A few weeks before the 2011 Fantasia Film Festival, the programmers released a tentative list of noteworthy films to be screened at the festival. Before then, I’m a little underwhelmed about the festival this year, enthralled in activities out and about in the city. Montreal in the summer is something to experience; it’s frustrating really, choosing between all the happenings and other stuff like job or school. But, as I scroll through the list, my eyes stop over the entry for Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, Johnny To’s new romantic comedy, one of my favourite directors and arguably the best in Hong Kong, the only producer I know who’s successfully industrialized his cinema without losing art, edge or heart and soul. And right there, as I read the description, as my eyes run through the black page, I start getting excited.
Once the full programming is out, I spend a few hours seeping through it. A few of the offerings singularly shine: from wuxia (Detective Dee, True Legend) to Asian cinemas (The Unjust) and auteur films (To’s Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, Miike’s 13 Assassins and Sono’s Cold Fish). I build my personal list with must-sees first, singling out ten movies that I think will be the most interesting to see. Compared to the 19 I saw last year, it doesn’t feel challenging enough to me, therefore I add ten more films I’m on the fence about that appeal to me or that had a wicked trailer.
By the time I call the Admissions hotline to buy my tickets, a few of my chosen screenings are already sold out. The opening film, Kevin Smith’s Red State is unavailable two days before the official launching of the festival, but also Petty Romance, an unusual Korean romcom I was wholeheartedly excited for. I have to shuffle my schedule around a few times to get an acceptable list of twenty films, but after an initial order of ten tickets is made and I go to pick them up, I look forward to my choices, smiling all the way to the Fantasia box office.