Montreal Weekend

Earlier this month, some friends and I managed to get away for a weekend road trip to Montreal.  It was the middle weekend of Fantasia and I got to see some great screenings, thanks to my friend Steph, who snagged me an industry badge. Steph runs Evokative Films and has been a big supporter of Reel Asian, but she’s also fun to go drinking with!

In order to get to Montreal by Friday afternoon (and avoid traffic), we are fortified with TimmyHo’s and on the road by 5:30am. We’ve all made mixtape-CDs and the miles zip by quickly.  The hotel is much nicer than we expect and the view from their rooftop pool is pretty awesome.

Of the five films I saw, Yeo Joon Han‘s Sell Out! was hands-down my favourite film that I saw at Fantasia.

It’s a comedy musical (that’s right, it’s a musical!) about two people at the cheekily-named FONY conglomerate: Rafflesia, a TV arts reporter turned deathbed-reality-show host; and Eric, an idealistic dreamer whose soybean machine (“makes ten different products from soybeans”) is rejected by his bosses because it hasn’t been engineered to break down after its warranty period is over.  The first twenty minutes or so are strange and wonderful enough, but when the doddering boss and his lackey suddenly break into song, the film really takes off.  By the time Eric leads the audience in singing “Money, Why Don’t You Like Poor People?”, backed by a uniquely Malaysian polyethnic chorus, I didn’t think it could get any better, but the scene where the whole theatre sings along with the on-screen karaoke lyrics blew everyone away. SO FUN-lah! The film would go on to win silver for “Best Asian Film” at Fantasia’s audience awards.

Fantasia is not just about the films, though – everyone meets up at the Irish Embassy pub, down the street from the main venue, in between the films and afterwards late into the night.  They’ve got a great back patio, good food, and lots of craft beers & ciders on tap.

That’s me with Shelagh Rowan-Legg, festival manager and programmer over at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, on the left.

Also happening during my trip: the annual Downtown Sidewalk Sale along Ste-Catherine, but I managed to restrain myself to just one purchase, ha!  Check out my spiffy new kicks…On Monday morning, we finally got to see Steph at her beautiful Parc Ex condo.  We brought delicious brunch goodies from the Marché Jean-Talon, a farmer’s market similar to our St. Lawrence Market.  Then it was back on the road home to Toronto. Hopefully, I’ll be coming back to Montreal in September for a conference, so for now it’ll be à bientôt and au revoir, instead of adieu.