Fantasia 2019: Week 3 Review

In the final week of the 23rd edition of the Fantasia Film Festival, I had to narrow down my viewings. There was only so much time on my day off to get in as many films as possible. Unfortunately, I did not hit my record of viewings compared to other years, but I am very happy with the films I chose to focus on. Both the Cinema Lucida and Documentaries From the Edge provide the festival with some great programming.

Starting off with the Documentaries From The Edge section of the festival, I landed on a screening of Shooting The Mafia from director Kim Longinotto. This documentary showcases Sicilian photographer and photojournalist Letizia Battaglia, who has spent most of her career capturing the mafia through the camera lens. The film exposes her battle with the mafia, by being both a fearless photographer and someone to be feared. By exposing their crimes through photography, she has given a voice to the dead, brought justice, closure, and sometimes the pain that comes with loss. The film also showcases her run for politics as well. Longinotto has given a spotlight through this documentary on a powerful individual and her camera. This is also very informative documentary on the rise and power of the mafia in Italy - a must watch.

The Legend of The Stardust Brothers is a must-see Japanese pop rock mockumentary from 1985. Every single cliche from 1980’s pop music and boy bands can be found in this ‘cult classic’ from director Makoto Tezuka. Lead characters Shingo and Ken are seen as polar opposites: one is in a pop band and the other, a punk band. Both of them are summoned to Atomic Promotion and forced into a contact that would have them as a musical duo, The Stardust Brothers. Reluctantly, they agree... and then comes the highs and the lows of being in a pop musical act, from the intense fandom to the rival musician who is almost a caricature of David Bowie. With similarities to the music of the 80’s, especially Culture Club, nothing is off the table in making fun of 1980’s music and the boy band culture. This classic had me giggling long after the credits rolled. If you are a fan of Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, 80’s music, 80’s music videos, or have a secret appreciation for pop bands, then this movie is for you. It’s a good thing I checked all those boxes.


Continuing on the foreign section, and more precisely movies from Japan, I went to a screening of Dare To Stop Us from director Kazuya Shiraishi. It is based on the true story of 60’s and 70’s counterculture cinema which happened in Japan. Koji Wakamatsu was the notable director behind these films that subversed the stereotypical norm, leading to the genre of pink films. The style was a certain type of guerilla filmmaking, and it did not get received well by critics Instead, it resonated more so with the teenage audience members that it was marketed towards. The film also discusses the group of filmmakers who were involved in making these Wakamatsu films, and especially the female assistant directors that would later become successful directors in their own right. Even though this is a fictionalized drama based on real events, it perfectly showcased the early days of guerilla filmmaking and subverting genre expectations.

The last film I caught was from the Cinema Lucida section - a foreign film from France. Jessica Forever, from directors Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel, involves a post-apocalyptic world where young men who have committed violent acts and other atrocities to society are being hunted by killer drones. Their safe haven comes in the form of a female renegade named Jessica who takes these lost boys under her wings, and in turn teaches them how to protect themselves. The boys also grow and develop relationships with outsiders of their group, which puts their love and loyalty to the test. This film subverts the notion of the post-apocalyptic world by showing themes of redemption and love for the social outcasts.

This is the end of my Fantasia adventure for this year, however I can’t wait to catch up with the films I missed, or rewatch the ones I love when they get a wider release. I’d like to extend a big thank you to the entire Fantasia team for their wonderful hospitality during this year’s edition. Also, thank you to CJLO 1690 AM, the magazine department and program director Allison O'Reilly for sending me as one of the media correspondents to cover this years Fantasia Film Festival.  

As always: bon cinéma!

Remi Caron is the host of At the Movies, which airs on CJLO every Tuesday at 8:00 AM