The Fantasia Internal Film Festival kicked off its 22nd year with horror anthology Nightmare Cinema (review). Before and after the screening, filmmakers Alejandro Brugués, Ryuhei Kitamura, Mick Garris, and Joe Dante were present to give a brief introduction and answer audience questions. But this world premiere event was made even more memorable with the presentation of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award to recipient Joe Dante.
Both the film and the award were presented by Tony Timpone, long-time Fangoria magazine editor, film producer, and Fantasia Fest programmer. As Dante made his way to the stage, he was met with a standing ovation and thunderous applause that refused to die down for minutes. He quipped that it was an excellent plot by the festival to get him to attend again, but the auditorium was filled to capacity with festival attendees, staff, and volunteers overflowing with awe and reverence for the master of horror.
It was an honor to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at @FantasiaFest this weekend! Here are some pictures of me with the hardware and some Fantasia team members. #FantasiaFest pic.twitter.com/ceoO5c4d3X
— Joe Dante (@joe_dante) July 16, 2018
For decades the director has delivered iconic movie moments of horror, whimsy, and joy and his acceptance speech indicated that he has no designs on slowing down any time soon. To be there to celebrate a lengthy catalog of fantastic films might seem trivial to some, but considering how many horror masters we’ve lost in the past few years it felt momentous to be present. Nightmare Cinema itself is dedicated to Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper, and George A. Romero, further cementing the poignancy of celebrating our heroes now more than ever.
Perhaps the best part of the award presentation was a beautiful highlight reel of Dante’s work, expertly compiled and edited by Eric Lavoie. Seriously, it’s a work of art in and of itself, and there’s no better reminder of Dante’s lasting mark on cinema. It also instills a desire to revisit Dante’s entire catalog.
Dante may have made werewolves terrifying again with 1981’s The Howling, but his filmography is filled with his trademark lightheartedness. The ‘Burbs, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Innerspace, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Small Soldiers, Explorers, to the recent Burying the Ex and The Hole, Dante’s work consistently reminds us what it means to have fun at the movies.
Bravo to Fantasia International Film Festival and Eric Lavoie for a special moment and a well-chosen recipient. In its 22nd year, this is hardly the first time they’ve awarded notable, worthy filmmakers for their long-standing achievements, though this is the first I’ve gotten to attend. It served as a much-needed reminder to recognize the work of those we love here and now, in the present. It was powerful to be present and feel the overwhelming emotion in that auditorium, and I thank you.