Film/Festival Review — SNOW GIRL AND THE DARK CRYSTAL — #Fantasia 2015 Awards
SNOW GIRL AND THE DARK CRYSTAL boasts an impressive pedigree : Peter Pau previously worked on the glorious CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON and won an Academy Award as the Cinematographer of that film.
SNOW GIRL AND THE DARK CRYSTAL (a/k/a Zhongkui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal) harkens back to Tsui Hark’s A CHINESE GHOST STORY and BRIDE WITH THE WHITE HAIR in its dramatic tone and serious attention to production design and battle choreography with supernatural overtones. (Pau was also the cinematographer for the 1993 THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR, as well as the superbly shot 2007 SHOOT ‘EM UP).
But unlike those earlier films, SNOWGIRL AND THE DARK CRYSTAL relies on CGI for many battle scenes and manga-like iconography to blend with its live action to a fault. The CGI, beautiful in rendering backgrounds and overall design, fails to convincingly portray characters. there are moments where it looks wondrous: several female demons have animal or lizard-like heads – those brief graphics are rendered with precision. Another female demon often transforms into a large Jurassic park like demon and one wishes she was onscreen all the time, both in human form and demon form – both are breathtaking. The poster for the film helps to convey the beautiful background production design. But the hero and the big boss demon fail to convey any excitement onscreen in battle form – they resemble cartoons plonked onto the screen more like Roger Rabbit than actual characters. Whatever value the story has generated loses its way when the videogame Rock -em Sock-em Robot action takes over. One forgives it at first for the sake of story, then despairs long before the film has ended. By that point, all the story twists are rendered irrelevant, because actual live action has been replaced by CGI boredom and exhaustion.
A beautiful start rendered to a disappointing finish.
Find some early 80s-90s Tsui Hark and watch those. But keep an eye out for the actresses in this one. The women should have been the focus of this story, as they were in A CHINESE GHOST STORY, THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR, even CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. In SNOW GIRL AND THE DARK CRYSTAL, the focus is on the male hero and the male demons/antagonists, and the film suffers broadly as a result.
But SNOW GIRL AND THE DARK CRYSTAL was one of many visually exciting films at FANTASIA 2015.
Several other films received awards at the finale of the yearly Festival.
19TH EDITION OF FANTASIA CONCLUDES WITH KEVIN BACON, TITANS, AND OVER 100,000 SPECTATORS
North America’s Longest-Running Genre Festival Wraps Banner Year, Awards Top Honors to Sion Sono’s TAG
After 23 unbelievable, uninterrupted days of screenings, today marks the Closing Night of the 19th edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival. Known worldwide as North America’s longest-running genre film festival, Fantasia returned triumphantly to Concordia University’s Hall and J.A De Sève Theatres, and secured record numbers at Montreal’s McCord Museum, la Grande Bibliothèque, Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club, and Parc de la Paix in the Quartier des spectacles. For the sixth consecutive year, the acclaimed festival succeeded in attracting more than 100,000 spectators for 195 indoor screenings, three outdoor screenings, eight virtual reality films, and numerous special events.
Chief among the festival’s 22 buzzed-about World Premieres were LUDO from Nikon and Q, Ken Ochiai’s NINJA THE MONSTER, MOMENTUM by Stephen S. Campanelli, ANGUISH by Sonny Mallhi, Yoav and Doron Paz’s JERUZALEM, CHERRY TREE by David Keating, Jacob Gentry’s SYNCHRONICITY, and the 11-filmmaker omnibus TALES OF HALLOWEEN. Other sold-out films of note included Takeshi Kitano’s RYUZO AND THE SEVEN HENCHMEN, Marvels’ ANT-MAN from Peyton Reed, THE VISIT by Michael Madsen, Gilles Paquet-Brenner’s DARK PLACES, and Closing Night selection ATTACK ON TITAN from Shinji Higuchi.
Additional highlights of Fantasia 2015 included appearances from:
director Jon Watts and actor/co-producer Kevin Bacon to celebrate the Canadian Premiere of COP CAR;
Michael Ironside, Laurence Leboeuf, and Munro Chambers attending the eagerly-awaited Canadian premiere of TURBO KID (from Montreal-based directors Anouk Whissell, François Simard and Yoann-Karl Whissell);
a focus on genre filmmaking from the African Nations;
and the attendance of director Keiichi Hara and screenwriter Miho Maruo at the North American premiere of MISS HOKUSAI, the festival’s opening night film.
Fantasia is also immensely proud to have hosted the debut international performance of Glass Eye Pix’s acclaimed live horror radio show TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE, with its sold-out “Fantasia Edition” directed by Larry Fessenden, Glenn McQuaid, and Douglas Buck, and starring genre favorites Tony Todd and Jeremy Gardner.
917 international guests, including more than 400 film industry professionals, flocked to Montreal over the course of this year’s three-week festival and its Frontières Market.
FANTASIA UNVEILS ITS 2015 AWARD-WINNERS
The Fantasia International Film Festival is proud to announce the names of the winners of its awards at its 19th edition. The prizes were awarded by the juries of each category.
CHEVAL NOIR AWARD – FEATURE FILMS
The jury, presided over by Andrew Frank (VP of Sales and Acquisitions, Mongrel Media) and composed of Roxanne Benjamin (filmmaker), François Létourneau (writer and actor), Ian Rattray (co-founder, Film4 Frightfest), and Ryan Turek (director of development, Blumhouse Productions), awarded the following prizes:
Cheval Noir Award for Best Film: TAG by Sion Sono
Award for Best Director: Malik Bader for CASH ONLY
Award for Best Screenplay: Tomoe Kanno for LA LA LA AT ROCK BOTTOM
Award for Best Actor (unanimous): Subaru Shibutani for LA LA LA AT ROCK BOTTOM
Award for Best Actress (unanimous): Reina Triendl for TAG
Special Mention for Sion Sono’s TAG for its creative, surprising, and monumental opening kill sequence.
NEW FLESH AWARD – FIRST FEATURES
The jury, presided over by Patrick Ewald (CEO, Epic Pictures) and composed of Dave Alexander (Editor-in-Chief, Rue Morgue Magazine), Jimmy Beaulieu (comic artist), and Emico Kawai (Producer and International Sales, Nikkatsu Corporation), awarded the following prizes:
New Flesh Award for Best First Feature Film: CRUMBS by Miguel Llanso
A Special Mention awarded to THE BLUE HOUR by Anucha Boonyawatana, for the artist’s courage and vision.
INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM COMPETITION PRIZE
The jury, presided over by John McNaughton (filmmaker) and composed of Matthew Hays (journalist) and Francesco Simeoni (Film preservationist, director of Arrow Video), awarded the following prizes:
Award for Best International Short Film: MAURICE by François Jaros
A Special Mention awarded to LA SÉANCE by Edouard de La Poëze, for its atmosphere, décor, and wardrobe.
SATOSHI KON AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN ANIMATION
The jury, presided over by Benoit Godbout (filmmaker and artistic director) and composed of Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre (filmmaker) and Johanne Ste-Marie (filmmaker), awarded the following prizes:
Satoshi Kon Award for Best Animated Feature Film: MISS HOKUSAI by Keiichi Hara
A Special Mention awarded to POSSESSED by Sam, for its playful homage to horror cinema
Satoshi Kon Award for Best Animated Short Film: MISSING ONE PLAYER by Lei Lei
A Special Mention awarded to GHOST CELL by Antoine Delacharlery, for its technical and visual excellence.
Satoshi Kon Award for Best Family Short Film: UNE HISTOIRE D’OURS by Gabriel Osorio
A Special Mention awarded to LA MOUFLE by Clémentine Robach, for the charm and beauty of its animation and story.
BARRY CONVEX AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN FEATURE FILM
The Winner of Spectacular Optical’s 2015 Barry Convex Award for Best Canadian Feature or Co-Production is:
Larry Kent’s SHE WHO MUST BURN.
Whether with words or imagery, Larry’s films have always been ferocious and critically engaged with the culture he creates them in. The award is accompanied by a $1000 prize, thanks to The Paul A. Ray Memorial Fund.
PRIX AQCC 2015
The jury, composed of Céline Gobert, André Lavoie et Jean-Marie Lanlo, awarded the Prix AQCC to BRIDGEND by Jeppe Ronde.
The jury, composed of Pascal Grenier, Maxime Labrecque and Mathieu Séguin-Tétreault, awarded the Prix Séquences to MISS HOKUSAI by Keiichi Hara, with a Special Mention for THE BLUE HOUR by Anucha Boonyawatana.
PRIX L’ÉCRAN FANTASTIQUE
The Prix L’Écran fantastique, judged by Yves Rivard, was awarded to SYNCHRONICITY by Jacob Gentry.
Best Asian Feature:
Gold Prize – LOVE & PEACE by Sion Sono
Silver Prize – Poison Berry/ A Hard Day (TIE)
Bronze Prize – Robbery
Best European, North or South American Feature:
Gold Prize – THERAPY FOR A VAMPIRE by David Ruhm
Silver Prize – Marshland
Bronze Prize – Børning / Turbo Kid / Shamer’s Daughter (THREE-WAY TIE)
Best Canadian or Quebec Feature:
Gold Prize – TURBO KID by Anouk Whissell, François Simard, and Yoann-Karl Whissell
Silver Prize – Bite / Demolisher (TIE)
Bronze Prize – Limoilou
Best Animated Feature:
Gold Prize – MISS HOKUSAI by Keiichi Hara
Silver Prize – Possessed
Bronze Prize – The Case of Hanna and Alice
I AM THOR by Ryan Wise
Guru Prize for Best Action Feature:
BIG MATCH by Choi Ho
AddikTV Prize for Best Thriller or Suspense Film:
MARSHLAND by Alberto Rodriguez
Most Innovative Short or Feature:
THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE by Perry Blackshear
Best Short Film:
Gold Prize – GOLD FISH by Michael Konyves
Silver Prize – Fools Day
Bronze Prize – Iris
The Fantasia International Film Festival would like to thank its sponsors and media partners for their invaluable support. For this 19th edition, the festival was proud to count of the support of 30 sponsor partners, ten media partners, and over 125 advertisers.
The 20th anniversary edition of The Fantasia International Film Festival will take place in Montreal from July 14 to August 2, 2016
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