2009 was, in many respects, a particularly luxurious year for the Fantasia Festival. Whether felt from governmental institutions, distributors or the faithful public, the efforts and certain choices made by the programmers, notably the program itself, have been rewarded by results exceeding their wildest expectations.
For the first time Telefilm provided most‐welcomed funding assistance for the festival, conclusively entrenching its legitimacy within the Quebec and Canadian cultural landscape. More and more studios had had faith in the festival’s programmers over the years but the acquirement of key features from the latest Cannes Film Festival such as Park Chan‐wook’s Thirst, co‐winner of the Prix de Mise‐en‐scene de la Croisette, Emmanuel Klotz and Albert Pereira’s Lascars and Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds as the closing feature (actor Eli Roth in tow) demonstrated once and for all that Fantasia remains a prime‐choice destination to launch the careers of important films in Canada and North‐America.
Despite a growing number of films that could be qualified as “non‐traditionally fantasian”, but that still align themselves comfortably within the program and the Festival’s long‐term vision, such as Yang Ik‐june’s Breathless, the director presenting his film in person and walking away with the Best Movie and Best Actor awards, Kanji Nakajima’s The Clone Returns Home, winner of the Best Photography prize, and Robert Aubin’s À Quelle Heure le Train pour Nulle Part (which would go on to win the Gilles Carles award at the Rendez‐vous Quebecois the following year), a record number of 90 000 festival‐goers swarmed the Hall Theatre and J.A. de Seve cinema of Concordia University. With 195 sold‐out screenings, it was clear that it was with delirious enthusiasm that our audience was willing to follow the direction Fantasia was taking. If the fans have supported us with such fervor it is also due to the sure value and habitual auteurs that permeate the Fantasia programming. Thus, they were able to find Takeshi Miike opening with Yatterman, Sion Sono and his masterpiece Love Exposure, winner of the special jury Prize and Best Actress (Hikari Mitsushima), Jose Mojica Marins, a.k.a. Coffin Joe, coming from beyond the grave and in person – accompanied by his screenwriter Dennison Ramalho – to present Embodiment of Evil and receive an honorary award celebrating his entire career, Wilson Yip and his Ip Man, the headlining film of our section dedicated to 100 years of Hong Kong cinema, Kim Ki‐duk’s Dream, Larry Fessenden this time showing up as actor/producer to introduce I Sell the Dead, and many more.
In terms of discovery, the Festival has lived up to its reputation by showing a impressive number of first features and films directed by talents whose careers are on the rise. Among them, Nah Hong‐jin’s The Chaser, Tom Shankland’s The Children, Jang Hun’s Rough Cut, David Russo’s The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle, Simon Ennis’ You Might as Well Live, Caroline Labrèche and Steeve Leonard’s Sans Dessein, Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat, Yosuke Fujita’s Totally Fine, Paul Solet’s Grace, Peter Van Hees’ Left Bank, Nicolas Alberny and Jean Mach’s 8th Wonderland and Dominic Murphy’s White Lightnin’ made their mark on the program of Fantasia 2009.
It is also impossible to keep under wraps the many retrospectives and screenings of classic films of the genre that are becoming more and more prominent in Fantasia programming. The retrospective on pinku eiga films, in collaboration with the Japanese consulate, introduced to Montreal audiences a genre little‐known here, but very respected in Japan. Fantasia was also honored with the presence of filmmaker Buddy Giovinazzo and his knockout film Combat Shock, as well as his latest piece: Life is Hot in Cracktown. Furthermore, pornstar Sasha Grey, actor David Hess and Canadian director Lee Demarbre were here to introduce the world premiere of Smash Cut. Finally, the French rapper MC Jean Gab’1, director Pierre Laffargue and producer Lauranne Bourrachot were present for the screening of the action/comedy Black.
We could say that 2009 was Fantasia’s consecrating year. This 13th edition showed us a glimpse of a very promising future in store for the Festival and its fans, paving the way for all of the surprises and events that were to highlight Fantasia 2010.