Volume 19, Issue 4 / April 2015

Fantasia 2014 & 2015

As has become the norm the past few years, our coverage of the previous year’s Fantasia Film Festival comes on the heels of the next edition, in this case Fantasia 2015 (July 14-August 4). The onslaught, or as festival programmer Mitch Davis calls it, ‘FantNado’ is three weeks of cine-craziness, where intense experiences are the norm and a great time is had by all, especially – as David Hanley explains it in his preview of Fantasia 2015 which lines up second in the issue – when people are pushed beyond their comfort zone (which at Fantasia can be cavernous for many). As the ‘looking ahead’ portion of the issue Offscreen is excited to have an in-depth interview with Canadian indie film legend Larry Kent whose latest film, She Who Must Burn, premieres at Fantasia on July 26th. Kent’s previous film Exley played Fantasia in 2011, but his new effort is his first outright horror film — although, as we discuss, the film challenges conventional notions of what a horror film is. At age 82, Kent may just be the oldest horror film ‘newbie’ ever! Controversy has followed Kent throughout his career, so it will be interesting to see how the Fantasia faithful receive his unorthodox horror film debut. Next we look at last year’s short films. The medium of the short film is often overlooked at major film festivals, but the form holds a special place at Fantasia, partly because the short film has, for decades, been an important training ground for horror filmmakers. My report grows out of my experience as head of the short film jury and looks at the best of those that I screened. Then Fantasia regular Teresa Lobos returns with her analysis of recent horror films that exploit new technologies as a source of threat. In some respects these recent films, casting internet technology and social media as the new source of personal threat, are an extension of the millenial J-Horror cycle that tapped into new technologies as a modern take on the traditional ghost story (VHS tape, telephones, cell phones, the internet, etc.). Her analysis concentrates on a breakthrough film Unfriended, which screened under its original title Cybernatural. Unfriended played in a film block christened under the heading “Antisocial media” and since playing at Fantasia has gone on to critical and box-office success. Finally, Randolph Jordan (who co-interviewed Larry Kent with me) ends the issue with a thematic report on films at Fantasia 2014 that featured children as characters and themes, prompted in part by the launch of publisher Spectacular Optical’s first book Kid Power edited by Kier-La Janisse and Paul Corupe.

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