By Monday, we were more than halfway through Fantastic Fest. On the one hand, festgoers who were just there for the weekend had departed, thinning the crowds slightly. On the other hand, some of us realized that there were still tons of movies to see and only a limited time, so we had better try to get into as many films as we could. I know some people who managed to see 5 or 6 films a day. I'm not one of them -- too wimpy.
One movie I saw and liked on Monday was Santos, a superhero film from Chile. When director Nicolas Lopez took the stage before the movie, I recognized him as one of the judges from Thursday night's Air Sex Championships. He was a wonderfully unpredictable judge and turned out to be a charming speaker during the intro and later during the Q&A for his film (as shown in the photo after the jump). Santos is about a comic-book artist who doesn't realize he has the same superpowers as one of the characters he writes about -- and at various points in his life, he's called upon to use those powers. It's very funny, but if you get the chance to see it, bear in mind that many of the gags are not at all family-friendly. Santos was produced by Elizabeth Avellan of Austin's Troublemaker Studios (which produces Robert Rodriguez's films) -- no U.S. distribution deals as of yet, but I hope that changes.
The Fantastic Fest awards ceremony was Monday night, too. I was part of the Fantastic Shorts jury this year and was asked to present the award. This made me a little nervous because Fantastic Fest awards are traditionally beer steins, which are filled to the brim (with Miller High Life this year) when the award is given, and the winners have to chug. If the winner isn't there, the award presenter has to do the chugging. It takes me about an hour to drink a beer, so you can imagine my worries on that point. Fortunately, the winners of the special jury prize were in the audience and relieved me of my burden. I'm listing all the awards at the end of this article.
After the awards, I decided to watch Repo! The Genetic Opera, since I've heard so much about it and I know a lot of people are excited about the film. All three screenings of Repo! at Fantastic Fest were packed. Some repeat viewers in the Monday night audience had already created a fan Web site for the movie and it isn't being released until November. I love musicals generally; however, Repo! grated on my nerves terribly. Too much backstory that had to be explained as the movie progressed, too many characters and none of them sympathetic, and every dreary line of dialogue was sung ... but with few actual songs. In fact, the movie had the most unlyrical lyrics I've ever encountered ("I'm infected ... by your genetics ... I have an infection"). I admit that seeing the movie late at night probably lowered my tolerance for it. I also think that if I were 15 and Goth or emo and adored The Nightmare Before Christmas and Joss Whedon, I'd be more into this movie.
Will Goss liked Repo! The Genetic Opera better than I did, but agreed with me on some points: "The Hot Topic crowd is going to eat up Repo! as if the man-god Tim Burton had made it Himself. I'm afraid that I simply cannot count myself among that number."
Scott was more optimistic about the film: "Say what you will about Darren Bousman's Repo! The Genetic Opera, but you can't say the director is playing it safe. After hitting the genre in profitable fashion by directing the first three Saw sequels, Bousman probably could have grabbed an easy gig like a quick remake or, well, Saw 5 -- but instead he opted to work on that most unpredictable of items: the passion project.
"Borrowing a few pages from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Repo tells its story in a decidedly weird and heavily musical way -- and if you think you have a taste for strange tunes, dark comedy and frequent violence, I suspect you might have a good time with the flick. It may just be a 'novelty' piece for most folks, but I bet this colorfully odd little experiment goes on to gain some sort of cult following. And there's simply no denying that Bousman has jumped into this project with a lot of gory and gothic enthusiasm."
Here's what Will had to say about the rest of Monday: "In one of my most remarkably unproductive days of the festival, I managed to see not one, not two, but zero movies. On the flip side, I did make it to the fairly entertaining awards ceremony and "100 Best Kills" event. My choice picks from the latter? Million Dollar Baby and The Bridge..."
And now, the awards:
First Place: How to Get Rid of the the Others
Second Place: Cargo 200
Third Place: Ex-Drummer
Special Jury Award for originality and vision: Santos
First Place: Let the Right One In
Second Place: Acolytes
Third Place: Donkey Punch
Special Jury Award for most politically incorrect gore: Feast 2
Special Jury Award for best use of latex: Jack Brooks, Monster Slayer
First Place: The Good, The Bad and the Weird
Second Place: Chocolate
Third Place: JCVD
AMD Next Wave (for an up-and-coming filmmaker)
First Place: Tokyo Gore Police
Second Place: Deadgirl
Third Place: Le Creme
AMD Fantastic Fest Online (picked by viewers of festival films available online)
Best Feature Film: South of Heaven
Best Short Film: Treevenge
First Place: The Object
Second Place: Spandex Man
Third Place: Stagman
Special Jury Award for Visual Invention: Rojo Red
First Place: Electric Fence
Second Place:. I Love Sarah Jane
Third Place: El Senor Puppe
Special Jury Award for sheer enjoyability: The Horribly Slow Murderer With The Extremely Inefficient Weapon
First Place: Bernie's Doll
Second Place: Muto
Third Place: Violeta
Special Jury Award for Technical Merit: Facts In The Case Of Mr. Hollow
Bloodshots 48 Hour Filmmaking Contest
Film: Meet the Maydays
Team: Scottish Rite Productions
Team Captain: Drew Thomas
Fantastic Fest Bumper Contest
Film: Report Card
Team: Yer Dead
Team Captain: Jason Eisener