Every year, those who don't already live in Montreal descend upon the city for what I like to call "summer movie camp." Fantasia hosts three glorious weeks of kung-fu, kaiju, sci-fi, horror, awards, short programs, live events, and its awesome growing film market, Frontieres.
It's a cliche, but that's because it's true: there really is something for everyone here, including stuff for kids (the My First Fantasia programs). So starting tonight, we'll celebrate cinema during Fantasia's 20th anniversary. And both Takashi Miike and Guillermo del Toro are coming! See you at Concordia University --- or at the Irish Embassy over some pulled pork poutine!
Check out what team ScreenAnarchy is excited to see at the festival this year.
Guillermo del Toro will receive this year's Cheval Noir Award, given each year to a master who's contributed a great deal of blood, sweat, tears, and movies. Films like Chronos, The Devil's Backbone, Crimson Peak, Hellboy, and Pan's Labyrinth have inspired countless filmmakers, and artists; del Toro's work has enthralled moviegoers for decades. There aren't many directors more deserving of this honor than del Toro, who I suspect will get a standing ovation at the event. -Michele "Izzy" Galgana
In A Valley of Violence - Ti West has made a Western! That should be enough of a reason to get anyone into the cinema, tout suite. That he has taken a horrific bent towards the genre and managed to get Ethan Hawke, John Travolta, Karen Gillan, Larry Fessenden and Burn Gorman all on board and brought back Jeff Grace (who scored West's superb House of the Devil and The Innkeepers) is a gift to film lovers. - Kurt Halfyard
ReAlive - From Spanish wunderkind, Mateo Gil, who wrote most of Alejandro Amenábar's films including Agora, Tesis and Open Your Eyes (akin to what Alex Garland was to Danny Boyle) prior to branching out towards directing, comes this sophisticated and cerebral science fiction film.
A man commits himself to cryogenic freezing in the hopes of curing a fatal disease with future technology, and wakes up 60 years later. The future is strange, and he has not entirely survived the resurrection process. Gil examines how the consequence of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein would play in the far future.
Could it be this years Ex Machina? I hope so. - Kurt Halfyard
Creature Designers: The Frankenstein Complex --- which will be hosted by director and former FX artist Guillermo del Toro --- is a trip down memory lane to the rock star days of special effects in films. After the screening, del Toro (who learned FX from Dick Smith) will host a master class on special effects! It'll be supremely fun for every monster kid in the audience lucky enough to be there. The doc plays July 15 at 6pm. - Michele "Izzy" Galgana
La Rage du Démon is a documentary centered around a 1897 film of the same name that has turned up once per century, causing homicidal hysteria among its audiences. Some scholars think the film is by Georges Méliès. Others attribute it to Victor Sicarius, a friend of Méliès who was reportedly quite versed in the dark arts.
The premise echoes John Carpenter's Cigarette Burns. Will we go mad? La Rage du Démon plays July 18 at 9:40pm. - Michele "Izzy" Galgana
I, Olga Hepnarova - A bracing look at mental illness and societies failures in understanding it, this biopic of sorts in a similar vein that Gus Van Sant's Elephant, or Dennis Villeneuve's Polytechnique were for school shootings, this film from the Czech Republic promises to be a difficult watch, but rewarding upon consideration. A change in pace for a festival that usually offers easy pleasures, there is no musical score here, and a large portion of the voice-over is from Hepnarová’s letters, verbatim. Sometime's you've got to get poignant and serious at Fantasia, and this promises to be the film that haunts those brave enough to step off the beaten paths in The Hall cinema for the more elusive J.A. De Seve Theatre. - Kurt Halfyard
The Dark Side Of The Moon - Two generations of German genre actors, Moritz Bliebtreu (Das Experiment, Soul Kitchen) and Jürgen Prochnow (Dune, Das Boot) in this pharmaceutical take on lycanthropy, cut throat multinational business, and morality tales in the forest. You simply cannot go wrong with this concept, nor this cast!
Born of Woman features nine amazing genre shorts made by people who just happen to be women. Mitch Davis says it's a "powerhouse collection of intimate, auteur genre works centered largely around themes of the body and interpersonal malaise." SIGN ME UP. Shown here is a still from The Man Who Caught a Mermaid. The program plays July 23 at 5pm. - Michele "Izzy" Galgana
Anna Biller directed The Love Witch, but she also wrote, produced, edited, composed, decorated sets, and acted as production designer and art director. I think she even sewed costumes and made the cakes in the film. I've seen The Love Witch, and it's a visual feast that I can't wait to experience with the Fantasia crowd. Shot on 35mm, The Love Witch is a funny, kinky homage to Technicolor films of yesteryear. It plays July 16 at 5:15pm. Michele "Izzy" Galgana
Holy Flame of the Martial World - Any day where I get to watch a classic martial arts pic on a 35mm print is a good day. A rare day, but a good day. Which is why learning that this screening existed a while ago - the film’s programmer knows what I like and I likes me some punching and kicking - filled me with such joy. Shaw Bros. martial arts films are things of legends. SB films from the 80s, however, are their own colorful day-glow beasts. They took on a more fantastical element once the studio discovered special effects and make no bones about it these effects are special. I am expecting to lose an eyeball or two to it's dizzying and deadly delights. - Andrew Mack
Demon has played with great success for nearly a year on the festival circuit. For most Fantasia audiences, however, it will be a fresh experience, (and unfortunately the first and only film we will get from Polish director Marcin Wrona, who died in 2015.)
The rare horror film that is actually about something, both personal and political, the film combines Jewish Dybbuk mythology and subtle genre filmmaking that we simply do not get enough of these days. - Kurt Halfyard
Summer Land Lost: A Ghost Story in Progress - Apart from everything that I am doing while I am at the festival I look for events outside of screenings that can shake it up a bit for me. Grady Hendrix, in the loosest sense, has acted as my horror novel mentor. After Hörrorstor I decidedly picked his juicy brain for recommendations for novels to read. After each one I would get back to him and share my thoughts and perhaps a recommendation went back his way. It has been a pleasant exchange. Then his last novel My Best Friend’s Exorcism nearly broke me. Never mind I was one of a few people who shared with him that like one of his central characters, we too had awful ten year birthdays. But MBFE is equally terrifying and emotionally draining. It touched me. And, if I play my cards right, after Grady’s live reading he can touch me in person. Eek! - Andrew Mack
The Unseen promises a fresh take on the classic Invisible Man tale but in the spirit of Verhoeven's violent Hollow Man. The debut film from make-up and special effects man, Geoff Redknap who here is aiming for both a grounded tale of a man struggling in a small town, as well as a gory, inside out spectacle (a la Cronenberg's Brundlefly). I am all in on this one. - Kurt Halfyard
The Throne - As Song Kang-Ho continues to age gracefully, here is a meaty historical drama from the least known of South Korea's best directors, Lee Joon-Ik. His 2005 take on The Bard's Hamlet, The King and The Clown is a true gem of a film, and the standard to which I lay expectations on his take on the infamous story of Prince Sado, the film which South Korea submitted as its Foreign Language Oscar entry to the Academy Awards last year. - Kurt Halfyard
The Void - Work in Progress - To be one of the first outside of the production to see footage from the former Frontieres pitch is going to be awesome. I may have been nagging an executive producer on the project about it. I do not believe it was my incessant efforts that have wrought us this treat, but if it turns out that it does high fives are an acceptable form of congratulations. Ever since Steve Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie threw down at the Frontières market two years ago their fans have been ardently waiting to see what the finished film looks like. Those of us participating in the co-production market will get a small taste one morning later in the festival. I cannot wait to see what they have come up with. - Andrew Mack