FANTASTIC FILM FESTIVAL
Lineup bound to get fans talking
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.
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.