"A film festival with the boring parts cut out."
"I plan my entire year around Fantastic Fest."
"Fantastic Fest is the greatest film festival of all time."
"I want to have Fantastic Fest's children."
One of those quotes is the advertising tagline for the increasingly popular Austin-based genre film festival Fantastic Fest. Another one of those quotes was taken straight from the mouths of several Austin film geeks, while another is a common refrain amongst bloggers and critics and those in-the-know. The last quote? I made it up, but I'll let you figure that one out on your own.
Fantastic Fest. For years, I've heard others extol its virtues, speak of it like it's the Second Coming of Film-dom, a Mecca for all things celluloid and those that worship movies. A place where everyone knows the movie minutiae that your friends always look at you funny for reciting. A place where film fans and journalists and filmmakers can all mingle as one. A place where Kane Hodder (aka Jason Voorhees) can win a Best Actor Award.
But how much is true, and how much is just fantasy? Surely, there is no way that Fantastic Fest can live up to the absurdly high praise. Hype may get your butt on a plane to the ATX and the famed Alamo Drafthouse theater, but won't it ultimately deflate your entire experience when you realize "Yeah, it's good, but it's not that good"?
This is an important question and one that I, as a new Austin resident and first time Fantastic Fest attendee, decided must be answered. This is what happened. This is the story of my time at Fantastic Fest.
And it's all true. Except for the parts I made up.