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Fragments d'Asie 2016 ("Fragments of Asia 2016")

Fantasia once again presents its showcase of short films from Asia, both animated and live-action. Silly, thrilling or somber, they are all fascinating reflections on aspects of the societies they come from. Our centerpiece this year is the Canadian premiere of PIGTAILS, from Japan’s Yoshimi Itazu. In a desolate zone quarantined after a great catastrophe, a girl lives alone in a small house. Like restless domestic spirits, her household articles chatter and squabble among themselves, an audience to the moments of her strange life. Itazu, chief animator on MISS HOKUSAI, makes his directorial debut with this quietly powerful fable for a nation haunted by enormous loss. Promising South Korean newcomer Kim Geon hits hard and heartfelt with the award-winning KEEP GOING (North American Premiere), a punchy, post-apocalyptic action blast with a poignant twist. In a gritty futureworld ravaged by the robot wars, Yeonhee and her mechanical friend Margo struggle to survive. The bond they share is very real, and it is a matter of life or death.

The South Korean live-action short RETRIEVER (Canadian Premiere), by Kim Joo-hwan, paints a painful portrait of poverty, with a profound humanism that will leave few unaffected. From Japan, where Chinese animator Gu Jie studied, comes his startling short I CAN SEE YOU (International Premiere), a spare, intense little animated meta-thriller, taut as a bowstring. South Korea supplies two more animated shorts, making their North American Premieres here. In Kim Je-hyeon’s THROTTLED, a disturbing twist on the mermaid myth. A young fisherman finds a strange, aquatic demi-woman in his net. Curiosity leads him to bring her home. Her domestication, however, takes ever darker turns. Kim Jin-a’s REPORT ABOUT DEATH, meanwhile, is a morbid little delight. The practical aspects of the end of life — and how we deal with it — are authoritatively laid out in this smart, irreverent and utterly charming little lesson.

For complete details on the films in this program, go here.

— Rupert Bottenberg