A haven for genre cinema

July 18th, 2012

A haven for genre cinema

Fantasia to welcome fans and industry

By Walter J. Lyng
The Suburban
When the Fantasia International Film Festival started in 1996, it was a relatively small-scale affair catered to those diehard fans of foreign martial arts films and independent horror and sci-fi. Going into its 16th edition, Fantasia is now poised to give other festivals such as Austin's SXSW and even the mighty TIFF a run for their money. In addition to screening over 160 films this year, the festival will also be introducing the Fantasia Industry Rendez-Vous which, alongside the Frontière International Co-Production market, will ensure that more members of the industry will be present than ever before. In total, 24 in-development projects were chosen by the festival to participate in the Frontière project.
“Hopefully, it's going to get films made,” says Frontière director and festival programmer Stephanie Trepanier. “All the projects we selected have an amazing potential. There's at least six of them that I can't imagine the world existing without. Everything is just aligned so well, they have great ideas, the scripts are amazing and it makes sense money-wise. Hopefully the films will get made within the next year or two and they'll premier at Fantasia. That will get even better projects coming to the festival. And with better and more high profile films at the festival, more industry members will come.
“Toronto really gets the higher profile films because everybody's there from the industry and films are going to get sold. So if we can get to that level with Fantasia, where everybody who's relevant in the genre film industry will be there, that's when we'll be getting somewhere.”
Among another notable attendees at this year's festival is none other than Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamil, who will be present at the screening of Sushi Girl, a gonzo gangster epic in which he stars as a despicable villain. In the true spirit of Fantasia, however, Trepanier admits to being less excited by Hamil's presence than she is about the co-star who will be joining him - horror icon Tony Todd.
“Everybody's talking about Luke Skywalker,” she says. “I'm sorry, but I'm a Candyman fan! I'm 32 years old so I saw Candyman when I was 13-years-old on VHS. It was the best horror film to see at that age. I'm going to leave Mark Hamil to everyone else. I'll be with Tony Todd.”
In addition, Fantasia will also welcome Jennifer Lynch (as in the daughter of David), whose new film Chained will have its world premier at the festival. Furthermore, a documentary will be screened chronicling Lynch's disastrous attempt at directing a film shot on location in India entitled Despite the Gods.
“She's a filmmaker we've all been fans of over the years, even though she's made very few movies,” says Simon Laperrière, director of the festival's Camera Lucida section of programming. “So it's a nice coincidence that both a new feature film directed by her and a documentary about her came out in the same year. That was an opportunity we couldn't pass up.”
Fantasia will run from July 19 to Aug. 9 at Concordia University's Hall Theatre and other venues. For more information, visit www.fantasiafestival.com


Walter J. Lyng, The Suburban, Fantasia Film Festival, Stephanie Trepanier