The Maskoon Fantastic Film Festival

Maria Hafez

Staff Writer

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  Maskoon Film Festival is the first fantastic film festival to be hosted in the Middle East. From September 14 till September 18, a number of movies were screened at Metropolis Cinema. The selection featured art-house films that appear in festivals like Toronto, Berlin, Cannes, and Sundance. The genres varied from horror to thriller to fantasy.

  The festival was inaugurated to a jam-packed theater with Swiss Army Man, directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. Categorizing this wonderfully bizarre movie into genres such as “drama” or “comedy” would not do it justice. The feature opens with Hank (Paul Dano), an outcast from society, about to put an end to his misery, when a dead farting corpse (Daniel Radcliffe) mysteriously washes up on the shore. And thus the absurd adventure begins.

  The second day featured Turkish movie Baskin (2015) by Can Evrenol followed by the French/Greek Blind Sun (Joyce A. Nashawati, 2015). Baskin’s director was present at the screening and answered the audience’s questions on his gory film.

  Maskoon offered the exceptional opportunity for its audience to attend masterclasses by professionals in visual effects and special makeup. These special guests have worked on some of the biggest productions: Chadi Abo (VFX) was part of The Matrix Reloaded (2003), 300 (2006) and Speed Racer (2008), while prosthetic makeup artist Dan Frye worked on Game of Thrones, Resident Evil and Harry Potter.

  Anurag Kashyap’s thriller Psycho Raman (2016) was a highlight of the week as well as the director being considered one of the best in India. The festival also featured a throwback to the 70s with John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978). The screening of this cult horror movie is an opportunity to watch and enjoy this cinematic classic on the big screen.

  Maskoon’s last day was special as it consisted of a cine-concert at Station by The Bunny Tylers while simultaneously screening short silent Arab films by Segundo de Chomón. This event was preceded by the Maskoon Fantastic Fair, where vintage items, collectables and comic books were sold while gaming tournaments and panels took place. The fair was the ultimate destination of the weekend for fellow movie buffs, geeks, gamers and the likes.

  The Maskoon Film Festival offers a wide variety of genres in the films that are showcased. The creators have taken a big step in offering the Lebanese audience a chance to watch movies which are not typically shown to the general public in cinemas. As the festival’s founder Antoine Waked says, drama has become repetitive in Lebanese movies, and this event will hopefully inspire regional filmmakers to tell their stories through the fantastic.

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