Asian Film Lineup for Fantasia Film Festival 2010
Montreal Genre Movie Festival Runs July 8-28
Source: Fantasia press release
Official Site: Fantasia 2010
The organizers of Fantasia International Film Festival— North America’s largest genre film festival— have once again pulled together an amazing lineup of movies to screen in Montreal. From July 8 to 28, Fantasia 2010 will showcase 120 feature films and several hundred shorts from all over the world, including a number of North American and international premieres.
Please visit Fantasia’s official website for their complete film list and schedule, venues and directions, ticket information, and other details. SciFi Japan readers may be particularly interested in the fest’s Asian movie schedule, detailed in the following press release…
From Asia with Love – Overview of the Asian Programming of Fantasia 2010
For its fourteenth edition, the Fantasia Film Festival is proud to present over 50 titles from Asia. Once again, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China are widely represented, demonstrating the great quality and diversity of their industries. And, as always, the programming team is also dedicated to exposing several hidden gems hailing from emerging national cinemas. Through these, audiences can discover new visions and new sensibilities. Therefore, the public will be privy to works hailing from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and – a first for the festival – Indonesia. The filmic multicultural feast prepared by the 2010 Fantasia Film Festival promises to satisfy film lovers of all kinds.
The Asian film selection brought forth by Fantasia 2010 will allow spectators to experience a variety of Asian cultures, all while enjoying a wide range of cinematic genres that will inspire every possible emotion. From musicals to thrillers to war films and horror flicks, Asian filmmakers often use genre cinema as means of painting a portrait of their nation, highlighting certain social preoccupations, or examining historical events that have impacted that corner of the globe. This reality is strongly represented in the Asian film selection at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival.
In order to paint an accurate picture of the national cinemas presented in our program, attention will also be given to certain key works that have helped shape the contemporary cinematic landscape of these countries. Therefore, Fantasia will offer an excellent selection of classic films, so that audiences may discover the inspiration behind the artists that shake up the screen year after year.
When in Japan, Anything Can Happen
The annual selection of Japanese films at Fantasia 2010 is a testimonial to the vitality of a film industry that is still amongst the finest nations of the seventh art, due in no small part to its boundless imagination, an incomparable narrative and visual originality, as well as the flawless capacity to produce first-class work, all of this regardless of the budget allotted to the director. Japanese animation is making a strong Fantasia comeback this year with eight feature films. For the entire family, OBLIVION ISLAND: HARUKA AND THE MAGIC MIRROR (Canadian premiere), a digital animation film offering a visually sumptuous fairylike universe that will be preceded by JE T’AIME (North American premiere), a short by the master Mamoru Oshii (GHOST IN THE SHELL), and MAI MAI MIRACLE (Canadian premiere), a poetic piece worthy of Hayao Miyazaki (SPIRITED AWAY), will create magical moments for children big and small. We are also screening one of last year’s landmark animations, Mamoru Hosoda’s (THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME) magnificent SUMMER WARS.
Film adaptations of mangas and animated series are also on the program with screenings of GINTAMA: THE MOVIE (International premiere), SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: RESURRECTION (International premiere) and EVANGELION 2.0: YOU CAN (NOT) ADVANCE. KING OF THORN (Canadian premiere), a fantastic fable set in a post-apocalyptic universe, and FIRST SQUAD: THE MOMENT OF TRUTH, a studio 4′C picture with an arcane twist set during WW II, close things off.
If the transposition of manga’s creativity to the big screen can be represented this year by works such as BOYS ON THE RUN (Canadian premiere), HIGANJIMA (Canadian premiere) and Takashi Miike`s CROWS ZERO 2 (Canadian premiere), the adaptation of novels are equally prominent in Japan, a tendency noticeable through pictures like FISH STORY, and GOLDEN SLUMBER (Canadian premiere), presented at Berlin, both taken from the writings of Kotaro Isaka (ACCURACY OF DEATH) and directed by eclectic, pop-culture obsessed filmmaker Yoshihiro Nakamura. For the first time, Fantasia is honoured to present a feature film by the great Hirokazu Kore-eda (NOBODY KNOWS) who pays a visit to the fantastic with the sumptuous AIR DOLL, selected at Cannes 2009 for ‘Un certain regard’.
In the same poetic vein, two films starring a strong female protagonist come from Japan: RINCO’S RESTAURANT (North American premiere hosted by director Mai Tominaga who directed WOOL 100%) and SAWAKO DECIDES (Canadian premiere), two pictures which feature Hikari Mitsushima, last year’s best actress winner at Fantasia for LOVE EXPOSURE.
The unique sense of humour of Japanese comic actor Hitoshi Matsumoto (BIG MAN JAPAN) is deployed in all its splendour with SYMBOL, a symbolically rich comedy that uniquely illustrates how our smallest gestures can lead to the biggest of consequences. Deranged horror comedies are also on the program with MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD (Canadian premiere with co-director Yoshihiro Nishimura and producer Yoshinori Chiba attending) and ALIEN VS NINJA (Canadian premiere with producer Yoshinori Chiba attending). Finally, the punk-rock-ish comedy BRASS KNUCKLE BOYS and the comedy RAISE THE CASTLE (Canadian premiere), as well as the classics KURONEKO (presented in collaboration with Panorama-cinéma) and BATTLE FROM OUTER SPACE (presented by author Ed Godziszewski) conclude the Japanese line-up for Fantasia 2010.
Perpetual Rebirth of Korean New Wave
This year, Cine-Asie and Fantasia are collaborating to highlight programming emanating from the Republic of Korea. This spotlight presents an extremely diverse selection that is rich in emotions. A LITTLE POND (Canadian premiere), a poignant, poetic and intensively documented drama that explores the massacre at Nogunri, will be shown in honour of the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. The festival celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Korean classic THE HOUSEMAID (1960), the remake of which was in competition at Cannes this year. Directed by Kim Ki-young (who is recognized as one of South Korea’s greatest filmmakers) this film’s realistic approach and mise-en-scene revolutionized the peninsula’s cinema. Martin Scorsese once wrote “that this intensely, even passionately claustrophobic film is known only to the most devoted film lovers in the west is one of the great accidents of film history…” And former Cahier du Cinema film critic Jean Michel Frodon refers to the director, Kim, as “a brother of Luis Bunuel in Korea!”
There are several epic films on the schedule. BLADES OF BLOOD (Canadian premiere), based on a famous Korean comic, follows the destinies of four characters as they navigate the clatter of blades in revolutionary times. A FROZEN FLOWER (Canadian premiere) examines a love triangle between the queen, the king and one of his guards in a picture that is both sumptuous and intense. In a more playful spirit, WOOCHI (Canadian premiere) transports the folkloric hero Jeon Woo-chi to contemporary Seoul, where he’ll need all of his magical powers to fight the forces of evil.
Culinary-driven dramatic comedies will also be in order, represented by the appetizing THE NAKED KITCHEN (North American premiere), an epicurean romantic comedy by a female director Hong Ji-Young, and starring Shin Min-ah and Joo Ji Hoon; Korea’s top stars at the moment. LE GRAND CHEF 2: KIMCHI BATTLE (Canadian premiere), tells the story of a chefs tournament that is designed to protect the heritage of Korea’s national dish.
This year also marks the strong return of South Korean horror cinema with POSSESSED (Canadian premiere), a cerebral fright flick that deals with religious fervour, and THE NEIGHBOR ZOMBIE (North American premiere with co-director Jang Yoon-jung attending), an innovative collective that pits us right in the middle of a zombie invasion.
THE EXECUTIONER (North American premiere) a staggering drama, will no doubt disrupt Fantasia audiences and spark animated discussions regarding the death penalty. The animated feature WHAT IS NOT ROMANCE? (International premiere) takes us through the memories of a typical Korean family, and proves that an animated film can illustrate the daily lives of endearing characters in an intelligent and realistic fashion.
Korean comedies have always been well-received at Fantasia, and this year, we are showing three comedies that are sure to please the audience. Earning praise wherever it’s screened, CASTAWAY ON THE MOON stars Jung Jae-young (GOING BY THE BOOK) as a man trapped on a desert island in the very heart of Seoul. SCANDAL MAKERS (Canadian premiere), is a cheerful comedy that found tremendous domestic success, and that may potentially be in line for a Hollywood remake. Co-produced with China, SOPHIE’S REVENGE (Canadian premiere) recalls LE FABULEUX DESTIN D’AMELIE POULAIN and stars renowned Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi (2046) and Korean actor So Ji-sub (ROUGH CUT). Finally, director Jang Hun (ROUGH CUT) returns with SECRET REUNION (Canadian premiere), an energetic mixture of suspense, comedy and action in which the excellent Song Kang-ho (THIRST) and the rising star Gang Dong-won (WOOCHI) respectively portray a South Korean agent and a North Korean spy who treat themselves to a surprising and captivating joust involving a brutal communist assassin.
Legendary Lethal Weapons of China
The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (Canada) is once again sponsoring the Hong Kong cinema programming this year, a listing that promises to be extraordinarily sweeping and spectacular. Following IP MAN’s success last year, we can expect a full house for every screening filled with festival-goers enthusiastic for IP MAN 2 (Canadian premiere). Donnie Yen reprises his role as Bruce Lee’s celebrated master who this time must deal with martial arts cinema legend Sammo Hung (PROJECT A). Yen is also part of the prestigious cast for BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS (Canadian premiere), an epic historical fresco filled with fantastic battles set in the middle of the Chinese revolution.
Another Kung Fu legend proves his worth in LITTLE BIG SOLDIER (Canadian premiere). Jackie Chan, Hong Kong cinema’s ambassador par-excellence in the West, delivers a nuanced performance in light of his persona recently displayed in KARATE KID.
Bruce Leung (KUNG FU HUSTLE) and Chen Kuan Tai will delight fans of traditional Kung Fu with the hilarious martial arts comedy GALLANTS (Canadian premiere with actor Bruce Leung and co-director Clement Cheng attending), one of the wonderful surprises to emerge from Hong Kong this year. Johnny To returns as a producer for the acclaimed thriller ACCIDENT where a hit-man and his team conjure up fake accidents to eliminate their victims. Long-time To collaborator, Wai Ka-Fai, offers WRITTEN BY, an elliptical fantasy drama in the vein of a Charlie Kaufman script, starring Lau Ching-Wan, who also plays in this year’s suspenseful OVERHEARD, an engaging and original cat-and-mouse game in which a surveillance team gets tempted with fiscal fraud.
Another festival favourite, Pang-Ho Cheung, returns with two pictures that demonstrate once again his capacity to take ordinary premises and transform them into something extraordinary, all of it sprinkled with shady social satire. LOVE IN A PUFF (International premiere) is a comedy in which smoking prohibition leads to laughs, swearing and close camaraderie, whereas the horrific comedy DREAM HOME (Canadian premiere) deals with a woman willing to kill to acquire her dream dwelling. Finally, from Mainland China, THE MESSAGE (Canadian premiere) crosses genres by offering an intense espionage suspense thriller set during World War II.
Rise of Southeast Asian Cinéma
Three films represent Thailand this year. First off, RAGING PHOENIX (Canadian premiere) is a martial arts film that mixes muay thai, drunken boxing and breakdance and in which Jeeja Yanin (CHOCOLATE) solidifies her place amongst the rising stars of the international action scene. Then comes PHOBIA 2 (North American premiere) which, following 4BIA’s presentation at Fantasia 2008, offers a horror collective conceived by the top Thai craftsmen, including the creators of SHUTTER Banjong Pisanthankun and Parpoom Wongpoom. Finally, presented in collaboration with the Cinemathèque francaise, LES HOMMES D’UNE AUTRE PLANETE, the “classic” kaiju film with a singular history, not to mention surrealist slant, will create waves of laughter with its approximate French translation and ugly monsters.
The team behind THE REBEL, screened at Fantasia 2008, returns with THE CLASH (Canadian premiere), an explosive Vietnamese martial arts picture in which Johnny Nguyen (THE PROTECTOR with Tony Jaa) and Veronica Ngo give us more than an eyeful. This year, Fantasia presents its first Indonesian film, MERENTAU (Canadian premiere), a halting full-length feature displaying the ancient art of silat harimau, an impressive technique of Indonesian combat. Finally, a musical from Malaysia, SELL OUT!, will offer Fantasia audiences surrealist musical numbers worthy of Monty Python. Yeo Joon Han’s first feature is assuredly one of the most lucid and corrosive critiques of reality television and the corporate mentality.