Clapping, shouting out and singing along are usually frowned upon at art-house film festivals — but not at the Golden Horse Fantastic Film Festival (金馬奇幻影展). Celebrating its second edition this year, the extension of the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival (台北金馬影展) embraces B movies, cult films and genre flicks in an attempt to “change the way people watch movies” and “emancipate audiences from the orthodox festival experience,” according to festival director Wen Tien-hsiang (聞天祥).
Highlights include early, low-budget flicks by several Hollywood directors. For horror fans, Sam Raimi’s hilarious and gory Evil Dead trilogy achieved an exalted cult status long before his Spider-Man blockbusters. Legend has it that Robert Rodriguez, the Hollywood player behind Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Sin City, raised US$7,000 by participating in clinical drug trials for his directorial debut, El Mariachi (1992). The action film follows a traveling mariachi who is mistaken for a cold-blooded killer. Then only 23 years old, Rodriguez used an amateur cast and scripted, shot, directed, edited and produced the movie himself.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is all about audience participation, and the classic returns with two sold-out screenings after last year’s ruckus, which saw a full-house audience encouraged to perform, dance and use props such as rice, newspaper and leather gloves. Those inspired to sing along during the screenings of The Wizard of Oz are also welcome to do so, Wen says.
Stephen Chow’s (周星馳) diptych, A Chinese Odyssey (齊天大聖西遊記/東遊記), demonstrates the organizer’s willingness to seek out cult movies rooted in Asian culture rather those transplanted from the West. With a large fan base and frequent broadcasting on television, Chow’s comedies have “great potential to become cult classics,” Wen said.
WHAT: The Golden Horse Fantastic Film Festival 2011 (金馬奇幻影展)
WHEN AND WHERE: Today to April 10 at the Shin Kong Cineplex (新光影城), 4F, 36 Xining S Rd, Taipei City (台北市西寧南路36號4樓), April 8 to April 17 at the Image Museum of Hsinchu City (新竹市影像博物館), 65 Zhongzheng Rd, Hsinchu City (新竹市中正路65號)
ADMISSION: NT$160 per screening (NT$699 for a book of five) in Taipei, and NT$100 per screening in Hsinchu, available at the door or from 7-Eleven ibon kiosks
ON THE NET: www.ghfff.org.tw
Japanese gonzo gore cinema addicts can get their fix with Helldriver. Drenched in blood and boasting bizarre artificial body devices, the zombie epic by Yoshihiro Nishimura, a master of the splatter genre, tells of teenager Kika’s crusade to destroy her evil mother, who rules over the undead in a zombie-ridden Japan.
Unable to completely shake off the more artistic temperament it inherited from the Golden Horse, the young spin-off’s lineup is dotted with art-house items. Among them, If the See Doesn’t Die is a sober allegory on the modern history of the Balkan states told through a tale of fatherly devotion.
Wen said the fledgling festival has successfully landed a permanent spot in Golden Horse’s stable of events thanks to its instant popularity and strong ticket sales. Wen’s small team has already begun working on the next edition which, if everything goes to plan, will include a retrospective on American director and cult figure John Waters, known for his early campy Trash Trilogy and cult films such as Hairspray and Cry-Baby.
“No doubt we can do a lot of even crazier things with [Waters’] films. For example, we can let cross-dressers who weigh over 100kg watch the movies for free,” said Wen, referring to Divine, a full-figured, flamboyant drag queen who was made into an underground star by the director’s cult classics.