Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blood, Horror, and Fantasy! Oh My!: Fantasia opens audiences to the world of genre films

Black apparel and tattoo covered arms blurred together into a single entity. It was from the fused streams of people outlining the Theater Hall Building at Concordia University in downtown Montreal on a scorching hot and humid summer evening of July 8, 2010.

The Fantasia Film Festival kicked off its 14th year with the Disney movie, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010). Disguised under Disney’s veil, the film seemed to be directed towards children. However, the dead-pan humor and repetitious jokes filled with sexual innuendos dominated the screen. Only a handful of children were present at the Canadian premiere of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Mitch Davis, the co-director of Fantasia, was ecstatic as he christened the opening of festival’s 14th year. Fantasia’s recognition and programming has evolved throughout the years. Davis called this evolution a “birthing process of Fantasia.” He went on to jokingly say “we’re gonna be throwing placentas at you,” as he whipped his wrist around in the air. Make light of the blood and gore that dominate the screens of the festival.

Though a star-studded premiere kicked off the festival, the essence of the festival was just about to start. Films from around the world (Denmark, Serbia, Hungary, Vietnam, Hong Kong/China, South Korea, Japan) including the U.S. and Canada have premiered at the festival. The Fantasia Film Festival is known to champion genre films (ie. horror, thriller, science fiction) that would normally not screen in cinema theaters.

New to the festival, in collaboration with CinĂ©Asia and Korean Consulate, there is a special focus on Korean films. Most North American audiences are not familiar with the existing film industry in Korea. Kim Ki-yong’s 1960 classic, The Housemaid, Blades of Blood (2010), and A Little Pond (2009) are only a handful of titles present at Fantasia.

American and Canadian films, also, grace the screen with such infamous titles as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Tucker and Dave vs. Evil. On the opening day of the box office, both events sold out in the first couple of hours.

In an Eastern Canadian premiere, Fantasia will spur audiences back into time with the newly restored Metropolis (1972) from Fritz Lang, the most well known director from German Expressionism. The film will feature 25 minutes of newly found footage as well as be accompanied by a live orchestra playing a new film score written by silent film composer, Gabriel Thibaudeau. Metropolis will premiere tonight, July 28, 2010, at Place-des-Arts.

In the words of actor Jay Baruchel, a native of Montreal, “buckle your seats assholes” because this year’s festival is going to be one hell of a ride. Whether you have a penchant for horror or laughter, everything is available at the Fantasia. The festival ran from July 8-27, 2010. Please visit Fantasia’s website for more articles and photo galleries about the premiere events and the festival film lineup:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Viewing films in the Flesh

 New technology is bringing cinephiles away from their keyboards and into the theatres

In an age of illegal downloads and online DVD rentals, going out to view films seems rather pointless.
Nowadays experiencing art, especially film, is never further away than a click of a remote control or mouse pad. It may not seem like it, but art is slowly slipping from our hands. The public no longer appreciates the arts because they no longer experience it in the flesh.

Movies are readily available a few months after their initial release in theaters and the appeal of watching a film at home is obvious. Comfy pyjamas, cozy seating and no chair-kickers or crying babies are always a plus.

The reality is that the home environment does not contribute to exploring events directly in the flesh. The surrounding environment has distractions that interrupt the viewing experience. Phones, computers, friends and family cause frequent pauses throughout the movie and prevent the appreciation of the intricate artistic aesthetics of film.

But watching movies on the computer and at home may itself be a dying trend, especially with the use of 3-D effects, the newest craze in cinema. It gives viewers a sensational visual ride not found at home, whether to feel like they are riding a dragon with the Na’vi in Avatar or moving back to escape the grasp of Coraline’s evil button-eyed mother.

According to Variety, the film industry suffered a 5.6 per cent decline in ticket sales in 2005, losing approximately $400 million. But after the recent success of James Cameron’s Avatar, the end of 2009 saw a much better outcome. The Motion Picture Association of America stated that the ticket sales around the world rose 7.6 per cent in 2009. With the recent 3-D craze, film studios and theatres are drawing audiences from their homes and into theatres.

And when 3-D televisions become common in households, studios have found other options to keep cinephiles coming back for more. Two months ago, Variety published an article stating that a Korean company had added another dimension to the film experience. 4-D films in Korea use lasers, moving seats and 30 other physical special effects to amuse the viewers’ sight, sound, touch and smell. 4-D films sounds like the ultimate movie experience.

By attracting viewers back to the theatre, studios have allowed for the greater appreciation of the artistry of film. Downloading grainy bootleg films is destined to go out of style, because who wouldn’t want to see an Avatar sequel in 4-D?