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Fantasia 2013: A Post-Press Conference chat with the Programmers!

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The Fantasia Film Festival’s full lineup went live today (see Mike Gingold’s reveal of their stunning program HERE), and FANGO was on the scene to catch the excitable team of programmers rattle at record speed through their most highly-anticipated selections.

From opening film SHIELD OF STRAW by festival mainstay Takashi Miike (Fantasia was the first North American fest to play any of Miike’s films, with FUDOH in 1997) to Eddie Mullins’ DOOMSDAYS (starring Justin Rice of MUTUAL APPRECIATION and Leo Fitzpatrick of KIDS – both of whom are unable to attend due to border-related issues), Lorenzo Bianchini’s ACROSS THE RIVER, Israeli revenger BIG BAD WOLVES, rock-doc MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS (which Programmer Simon Laperriere asserts is the funniest film in the lineup) and closing film THE WORLD’S END (with Edgar Wright and Nick Frost in person), you could tell the programmers had a hard time picking which films to showcase before their captive audience of journalists.

With most of the conference being conducted in Quebec’s first language, I was the odd anglo out, but I did manage to grab a quick word with programmers Mitch Davis, Simon Laperrière and Fantasia’s newest and youngest team member, Ariel Esteban Cayer – whose early musings on genre cinema you read right here on the FANGORIA website when he was still just a teenage student at The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies.

One of Cayer’s first assignments for one-time Fantasia spinoff mag Spectacular Optical was interviewing indie director Joe Swanberg (read the interview HERE), who’s become increasingly familiar to genre fans through his crossover collaborations with Adam Wingard and Ti West. Swanberg will appear in person at Fantasia for the World Premiere of his film 24 EXPOSURES on August 4th.  “The Swanberg film is not strictly horror,” Cayer says, “but it’s super exciting to have him here, the last time any of his films played at a festival in Montreal was I think his very first movie KISSING ON THE MOUTH in 2005. 24 EXPOSURES is his take on a serial killer movie in the vein of late 90s erotic thrillers. And it stars Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett as the main leads, playing off each other, which is really interesting.”

Simon Laperriere

Simon Laperriere

24 EXPOSURES premieres as part of Fantasia’s avant garde ‘Camera Lucida’ section. Simon Laperrière, who heads up the section (and who just published the French-only book SNUFF MOVIES: NAISSANCE D’UNE LEGENDE URBAINE) has a roster of discoveries sure to satisfy adventurous genre fans. A few years ago Laperrière hosted a sidebar at the festival focused on cryptozoology, and with comedian-turned-filmmaker Bobcat Goldthwait attending the fest this year with his found-footage Bigfoot film WILLOW CREEK (which we’ve reported on HERE), Laperrière has found a worthy colleague. “I’m a huge fan of cryptozoology, so I cannot wait to meet him,” says Laperrière. “I’m more of a sea-monster type of guy, but it will be interesting to have a conversation with him about Bigfoot!”

And like most of the programmers, not to mention the press and the public, Laperrière is thrilled that this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient will be Andrzej Zulawski, the Polish master behind such seminal films as POSSESSION, ON THE SILVER GLOBE and SZAMANKA. The latter – the perfect counterpart to POSSESSION, made almost 20 years later – will be screening in a rare 35mm print with live subtitles in conjunction with the awards ceremony on July 25th. His Fantasia appearance – alongside biographer and cult film scholar Daniel Bird – will also mark Zulawski’s first time presenting his films in a specifically genre festival context (a decision aided, no doubt, by the fact that he is pitching a new film in Fantasia’s co-production market, Frontieres). “I am a bit nervous,” Laperrière concedes, “but I think he’s going to enjoy the experience of being around passionate cinephiles who actually know his work, but who will react with more enthusiasm than the cinema-goers he may have met at cinematheques and general film festivals.” While Fantasia audiences are notoriously vocal and boisterous, Zulawski has a well-known distaste for people who respond only to the more sensationalistic aspects of his work. But Laperrière is positive.  “Last year the screening of POSSESSION was one of the highlights of the festival, everyone responded to it really well,” he offers, “and with a filmmaker of that level of prestige, I think everyone will be extremely respectful.”

Andrzej Zulawski

Andrzej Zulawski

Director of International Programming (and general co-director of the festival) Mitch Davis is also chuffed to meet the enigmatic Polish director, whose highly emotional and politically-charged films are only now finding their audience in North America. “Zulawski is someone I’ve always wanted to meet, and he doesn’t do many public appearances,” says Davis. “Seeing an email from Zulawski in my inbox feels like getting an email from Fellini or Mario Bava, someone from a distant universe.”

Mitch Davis (r)

Mitch Davis (r)

Another guest Davis is excited about is composer Simon Boswell, who will be participating in a live hour-long conversation moderated by FANGO’s own Editor-in-Chief Chris Alexander. “It will be a general chat about his history of composing for Michele Soavi, Jodorowsky, Argento, every Richard Stanley film, Danny Boyle, Clive Barker, the list goes on,” explains Davis. “Some of his scores from the 90s rank among my favourite scores, period – certainly the SANTA SANGRE and DUST DEVIL scores are landmarks. And he also doesn’t do many public appearances, so he’s the type of guy I’m really happy to see put up on a pedestal.” Davis also revealed that Boswell will be playing a brief steel-guitar set before the World Premiere of Richard Stanley’s L’AUTRE MONDE on July 27th, which he just finished scoring. Admittedly, the Simon Boswell/Richard Stanley pairing seems like almost too much of a supernatural combination for one festival to take – I suggest to Davis that both of them have a witchy vibe that is immediately enthralling in person. “I know, right? It’s true!” Davis exclaims. “The two of them together should be really interesting.”

For more on what’s in store for FANTASIA 2013, check out their official website HERE.

Simon Boswell

Simon Boswell

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About the author
Kier-La Janisse http://www.big-smash.com
Kier-La Janisse is a writer and film programmer based in Montreal, Canada. She is the Founding Director of The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies and a film programmer for Fantastic Fest, POP Montreal and SF Indie. She has been a programmer for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, founded the CineMuerte Horror Film Festival in Vancouver and co-founded Montreal's Blue Sunshine Psychotronic Film Centre. She is the author of A Violent Professional: The Films of Luciano Rossi (FAB Press, 2007) and House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films (FAB Press, 2012).
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