Day 3- Saturday 9/20
On Saturday, I had a tough decision to make. Fantastic Fest or MondoCon…
It was the inaugural year of MondoCon, a convention put on by Mondo celebrating film, music, and art, with panels, screenings, and artists selling limited edition posters, records, toys, and other collectibles. As a longtime Mondo fan and an avid poster collector, I definitely wanted to check it out, but as an enthusiastic Fantastic Fest first-timer, I didn’t want to miss the opening weekend screenings (when industry folks are in town and there are lots of Q&As). Too many cools things to choose from. Major first world problem…
Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar and The Marchesa Hall and Theatre aren’t close enough to jump back and forth. I had lots of buddies flying in for MondoCon, so I decided to check that out during the day and catch the Fantastic Debates at night. I’m hoping MondoCon and Fantastic Fest are running concurrently only for the first year- to cross-promote MondoCon to Fantastic Fest people- and in the future they will be at separate times. Placing MondoCon the 2 days directly before or after Fantastic Fest would be perfect. A lot of Fantastic Fest attendees said they wanted to check out MondoCon, but not during Fantastic Fest.
I took a leisurely approach to MondoCon and showed up shortly before the doors opened. A line of fans camped overnight to have first dibs at prints and MondoCon exclusives. The line wrapped well around the shopping center, but it moved pretty fast once the doors opened. The lines inside the hall were insane for the first few hours Saturday. In one of the halls, Laurent Durieux and Daniel Danger had massive lines and the other hall was filled to capacity with Mike Mitchell fans. There was a long line in the tent outside for Mondo posters including several artists take on Brad Bird’s animated classic The Iron Giant.
Placed perfectly between the con halls, the theatre, and the tent outside, was the bar serving the impressively strong Mondo Beer, an English Old Ale from Dogfish Head brewed in oak tanks and created especially for MoncoCon. I drank one and blasted into orbit for the 2001: A Lost Score panel.
2001: A Lost Score
Brian Satterwhite was an informed, articulate host and presented clips of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey with Alex North’s original score. Kubrick fell in love with his temp music and North didn’t find out that his music was scrapped until the premier screening in New York. He was apparently devastated.
As a huge Kubrick and 2001 fan, it was interesting to see the film with different music. I thought Alex North’s score gave it a Planet of the Apes feel. I’m glad Kubrick decided not to use it, but it’s not about which music is better or more suitable, this was a rare glimpse at what could’ve been. Kubrick reportedly reached out to 3 or 4 composers for scores, and it’s rumored that Quincy Jones was among them.
Cool panel. Music for 2001: A Space Odyssey The Original Score by Alex North was given a slick package design by Jay Shaw and sold on vinyl at MondoCon.
After the panel it was time for some grub. As a picky eater and highly-addicted pizza junkie I was hoping for some by-the-slice action (next year!) but I settled for some Belgian fries with parmesan and parsley from The Peached Tortilla food truck. They were good enough to order again the following day.
Micklethwait Craft Meats, Frank, and JuiceLand also had food trucks present and offered appropriately themed custom menus and special items like JuiceLand’s “Espresso Greens” smoothie. A play on the name of the popular poster collecting forum Expresso Beans, the exclusive drink’s ingredients included banana, cherry, coffee (kohana cold brew), cacao, dates, spinach and almond milk. Having food on site was super convenient, and the custom menus were fun. In the future it would be cool to see more food options for vegetarians (and pizza freaks!).
After lunch, I perused the artist booths, hung out with friends, and got some killer sketches from a slew of talented artists. Everybody was friendly and generous with their time. After the lines settled down, there was a great vibe in The Marchesa and a sense of camaraderie amongst artists and collectors. Everybody seemed to be having fun.
In the evening, I caught the MondoCon screening of anime classic Ghost in the Shell. I had seen it previously, but never on the big screen in a packed theater. It played well. The highlight of the screening was undoubtedly the reveal of Martin Ansin’s gorgeous poster for the film, beautifully printed on foil and available only at the event. The crowd gasped upon seeing the light reflect off of the foil. It’s hard to capture the glimmer effect in a picture, but this video from Superfro33 does the trick:
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After Ghost in the Shell, MondoCon had a Total Recall screening, but I opted to hit up Via 313 for my pizza fix before catching the Fantastic Debates at Randy Palmer’s South Austin Gym. I was exhausted and the debates didn’t start until midnight, but it was one of the events dubbed as a can’t-miss for Fantastic Fest first-timers.
I’m glad I went, it was a rowdy affair and I enjoyed both the verbal debates and the physical quarrels. Josh Ethier and Joe Lynch debated whether or not the samurai is infinitely more badass than the cowboy in cinema. The verbal sparring was intelligent and entertaining. Each contestant had one minute to state their case and one minute to rebuttal their opponent.
Then they touched gloves and squared off for two one-minute rounds of actual physical battle. I thought they might hold back, but the contestants in each of the four debates really went after each other.
Jenny Jacobi and Maria Reinup debated whether literature should be adapted into movies. Matt Mason and Todd Brown debated whether BitTorrent is the savior of independent film; not the enemy. And in the final debate of the night, director Ty West took on Tim League who believes found footage movies are a cancer eating away at the integrity of cinema. Owen Egerton did a fine job of hyping up the crowd and was a funny, enthusiastic host. Props to everybody involved.
Check out the video!
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Check out some of the posters available at MondoCon:
Great day! MondoCon and the Fantastic Debates were a lot of fun.
3 days down, 5 to go. Day 4 coming soon…
Cover photo of Fantastic Debates host Owen Egerton by Jared Skolnick
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