Fantasia Awards: ‘Red Rooms,’ ‘Femme,’ ‘Where the Devil Roams’ Win

There was no escaping “Red Rooms” at Fantasia.

Awarded the Cheval Noir Award for best feature at the 27th edition of the fest, Pascal Plante’s film also took honors for screenplay and Dominique Plante’s haunting score, as well as an outstanding performance award for Juliette Gariépy.

“The ultimate effect a film can achieve is to implant a significant and lasting emotional memory. ‘Red Rooms’ masterfully accomplished that goal,” said jurors David Hewlett, Brenda Lieberman, Jourdain Searles, Virginie Sélavy and Gary Sherman.

“With incredible skill and artistry, without resorting to gore or violence, this film delivers not only an extremely disturbing and frightening experience but introduces you to characters and situations you may never forget.”

Produced by Nemesis Films, it takes on the trial of a man accused of murdering teenage girls and selling videos of his crimes online. But Plante wanted to focus on women who follow him. 

“All these killers, they had enough attention already. There are enough people analyzing their psychological background. When someone asks about the root of evil, it’s much more disturbing if the answer is: ‘I don’t know’,” he told Variety.

“This film is about the psychological consequences of extreme violence. I really don’t want it to be perceived only as controversial, but I know it can make you feel very uncomfortable.” 

Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping’s also had reasons to celebrate, as their “Femme” was awarded for Nathan Stewart-Jarrett’s “breakout” performance and for direction.

Courtesy of Agile Films

“It’s a gripping thriller that’s both supremely tense and sensitively directed. The two contrasting worlds of the drag queens and the macho thugs are vividly rendered,” argued the jury.

Stéphan Castang’s “Vincent Must Die” was granted special mention, while Zelda and John Adams’ “Where the Devil Roams,” set in Depression-era America, was awarded for cinematography. 

“The Adams Family have done an extraordinary job of capturing the film’s challenging 1930’s setting, transporting us back in time with their creative approach and extraordinary aesthetic. Every frame vibrates with visceral, eerie dread,” it was noted.

In the New Flesh competition, Ukraine’s Yeva Strelnikova triumphed with “Stay Online” about a young volunteer in Kyiv. 

Asked to install a military application on one of the laptops donated to support the war effort, she receives a call from a boy searching for his missing father: the laptop’s previous owner.

“The war is destructive. Many people cannot shoot or write at such times. I wanted to write. Some people fall silent in severe stressful situations, while others, on the contrary, mobilize all resources. Our film shows it all,” said Strelnikova.

“It takes a special filmmaking team to have the drive, wit, and talent to not just finish a film, but in a war zone. It takes a special filmmaker to make one that’s so moving, meaningful, and thrilling,” added jurors Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Sarah Bolger, David Lawson Jr., Sara Neidorf and Angie Power.

“It’s a brilliant display of courage and raw talent that showcases how you can fight violence with art.”

“People adored it. Yeva is such a gutsy filmmaker. It’s so important for the film to be seen and discussed, and the recognition it received here will go a long way in helping to break it out wider,” noted Fantasia artistic director Mitch Davis. 

Fantasia hasn’t been shying away from serious, often political subjects, he stated.

“It’s always been an important aspect of our personality. ‘Rascals’ and ‘Richelieu’ are two other examples in this year’s lineup. ‘Han Gong-ju’ [inspired by the Miryang gang rape case] won our Audience Award in 2013, [documentary about a Haitian slum] ‘Ghosts of Cité Soleil’ was one of our most popular screenings in 2006. We have presented retro screenings of ‘Come and See’ and ‘Christiane F.’.”

Davis also opened up about “Red Rooms.”

“The screening was incredible, with palpable tension that just never stopped building. It’s such a powerful experience to share as an audience. 700 people and you could hear a pin drop. At the close, the audience roared into extended, thunderous applause. It’s one of the best films of the year, in any genre or budget class.”

Other popular titles this year included “Clown Apocalypse,” “New Normal,” “Aporia,” “The Fantastic Golem Affairs,” “River” or “Hippo,” said Davis. 

“‘Talk to Me’ tore the roof off, people absolutely lost their minds at ‘The Sacrifice Game.’ We are finally back to pre-pandemic energies and it’s so exciting to feel.”

The festival will run until Aug. 9.

You can find the full list of winners here:

Cheval Noir Competition

Best Feature: “Red Rooms” (Pascal Plante, Québec)

Best Director: Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping (“Femme,” U.K.)

Best Screenplay: Pascal Plante (“Red Rooms”)

Best Score (The Sandro Forte Award): Dominique Plante (“Red Rooms”)

Best Cinematography: Zelda Adams and John Adams (“Where the Devil Roams,” U.S.)

Outstanding Performance: Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (“Femme”)

Outstanding Performance Award: Juliette Gariépy (“Red Rooms”)

Special Mention: “Vincent Must Die,” France

New Flesh Competition for Best First Feature

Best First Feature: “Stay Online” (Yeva Strelnikova, Ukraine) 

Special Jury Mention: “Tiger Stripes” (Amanda Nell Eu, Malaysia, Taiwan, France, Germany) 

Special Jury Mention: “The Abandoned” (Tseng Ying-Ting, Taiwan)

International Short Film Competition

Best Short Film: “Bold Eagle” (Whammy Alcazaren, Philippines)

Best Director: Jacob Chase (“Mr. Blur,” US)

Best Screenplay: David Winstone (“The Norbel to Method,” UK)

Outstanding Performance: Silvana Mihai (“The Taster” by Sophia Bierend, Germany)

Outstanding Performance: Lim Hyojin (“Shoulder” by Kim Jaehyung, South Korea)

Special Mention: “Sweet Juices” (Im Sejon, Will Suen, Australia)

Best Score: Matthias Dewilde (“Poppy’s Saturn” by Nicole Tegelaar, Belgium)

Best Cinematography: Julien Ramirez Hernan (“Transylvanie” by Rodrigue

Huart, France)

Axis: Satoshi Kon Awards for Excellence in Animation

Best Feature Film: “The First Slam Dunk” (Takehiko Inoue, Japan)

Special Jury Mention: “Sand Land” (Toshihisa Yokoshima, Japan)

Best Short Film – Gold: “A Kind of Testament” (Stephen Vuillemin, France)

Best Short Film – Silver: “Architect A” (Lee Jonghoon, South Korea)

Best Short Film – Bronze: “Record. Play. Stop” (Neeraj Bhattacharjee, India)

AQCC-Camera Lucida

AQCC-Camera Lucida Award: “Ireland Blue Book” (Olivier Godin, Québec)

Special Jury Mention: “Home Invasion” (Graeme Arnfield, U.K.)

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