Daria Gamliel for Cinetalk.net

Today may be the last official day of Fantasia, but thanks to its online format, many films can still be accessed until Friday, August 27th at 11:59 PM.

So Cinetalk would like to highlight a few festival stand-outs, as we do every year.

In the more family comedy genre, the wacky Estonian Kratt (Rasmus Merivoo) teaches spoiled children to respect their elders as well as the land that nurtures them. Wifi isn’t the most important thing in life, after all. While their parents are at an Ayahuasca retreat, the kiddies learn how to construct a demonic servant to do their chores. At times this has horror-movie results, but sometimes also hilarious outcomes. A mostly lighthearted deconstruction of both nature and the modern family unit.


Digital Video Editing with Adobe Premiere Pro: The Real-World Guide to Set Up and Workflow (Hong Seong-Yoon) is a frighteningly funny look at post-production tedium.  Crappy filmmaking can’t be fixed by even the most ingenious Editor with the most powerful Adobe software. When a menacing ghostgirl invades key scenes, it may be best to not edit her out. A memorable little gem, even if its title is longer than its runtime of only 40 minutes. 


Cinetalk’s favorite pick is Tan Bee Thiam’s Tiong Bahru Social Club. A little different than the usual Fantasia fare, it doesn’t involve gore, scary monsters, or animation. The Singaporean comedy is more akin to 1984 (Michael Radford, 1984, based on the George Orwell novel) in Kitschland. A similar aesthetic and objective was seen in But I’m a Cheerleader (Jamie Babbit, 1999). But instead of turning gay people straight, the conversion therapy involved at Tiong Bahru’s social housing complex revolves around happiness. The residence prides itself on its Happiness Maintenance, where do-gooders succeed, and the harder you smile, the more points your dossier accumulates.

The stylish teal and pink interiors, and the sober but sunny uniforms create a surreal and suffocating atmosphere. New recruit and resident, Ah Bee doesn’t seem to ever be above 50% happy. But the staff and members trust the algorithm to tell them if they are happy or not. The problem is, they’re teaching people their happiness score is based on making others happy. Why not adjust the tally to read each person’s own happiness? This might help put the unity back into community, as all their TV ads brag about.

A feel-good story that makes you ask yourself, wait, why am I smiling?


Fantasia Film Festival 2020 ends on August 25th. 2020.


Tiong Bahru Social Club

Digital Video Editing with Adobe Premiere Pro: The Real-World Guide to Set Up and Workflow

All On Demand until Friday, August 27th, 11:59 PM.

Official Fantasia Website