Montreal’s Fantasia Fest Announces Animation Section & New Satoshi Kon Award For Achievement In Animation

Montreal, July 6, 2012. The art of animation in its many forms and disciplines has always had a strong place at Fantasia. This year, the festival has decided to give the form its own permanent section: AXIS. From social realism to mind-bending fantasy, all styles and sensibilities will be showcased, now on a greater scale than ever.

Further, the festival is proud to be rechristening its animation jury prize as The Satoshi Kon Award for Achievement in Animation, named after the dear, departed visionary whose feature debut, Perfect Blue, world premiered at Fantasia in 1997 (as did his later Millennium Actress).

As a tease, here are several key selections from this year’s AXIS lineup. Stay tuned for the full lineup, announced on July 11.

Asura(Japan) Dir: Keiichi Sato
Over forty years since it came into being, Akiyama’s “Ashura” remains a raw and affecting action-horror-tragedy, and its potency is only further amplified in this new anime. Keiichi Sato, director of Tiger & Bunny and Karas, oversees a masterful blend of digital animation and handcrafted artwork spiked with startling fights and chases and flashes of fearsome beauty. Vivid and intense, Asura is a journey through hell not soon forgotten. Official Selection: Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2012. Canadian Premiere, hosted by Producer Yoshiyuki Ikezawa

The King Of Pigs (South Korea) Dir: Yeun Sang-ho
Selected at the last Director’s Fortnight in Cannes, this masterfully written animated social drama brings elements of thriller and even horror cinema to expose how social inequities can bring extreme consequences, even in middle school. With his intense first feature film, director Yeun Sang-ho has instantly established himself as one of the leading voices of international animation cinema. Canadian Premiere hosted by Writer / Director Yeun Sang-ho

Wrinkles (Spain) Dir: Ignacio Ferreras
There’s more than a fair bit of best-animated-film Oscar buzz beginning to surround this very faithful cinematic adaptation of the graphic novel Arrugas by Spanish comic artist Paco Roca. It is a careful character study of the aged — some of them defiant, some despondent, some adrift far from the shores of lucidity – infused with an abundance of sharp wit, whimsy, honesty and poignancy. WINNER: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Animated Film, Goya Awards. Canadian Premiere

Zarafa (France / Belgium) Dir: Rémi Bezançon, Jean-Christophe Lie
A stunning hand-drawn work of animation detailing the adventures of a young child named Maki and an orphaned giraffe, Zarafa, who go on an epic adventure from the Sudan, where the boy escapes from slave traders, to Alexandria, Marseille and Paris. Official Selection: Berlin Film Festival 2012. Canadian Premiere

AND NOW, A 2ND WAVE OF TITLE ANNOUNCEMENTS!

Ace Attorney (Japan) Dir: Takashi Miike
Who else but Takashi Miike could deliver a video game adaptation set in court where attorneys would match in surrealistic juridical duels? This visual fest tainted with black humour got its share of attention at this year’s Rotterdam Film Festival and will surely be one of the highlights of Fantasia 2012! Canadian Premiere

Afro Tanaka (Japan) Dir: Daigo Matsui
When Tanaka traded in his messy hair for a glorious Afro, he finally got respect. The problem is, this is the only good decision he’s made in his entire life. Director Daigo Matsui presents one of the funniest and most strangely endearing characters you will see this year, joyfully interpreted by star Shota Matsuda (Hard Romanticker). North American Premiere

The Ambassador (Denmark) Dir: Mads Brügger
Mads Brügger (Red Chapel) is on a mission. Armed with a forged Liberian diplomatic passport, the infamous prankster journalist ventures deep into the underbelly of African politics in search of diamonds, wealth and power — and exposes an industry where diplomatic titles across the continent are for sale. Far more disturbing in its realism than any Sacha Baron Cohen creation, The Ambassador redefines extreme documentary filmmaking, and gives a whole new meaning to diplomatic immunity. Quebec Premiere

Black’s Game (Iceland) Dir: Óskar Thór Axelsson
The Icelandic gangster/drug scene of the late 1990s explodes vividly into life in this throttling directorial debut from cinematographer Axelsson, exec produced by none other than Nicolas Winding Refn, its frame lines singed with a dizzying assortment of colourful characters and explosive bursts of violence, its snowy landscape charged with blood, testosterone, sex and cocaine. Official Selection: Rotterdam International Film Festival 2012, Hong Kong International Film Festival 2012. North American Premiere

Boneboys (USA) Dirs: Duane Graves, Justin Meeks
What happens when the co-directors of The Wild Man of the Navidad team up with notorious screenwriter Kim Henkel (scripter of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre)? Sheer, absolute madness. We’re talking leather clad psycho jocks, roaring chainsaws, a cross-dressing surgeon, a monster in chains… You don’t want to miss this! World Premiere, hosted by Co-Directors Duane Graves & Justin Meeks, Screenwriter / Co-Producer Kim Henkel and more!

Cold Blooded (Canada) Dir: Jason Lapeyre
A lone female cop (Devil‘s Zoie Palmer) faces down against murderous thugs in the nightmarishly vast isolation ward of a major urban hospital in director Lapeyre’s gritty, ghastly breakout thriller. His subsequent film (made back to back with this one), I Declare War, recently won multiple awards at ActionFest 2012. Quebec Premiere, hosted by Director Jason Lapeyre

Dead Bite (Thailand) Dir: Joey Boy
Oh yes! Redneck islanders, zombies, sea monsters, an evil mermaid and a giant shark vs. a bunch of horny rappers and many, many gorgeous bikini models. This is what midnight screenings are all about folks! Thai hip hop star Joey Boy makes his feature directorial debut with an awfully hilarious and sexy gore fest that will make audiences scream for more. Canadian Premiere

Dead Sushi (Japan) Dir: Noboru Iguchi
After geishas, schoolgirls and robots, we thought director Noboru Iguchi couldn’t turn more of the strongest Japanese symbols into killing machines. We were wrong! Here comes the zombie sushi! Incredibly charismatic young actress Rina Takeda (High Kick Girl) star in this hilarious, bloody and action packed joyride where Iguchi proves once again that imagination, talent and passion will always prevail. World Premiere, hosted by Director / Co-Writer Noboru Iguchi and Actress Rina Takeda

Dragon (Hong Kong) Dir: Peter Chan
Kickass kung fu star Donnie Yen is back in this visually stunning martial arts thriller packed with jaw dropping action scenes where an apparently normal man inadvertently brings a horde of assassins by beating up a couple of petty thieves. Dragon (formerly Wu Xia) might be the film that earns Yen the kung fu icon status enjoyed by Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Also starring Takeshi Kaneshiro and Tang Wei. Quebec Premiere

Excision (USA) Dir: Richard Bates Jr
If John Hughes and David Cronenberg made their own medically obsessed version of Welcome To The Dollhouse crossed with May, this is the film they would likely have conceived. This funny, shocking and soulful powerslam of a teen-outsider film stars AnnaLynne McCord, Ariel Winter, Traci Lords, John Waters and Malcolm McDowell and blew no shortage of minds when it launched at Sundance earlier this year. Canadian Premiere, hosted by Writer / Director Richard Bates Jr and Actress Anna Lynne McCord

A Fantastic Fear Of Everything (UK) Dirs: Crispian Mills, Chris Hopewell
Simon Pegg as a neurotic writer of children’s books, trying desperately to break into the film business while struggling with crippling paranoia. What more could you want? A quirky gem of a film, Mill’s and Hopewell’s feature film debut fits well into the British tradition of horror-comedy, where slightly crazed logic flows along with an acceptance of the weird, the existential and the eccentric. North American Premiere

The Fourth Dimension (USA / Russia / Poland) Dirs: Alexey Fedorchenko, Harmony Korine, Jan Kwiecinski
Vice Magazine‘s Eddy Moretti, co-writer of the extraordinary White Lightnin’, had a notion. He would write his own filmmaking manifesto, one so bizarre and liquefied that it could only result in genius. This manifesto would include such rules as “a stuffed animal needs to make an appearance.” With said manifesto, he would bring on board a trio of wildly iconoclastic filmmakers to shoot 30-minute shorts, each from a different country — with the instructions to shoot in their locales — that would in some way or another, explore the possibilities of a fourth dimension. The results are glorious indeed. Official Selection: Edinburgh Film Festival 2012. Canadian Premiere, Hosted by Co-Producer Eddy Moretti

Hidden In The Woods (Chile) Dir: Patricio Valladares
The teen children of an abusive drug-dealing scumbag run away from home and find themselves stalked by a terrifying cavalcade of miscreants, psychopaths and killers. Like the bastard child of a Ruggero Deodato/Sam Peckinpah/Gaspar Noe pile-up gestated in the loins of Roberta Findlay, HIDDEN IN THE WOODS is a blisteringly confrontational piece of work that will have even the bravest of audiences watching from between their fingers, with seemingly every other line of dialogue being interrupted by shrieks, smashing glass or gunfire. World Premiere, hosted by Writer / Director Patricio Valladares

Lloyd The Conqueror (Canada) Dir: Michael Peterson
A riotously funny look at the world of LARPing (Live Action Role Playing), featuring hysterical performances from Brian Posehn, Mike “Bubbles” Smith and Evan Williams, a wickedly witty script, an endearing sense of lunacy and a near wall-to-wall CDN metal soundtrack. John Landis loves this film. So will you. Plus, on the night of the screening, be sure to join us for a special heavy metal LARP after-party! Quebec Premiere, hosted by Writer / Director Michael Peterson, Co-Producer Brendan Hunter and Actor Mike Smith

Mondomanila (Philippines) Dir: Khavn De La Cruz
Rebel director Khavn De La Cruz give life to a bunch of incredibly crooked, yet dignified teenagers living in the slums with a gallery of bizarre characters. The opening film of this year’s Camera Lucida section, Mondomanila merges drama, musical, horror, experimental and exploitation cinema, with a strong propensity for documentary aesthetics and trashy humour and will leave absolutely no viewer indifferent. Not to be missed! Canadian Premiere

Nakedness Which Wants To Die Too Much (Japan) Dir: Hidenobu Abera
What happens when Harold from Harold And Maude meets Lulu of Love & Loathing & Lulu & Ayano in a contemporary Japan shaken by treacherous intergenerational shocks? Find out in Hidenobu Abera’s startling crescendo of teenage rage and anguish blessed with a note of hope and even a charming dash of eccentricity. International Premiere

Nameless Gangster: Rules Of The Time (South Korea) Dir: Yun Jong-bin
Choi Min-sik (Oldboy) and Ha Jung-woo (The Chaser) bring one of the most astonishing actors duel seen in years in this gangster flick where a corrupted customs agent raises to the top of the underworld. Set in a fascinating historical context, Nameless Gangster is strongly reminiscent of Goodfellas without being overshadowed one second by Scorsese’s masterpiece. Quebec Premiere

Play Dead (USA) Dir: Teller
Thrill seekers, spiritualists, lovers of magick and the occult, have we got a show for you. Behold: Play Dead, an enormously entertaining live performance film directed and co-written by the legendary Teller (of Penn & Teller), shot by Dark Stars Rising author Shade Rupe and performed by the supernaturally charismatic and brilliantly funny illusionist/sideshow performer Todd Robbins. What is it? A no holds-barred recreation of the live midnight spook shows of yesteryear! World Premiere, hosted by Director / Co-Writer Teller, Star / Co-Writer Todd Robbins and Producers Shade Rupe & Ezekiel Zabrowski

Schoolgirl Apocalypse (Japan) Dir: John Cairns
This beautifully shot independent gem of a film will surprise many with its atmospheric post-apocalyptic story filled with strange animated scenes inspired by the English workbooks of our youth. Director John Cairns brings a ballsy fresh look at the “zombie” genre with a touch of women empowerment and lots of creativity. North American Premiere hosted by Writer / Director John Cairns

Sleep Tight (Spain) Dir: Jaume Balagueró
With our North American premiere of The Nameless, Fantasia was one of the first festivals in the world to showcase the genius of Barcelona filmmaker Jaume Balagueró. Years later, we held the first North American screening of [REC], the game-changing masterpiece he co-directed with Paco Plaza. As with that film, the multi-award-winning Sleep Tight is set mostly within the walls of a horrifically ill-fated apartment complex. Only here, the terrors Balagueró conjures are blood-chillingly tangible, as viable as a car crash on a heavily populated road. A masterpiece. Winner of 6 Gaudi Awards. Canadian Premiere

Starry, Starry Night (Taiwan) Dir: Tom Lin
Softly surreal and quite simply sublime, Starry, Starry Night is a flawless, sparkling jewel in the firmament of this year’s Fantasia programming. Beautiful and heartwarming, yet sometimes as cruel and moving as life itself, this coming of age drama features a first-class performance by Xu Jiao, a rising star to watch in the heavens of Chinese cinema. Quebec Premiere

The Tall Man (Canada / USA) Dir: Pascal Laugier
Jessica Biel, Stephen McHattie and Jodelle Ferland star in an unconventional, disturbing and politically-charged new chiller from the inimitable Pascal Laugier, whose previous film, Martyrs, has already become a modern classic of the genre. Official Selection: SXSW 2012. Canadian Premiere

Toad Road (USA) Dir: Jason Banker
Inspired by an urban legend, Toad Road is an intimate meditation on lost youth evocative of Gus Van Sant (with a racy touch of Larry Clark) and a radical deconstruction of genre cinema, a devastating and brilliant object of contemplation and dread, and a journey down unexpected paths. World Premiere, hosted by Writer / Cinematographer / Director Jason Banker

Under The Bed (USA) Dir: Steven C. Miller
A teenager returning home awakes the wrath of a savage creature he tried to kill year ago. Now, he must team up with his young brother in order to destroy what lies under the bed. Co-produced by Brad Miska (V/H/S), this intimate and shivering take on childhood fear is another gem from newcomer Steven C. Miller, the new festival sensation who took SXSW by storm with the sensational The Agression Scale last March. World Premiere, hosted by Director Steven C. Miller

The Warped Forest (Japan) Dir: Shunichiro Miki
After co-directing the surrealistic Funky Forest: The First Contact, director Shunichiro Miki brings us in a universe where giants, nipple sucking fuzzy creatures and flying time traveling devices coexist with totally normal people. This is an essential work in the new wave of radical, rainbow-coloured, hallucinogenic Japanese comedies that blend deadpan humour, delirious dream logic, creeping paranoia and empathic, easygoing optimism into the strangest of cinematic brews! Canadian Premiere hosted by Director / Co-Writer Shunishiro Miki

Yes We Can! (France) Dir: Olivier Abbou
A pair of petty criminals hatch an “ingenious” get-rich-quick scheme – they will fly to Kenya and kidnap Barrack Obama’s grandmother for a ransom of 10 millions dollars. What could possibly go wrong? Echoing the French tradition of the buddy comedy by ways of a South Park version of the Farrelly brothers, this outrageous goofball comedy from Abbou (whose 2010 shocker Territories offered a whole other side of political commentary) surprises, offends and ridicules with manic wit. Full of eye-popping imagery courtesy of cinematographer Karim Hussain (Hobo With A Shotgun, The Theatre Bizarre). International Premiere, hosted by Writer / Director Olivier Abbou (tentative)