Curtain Raiser: The Cultural Gutter Goes to Fantasia 2022!

There are so many events happening at Fantasia 2022 between July 14 and August 3, including world and North American film premieres, a tribute to John Woo, and a special screening series as part of a celebration of the tenth anniversary of Kier-La Janesse’s book, House of Psychotic Women (2012). And, you might not have read this in the papers (yet), but the Cultural Gutter is going to Fantasia 2022. Both the Gutter’s own Carol Borden and Sachin Hingoo will be watching movies and sharing their thoughts on them. Carol will be writing here at the Gutter and Sachin will be keeping you apprised of all the doings at Biff Bam Pop

In the meantime, Carol and Sachin share a few of the movies they are interested in, intrigued by, and just plain excited about at Fantasia 2022. Keep an eye on the Gutter for their thoughts on the movies and events. And make sure to hop on over to the Fantasia International Film Festival website to check out all the films playing and keep up with all the news and events happening. 

Carol’s picks:

There are so many movies I want to see and who knows how many I will manage to before I collapse on my chaise lounge, overcome. But here are five movies I’m interested in seeing. (Obviously, it goes without saying that I want to see Shin Ultraman, but who doesn’t want to see Shin Ultraman so let’s leave that aside for now).

The movie I am most excited to see at this year’s Fantasia is Wai Ka-Fai’s Detective Vs. Sleuths. Suspects in cold cases are turning up dead, killed by vigilantes. And the only ones who can catch them–if anyone can–are homeless, former police detective Yun (Lau Ching-Wan) and pregnant, current detective Yee (Charlene Choi). I am excited about the whole thing–Johnnie To’s frequent filmmaking partner Wai Ka-Fai directing again! Lau Ching-Wan playing an unusual detective! (Quirky Lau Ching-Wan is my favorite Lau Ching-Wan). Wai and Lau together again 15 years after Mad Detective (2007)! I expect grit, a tormented detective, two people with a lot to prove, grim humor, gross murders, and many, many twists.

Do not mess with Ma Dong-soek.

Sometimes you just want to see a giant wrecking ball take on malefactors and all signs point to Ma Dong-seok being that wrecking ball in Lee Sang-yong’s The Roundup. You might remember Ma as the sweetest rampaging muscle man in the world in Train to Busan (2016) or maybe you saw him in The Eternals (2021) or watched him in the OCN series, The Bad Guys (2014). In The Roundup, he plays Detective Ma. And it looks like crime will be punched and bon mot’d till it crimes no more in an action spectacular!

The Girl From The Other Side is one of my favorite manga and I am curious to see how Yutaro Kubo and Satomi Maiya will bring Nagabe’s gorgeous and melancholy fairy tale to the screen. Shiva lives in a house in the woods with Teacher, her caretaker. Shiva is a little girl, a human orphan who has lost her family. Teacher is a monster, but a refined, elegant creature from the Outside. He cares for Shiva and protects her, but, of course, other people don’t understand. And the Others from the Outside are very curious about Shiva.

A logistical nightmare.

Sachin and I didn’t even talk about our lists. So who could’ve known that like Sachin, I am looking forward to seeing Satoshi Miki’s movies at Fantasia this year: Convenience Story and What To Do With The Dead Kaiju?  I am down with both an unexpected journey beginning with the one step of pickup up dog food from the convenience store and leading to another possibly more mysterious convenience store. And I am equally down with a movie devoted to the problems–practical and political–caused by an enormous rotting kaiju corpse.

*Because people are going to mention Dwayne McDuffie and Ernie Colon’s comic Damage Control (1989), I’m just going to suggest, “Go read Damage Control!” 

Sachin’s picks:

There’s amazing films–big and small and in-between–at this year’s Fantasia, and given the opportunity I’d watch all of them. Alas, I can’t, because there are only so many hours in the accursed day. 

Tara Thorne’s Compulsus looks like the exact kind of revenge fantasy I can get on board with. This Canadian film tells story of a woman who becomes a kind of lethal protector of women, bringing consequences to violent men. If Compulsus lives anywhere in the realm of Coralie Fargeat’s Revenge (2017), Alice Lowe’s Prevenge (2016), or Daan Windhorst’s The Columnist (2019), I’ll be an instant fan. 

Satoshi Miki (Adrift In Tokyo) has a pair films at this year’s Festival, and both look incredible. Convenience Story tells the, um, story of a struggling screenwriter who encounters an unusual shop in the middle of nowhere while on the search for dog food, and things get very weird from there. This quiet, eccentric movie is in direct contrast with Miki’s other Fantasia offering, What To Do With The Dead Kaiju? which might be my most anticipated movie in this whole lineup. In this one, Miki answers the question many of us have when the credits roll on our favourite Godzilla, Gamera, and heck, even Shin Ultraman, which headlines Fantasia this year–what next? How does a city bounce back from a giant monster battle and, as the title offers, what does one do with the carcasses? A quirky comedy set on the backdrop of political bureaucracy is pretty much my exact speed. 

A found-footage documentary from Oscar Harding called A Life on the Farm is one of the strangest and most compelling selections at Fantasia this year. Based around a VHS tape handed down from Harding’s grandfather, a gift from his odd neighbor Charles Carson, the documentary is a true found-footage gem shot by Carson himself. Said to be depicted are cat funerals, skeleton races, and more from someone that may not have been celebrated as an artist in his time, but shows the heart and soul of one. A Life on the Farm also features interviews from Carson’s family and friends, all in celebration of this truly unusual piece of video. 

Speaking of documentaries, Ry Levey’s pro wrestling documentary Out in the Ring, which spotlights LGBTQI+ talent in the industry is a must-see, whether you’re a wrestling fan or not. The surprisingly thorough and far-reaching film covers the earliest intersections between wrestling and queer culture, as well as the struggles and triumphs that queer talent all over the world have faced, basically since wrestling has been a thing. For someone like me who reads obsessively about the backstage drama of wrestling in multiple companies around the world, Out in the Ring is one of the best documentaries on the industry I’ve ever seen. 

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