Fantasia Film Festival 2021: A treat for fans of fantasy cinema
Some of the more interesting films include “Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes”, “Midnight”, “Wonderful Paradise” and “Glasshouse”.
For the first time, I had the honor and privilege of being invited as an accredited press to the Fantasia Festival (August 5 – August 25), one of the largest genre film festivals focused on various films Asian as well as some of the most breathtaking. , catchy premieres from around the world. The pandemic has opened up new ways of hosting film festivals. Many top film festivals including Marche du film, Toronto International Film Festival, Tribeca International Film Festival, International Film Festival of Rotterdam follow a hybrid model, with both theatrical screenings and virtual online screenings. The good part is that you can watch premieres right from your home, but the challenge is that there will be too many movies to watch in a short period of time. Well, that’s how film festivals are meant to be. This feeling of chaos and confusion over what to prioritize is one of the main concerns of festival-goers.
The Fantasia portal provided an excellent catalog with a few films, shorts and documentaries available throughout the festival and a few premieres that were scheduled and had an expiration date. The synopsis and trailers helped prioritize the titles, many of which were totally new. The limited time movie alerts really helped with the planning. This year marked the 25th edition.
The first movie that caught my attention is Junta Yamaguchi’s debut movie Beyond the two infinite minutes, a low budget, big concept film made in one take, reminiscent of many A cup of the dead, the 2018 zombie comedy. The film explores the aspect of time travel in a very simplistic but confusing narrative. Kato, a cafe owner who stays in a ramshackle room one floor above the cafe, accidentally makes a connection to his future via a computer screen kept in his room to monitor the cafe. He discovers that the version of himself on the monitor is two minutes early. Kato, who is looking for his pick, learns where it is exactly, of his future himself. He goes down to the cafe to check if the past version of himself is in the room above and the whole sequence repeats on the other side, where his past is now seen on the monitor kept in the cafe.
The time travel device is quite innovative in creating a two-minute lag wormhole between the monitor in the cafe and the monitor in the room above. A colleague in the cafe and Kato’s friends who visit the cafe learn about it, and things get crazier as all of these people get involved. A great idea to put more monitors to extend the time from two minutes to infinity is brought. Just like when you have a mirror in front of a mirror and you create the infinite mirror or “Droste effect”. The movie never exaggerates with high fidelity graphics or gadgets. In the limited space of a cafe, a staircase, and the room above, Yamaguchi masterfully handled the script so that it was simple enough that he could shoot it in one take. There are many questions that arise while watching the film and the more you think about what is going on, the more you are drawn to the possibilities of the story. This film won the Audience Award and the Best Asian Feature Film Award.
Midnight, directed by fast-paced Korean thriller Kwon Oh-Seung, is another I highly recommend. Although I watched this earlier as part of the market screenings in Marche du, I still wanted to revisit this film for its fast-paced, immensely well-choreographed action sequences. When it comes to crafting a compelling, simple-looking narrative, Korean filmmakers do a neat job. The film is about a deaf and mute teenage girl who witnesses a serial killer who kills a woman and is pursued by him. This cat and mouse game gets more and more exciting as it takes on twists and turns. The film hit theaters in July and garnered very positive reviews.
Honey you won’t believe it, directed by Yernar Nurgaliyev of Kazakhstan, is one of those weird films that bend to the genre. It all starts quite trivially, with the quarrel of a young married couple. The husband decides to leave with two friends: an unhappy businessman and a local cop. But instead of a peaceful day of fishing, a series of mysterious events await them. They accidentally saw a trio of notorious gangsters killing people. A mysterious one-eyed bald man suddenly appears out of nowhere and starts killing people around. Lots of insane action sequences mixed with comedy make this movie a real treat to watch. An unforgettable moment for me was when one of the gangsters started playing the song “Ae Oh Aa Zara Mudke” by disco dancer, imitating Mithunda’s footsteps. The song is almost played in full with some fights featured on screen.
Kin Long Chan’s neo-noir crime drama Hand rolled cigarette presents the dark side of life at the Chungking Mansions in Kowloon, Hong Kong. Kwan Chiu, a former Hong Kong military service corps who did not obtain British citizenship, finds himself caught in a triad manhunt when he helps an Indian carrying a bag of stolen drugs. Circumstances lead the duo to live under the same roof where they fight against cultural and racial differences. The movie reminded me of the Clint Eastwood movie Gran Torino. Hand rolled cigarette was one of the strongest films released after theaters reopened.
that of Masashi Yamamoto Wonderful paradise is perhaps one of the craziest and weirdest movies to screen at this year’s Fantasia. A family made up of a father, son and daughter leave their mansion, and the daughter accidentally tweets that she is having a party. Friends, strangers arrive and it becomes a little kind of carnival. The movie gets crazier and crazier as it runs with some unexpected things happening. While some of the footage was disgusting due to the bloodshed, the film is a hilarious watch.
brazilian cinema King Car by Renata Pinheiro reminded me a lot that of Stephen King Christine and Bollywood cinema Tarzan: A miracle car because the car plays a very important role. Pato, the son of a taxi company owner, has an extraordinary connection with cars; he can converse with them. The connection becomes evident to the viewer as the car saves him from a traffic accident as a child. When the law banning cars over 15 from driving on the roads is enforced, Pato teams up with his uncle to convert the junkyard cars into futuristic vehicles that interact and talk. Pato doesn’t know that what he created can turn out to be bad and dangerous for humans. The film follows a predictable path and was probably the weakest of the films I have discovered.
Kelsey Egan’s Dystopian Fairy Tale Tight turned out to be an exhilarating watch. A mother, her three daughters and her son stay in a fully enclosed glass building to protect its occupants from the poisonous air. Members guard the greenhouse, grow vegetation, and perform sacred rituals. The arrival of a mysterious stranger changes all equations. What seemed like an enjoyable tale changes tracks into something weird, sensual, and mysterious with a surprising and unexpected ending. The film is entirely shot in the beautiful South African town of Gqebera (Port Elizabeth).
Pascal-Alex Vincent Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist, a documentary focusing briefly on iconic manga artists and their work, provides excellent insight into the process of creating the magical characters and imagery by cult-turned Satoshi San. Paprika and Perfect blue are two popular features. The documentary features hosts, voiceovers, producers and directors, including Darren Aronofsky, Marco Caro and Rodney Rothman, to describe Kon’s contributions and career.
Tiong Bahru Social Club is a story of our time. Most of our daily activities depend on data, media and digital gadgets. The AI gives you instructions, advice on what to eat, what to watch, how many calories to burn. The happiness quotient almost seems to be determined by these factors. A top-of-the-range apartment which promises to guarantee the happiness of its residents with quality services is at the center of the plot. The employees of the apartment ensure that the clients get the best of service. Employees are again evaluated on the basis of the happiness that the customer carries with them on a daily basis. What do we miss when we are controlled by all the digital statistics and the numbers make sense in the real world? This conflict is explored through apartment manager Ah Bee who joins and struggles to be at the top of the organizational pyramid, but ultimately realizes that this is all just an illusion that the marketing world and of publicity created.
Apart from these films, there were numerous shorts, documentaries, animation and masterclasses starring Phil Tippet, award-winning visual effects supervisor, producer and Stephen Sayadian, creator of the underground classic. DR. CALIGARI.
Fantastic genre film festivals are quite unique and important, if you like these films. Most film festivals are quite generic and feature a broader genre of films. In India, we lack events or communities that focus on films of the kind that are featured in Fantasia. There are films which correspond to the genre but which are not much discussed neither in the general public circuits nor in the festivals. This year, the short film Malayalam by Adithi Krishnadas Kandittund won the Satoshi Kon Award for Excellence in Animation. Hoping that the future also has a space for such films in the Indian region.
Harish Mallya, a software engineer by profession, is a script consultant and film critic in the Kannada film industry. It organizes films which are screened in the World Cinema section at the Bengaluru International Film Festival. He also worked as Creative Director for Ondu Motteya Kathe released in 2017, Arishadvarga which premiered at the London Indian Film Festival in 2019, and a few other films to come.