Fantastic Fest 2012: The Afterglow

in

FF 2012 Closing PartyFantastic Fest 2012 is behind us and the number one complaint that I've heard is about Fantastic Fest withdrawal. The closing-night party was filled with the same high energy and camaraderie demonstrated above by badgeholders for karaoke at the American Legion Hall. No one wanted the party or the week to end. Despite a few issues with the boarding pass reservation system and oversold badges, everyone seemed to have a wonderful time with an amazing and diverse amount of film content.

Credit for the memorable experiences that overshadow any problems should be given to the Fantastic Fest staff and volunteers -- not just the founders and film programmers, but the staff at the concierge desk and the box office and the army of volunteers manning the doors. I'd been unsuccessful in securing my traditional Superfan badge for 2012 and was quite prepared for a more difficult experience, expecting long lines and missed screenings. However, my personal experience far exceeded what I'd expected. The last minute additions of several screenings with seats for press as well as a handful of early morning press-only screenings meant that many more attendees were accomodated without feeling as if we were at a massive and crowded film festival. The well balanced program meant that I only missed a few films I wanted to see but I had no trouble finding an appropriate alternate selection.

Find out what I thought were some of the highlights of Fantastic Fest 2012 after the jump.FF Death Metal Comedian Azzeroth the JovialThe Parties: I didn't plan on attending many parties this year as The Highball has been too crowded in the past, but surprisingly, this year Fantastic Fest attendees really took over the venue. At the urging of Zack Carlson, I attended the Miami Connection afterparty to see the reunion performance of Dragon Sound, and later in the week the "Welcome to Hellfjord" Norwegian Black Metal night complete with Black Metal stand-up comic Azzeroth the Jovial (pictured above). FF2012 Closing Party Jasmine Torturaoke

There was plenty of karaoke both scheduled and impromptu in karaoke rooms all week long. I managed to get a couple of favorite songs in, although I wasn't as brave as Jasmine Baker -- the first victim of Torture-oke at the Red Dawn-themed closing-night party with her appropriate selection of Electic Six tune "Danger! High Voltage."  Bad-Ass Devin Faraci threw the switch to provide transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation during her performance.

Local band Foot Patrol performed on the lawn of the American Legion Hall while partygoers socialized, drank and received free head shavings and real tattoos. I indulged in the shot block outdoors, definitely less adventurous than the electric shock indoors. The most comical moment I witnessed was the partygoer in a costume who was constantly told "the superheroes theme was last year" to which he would reply, "but I'm a WOLVERINE!"

The Ladies: Maybe it was Katy's XX Team Power! The Fantastic Fest Females Survival Guide that made me more aware, but there was a noticeable increase of women involved in this year's fest, including staff, volunteers, filmmakers and guests. I saw Elizabeth Avellan on several occasions, and the Twisted Twin filmmakers Jen and Sylvia Soska carried the spotlight torch for in absentia Nacho Vigalondo. Chilean television star Fernanda Urrejola was quite visible as she spent the week supporting the premiere of Bring Me the Head of The Machine Gun Woman, in which she starred.

I spoke to a few of the female volunteers and attendees about their favorite films and the conversation led to the formation of thr XX Team Power! Facebook group. Stay tuned for the adventures of Team XX Power! as we explore films with strong female characters or from women filmmakers that break the "chick flick" stereotype.

The Movies: What an incredible selection this year -- from fabulous crime thrillers such as Black Out and Cold-Blooded to semi-family-friendly comedies such as I Declare War and Frankenweenie, there was no shortage of quality programming. The special screening of Cloud Atlas was a double-edged sword -- I enjoyed that movie so much I was ruined for the rest of the evening and into the next day for any other movies. Not since Pan's Labyrinth have I been so affected by a film that I wanted to savor and process the experience before seeing any other films.

Another notable film included Brandon Cronenberg's Antiviral, which reminded me of David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch and fed my sci-fi addiction. Which leads me to ...

The Scariest Film I Didn't See: As much as I wanted to see Sinister with the Fantastic Fest crowd, I was still not ready to see the movie again, and won't be until I know I'll have a houseful of roommates to greet me when I get home afterwards. I saw Sinister during SXSW in March, and for several nights I could not sleep and jumped at every creak and noise in my large and nearly unoccupied house.

Revisits and Must-Sees: I missed Looper although I bought the amazing Mondo poster and plan to see it soon -- after I see Cloud Atlas again. I also would love to watch I Declare War and Black Out. Here's hoping that we will see these independent films in local theaters in the future.

[Photo credits: "Azzeroth the Jovial," "Fantastic Fiends at the Wolverine Closing Party," "Danger! High Voltage Jasmine" by Debbie Cerda.]

Women at Fantastic Fest

I too saw more women this year. Like you, I'm not sure if I was just paying more attention, or if the numbers were truly up. But, I loved the estrogen power that the Soska sisters brought to the Fest. Till next year!