The Fantasia Film Festival celebrated a wide array of films Sunday, across genres and continents — including Best Feature winner Megalomaniac, a story of a killer whose children live in the shadow of his crimes, and Kappei, a madcap story of Doomsday Warriors who go looking for loving when the world doesn’t end as planned.
The awards were handed out overlooking beautiful Montreal from an 11th floor patio at Concordia University. A powerful storm swept through as the awards were handed out indoors, adding to the gleeful madness of Fantasia, but the sky stayed dry before and after the ceremonies, as guests enjoyed drinks and discussion about the festival, which is one of MovieMaker‘s 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee and one of the most essential genre-focused festivals of all.
In handing out the Best Feature Film Award (the Cheval Noir Competition) to Karim Ouelhaj’s Megalomaniac, jurors praises the Belgian film as “an astonishing, brutal piece of art that challenges the audience while simultaneously saying something deeply profound.” The film’s Eline Schumacher won the Outstanding Performance Award in the Cheval Noir Competition. Jurors said her performance “is nuanced, with hints of compassion and beauty, that highlight the monstrosity of who she has become.”
The New Flesh award honors the best film by a first-time director, and your humble correspondent served on the jury. We celebrated Takashi Hirano’s Kappei for “its embrace of smart-dumb comedy, its lovable ensemble of kooky characters, its cartoon visuals, and its ability to successfully marry and mock genres.”
We also gave special jury mentions to two films. The first was Alex Phillips’ All Jacked Up and Full of Worms, about a group of searchers and weirdos bonded together by a hot new drug: worms. “There were moments when I thought the theater might be raided and we might all be arrested,” I said in handing out the special mention. “Instead, the filmmakers earned rapturous applause.” You can read more of my thoughts about the film here.
The second was Syeyoung Park’s The Fifth Thoracic Vertebra, which we called “a different kind of monster movie, where the most powerful set pieces are small moments of hard conversations about life, love and death.” You can read my thoughts on it here.
The Satoshi Kon Award for Best Animated Feature went to Inu-Oh by Masaaki Yuasa. Jurors said the film “has so much energy it’s infectious. It blurs the lines between being a movie with its own captivating story to tell, and a big budget spectacle music video.”
The Best Director Award in the Cheval Noir Competition went to Next Sohee by July Jung. “With a grim accumulation of detail, the direction portrays a cruel yet frighteningly efficient system that uses up and casts aside the teenage girls making it go,” jurors said.
The Best Cinematography Award in the Cheval Noir Competition went to Daniel Katz for House of Darkness by Neil LaBute. “A beautifully shot film evoking the gothic cinema of the past lensed through modern sensibilities,” jurors said.
The Sandro Forte Award for Best Score in the Cheval Noir Competition went to Alexandre Desplat for Coupez! by Michel Hazanavicius. “A hilarious film with a soundtrack that keeps up with the gags, revealing how music in horror films can change a mood,” jurors said.
Another Outstanding Performance Award in the Cheval Noir Competition went to actor Zorion Eguileor for his role in The Elderly by Raúl Cerezo and Fernando González Gómez. Jurors recognized him ‘For his unsparing, visceral depiction of the brutal loss of dignity, agency, and sense of purpose.”
The Cheval Noir Jury also awarded a special mention for Best Stunts to Special Delivery by Park Dae-min: “One jaw-dropping moment unanimously had the jury go ‘Whoa!’ and several others had us in awe of its brilliant craftsmanship,” jurors said.
The Camera Lucida AQCC Prize at Fantasia went to Just Remembering by Daigo Matsui. Jurors recognized “its perfectly calibrated and stimulating backwards structure, and its brilliance in giving meaning to everyday objects.”
The Best Short Film Award in International Short Film Competition went to From.Beyond by Fredrik S. Hana.“We were impressed with the creative risk coupled with disturbing imagery and engaging worldbuilding,” jurors said.
The International Short Film gave a special mention to Darker by Frank Van den Bogaart, praising its “atmospheric cinematography and sound design combined to create absolute dread.” The same jury also awarded a special mention to Blackbear by Bryce Hodgson, praising it as “Creative storytelling from a youthful perspective balanced the darker themes to create an impressive and astonishing film.”
The Best Director Award in the International Short Film Competition went to Arati Kadav for The Astronaut and His Parrot. “The director managed to create compelling characters that allowed us to develop a deep connection to a very human moment,” jurors said.
The Best Screenplay Award in the International Short Film Competition went to Till by Marc Philip Ginolas. “The sophisticated writing handles the complexity of grief and loss in a compelling and sensitive way,” jurors said.
The Outstanding Performance Award in the International Short Film Competition went to actress Erin Carroll, from Catharina Schürenberg’s Mara. “We love the vulnerability in her performance, and the bravery it takes to give justice to a true story,” jurors said. Marie France-Marcotte also received Outstanding Performance for her role in La Guepe, directed by Marc Beaupre.
The Satoshi Kon Jury for animation at Fantasia also awarded a special mention to the short animated film Summer Ghost by director loundraw. “Each story of three struggling teens and a ghost was told beautifully in a not too angsty way, unlike other movies,” the jurors said.
The Satoshi Kon Award for Best Animated Short Film (Gold) went to Amen a Man by Kyeongbae Kim. “The film successfully presents its criticism on a society’s paradoxical understanding of charity, as well as on Korean Christianity,” jurors said.
The Satoshi Kon Award for Best Animated Short Film (Silver) went to Things That Disappear by Kim Changsoo. “The story opens up around you, in a comforting way that lets you explore the canvas and take in all the details,” jurors said.
The Satoshi Kon Award for Best Animated Short Film (Bronze) went to Aurora: The Street That Wanted to Be a River, Radhi Meron. Jurors wrote: “This intimate and undetachable relationship was presented through a narrative in a friendly and light tone, with humour.”
The AQCC-Camera Lucida Jury at Fantasia chose Daigo Matsui for Just Remembering, praising its ability to “give long-term meaning to everyday objects.”
The Fantasia Film Festival continues until August 3 in Montreal.
Main image: Doomsday Warriors in Kappei, which won the New Flesh award for best Fantasia film by a first-time filmmaker.