Writing a summary that does the Fantasia International Film Festival justice is a challenging task.
It features dozens of feature films over almost three weeks. For this reason, I never refer to the films I cover at festivals as “The Best” films from that specific festival.
These are the best films I watched at the festival, but I just did not have time to see the hundreds of other excellent films that were on offer.
In my first post on the 2023 edition of this fantastic Montreal festival, I examined three films: a science fiction picture with an extremely inventive idea, a thriller about a man in trouble, and a nasty horror picture. (You can find that post here.)
It’s award season again. A few weeks from now, new films by Michael Mann, David Fincher, Ridley Scott, and Martin Scorsese will be released.
Fantasia always seems like the final gasp of summer, a feast of superb genre cinema before we move into the autumn’s high-end offerings.
In the upcoming weeks, keep an eye out for the following additional Fantasia films as they become available for digital rentals and streaming services:
Insomniacs After School: Every now and then, among the suspenseful thrillers, imaginative sci-fi, and horrifying horror features at the Fantasia International Film Festival, one might come across a beautiful film about a coming-of-age, a love story, or frequently both.
The moving House of Hummingbird by filmmaker Kim Bora won the award in 2019.
I came into Chen Yu-Hsun’s time-traveling romantic drama My Missing Valentine in 2020. This year’s winner for most surprisingly enjoyable movie is Insomniacs After School, a whimsical romantic comedy starring Chihiro Ikeda.
Ganta Nakami experiences sleeplessness. He fights to remain awake at school throughout the day and spends his evenings looking at his ceiling.
He makes the decision one day to sneak into the deserted school observatory and snooze.
He almost stumbles into Magari, a fellow insomnia sufferer who utilises the observatory as her own haven of peace.
At first, Magari claims the perfect position for a sleep, but as the two youngsters get to know one another and discover they have a common nighttime problem, their animosity turns to camaraderie. Does their friendship develop into a genuine love affair? I’ll never divulge.
A cast of people that the viewer cares about is skillfully created in Insomniacs After School.
It can be difficult to relate to quirky characters, and if you are unable to do so, how can you possibly be interested in the movie’s conclusion? These traps are avoided by insomniacs.
I was still eager to see more of Nakami and Magari’s life even after we had been together for almost two hours. That is what makes a great movie magical.
Based on the 13-episode animated series that Insomniacs After School has received in Japan, it appears that I’m not the only one. We can only hope that an English-speaking version will ultimately make its way to our virtual shores.
New Life: With its 87-minute duration, this independent masterpiece by writer-director John Rosman never lets up.
In the first scene, Hayley Erin’s character Jess is shown racing along a residential street while looking over her shoulder a lot and having blood on her face.
The viewer is unaware of who or why she is being pursued. She rushes into her house, searching wildly in a place that was obviously no longer secure yet was previously. Unnoticed by Jess, we witness two individuals entering her residence in the background as the opening titles begin.
The movie deftly switches between Jess and her assailants, who are portrayed by Tony Amendola from Stargate and Sonya Walger from Lost, as well as quick flashbacks that explain how Jess got into this situation.
Multiple timeline films are usually tedious, but this one’s editing is so good that it works to its advantage.
The astute screenplay steers clear of drawn-out spoken language exchanges and pointless clarifications. A good pursuit thriller revolves around what occurs next, which captures the attention of the viewer even while they are curious about why this is occurring.
One of the few thrillers where you actually root for the main characters is New Life. Both the hunter and the pursued are complex human beings.
Unlike good against evil, it is not as abstract. The audience is seeing the awful events that have occurred and their aftermath.
Excellent performances by Hayley Erin and Sonya Walger pay off in a very moving concluding sequence. Excellent genre filmmaking, New Life truly stays with you long after you walk out of the theatre.