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The 21st edition of Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival has just concluded, and award-winners from among its amazing lineup of genre movies from all over the world have been announced.
The many prize categories reflect the great diversity of features and shorts that played Fantasia this year, from the latest work by established masters to the first films by exciting newcomers. The fest attracted nearly 100,000 viewers and over 700 international guests, including more than 400 industry professionals, to its many screenings and the booming Frontières International Co-Production Market. And the winners, chosen by both special juries and the Fantasia audience (which voted a top award to Chris Peckover’s BETTER WATCH OUT, pictured above), are…
Cheval Noir Award
Best Film: SPOOR (POKOT), d. Agnieszka Holland
Best Director: Nattawut Poonpiriya, BAD GENIUS
Best Screenplay: Marianna Palka, BITCH
Best Actor: Song Kang-ho, A TAXI DRIVER
Best Actress: Violetta Schurwlow, COLD HELL (DIE HÖLLE)
Special Mention: LOWLIFE, d. Ryan Prows
Filmmaker Richard Stanley presided over the 2017 Cheval Noir Jury, which was comprised of critics Chris Bumbray and Paul Kazee and filmmaker/author Shelagh Rowan-Legg. Says the jury, “Veteran writer and director Agnieszka Holland’s late season masterwork is not only a sumptuously photographed and compellingly crafted forensic thriller but a genuinely radical work of cinema, interrogating timely themes of gender, animal rights and humanity’s precarious relationship with nature, issues that are dear to our hearts here at Fantasia. We are proud to honor a film maker working at the very height of her provocative talents.”
The Cheval Noir jury also awarded a special prize to LOWLIFE, for “audaciousness, energy, and perfectly embodying the anarchic Fantasia spirit.”
New Flesh Award for Best First Feature
Best Film: SPLIT, d. Choi Kook-hee
Special Mention: NIGHT OF THE VIRGIN (LA NOCHE DEL VIRGEN), d. Roberto San Sebastian
Filmmaker William Lustig presided over the 2017 New Flesh Jury, which was comprised of writer/producer Katarina Gligorijevic, journalist Jason Gorber, producer Joshua Sobel and distributor Antoine Zeind. Says the jury, “For its surprising sweetness, its assured direction, and its intense collision between sports film and crime drama that feels like THE BIG LEBOWSKI meets RAIN MAN with balls, and with characters that never stray outside their lane and have heart to spare, the jury was bowled over by SPLIT.” The New Flesh Jury also awarded a special prize to NIGHT OF THE VIRGIN, for “its scatological sophistication, its wry look at relationships, and sly political messaging fueled by a gonzo spirit. This cautionary yet endearing tale of lust earns the Jury’s special mention for unabashed weirdness and button-pushing bravado.”
Action! Award
Winner: CONFIDENTIAL ASSIGNMENT (GONGJO), d. Kim Sung-hoon
Special Mention: JAILBREAK, d. Jimmy Henderson
The 2017 Action! Jury was comprised of producer Hughes Barbier, filmmaker Érik Canuel and programmer Peter Kuplowsky. Says the jury, “We couldn’t take our eyes off of CONFIDENTIAL ASSIGNMENT’s kickass action choreography and were captivated by its fun and funny script, putting the film above its contenders. In the vein of Walter Hill’s RED HEAT, CONFIDENTIAL ASSIGNMENT brings back the late-’80s action comedy with a splash, and we hope audiences will enjoy it as much as we did.” The Action! Jury also awarded a special prize to JAILBREAK, “for its inspired fight and camera choreography. The filmmakers achieve a rare and innovative alchemy between camera and cast, that transforms the operator from observer to literal combatant.”
AQCC-Camera Lucida Award
Winner: A GHOST STORY, d. David Lowery
Special Mention: TOWN IN A LAKE (MATANGTUBIG), d. Jet Leyco
Journalist/professor Donato Totoro presided over the 2017 AQCC-Camera Lucida Jury, which was comprised of programmer Paul Landriau and AQCC vice-president Jean-Marie Lanlo. The jury awarded A GHOST STORY their top honor, “for its nuanced cinematic treatment of material and spiritual time across human landscape.”
The AQCC-Camera Lucida Jury also awarded a special prize to TOWN IN A LAKE “for the facility in which the filmmaker invites the viewer to discover a world progressively veering toward the supernatural.”
Séquences Award
Best Film: BAD GENIUS, d. Nattawut Poonpiriya
Critic Pascal Grenier presided over the 2017 Prix Séquences Jury, which was comprised of critic/filmmaker Mathieu Houle-Beausoleil and critic Maxime Labrecque. Says the jury, “For its clever mixture of suspense and humor, skillful approach to the theme of manipulation, and for its complex staging, we are proud to present the Séquences Award for Best Film to BAD GENIUS.”
The Barry Convex Award for Best Canadian Film
Best Film: POOR AGNES, d. Navin Ramaswaran
Special Mention: ORIGAMI, d. Patrick Demers
The 2017 Barry Convex Jury was comprised of critic/author Kier-La Janisse, filmmaker Douglas Buck and filmmaker George Mihalka. Administered by Spectacular Optical with support from the Paul A. Ray Memorial Fund, the Barry Convex Award is an annual juried prize for which all Canadian features or co-productions making their World, International, North American or Canadian premiere at Fantasia are eligible.
Says the jury, “Navin Ramaswaran’s POOR AGNES was chosen to represent the 2017 Barry Convex Award not only for its impressive direction, darkly comic storytelling and overall unified vision, but for its challenging attitude. Coming out of a country with a system where voices of subversion against, and challenges to, the mainstream status quo are few and far between—and yet more important than ever—POOR AGNES acts as a daring and powerful middle finger against establishment filmmaking.” The Barry Convex Jury also awarded a special prize to ORIGAMI for “its deft direction, sophisticated visual aesthetic, strong performances, and the successful blending of genres in a complex story told in a refreshingly unconventional manner.”
Axis: The Satoshi Kon Award for Excellence in Animation
Feature: HAVE A NICE DAY (HAO JI LE), d. Liu Jian
Special Mention (Feature): JUNK HEAD, d. Takahide Hori
Short Film: COCOLORS, d. Yokoshima Toshihisa
Special Mention (Short): YIN, d. Nicolas Fong
The 2017 Axis Jury was comprised of director Greg Bailey, graphic novelist Dave Cooper, director Nadja Cozic and cartoonist Jean Lacombe. Says the jury, “HAVE A NICE DAY stands out for the implacable mechanic of its script, its acute dialog, and for the quality of its voice talent” and, referring to the short film winner, COLOLORS, “It clearly stood out above the other films in the category. Great animation, design, story, voices, backgrounds, and sound. There are a number of scenes that will always be etched in our memory.” The Axis Jury also awarded a special prize to JUNK HEAD, “to acknowledge the tremendous work accomplished in the making of this movie as well as the artistic direction that seduced us” and another to YIN, noting, “The animation is amazingly inspired, inventive and fluid, drawing us effortless from one imaginative, visual surprise to the next.”
International Short Film Competition Award
Best Short Film: iMEDIUM, d. Alfonso García
Filmmaker Gary Sherman presided over the 2017 Short Film Jury, which was comprised of filmmaker Aisling Chin-Yee and Vimeo curator Ina Pira. Says the jury, “The direction by Alfonso Garcia, the script by Vincet Blonde, the frantic cinematography of Jesus Velez, Sebastian Roque’s music, J.L Canalejo’s sound design, and Jose Bermudez’s stellar performance all blended perfectly together to create an emotionally charged, frightening six minutes. From the opening graphics, one could not divert their attention from the screen. As frenetically as the film begins, it manages to build in intensity and never back off. All of us on the jury were astounded by this feat.”
FANTASIA 2017 AUDIENCE AWARDS
Best Asian Feature Film
BAD GENIUS (Gold Prize)
BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL (Silver Prize)
A DAY (Bronze Prize)
Best North American, South American or European Feature Film
BETTER WATCH OUT (Gold Prize)
LOWLIFE (Silver Prize)
MAYHEM (Bronze Prize)
Best Canadian/Quebec Feature Film
ANOTHER WOLFCOP (Gold Prize)
DEAD SHACK (Silver Prize)
GAME OF DEATH (Bronze Prize)
The GURU Prize for Best Action Feature Film
JAILBREAK (Gold Prize)
THE VILLAINESS (Silver Prize)
ATOMIC BLONDE (Bronze Prize)
Most Innovative Feature Film
BAD GENIUS (Gold Prize)
THE LAPLACE’S DEMON (Silver Prize)
JAILBREAK (Bronze Prize)
Best Animated Feature Film
NAPPING PRINCESS (Gold Prize)
LU OVER THE WALL (Silver Prize)
NIGHT IS SHORT, WALK ON GIRL (Bronze Prize)
Best Documentary Feature Film
KING COHEN (Gold Prize)
78/52 (Silver Prize)
GEEK GIRLS (Bronze Prize)
Best International Short Film
RUE (Gold Prize)
IT BEGAN WITHOUT WARNING (Silver Prize)
NOCTURNALLY YOURS/FLOW (Bronze Prize—tie)
Best Canadian or Quebec Short Film
PAST AND FUTURE KINGS (Gold Prize)
NO WAVE (Silver Prize)
APOCALYPSE BABIES/BABYSITTER (Bronze Prize—tie)

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