Korean director Hong Eui-jeong’s debut feature “Voice of Silence” stood out at Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival as the year’s best film from its Cheval Noir main competition section. The film, about two men who clean up after an organized crime organization, has enjoyed an impressive international festival run, having built up strong buzz as a project when it was selected to Venice’s Biennale College Cinema program in 2016.
“In a film festival that’s known as a melting pot of genres, ‘Voice of Silence’ feels like an excellent representative for the top prize in the Cheval Noir section. It’s earnest and sincere in tone but also unpredictable and experimental, impossible to pin down, and truly idiosyncratic,” said the jury in a statement accompanying the announcement.
Basque filmmaker Igor Legarreta was honored as the year’s best director for his sophomore effort “All the Moons,” a 19th century period film unspooling during the Third Carlist War when a young girl, the lone survivor of a bombing, is offered healing by a strange woman who asks for eternal loyalty in return. The prize capped off an impressive festival for “All the Moons,” which also won best cinematography (Imanol Nabea) and the Audience Award for best international feature.
Canadian writer Mark O’Brien won best screenplay for “The Righteous,” one of the year’s best-reviewed horror films sure to make waves in the coming months. The jury was impressed by the film’s “compelling and intense script which investigates grief, compassion, faith, love, self-doubt and madness, all the things, therefore, that make us the creatures that we are, that make us human.”
Best actor and actress went to South Korea’s Yoo Ah-in (“Voice of Silence”) and Zelda Adams (“Hellbender”) respectively, and the jury also recognizing cinematographer Imanol Nabea (“All the Moons”) with a special mention. Other jury special mentions went to “Martyrs Lane” breakout child actor Sienna Sayer and Stef Lernous for the sound design of “Hotel Poseidon.”
This year’s Cheval Noir jury was headed by Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Smoczyńska, who directed 2016’s “The Lure,” a Sundance hit and Fantasia Cheval Noir Special Jury Prize winner. Her 2018 feature “Fugue” also screened at Cannes’ Critics Week. Smoczyńska was joined by writer and critic Kambole Campbell, producer Paula Devonshire (“Survival of the Dead”), Sitges Festival general manager Mónica García Massagué, and director Simon Rumley (“Red, White & Blue”).
Fantasia’s New Flesh section, one of the world’s premier launchpads for new voices in genre cinema, recognized Rob Jabbaz’s over-the-top slasher “The Sadness” as this year’s best debut feature film. “Though the jury had their jaws dropped to the floor, they were incredibly impressed with such a slickly produced rampage of gore. A wild ride that doesn’t stop! Sadists, cannibalism, lust… one could say it has been a while since a film has managed to horrify and scare them in the level this film did,” said jury head Kim Newman, a U.K.-based author, critic and broadcaster.
The jury also highlighted two Japanese debuts with special mentions: Junta Yamaguchi’s “Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes” and Kazuaki Seki’s “Office Royale.”
One of the festival’s most exciting sections, the Camera Lucida sidebar which showcases films from auteur filmmakers which expand the boundaries of genre cinema, gave its top honor to “The Story of Southern Islet” from Malaysian filmmaker Chong Keat Aun, and a special mention to Philippine director Dodo Dayao’s “Midnight in a Perfect World.”
From the festival’s expansive and prestigious animation section, Dash Shaw’s “Cryptozoo” took best feature with Ayumu Watanabe’s “Fortune Favors Lady Nukuko” scoring a special mention.
This year, the audience expressed themselves by picking their favorite Asian (“Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes” from Junta Yamaguchi), international (“All the Moons”) and Canadian (“Dreams on Fire” from Philippe McKei) films. Notably, Phil Tippett’s long and anxiously awaited stop-motion feature “Mad God” was recognized by the audience as the year’s best animated and most groundbreaking film.
2021 FANTASIA FESTIVAL AWARDS
“Voice of Silence” (Hong Eui-jeong, South Korea)
Igor Legarreta (“All the Moons,” Spain, France)
Mark O’Brien (“The Righteous,” Canada)
John Adams (“Hellbender,” U.S.)
Yoo Ah-in (“Voice of Silence,” South Korea)
Zelda Adams (“Hellbender,” U.S.)
Imanol Nabea (“All the Moons,” Spain, France)
Sienna Sayer (“Martyrs Lane,” U.K.)
Stef Lernous (“Hotel Poseidon,” Belgium)
NEW FLESH AWARDS FOR DEBUT FILMS
“The Sadness” (Rob Jabbaz, Taiwan)
“Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes” (Junta Yamaguchi)
“Office Royale” (Kazuaki Seki, Japan)
INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM COMPETITION
“Vulnerability” (Eiji Tanigawa, Japan)
Cory Williamson (“Silly Human,” U.S.)
Steph Kwiatkowski (“Rachels Don’t Run,” U.S., France)
Victoria Villier (“Inheritance,” U.S.)
Ian Cramer (“Other Bodies,” U.S.)
“The Tenant” (Lucas Paulino, Ángel Torres, Spain)
“Henchmen” (Alistair Quak, Singapore)
AQCC-CAMERA LUCIDIA AWARD
Camera Lucida Prize
“The Story of Southern Islet” (Chong Keat Aun, Malaysia)
“Midnight in a Perfect World” (Dodo Dayao, Philippines)
AXIS: SATOSHI KON AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN ANIMATION
“Cryptozoo” (Dash Shaw, U.S.)
“Fortune Favors Lady Nukuko” (Ayumu Watanabe, Japan)
“Seen It,” (Adithi Krishnadas, India)
“Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes” (Junta Yamaguchi, Japan)
“All the Moons” (Igor Lagarreta, Spain, France)
“Dreams on Fire” (Philippe McKei, Canada, Japan)
“Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror” (Kier-La Janisse, U.S.)
“Mad God” (Phil Tippett, U.S.)
“Mad God” (Phil Tippett, U.S.)
“Digital Video Editing with Adobe Premiere Pro: The Real-World Guide to Set Up and Workflow” (Hong Seong-yoon, South Korea)
“Freya” (Camille Hollett-French, Canada)
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