This just in – the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival has gotten bigger and bolder in 2018! This 9th edition of the festival will run November 14 to 18 and includes an extra day of programming, a Kier-La Janisse curated “Saturday Morning All You Can Eat Cereal Cartoon Party” (a past MMC! favourite), and a body horror retrospective featuring Criterion and Arrow Video title Videodrome, Arrow video classic Society, and past MMC! subject Body Melt. Festival founder and director John Allison remarks:
Adding in the extra day has allowed us to up our game with the festival. Our focus continues to be bringing in the best new genre films to Saskatoon but with the extra time available we are screening more movies than ever, adding in the Saturday morning all you can eat cereal cartoon party, and the first of hopefully many retrospectives, with this year’s subject being Body Horror.
The first wave of announced titles include a pair of MMC! favourites from the Chattanooga FIlm Festival – Trevor Stevens’ Rock Steady Row and Issa López’s Tigers Are Not Afraid – and a number of exciting movies as yet unseen by MMC!, including Joko Anwar’s terrifying Satan’s Slaves, Gaspar Noé’s delirious Climax, Tilman Singer’s diabolical Luz, and Zeek Earl and Christopher Caldwell’s tenacious Prospect.
MMC! plans on being in attendance so check back for further announcements and reports or visit our Letterboxd list for some hot takes from the SFFF itself.
Here are the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival’s first wave of announcements:
The Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival’s final day was even more massive than expected. With a packed program and an extra short film (moved from the previous day due to a technical issue), there was little downtime between screenings and the Festival’s final midnight show started late and wrapped well past 2:30 a.m. Those that saw the marathon day of screenings to its bleary end enjoyed without question the SFFF’s best block of films (plus some welcome giveaways for lucky attendees).
There’s a running joke in Bill Watterson’s Dave Made a Maze (2017), a film about a man who builds a massive cardboard maze (bigger inside than out) and then gets trapped within it. As Dave’s friend Gordon (Adam Busch) repeatedly points out, the maze is full of traps, making it, in fact, a labyrinth. Day 3 of the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival offered a disparate collection of films – a comedy recounting a slacker’s epic quest in a DIY fortress; a trippy, coming-of-age, prom night parable; a genre-mixing, science fiction blockbuster; and a dreamy descent into a housewife’s trauma and a cult’s terrifying prophecy. Each offers its own twists and turns, finding new dangers as they progress through corrugated caverns, genre conventions, and layered realities. In fact, they’re all labyrinths in their own ways.
The Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival went globe-trotting to start Day 2. The “Drawn from Around the World” block of animated shorts offered some enthralling works. Many conveyed a sad or lamenting poignancy. Keiro (Tatiana Jusewycz, Benoît Leloup, Franck Menigoz, Zoé Nérot, and Charlotte Poncin, 2016) traced a girl’s journey to adulthood and its effect on the giant creature that accompanies her, Beyond the Books (Jérôme Battistelli, Mathilde Cartigny, Nicolas Evain, Maéna Paillet, Robin Pelissier, and Judith Wahler, 2017) envisioned the highly detailed collapse of an impossibly immense library, the Spanish short Dead Horses (Marc Riba and Anna Solanas, 2016) revealed the brutality of war from a child’s perspective and amid fabric devastation, and the Indian film Schirkoa (Asian Shukla, 2017) imagined political strife in a world where citizens wear bags and boxes on their heads. Others brought the funny, like Daniel Sterlin-Altman’s Hi, It’s Your Mother (2017), about motherhood, blood loss, and middle class living told in crude claymation, and Deuspi (Megacomputer, 2017), a very short work about a pair of astonishingly inept stick-up men and their hilarious fates.
Even before I arrived in Saskatoon, I felt like Fantastic Film Festival-action was meeting me like a herald of things to come. It had something to do with the man waiting at my flight’s gate conspicuously wearing a black eyepatch that threatened spy movie villainy. It also had something to do with the man behind me in security and his laptop that tested positive for “explosive residue.” Fortunately for me, action-thrillers weren’t slated until Day 2 of the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival and my flight proceeded without complication, bringing me to Day 1 of SFFF and a block of films featuring some disturbed title characters.
While the bad news is that our next Arrow Video proposal will be delayed, the good news is that this delay will be due to MMC! attending the 2017 Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival! This year’s edition boasts 17 features and 29 short films, including top prize winners at the Fantasia Film Festival, FrightFest, Fantastic Fest, TIFF, Macabro, Boston Underground, and Calgary Underground. Go to the SFFF’s website to see the full program.
Look out for daily reports at MMC! on each of the SFFF’s four days of screenings. Last year was excellent, with no less than seven films making my TOP 50 for 2016. What surprises does 2017 hold? Check back later this week to find out!