FAN­TAS­TIC FILM FES­TI­VAL

Lineup bound to get fans talk­ing

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - STEPHANIE MCKAY sm­ckay@post­media.com twit­ter.com/sp­stephm­ckay

John Allison is the kind of movie lover who seeks out films with a 50 per cent rat­ing on Rot­ten Toma­toes. He loves movies that are di­vi­sive and can be de­bated with fel­low movie geeks.

He gets to show­case his affin­ity for chal­leng­ing films as the founder/di­rec­tor of the Saska­toon Fan­tas­tic Film Fes­ti­val, which runs Wed­nes­day to Satur­day at the Broad­way Theatre. One film that has him par­tic­u­larly cu­ri­ous about au­di­ence re­sponse is the Amer­i­can prom-night movie Honor Farm.

“I’m dy­ing for half of the au­di­ence to come up to me and go ‘Why?’ and half the au­di­ence to come up to me af­ter and say ‘Thank you,’ ” he said.

Allison’s equally happy with com­pli­ments and crit­i­cisms. His favourite part of the event, now ap­proach­ing a decade in ex­is­tence, is the ca­ma­raderie be­tween film lovers dis­cussing the se­lec­tions.

The Saska­toon Fan­tas­tic Film Fes­ti­val shows movies of all gen­res, but not ones peo­ple are likely to see in the lo­cal mul­ti­plex. Allison said the event has no theme other than show­ing cool movies from around the world. That be­ing said, the choices of­ten el­e­vate or twist genre film — which can in­clude scifi, hor­ror and ac­tion — in some way.

This year, the pro­gram­ming team tended to choose movies that have some­thing to say. The Amer­i­can movie Bitch tells the story of a woman who has a break­down thanks to a ter­ri­ble hus­band and ends up think­ing she’s a dog.

“It’s a great fem­i­nist film,” Allison said. “Es­pe­cially right now with what’s hap­pen­ing the film in­dus­try I think it’s re­ally im­por­tant to show films that have these fe­male char­ac­ters and are writ­ten and di­rected by women.”

The lineup in­cludes movies that range from just plain fun to dis­turb­ing and chal­leng­ing. The Es­to­nian film Novem­ber is a blackand-white art­house movie about myths and le­gends.

“It has some hor­ror, but it’s more of a ro­mance story, a fan­tasy fa­ble with ghosts and spir­its and curses. It’s a re­ally neat twist on all that and some­thing dif­fer­ent.”

Science-fic­tion fans can get into Be­yond Sky­line, a “side-quel” to the movie Sky­line. The fes­ti­val is bring­ing in the film’s di­rec­tor Liam O’Don­nell for the screen­ing. My Friend Dah­mer is a movie about the early life of no­to­ri­ous se­rial killer Jeffrey Dah­mer. Allison said it has some re­ally in­ter­est­ing things to say about how he came to be who he was, while never jus­ti­fy­ing the grue­some be­hav­iour that fol­lowed.

Dave Made a Maze is a com­edy about a man who gets lost in­side a card­board maze of his own cre­ation. Allison said the movie has in­cred­i­ble, cre­ative de­sign.

In ad­di­tion to 17 fea­ture films, SFFF also in­cludes a shorts pro­gram. Short films run be­fore ev­ery fea­ture film. On Thurs­day at 6 p.m., the fes­ti­val plans to screen a free block of an­i­mated short films of dif­fer­ent styles, from CGI to hand­drawn to stop mo­tion.

QUICK FACTS

This year’s lineup in­cludes movies ■ from Uganda, South Korea, Fin­land, Turkey, Es­to­nia, Ger­many and Ja­pan, as well as se­lec­tions from the United States and Canada.

The five-per­son pro­gram­ming ■ team delved through 150 ful­l­length movies to ar­rive at the 17-film fi­nal lineup. They also watched 300 to 400 short films to choose a cou­ple dozen to screen at the shorts pro­gram and ahead of the fea­ture movies.

The lineup fea­tures films of all ■ bud­gets, from Big Black — which was made on a tiny bud­get in Uganda — to The Vil­lai­ness, a South Ko­rean ac­tion movie that cost mil­lions.

The fes­ti­val moved to Novem­ber ■ this year to open up the pos­si­bil­ity of fea­tur­ing films from the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val and Fan­tas­tic Fest in Austin, Texas. Allison said the plan is to stick to Novem­ber in the fu­ture.

The 48-Hour Movie Mak­ing ■

Chal­lenge, in which lo­cal film­mak­ing teams com­pete to win au­di­ence choice, took place be­fore the fes­ti­val this year. The win­ner, Mu­tant Cups From Outer Space, will be screened ahead of one of this year’s fea­ture films.

The movie Blade of the Im­mor­tal is part of the Saska­toon Fan­tas­tic Film Fes­ti­val, which runs from Wed­nes­day to Satur­day at Broad­way Theatre.

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