The Fantasia International Film Festival Announces Awards for 24th Edition

The Fantasia International Film Festival closed out its 2020 edition yesterday, having successfully transitioned to a cutting-edge digital event in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Canadian audiences proved dedicated to the long-running festival, and flocked to the digital edition, which saw over 85,000 spectators watch films and special events across the country and beyond. Of special interest to audiences were the fest’s twenty-five World Premiere features, including bows for COME TRUE, THE BLOCK ISLAND SOUND, HUNTED, UNDERGODS, TINY TIM: KING FOR A DAY, THE PAPER TIGERS, THE CURSE OF AUDREY EARNSHAW, PVT CHAT, SLAXX, THE OAK ROOM, and UNEARTH.

The 24th edition of the festival also saw a record amount of media coverage, with 475 accredited journalists from around the world promoting Fantasia and its ground-breaking content. From Canadian and U.S. media to popular, top-tier outlets as far away as Japan and Portugal, Fantasia’s media presence has never been stronger. The genre festival’s digital edition was featured prominently at Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Indiewire, Screen International, Forbes, Filmmaker Magazine, NME, Premiere, and hundreds of other websites, magazines, and television programs from across the Earth.

With a combination of live screenings, on-demand titles, and globally accessible, free events, Fantasia proudly wrapped their ambitious digital edition with the North American Premiere of Kiel McNaughton’s acclaimed Indigenous Kiwi action/comedy THE LEGEND OF BARON TO’A, following an awards announcement last night.

In closing out this year’s event, Fantasia is proud to publicly announce the awards for their 2020 edition, following fourteen days of virtual screenings, events, and celebrations. The fest hosted 104 feature films, 200 shorts, and seventeen live events, including a masterclass by horror luminary John Carpenter, an artist talk with filmmakers Mike Flanagan and Mick Garris, and a special in-conversation between celebrated Canadian actors-turned-directors Jay Baruchel and Finn Wolfhard, presented in celebration of the latter’s directorial debut, NIGHT SHIFTS, which the festival premiered.

► CHEVAL NOIR AWARD FOR FEATURE FILMS

The jury, presided over by Joko Anwar, the acclaimed Indonesian director of SATAN’S SLAVES and the 2020 Sundance breakout IMPETIGORE, featured Mattie Do (DEAREST SISTER, THE LONG WALK), Steve Moore (of the band Zombi, soundtrack composer for BLISS, MAYHEM), Jongsuk Thomas Nam (Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival programmer, Managing Director of the Network of Asian Fantastic Films), and Karen Walton (writer of GINGER SNAPS, Orphan Black) awarding the following prizes:

BEST FILM: MARYGOROUND (Poland, d. Daria Wosjek)

“For this visually arresting aria of a uniquely female experience, from its superb performances to its diabolical psychological landscape, the jury salutes the unflinching vision and precise execution of every single element of Daria Wosjek’s MARYGOROUND” 

BEST DIRECTOR: Daria Wosjek (MARYGOROUND, Poland)

“From her unflinching and delightfully irreverent intentionality, to her flawless execution, this singular hand on the creative helm grabs you from the first frame and never lets go. The jury declares MARYGOROUND’s Daria Wosjek The Total Package!” 

BEST SCREENPLAY: Brea Grant (12 HOUR SHIFT, USA)

“This wild ride delivers all the hair-raising chaos of a bent but light-hearted thriller, with a star-turn on deliciously deviant dialogue for a no-punches-pulled, timely heroine you can’t stop cheering for. The jury celebrates the ruthless screenwriting of Brea Grant for 12 HOUR SHIFT.” 

SANDRO FORTE AWARD FOR BEST MOTION PICTURE SCORE: Shiro Sagisu (WOTAKOI: LOVE IS HARD FOR OTAKU, Japan)

“A buoyant pairing of music and the characters’ emotional experience, this score exemplifies the craft of elevating a cinematic vision by acing the score’s elemental role in its story. The jury is delighted to award Shirō Sagisu the Sandro Forte Award for Best Motion Picture Score for WOTAKOI: LOVE IS HARD FOR OTAKU” 

BEST ACTOR: Jacky Heung (CHASING DREAM, Hong Kong)

“This knock-out performance is recognized for its exceptionally demanding physicality, heart-pounding special skills, dynamic and compelling emotion and the absolutely beautiful embodiment of a flawed but timeless hero. The jury is cheering on our new favourite fighter, Jacky Heung as Tiger in CHASING DREAM!” 

BEST ACTRESS: Grazyna Misiorowska (MARYGOROUND, Poland) 

“We cannot rave enough. This tour de force performance is a masterclass in spellbinding stunning nuance, heart-stopping vulnerability, emotional authenticity and true comic genius. The jury is thrilled to recognize this powerhouse performance by Grazyna Misiorowska as Mary in MARYGOROUND“

JURY SPECIAL MENTION: Cho Jin-woong (ME AND ME, South Korea) 

“The sophisticated and truly heart-wrenching work of one performer deserves a Special Mention: for his gripping ode to a man experiencing everything from the unnerving absurdity to existential agony of an uninvited “New Normal” with stunning grace and undeniable emotional honesty, Cho Jin-woong lifts the bar of the classic noir detective to a whole new level in his portrayal of ME AND ME’s Hyeong-goo.”

► NEW FLESH AWARD FOR DEBUT FILMS

The New Flesh jury, which awards debut feature films and their creators, was presided over by director, writer, and producer Darin Scott (TALES FROM THE HOOD, MENACE II SOCIETY) and comprised of Mette-Marie Kongsved (producer of COME TO DADDY, co-founder of Nowhere), Miguel Llansó (JESUS SHOWS YOU THE WAY TO THE HIGHWAY, CRUMBS), Shinji Sakoda (international sales and film representative), and April Wolfe (critic, podcaster, writer of BLACK CHRISTMAS 2019) awarded the following prizes:

THE NEW FLESH AWARD FOR BEST FIRST FEATURE: ROM (Vietnam, d. Tran Thanh Huy)

“Among fourteen quality contenders, this film was flush with actors we’d never heard of before but now anxiously await to see again, telling a visceral story of desperation with just the right amount of humor and room to breathe. For its thrilling cinematography that took us right out on the street, its economical and artful character development, and its overall inventiveness, we award Tran Thanh Huy’s ROM the New Flesh Best First Feature award.”

SPECIAL JURY MENTION: ME AND ME (South Korea, d. Jung Jin-young) 

“Though this is the New Flesh category, this film had the distinct feeling of being Premium Aged Beef from a mature filmmaker. For its surprising structure, combining humor and magic in a deceptively simple setup, we award Jung Jin-young’s ME AND ME with a special mention of the jury”

SPECIAL JURY MENTION: Grazyna Misiorowska (MARYGOROUND, Poland)

“This dynamic lead performance took a protagonist from virginal innocence to wild, untamed experience, requiring great skill and deft to transform a character from scene to scene and often within a single scene. For her exquisite ability to anchor this revisionary tale of the Virgin Mary, we award Grazyna Misiorowska with a special mention of the jury for her role in MARYGOROUND from director Daria Woszek.”

► INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM COMPETITION

The short film jury, presided over by Nosipho Dumisa (NUMBER 37, Netflix’s BLOOD & WATER), and comprised of Simon Barrett (writer of YOU’RE NEXT, THE GUEST), Pierce Conran (producer, journalist, consultant, writer, film critic), Natalie Erika James (RELIC), and Jennifer Reeder (KNIVES AND SKIN) awarded the following prizes:

BEST FILM: F FOR FREAKS (Germany, d. Sabine Ehrl)

“Sabine Ehrl’s F FOR FREAKS is an extraordinary film that utilizes genre conventions to astutely explore social hierarchy and the human condition. Providing only a glimpse of its enigmatic world, the film admirably restricts itself to an intimate scope that renders its fantastical elements tangibly real.”

BEST DIRECTOR: Pei-Ju Hsieh (A COCKEREL’S TALE, Taiwan)

“Director Pei-Ju Hsieh manages to deliver a genuine emotional journey within A COCKEREL’S TALE while skillfully maintaining a charmingly wry tone, resulting in a refreshingly idiosyncratic cinematic experience.”

BEST WRITER: Marc Martínez Jordán (YOUR LAST DAY ON EARTH, Spain)

“Inventive, funny and heartwarming, Marc Martínez Jordán’s screenplay for the unpredictable time travel comedy YOUR LAST DAY ON EARTH pulls off a quantity of clever plot reversals that would be difficult to manage within a feature, much less a fast-paced short film.”

BEST ACTOR: Aaron Bradshaw (MILK TEETH, USA)

“Aaron Bradshaw’s compelling, layered portrayal of Thomas, the young protagonist of MILK TEETH, provides a relatable emotional foundation for the film’s supernatural horror mythology, deftly drawing the viewer in.”

BEST ACTRESS: Ursula Werner (F FOR FREAKS, Germany)

“Ursula Werner carries the unique premise of F FOR FREAKS with the depth of her lead performance, allowing the viewer to perceive her character’s history through subtle gestures. A complex characterization that clarifies the film’s humanism.”

SPECIAL JURY MENTION: SNOWFLAKES (UK, d. Faye Jackson)

“Bracing and relevant, SNOWFLAKES deserves singular acclaim for its unpredictable narrative and excellent performances. Writer-director Faye Jackson’s bold stylistic choices signify an exciting new filmmaking voice.”

► AXIS: SATOSHI KON AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN ANIMATION

The Axis Jury, presided over by Marina Antunes (festival director, film critic, podcaster), and comprised of Han Han Li (animator, animation teacher), Chad Van Gaalen (animator, artist, musician), and Emily Paige (Creative Director and Partner, E.D. Films) awarded the following prizes:

BEST FEATURE FILM: THE OLD MAN MOVIE (Estonia, d. Oskar Lehemaa and Mikk Mägi)

“With its impressive use of stop-motion, Oskar Lehemaa and Mikk Mägi’s THE OLD MAN MOVIE pushes the technicality of the medium to make subtle political criticism and social commentary in a sometimes vulgar, never condescending, and always entertaining story that could not be easily captured on film.”

BEST SHORT FILM: WADE (India, d. Kalp Sanghvi and Upamanyu Bhattacharyya)

“From a team of young, passionate filmmakers, Upamanyu Bhattacharyya and Kalp Sanghvi’s WADE is a powerful work that captures the urgency of the real-life environmental disasters facing the world today. The film gives a voice to the people and the city of Kolkata with a depth of visual research and an incredible characterization of the city itself. A timely, courageous film.”

SPECIAL JURY MENTION: GENIUS LOCI (France, d. Adrien Mérigeau)

“Adrien Mérigeau’s GENIUS LOCI is a striking marriage of visuals and sound to tell a familiar story in a unique, innovative way, using animation and an innovative narrative structure to visualize the disorientation and terror of mental illness.”

► JURY AQCC – CAMERA LUCIDA AWARD

The AQCC-Camera Lucida Jury, comprised of Benjamin Pelletier (critic), Martin Gignac (critic, author), and Marc-Antoine Lévesque (critic) awarded the following prizes:

AQCC-CAMERA LUCIDA PRIZE: MY PUNCH-DRUNK BOXER (South Korea, d. Jung Hyuk-ki)

“For the very personal and unconventional handling of classic tropes; for the pleasing

narrative twists on the boxing film formula; for its fine sense of staging and for the

promise that this filmmaker represents, the jury awards the AQCC-Camera Lucida prize.

to Jung Hyuk-ki’s MY PUNCH-DRUNK BOXER.”

SPECIAL JURY MENTION: LABYRINTH OF CINEMA (Japan, d. Nobuhiko Obayashi)

“In order to underline the eternal freedom exhibited in his work, as well as the playful

chaos of a film that revisits the history of Japan through its cinema, the jury wishes to

award a special mention to LABYRINTH OF CINEMA by the late Nobuhiko Obayashi.”

► MY FIRST FANTASIA AWARD

The My First Fantasia jury, which looks our annual block of youth programming, comprised of Robin Aubert (actor, director, screenwriter), Patrick Boivin (director, screenwriter), and Carnior (director, screenwriter, actor, artistic director) awarded the following prizes:

POULAIN NOIR – GOLD PRIZE: CŒUR FONDANT (France, d. Benoît Chieu)

“For his endearing characters, his sense of staging, the originality of his drawings, and the poetry that emanates from them, the Mon Premier Fantasia Jury awards Poulain Noir – Gold to COEUR FONDANT by Benoît Chieux.”

POULAIN NOIR – SILVER PRIZE: ŒIL POUR ŒIL (France, d. Thomas Boileau, François Briantais, Robin Courtoise, Alan Guimont, Malcom Hunt, and Mathieu Lecroq)

“For its very masterful direction, its script, and its rhythm, not to forget the highly professional aspect of 3D animation, the jury awards the Poulain Noir – Silver to ŒIL POUR ŒIL by Thomas Boileau, François Briantais, Robin Courtoise, Alan Guimont, Malcom Hunt, and Mathieu Lecroq.”

POULAIN NOIR – BRONZE PRIZE: LA PÊCHE MIRACULEUSE (Belgium/France, d. Fabrice Luang-Vija)

“Because of its surprising black humour, simplicity, sense of rhythm, and the controlled crescendos of its gags, the Fantasia 2020 youth jury is pleased to award the Poulain Noir – Bronze to LA PÊCHE MIRACULEUSE by Fabrice Luang-Vija.”

SPECIAL JURY MENTION: ATTENTION AU LOUP! (France, d. Julie Rembauville and Nicolas Bianco)

“For its highly original way of reinventing a story as old as the world, the jury awards a special mention to ATTENTION AU LOUP! by Julie Rembauville and Nicolas Bianco.”

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