25th Fantasia International Film Festival: ‘Hello! Tapir’ And ‘Ghosting Gloria’

by Rachel Bellwoar

Hello! Tapir

Directed by Kethsvin Chee

Written by Kethsvin Chee, Chris Leong, and Yoon Yee Teh

Ah Keat (Run Yin Bai) has never seen a tapir for himself but, after his father (Lee Zen Lee) goes missing at sea, Ah Keat is more determined than ever to find one. In his father’s stories, the tapir eats nightmares, which look like golden bubbles that the tapir sucks up with his trunk. In real life tapir exist, too, and there is one species that’s native to Southeast Asia, but they’re endangered and no more easy to find.

It’s a great concept, but Chee never makes it personal enough. At one point, for example, viewers are allowed to see the nightmares playing out in the bubbles, and there are even some that can be traced back to Ah Keat’s friends, but this could’ve been done so much more often.  It also would’ve been great to hear from some of the characters, on whether they noticed any relief from their nightmares when the tapir showed up.

It also hard to figure out who Hello! Tapir is geared towards. While the film mixes live action with animation and is seemingly targeted for kids, a lot of screentime is spent on Ah Keat’s mother (Charlie Young), and his grandmother (Hsueh Feng Lu), who somehow manage to avoid talking to Ah Keat about what’s been going on. The film never really takes Ah Keat’s perspective and while it makes sense that the tapir would have limited screentime, that means limited animation, too (though it is refreshing to watch a kids film that doesn’t rely on fast cuts).

Hello! Tapir makes its Canadian premiere at Fantasia Fest on August 14th.

Ghosting Gloria

Directed by Marcela Matta and Mauro Sarser

Written by Mauro Sarser

It’s hard to find the right words to ask your neighbors to stop having sex, which is probably why Gloria (Stefania Tortorella) keeps getting woken up every night, but since “my neighbors were having sex and I couldn’t fall back asleep” isn’t a recognized excuse for being late to work, it’s a problem Gloria needs to solve if she wants to keep her job at the bookstore. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so when a friend (Nenan Pelenur) turns Gloria on to a place where the only catch is the owner died there recently, Gloria decides to move in. Instead of a good night’s sleep, though, Gloria winds up with a ghost problem, except when this ghost can’t wake her up by knocking things over, he gives her an orgasm instead.

Like The Ghost and Mrs. Muir with intercourse, Ghosting Gloria is an unconventional love story that never really deals with the consent issues that ghost sex brings up. While the film deserves credit for not ducking out early and avoiding the repercussions of what it means to fall in love with a ghost, Gloria’s human love interest comes out of nowhere, and while that was clearly the point (he was under her nose the whole time) viewers aren’t given a chance to pick up on their chemistry. It’s just all of sudden he’s a love interest now. All of the scenes at the bookstore are great and Tortorella and Pelenur would be perfectly cast in a sitcom together, but whether the film needed ghosts is debatable.

Ghosting Gloria makes its world premiere at Fantasia Fest on August 11th.

The 25th Fantasia International Film Festival runs from August 5th to August 25th. Click here for the full program.

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