive Media Foundation in Berlin. . . .sound-artist Philippe Lambert will be performing an intuitive and impressionistic rendition of his soundtrack composition. Playing with elements of Mozart’s original composition recorded by the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra, Lambert creates a soundscape that takes the opera into new spheres.”

Descriptions of some of the other feature films on the program are below.
108 Demon Kings is set in12th century China and based on the classic novel The Water Margin. It’s directed by Pascal Morelli who also directed Corto Maltese, which was a popular selection at the Fantasia Film Festival several years ago.

108 Demon Kings is set in 12th century China and based on the classic novel The Water Margin.
108 Demon Kings is set in 12th century China and based on the classic novel The Water Margin.

Aunt Hilda! (Tante Hilda!) is the botanist heroine of an ecological fable from France/Luxembourg that has genetically-modified organisms running rampant over the planet.

Giant plants run amok in Aunt Hilda!
Giant plants run amok in Aunt Hilda!

Hungarian film Manieggs: Revenge of The Hard Egg is about a guy who’s seeking revenge after spending two weeks in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. All the characters are said to be eggs, though they also remind me of Minions and mini-Lego characters, too. The film looks like bizarre fun, at any rate.

Manieggs: Revenge of The Hard Egg.
Manieggs: Revenge of The Hard Egg.

According to its trailer, Anima Buenos Aires is “full of art, magic and humour.” Tango music, too.

On Friday afternoon there will be a screening of Gerald Potterton’s Heavy Metal (1981). The six episodes within the film feature an evil green orb, swords and sorcery, sci-fi, stoners, zombies, and giant breasts, with music from Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Devo, Donald Fagen, DonFelder, Grand Funk Railroad, Journey, Nazareh, Sammy Hagar, and Stevie Nicks, and voice work provided by SCTV guys John Candy, Eugene Levy, Al Flaherty, Harold Ramis, Al Waxman, John Vernon, and former Lovin’ Spoonful member Zal Yanovsky.

There are several short film programs arranged by theme: Death & Horror, Emerging Cinema, ExPeRimEnTal, He(art), I Have an Issue, Offspring Kid Program and La femme.

“Best of Ottawa” has nine shorts “Recommended For Mature Audiences Only” from the Ottawa International Animation Festival, “Best of Annecy”  has eight shorts from the famous festival in France, while “Best of Kanata” is a selection of 12 films by Canadian Aboriginal filmmakers.
Visit the website lemiaff.com for prices and more information.

MIAFF schedule 1024