Fantasia International Film Festival is one of my favorite things ever. Not just one of my favorite film fests, it is one of my favorite things to have ever existed in the universe. This year is the fests’s 20th anniversary, and my 7th consecutive year attending. Every year they program the best upcoming genre and Asian films, and this year it looks like they are keeping up with their long-standing tradition of kicking ass.
I mean, check out this press release, then mop the drool off your chin:
Fantasia’s 20th Anniversary is Here! – First 2016 Titles and Guests Announced!
The Fantasia International Film Festival will be celebrating its 20th Anniversary in Montreal this summer, taking place from July 14-August 2, with its Frontiéres international co-production market and Industry Rendez-Vous weekend being held July 21-24. The full lineup of over 130 feature films will be announced July 5th. In the meantime, the festival is excited to announce a selected first wave of titles, along with several special happenings.
For Fantasia’s 2016 poster, the festival has once again turned to award-winning Quebec visual artist Donald Caron. In recognition of the festival’s 20th anniversary, Caron has created a painting populated with characters and iconography from past art through Fantasia’s history.
A CHEVAL NOIR FOR GUILLERMO DEL TORO
The 20th edition of the Fantasia Film Festival will be presenting leading genre filmmaker Guillermo del Toro with its prestigious Cheval Noir Award, which del Toro will accept in person in his first-ever Montreal appearance. Del Toro, best known for such fantasy and horror classics as PAN’S LABYRINTH, THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE, CRONOS, CRIMSON PEAK, and the HELLBOY movies, will also deliver a Master Class at Fantasia. In addition, del Toro will host the Canadian premiere of Gilles Penso and Alexandre Poncet’s CREATURE DESIGNERS: THE FRANKENSTEIN COMPLEX, a fascinating documentary on the history of movie monstermakers, in which he is featured prominently in.
A LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR TAKASHI MIIKE
The Fantasia International Film Festival is proud to be presenting Director Takashi Miike, one of the most groundbreaking filmmakers of his generation, a Lifetime Achievement Award. No other filmmaker has left a mark on Fantasia’s first 20 years as he has. Since our screening of FUDOH: THE NEW GENERATION in 1997, which was the first time Miike’s unique vision was shown in North America, no fewer than 29 of his films were showcased at the festival, including such modern classics as AUDITION, ICHI THE KILLER, and VISITOR Q. Miike’s work also opened Fantasia three times with YATTERMAN and North American premieres of the Cannes selections FOR LOVE’S SAKE and SHIELD OF STRAW. In addition to receiving his award, Takashi Miike will be hosting the North American Premiere of TERRA FORMARS, a sci-fi extravaganza where a team of misfits must fight humanoid cockroaches to colonize Mars, and AS THE GODS WILL, a surreal deathgame where Japanese traditional objects turn playground amusement into modern video-game blood baths.
THE WORLD PREMIERE OF STEVEN SHAINBERG’S RUPTURE
Steven Shainberg, celebrated iconoclastic filmmaker behind SECRETARY and FUR: AN IMAGINARY PORTRAIT OF DIANE ARBUS has returned to the director’s chair with his first full-on genre work, which we are thrilled to be unveiling to the world. RUPTURE is a provocative and startling sci-fi/horror/thriller about a single mother struggling to escape from a mysterious organization that have abducted her, starring Noomi Rapace, Peter Stormare, and Michael Chiklis. Produced by Andrew Lazar, Christina Weiss Lurie, Steven Shainberg of Tango Pictures, and Andrea Iervolino, Monika Bacardi of AMBI.
KIYOSHI KUROSAWA’S CREEPY BERLINALE SMASH COMES TO CANADA
After forays into auteur cinema like the magnificent TOKYO SONATA (Un certain regard Jury Prize at Cannes 2008), J-horror pioneer Kiyoshi Kurosawa, whose classics CURE and SÉANCE were adored at Fantasia in their day, makes a triumphant return to the horror thriller genre with the Berlin Film Festival selected Hitchcockian horror thriller CREEPY, which will be screened in Canadian Premiere. Kurosawa brings terror to a quiet neighborhood where an ex detective and his wife have to deal with their deranged new neighbor spectacularly brought to the screen by the excellent Teruyuki Kagawa.
GET READY TO SCREAM AS FANTASIA TURNS THE LIGHTS OUT
Fantasia will be presenting a Special Screening of David F. Sandberg’s hotly anticipated horror film LIGHTS OUT, in which a woman is haunted by a creature that only appears when the lights go out. Teresa Palmer, Maria Bello, Billy Burke, and Alicia Vela-Bailey star.
IT’S ALIVE!? NO, IT’S REALIVE (World Premiere)
The provocative new film (formerly PROJECT LAZARUS) from acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Mateo Gil (screenwriter of THE SEA INSIDE, VANILLA SKY, director of NOBODY KNOWS ANYBODY, BLACKTHORN) presents a modern spin on FRANKENSTEIN, where the emphasis rests on the emotional and psychological ramifications of reanimating the dead. Tom Hughes stars as a man awakened from cryogenic sleep 60 years into the future who must adjust to a life that left all his loved ones behind.
ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM: GRADUATION
One year after hosting the International Premiere of the long awaited manga adaptation ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM, a Fantasia 2015 fan favourite, the festival will have the pleasure of screening the North American Premiere of ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM: GRADUATION, the conclusion of Director Eiichiro Hasumi’s diptych. All the students from class 3-E are back to eliminate Koro Sensei before he destroys the planet, but unexpected revelations about his past will change the game and bring a whole new threat over the beloved characters of this ultimate crowd pleaser.
A SPECTRAL WHITE COFFIN FROM ARGENTINA
Argentinean horror steps into a bold, new dimension in Daniel de la Vega’s grisly supernatural shocker WHITE COFFIN (World Premiere), scripted by brilliant filmmaking siblings Adrian and Ramiro Garcia Bogliano. Fantasia is thrilled to be opening WHITE COFFIN’s diabolical lid for the world to discover its horrific secrets, where child kidnapping, afterdeath resurrection and occult ritualism are intertwined for an unspeakable purpose.
A VERY RED CHRISTMAS FROM AUSTRALIA
Christmas day becomes a hellish homecoming in Craig Anderson’s RED CHRISTMAS (International Premiere), an unusual Australian horror/comedy gorefest starring beloved genre vet Dee Wallace (HILLS HAVE EYES, THE HOWLING, E.T.) that’s at once an over-the-top rollercoaster of a slasher film and a confrontational sociopolitical hand grenade.
YEON SANG-HO IS BACK WITH SEOUL STATION
The Korean capital’s central subway station becomes a maze of terror in Yeon Sang-ho’s SEOUL STATION (Canadian Premiere), an electrifying, socially incisive and ultimately heart-wrenching animated zombie chiller from the acclaimed director behind THE KING OF PIGS (Satoshi Kon Award at Fantasia 2012), THE FAKE, and the Cannes 2016 sensation TRAIN TO BUSAN.
AN INVISIBLE MAN UNLIKE ANY THE SCREEN HAS SEEN BEFORE
A man who abandoned his family now risks everything to find his missing daughter, including exposing the secret that he is becoming invisible in THE UNSEEN (World Premiere), an unconventional and compelling dark horror drama from Canada. The feature debut from Vancouver special make-up effects maestro Geoff Redknap, whose work was seen in DEADPOOL, ELYSIUM, WATCHMEN, and CABIN IN THE WOODS, to name a few, THE UNSEEN stars Aden Young, Julia Sarah Stone, and Camille Sullivan.
Fantasia is proud to be unveiling the first Canadian showing of the astonishing Spanish feature PSYCHONAUTS, from BIRDBOY creators Alberto Vázquez and Pedro Rivero. A fraught, even frightening animated surrealistic fairy-tale blessed with beautiful handcrafted artwork that’s bound to leave viewers more than a hint haunted. Winner: Best Animated Feature, Stuttgart Film Festival 2016, Official Selection: Annecy 2016, Holland Animation Film Festival 2016.
Additional First Wave Highlights Include:
USA – Dir: Darren Lynn Bousman
The murder of her family leads a real-estate reporter into a nightmarish mystery in this ghoulishly original film that haunts the netherworld between blood-soaked supernatural horror and hardboiled neo-Noir. Darren Lynn Bousman, the man behind REPO: THE GENETIC OPERA, SAW II-IV, and THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL, has returned. Official Selection: Los Angeles International Film Festival 2016. International Premiere
THE ALCHEMIST COOKBOOK
USA – Dir: Joel Potrykus
Sean has dropped out of life, set up shop in a small trailer in the woods, and decided to pursue the forbidden art of alchemy. An irreverent, abrasive, and horror-infused take on modern-day alienation that plays like a punk-rock EC Comics tale, from the acclaimed director of COYOTE, APE, and BUZZARD. Official Selection: SXSW 2016, Nashville Film Festival 2016, BAMCinemaFest 2016.
USA – Dir: Zachary Shedd
A film editor must battle his own demons when an on-set eruption of violence leads to a deeper, darker conspiracy. A beautifully brooding neo-Noir, more calculated and compelling with every twist and turn. Official selection: Seattle International Film Festival 2016. International Premiere.
France – Dir: Benjamin Rocher
A police squad’s rough and unconventional methods are challenged just as a rash of robberies put Paris on edge. Jean Reno stars in this explosive, captivating, and highly entertaining action film. North American Premiere.
Quebec – Dir: Pat Tremblay
All is well in the land of the mad, in the latest surrealist opus from Pat Tremblay (HELLACIOUS ACRES), twisted titan of the Quebec underground. One thing is certain — rational thought has left the building and hasn’t left a number where it can be reached. Official Selection: Revelation Perth International Film Festival 2016. North American Premiere.
THE BACCHUS LADY
South Korea – Dir: E J-yong
Senior citizen So-Young takes in a mixed-race kid while tending to her many clients. A thoroughly compassionate and revealing look at the lives of aging prostitutes in South Korea – with a murderous twist! Official Selection: Berlinale 2016 (Panorama). Canadian Premiere.
BAD BLOOD: THE MOVIE
USA – Dir: Tim Reis
What’s the deal with all those frogs in the gas station’s makeshift basement laboratory? This old-fashioned creature feature is a goopy new lab sample of the growing Atlanta, GA horror scene featuring hand-crafted make-up effects designed and created by James Sizemore. WINNER: Audience Award, Best Feature, Chattanooga Film Festival 2016. International Premiere.
Turkey – Dir: Mehmet Kurtuluş, Ayşe Ünal
Forget FRITZ THE CAT, this is GARFIELD-goes-BAD LIEUTENANT! Guaranteed fun for cat lovers, fans of international animation, and hopeless degenerates. Which one are you? Official Selection: Neuchatel International Fantastic Film Festival 2016. North American Premiere
China – Dir: Yue Song
The new master of the Iron Kick clan sets out in search of a lost friend, earns a job protecting a rich man’s daughter, and clashes with a criminal gang in one of the most exciting and auspicious martial arts films in years! Canadian Premiere
CHIHAYAFURU PART 1 & PART 2
Japan – Dir: Nori Koizumi
Chihaya is driven like few shojo heroines are: she wants to become the world champion of karuta, the traditional, competitive card-playing game mixing ancient poetry, extreme hand speed, and almost violent card tossing. Adapted from the acclaimed manga, this perfect blend of coming of age tale and exhilarating sports drama will make you laugh, cheer and probably shed a tear. North American Premiere.
THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
Germany – Dir: Stephan Rick
A psychedelic mushroom trip turns a successful lawyer into a wanted man in this tense and violent thriller starring Moritz Bleibtreu and Jürgen Prochnow. Official Selection: Zurich Film Festival 2015, Hamburg Film Festival 2015. North American Premiere.
USA/Poland – Dir: Claire Carré
Since the apocalypse, humanity has been deprived of its memory. Two strangers wake up together. Are they somehow connected? A thoughtful science fiction tale from a promising new voice in independent cinema. Official Selection: Oldenburg Film Festival 2015, Slamdance 2016. Winner: Narrative Feature Jury Award, New Orleans Film Festival 2015. Canadian Premiere.
THE GREASY STRANGLER
USA – Dir: Jim Hosking
The feature debut of absurdist advertising genius / acclaimed short filmmaker Jim Hosking is the grossest father-son comedy you’ll ever see and the weirdest serial killer film on the planet, propelled by an in-your-face drive to baffle, nauseate, and antagonize with its bizarre brand of humor. Produced by a superteam that includes Elijah Wood, Josh C. Waller, Ben Wheatley, Tim League, and Ant Timpson. Official Selection: Sundance 2016, SXSW 2016. Canadian Premiere.
Thailand – Dir: Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit
Workaholic Yoon has a more serious medical condition than stress-induced rashes. He’s starting to show the symptoms of serious heartache. Paging pretty Dr. Imm! A pitch-perfect rom-com from a rising Thai star director. WINNER: Thailand National Film Association Awards (Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Editing). Official Selection: Osaka International Film Festival, Udine Far East Film Festival, New York Asian Film Festival. Canadian Premiere.
HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE
New Zealand – Dir: Taika Waititi
A troublesome teen and a cranky old man get tangled up in a wild manhunt through the New Zealand bush in this intelligent, hilarious, and original adventure that is the biggest homegrown kiwi hit of all time. From the co-director of WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS. Official Selection: Sundance 2016, Tribeca Film Festival 2016, Calgary Underground Film Festival 2016. Quebec Premiere.
IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE
USA – Dir: Ti West
A drifter comes to mining town Denton, home to criminals, bullies, and hustlers and all hell begins to break loose in this witty, tense, and grisly Western from maverick horror maestro Ti West starring Ethan Hawke, Karen Gillan, and John Travolta. Official Selection: SXSW 2016 International Premiere.
Canada – Dir: Felipe Rodriguez
Stripped bare and confined in an Arizona basement, a group of undocumented Mexicans are beaten and brutalized in an attempt to extort money from their families. A brutal powerhouse laced with a claustrophobic tension. Official Selection: Manchester Film Festival 2016, Newport Beach Film Festival 2016. Winner of the Chairmen’s Award at the 2015 San Diego Film Festival. Canadian Premiere.
USA – Dirs: Michael Borowiec, Sam Marine
The latest gem to emerge from the loose U.S. wave of personal indie genre visions of recent years that includes such singular works as THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE, BELLFLOWER, and RESOLUTION, MAN UNDERGROUND is a very special and uncomfortable film. A sometimes funny, sometimes frightening work of intense paranoid drama with chilling elements of sci-fi and an incredible lead performance from FLAKED’s George Basil. Official Selection: Cinequest 2016. International Premiere.
India – Dir: Shakti Soundar Rajan
Karthik’s orderly life is upended when his beloved sister disappears — and a strange virus transforms everyone around him into bloodthirsty ghouls! There’s no time to sing and dance in the first Tamil zombie chiller!
Canada – Dir: Matt Johnson
In 1967, four undercover CIA agents were sent to NASA posing as a documentary film crew. What they discovered led to one of the biggest conspiracies in American history. An astonishing new creation from the brilliant team behind THE DIRTIES. Official Selection: Sundance 2016, Hot Docs 2016. Quebec Premiere.
USA – Dir: John Carchietta
Picture-perfect teens Annie and Jules are in love, and have made a plan. A cautionary tale of sorts about mad teenage love, growing up on the Internet, and the kind of poor decisions that characterize life lived to its fullest… or shortest. Official Selection: SXSW 2016, Independent Film Festival of Boston 2016. International Premiere.
THEY CALL ME JEEG
Italy – Dir: Gabriele Mainetti
Can a small-time crook who unexpectedly gains incredible, unnatural powers turn his life around and become a crusader for good? A smart, slick, stylish, and very Italian take on the superhero action adventure, loaded with colorful characters and clever ideas. Winner of the Silver Scream Award at the Imagine International Film Festival, Amsterdam. Canadian Premiere.
TRASH FIRE [Film Thrills Review Here]
USA – Dir: Richard Bates Jr.
Owen and Isabel are hatefully in love, and soon to be parents. Can a road trip to visit mysterious distant family save their relationship, or are they opening a rotting Pandora’s box of secrets, lies, and murder? An acerbic, hilarious horror-comedy from the director of EXCISION and SUBURBAN GOTHIC, starring Adrian Grenier, Angela Trimbur, and Annalynne McCord. Official Selection: Sundance 2016, Chicago Critics Film Festival 2016. Canadian Premiere.
UNDER THE SHADOW [Film Thrills Review Here]
Iran/U.K./Jordan – Dir: Babak Anvari
Amidst the horrors of the Iran-Iraq war, a terrifying djinn may be stalking a mother and daughter’s missile-struck apartment. A bold new leap in Persian-language cinema, UNDER THE SHADOW repurposes the conventions of genre storytelling into frightening new form, delivering an emotionally pulverizing experience in fear that also functions as gripping sociopolitical commentary. Official Selection: Sundance 2016, Seattle International Film Festival 2016. Quebec Premiere.
WE ARE THE FLESH
Mexico – Dir: Emiliano Rocha Minter
A brother and sister fall into the clutches of an uncanny entity whose dark rituals demand that they break every imaginable taboo. Courageous viewers, prepare for a journey deep into the heart of darkness that counts Alejandro González Iñárritu, Alfonso Cuarón and Carlos Reygadas among its enthusiastic supporters. Official Selection: International Film Festival Rotterdam 2016. North American Premiere.
WE GO ON
USA – Dirs: Andy Mitton, Jesse Holland
Miles is prepared to pay $30,000 for proof of any sort that life may go on after we die. For better or for worse, he’s going to get an answer. Engrossingly intelligent and character-driven, full of stunning curves and surprises, and utterly frightening, WE GO ON is one of the most gripping paranormal explorations that cinema has seen in years. An absolute triumph of resourceful independent filmmaking. Winner: Audience Award, Best Feature, Dead by Dawn Horror Film Festival 2016. Official Selection: Cleveland International Film Festival 2016. Canadian Premiere
WOMEN WHO KILL
USA – Dir: Ingrid Jungermann
Commitment phobic Morgan (director Ingrid Jungermann) and her ex-girlfriend Jean (Ann Carr), locally famous true crime podcasters, suspect Morgan’s new love interest (A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT’s Sheila Vand) is a murderer. A smart, introspective black comedy that won a richly deserved award for Best Screenplay in a US Narrative Feature at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. International Premiere
A second Wave of titles will be revealed in June, with the festival’s full lineup of screenings and events being announced on July 5th.
The Fantasia International Film Festival takes place in Montreal July 14 – August 2, 2016, once again returning to the mammoth Concordia Hall Cinema as its main base.