Fantasia 2017: Week 2 - The Midnight Run

The start of the second week of the Fantasia Film Festival, brings in the rhythmic pacing of trying to squeeze in as many movies as you can. This is not the final marathon, however I have tried my best to map out my run with screeners and theatre viewings. The theatre viewings are varied between the Fantasia setting, and the big multiplex for the big releases. As previously stated, I would like to see most of the documentary films that the festival has to offer as a core concentration. 


Nothing feels better then starting the midnight run with a dark action thriller from Denmark, Darkland. Director Fenar Ahmad captures the same tone and pulsations of a Nicolas Widing Refn action thriller. When Zaid's (Dar Salim) brother Yasin is murdered by a group of gangsters, Zaid is drawn back into his family and the dark underworld. The dramatic tension about the European Muslim identity is well juxtaposed in this film and the action never misses a pulsating heartbeat. 

The Laplace Demon

Next I settled on a gothic horror film from Italy, The Laplace Demon. Shot in black and white, an ode to the vintage horror thrillers, the film focuses on a group of researchers who are brought to a castle on an island. A dark and stormy night with a mysterious figure communicates to the guests through a video tape cassette. There is a recreated set of the mansion with all of the researchers as pawns, and the mysterious figure, the queen, in a literal game of chess. This soon becomes a game of cat and mouse where the researchers must outlive, outplay and outlast this live action game of chess. Not to ruin the ending, but it has a great surprise for the audience members that is reminiscent of an episode of The Twilight Zone, in this perfect homage to the gothic horror genre aesthetic. 


The last film you would expect me to watch at the festival would be Drib from director Kris Borgli. Its blend of both documentary and Cinéma Vérité used to create this true story film enticed me. Amir Asgharnejad is a performance artist that never shy's away from provocation, which include him getting beaten up. So the story follows an energy drink company, Drib, which caught the attention of these staged antics and wanted Amir to be the spokesperson. The rest is told in a humorous satiric story that Kris Brogli films, and the only condition is that Amir plays himself. At times, this film is a dramatized account, but when there is a cut the essence of Cinéma Vérité that borders on documentary takes over as the film takes a dark satirical look at the Los Angeles marketing scene. 

Terminator 2: Judgement Day 

I should let everyone know now that I have never seen Terminator 2: Judgement Day from director James Cameron. The festival provided a great advantage by having the North American Premiere of TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY 3D in all its epic beauty and beautifully restored in 4K (HD) glory on the big screen in the hall theatre. The crowd went wild for this one, and with good reason. This film is the pure definition of a cult science-fiction action film, that stared notable action star Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Terminator sent back in time to protect John Connor. Even though this is nothing compared to today's use of CGI or Cameron's other works, the film pushed cinematic boundaries at the time for its use of special effects technology. It is being released this year to wide spread theatres for its 25th anniversary. 

Liberation Day

Liberation Day from directors Ugis Olte Morten Traavik has to be one of the most fascinating and entraining documentaries screening at the festival. The guerrilla-style documentary does not shy away from its main focus of shining a light on North Korea, a subject that is rarely seen of film. The other stars are Laibach, a controversial rock band from Slovenia, that are known as Slovenian metal-industrial provocateurs. When you get these two controversial subjects in the same documentary, you are going to see some great made for documentary film moments, where both sides face challenges in order to put on a rock concert in less than 2 days. Tensions will flare as we see the North Korea suppression mechanism at all times, and you will be entertained as Laibach re-interprets the greatest hits from The Sound of MusicNothing can prepare your ears for it.

Geek Girls

Geek Girls from director Gina Hara is a documentary that explores geek culture from the female perspective. Even though it is thought to be a marginalized society as compared to the male predominance, Hara proves that women have an important role geek subculture. There are various voices that are heard from ranging from Hara's trip to Japan, and North America. The interviews provide context to find out what empowers the culture, why it is so secretive to be part of the subculture, but also sheds a light on some of the issues that plague the culture and how the issues can be better resolved. Geek Girls makes its premiere at Fantasia July 30th, a film that will make your inner geek come out.


Abu from director Arshad Khan has to be the most personally honest and poetic documentaries this year at the festival. It can be seen from the image I have chosen how you both see the Father scene (Abu) crossfading into his son's (Arshad) scene. The documentary includes home video footage, one on one interviews and animated shorts in order to tell this emotionally raw story about tradition and modernity in conflict with one another. Khan tells the story about finding his own sexual identity, while facing his father whose western culture ideologies were becoming more radicalized traditional ideologies as he converted to Islam. This was also the time that the family had decided to move from Pakistan to Mississauga, Ontario, where not only did Khan have to deal with his own family, but also the issues he faced trying to integrate into Western culture ideologies, that were different from when he was living in Pakistan. A raw and honest documentary about a father and son relationship has never been seen so up close in documentary from, than through the lenses of Khan's story and movie. 

That is all for this week. As much as I wanted to hit up the multiplex theatres for Atomic Blonde and Valerian it will have to wait until next week. With this last week of the festival on the way I want to wish everyone a good week at the movies. Bon cinéma! 

Remi's Fantasia 2017 full selection list 

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