Fantasia’s 6th edition kicked off with some heavy hitters: on the Asian side of things, Takashi Miike’s Visitor Q (a stunning ode to Pasolini’s Teorema) saw its North American Premiere (and had people running for the doors in the first five minutes) alongside Miike’s Dead or Alive 2: Birds; an unknown South Korean director by the name of Park Chan Wook (later to direct Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy and Lady Vengeance) made a first splash with his breakout film Joint Security Area;
James (Project A2) Yuen’s Clean My Name Mr. Coroner, starring HK hunk Francis Ng, Zhang Jianya’s airplane disaster pic Crash Landing, Dante Lam’s self‐conscious pastiche of Triad films Jiang Hu: The Triad Zone, Japanese fantasy/monster kids’ flick Sakuya (from FX artist Tomoo Haraguchi, who appeared in person);Kim Ji‐Woon’s early wrestling comedy The Foul King; the international premiere of Rin Taro’s animated Metropolis; Sogo Ishii’s Gojoe; Kim Ki‐Duk’s The Isle (our generation’s Woman in the Dunes); haunted scarecrow horror Kakashi; the melancholic episodic anime Boogie Pop Phantom; Bong Joon Ho’s first feature Barking Dogs Never Bite (he would later direct The Host and Mother); Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Seance; the Korean horror powerhouse Tell Me Something from Yoon‐Hyun Chan; Shimoyama Ten’s creepy, beautifully coloured St. John’s Wort; Shugo Fujii’s excessive and hysterical A Living Hell; and the late Satoshi Kon received a standing ovation for the World Premiere of his heartbreaking anime Millennium Actress.
On the international front, Fantasia hosted the World Premiere of Scott Reynolds’ When Strangers Appear (originally titled The Shearer’s Breakfast and the follow‐up to his amazingly edited gender‐bender Heaven), the director’s cut (and North American Premiere) of Antoni Aloy’s moody masterpiece El Celo (a Spanish version of Henry James horror classic The Turn of the Screw), the World Premiere of British indie director Andrew Parkinson’s feminist zombie film Dead Creatures (Parkinson is now one third of the horror anthology Little Deaths), a controversial North American Premiere screening of Victor Salva’s Jeepers Creepers and the Canadian Premieres of both Brad Anderson’s resonant haunted‐psych‐ward horror Session 9 and Terry Zwigoff’s adaptation of Daniel Clowes’ Ghost World.
Jorge Olguin made a splash with the North American Premiere of Angel Negro, notable for being the first Chilean horror film, while the Steven Seagal‐obsessed German director Olaf Ittenbach (best known for low‐budget zombie splatter epic Premutos) introduced his Legion of the Dead, and Fantasia regular Larry Fessenden presented his much‐anticipated revisionist horror Wendigo (which won first prize in the international section).
Canadian offerings included the World Premiere of Maurice Devereaux’ game show satire $lasher$, John Eyre’s Ripper: Letter From Hell, and a series of fantastical shorts from Quebec filmmakers, including Stephane Morisette’s Otaku and Izabel Grondin’s Terrore.
The repertory section held strong with screenings of un‐PC gross‐out classic The Ebola Syndrome, featuring Anthony Wong at his detestable best, a new version of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira, Grindhouse Releasing’s new print of Ruggero Deodato’s devastating Cannibal Holocaust, new prints of Once Upon a Time in China 1 +2 and Miyazaki’s Laputa: Castle in the Sky. Jose Mojica Marins – Coffin Joe himself – appeared to introduce screenings of This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse and long‐banned experimental drug film Awakening of the Beast (the first time any of his films had screened in Canada in 35mm!), accompanied by the Canadian Premiere of Andre Barcinski’s Sundance hit Coffin Joe: The Strange World of Jose Mojica Marins, and the Troma team introduced their latest, Citizen Toxie.
Standout short films included Nicolas Debot’s Extremism Breaks my Balls; Tomoya Sato’s award‐ winning suicide drama L’Ilya; a special Japanese shorts program that not only introduced the plastic pleasures of The Fuccon Family to Canadian audiences (with director Yoshimasa Ishibashi in person), but also the international premiere of enigmatic artist Tatsuo Sato’s haunting animated short Nekojiru‐so and a tribute to the low‐budget films of self‐proclaimed ‘baka’ (trash) filmmaker Tenkwaku Naniwa; Rita Romagnino’s Final Rehearsal; the first of Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s giallo tributes, Catharsis (the pair would go on to great acclaim with Amer in 2010); Ben Boucher’s animated Flat n’ Fluffy; Ashley Fester’s Old Breed; a double bill of horror shorts from French director Michel Leray; student filmmaker Zung So‐Yun’s The Anatomy Class and many more.
The 2001 festival would mark the last of the festival’s official collaborations with Just For Laugh’s ‘Comedia’ section, as well as its last sojourn at the Imperial Cinema, which was about to undergo extensive renovations that would last several years.