With this 5th edition of Fantasia came a brand new millennium to overcome with funny, funky, scary, creepy and mind‐bending cinema. After the Ex‐Centris adventure (in 1999 only), Fantasia’s following escapade was a quite funny one: for the first time, Fantasia teamed up with another genre cinema festival, Just for Laugh’s Comedia division, to give to the moviegoers some more fun for their buck.
This cool partnership (which lasted two years) brought the Fantasians their lot of great gems, such as Dying of Laughter (by Spanish wunderkind Alex de la Iglesia), Dialogue‐free Delicatessen‐inspired Tuvalu (with Director Veit Helmer in attendance, distributing 35 mm frames of the German film to the attendees), Mike Mendez’s horror comedy The Convent (Canadian premiere) and The Independent (starring lots of cult personalities appearing as themselves) with its bigger than life star in attendance, Seinfeld’s Jerry Stiller (yes, the loudmouth father of Ben). The Public Prize went to South‐Korean comedy Attack the Gas Station. On the stand up and legendary event front, the presence of Terry Jones of Monty Python fame was one of this edition’s highlights, where a few hundred lucky lads had An evening with Mr. Creosote. Once in a lifetime, as they say.
2000 was not only the year of the dragon for zodiac enthusiasts, but so was this festival’s edition, with lots of jewels from Japan. The organizers scored big time with Takashi Miike’s most subtle, yet sickly stunning film, slow‐burner Audition (with porcelain‐faced Shiina Eihi, who later came to Montreal in 2008 to introduce insane gorefest Tokyo Gore Police) and with his first Dead or Alive yakuza actioner. Other highlights from the rising sun include Hideo ‘Ringu’ Nakata’s Chaos (North‐American premiere), Shinya ‘Tetsuo’ Tsukamoto’s Gemini, Blade Runner porno pseudo‐sequel I.K.U. (Canadian premiere, with Director Shu Lea Cheang in attendance), Ring 0: The Birthday (North‐American premiere) and Higuchinsky’s beyond insane manga adaptation Uzumaki (international premiere). On the manga front, were presented prized extended‐short Blood: The Last Vampire (North‐American premiere), Vampire Hunter D (international premiere) and intergalactic pirate manga Albator Le Film (the popular French translated version of Space Pirate Captain Harlock), among others.
Rockin’ films by festival staples were also screened to packed houses, such as Hong‐Kong’s Ringo Lam (Victim, also with Chin‐Wan) and Johnnie To (The Mission with the almighty Anthony Wong, and Running Out of Time with actor Lau Ching‐Wan in attendance – both won prizes in the Best Asian Film category), Spain’s Jaume Balaguero (in attendance to present his prized The Nameless and his short Alicia) and future Rec’s co‐Director Francisco ‘Paco’ Plaza (his short Abuelitos was part of annual short film program Small Gauge Trauma along with Balaguero’s Dias Sin Luz). Dark short Black XXX‐Mas by Pieter Van Hees (who later went on to direct the amazing Left Bank, presented at the festival in 2009) was also included in SGT’s 2000 edition, where it won a Best Short Film prize.
Fantasia also held the North‐American premiere of Germany’s Anatomie (starring Franka ‘Lola’ Potente), a sick little medical thriller‐slasher hybrid with a morbid aesthetic inspired by the then‐ unknown plastination technique, later used in non‐fiction controversial exhibits using real corpses donated (or not) to science artistically, such as Body Worlds and Bodies. The film won a prize in the Best International Film category. Thailand’s Nang Nak (with Director Nonzee Nimibutr in attendance), India’s The Terrorist (a John Malkovich presentation), Canada’s Island of the Dead (world premiere with star Malcolm McDowell in attendance) and UK’s Wisdom of Crocodiles were also part of the international selection.
Also from the UK, Producer Simon Markham made the trip overseas to present his darkly weird Blood (Director Charly Cantor couldn’t attend the North‐American premiere, having to stay home to get treated for cancer), so did Director James Marsh with his ‘documentary’ Wisconsin Death Trip. Also screened were American satanic flick Ricky 6’s world premiere (with Director Peter Filardi and most of his cast in attendance, including Vincent Kartheiser and Emmanuelle Chriqui – and won a prize in the Best International Film category), along with a director’s cut of Wild Side, the late Donald Cammell’s boiling noir masterpiece where Christopher Walken shines big time (editor Frank Mazzola’s hour‐long Q&A was one for the history books, reminiscing on great artists he worked with, such as Cammell, Dennis Hopper, Nic Roeg and James Dean). Any Fantasia early edition would not be complete without its share of sick and twisted vintage midnight screenings: audiences were treated with Italian cult freak‐outs such as City of the Walking Dead (directed by almighty Umberto Lenzi, with running and gunning zombies!) and Gates of Hell (also known as confusedly titled City of the Living Dead – by beloved gore maestro Lucio Fulci), where Kaiju fanatics rejoiced with Rebirth of Mothra 3’s international premiere and brand new 35 mm prints of classics starring the radioactive dino, such as Invasion of Astro Monster (1965) and Son of Godzilla (1967). And they threw an ol’ Santo on screen as well. Of course.