As a reviewer, reporter and programmer, I go to six or seven film festivals a year. This is nothing compared to some colleagues, who trudge the festival circuit in a never-ending loop, but it's enough to give me a heap of festival badges.

My trip to the Fantasia International Film Festival, whose 23rd edition ran from July 11 to Aug. 1 at venues in Montreal, was a first in more ways than one, however.

North America's premier genre festival, Fantasia has attracted such Hollywood A-listers such as Robert Pattinson, Guillermo del Toro and Nicolas Winding Refn, while inviting films from top Asian directors like Takashi Miike, Sion Sono and Johnnie To.