Enter stage right, into the long-established Fujiya Inn, located in Kibune, a wintry valley town in the northern mountains of Kyoto. Mikoto (Riko Fujitani, KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF EIZOUKEN!), one of the establishment’s waitresses, goes about her work day, rubbing shoulders with the ryokan’s various tenants and employees. Among them: her crush Takusa, a young cook preparing for a short nap; two friends reuniting over hot pot; a struggling writer; and his assistant heading for a bath. Called downstairs by her boss, Mikoto stares momentarily into the river nearby. A blink. A lifetime. Suddenly something is off — the sake won’t get warm, the rice placed in the pot never dries out, the bathwater never stops flowing. The inn is looping… two minutes at a time!
Only two features in, and we can confidently call micro-budget time-travel maestro Junta Yamaguchi (of 2021 cult hit BEYOND THE INFINITE TWO MINUTES) a bona fide Fantasia favourite. Back this year with more time-loop antics, he delivers a savvy update on his previous film’s formula, transposing his innovative “tiny loop” concept and dedicated troupe of actors to a new setting that feels both fresh and propulsive. If BEYOND was a Möbius strip, RIVER is a sprawling story tree, raising the stakes by expanding the intricacy of the cast’s relations. Doing so, Yamaguchi crafts a series of two-minute takes that gradually build into a multifaceted portrait of character and place as guests and hosts alike band together to solve the mystery of the valley stuck in time. – Ariel Esteban Cayer
A new cabaret formula combining screenings of local and international short films, comedy acts and live performances.
Four desperate clowns (and one journalist) make their way through the Irish countryside after a freak electrical disaster in what may be the funniest (and only) clowns-and-catastrophe movie ever made.
Imaginative, hilarious, and visually sumptuous, this madcap musical comedy is a must-see for filmgoers in search of daring and delightful cinema.