Fantastic Fest 2020: Virtual World Premieres, Curated Online Events Tantalize

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas (@peteramartin)
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Fantastic Fest 2020: Virtual World Premieres, Curated Online Events Tantalize

The first edition of Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, US, was held in September 2005, and one or more members of our writing family have attended ever since. This year, however, the festival reluctantly canceled the event, though the official release teased that a virtual event of some sort was in the planning stages.

Now comes the official announcement that "Celebration of Fantastic Fest 2020 - A Week Of Virtual World Premieres & Curated Online Events" will be held from September 24 - October 1 via the Alamo On Demand platform. Who can attend, and how much will it cost? "To make the party accessible to loyal fans and newbies alike," according to the official verbiage, "all new features and live events will be available FREE to view on the Alamo On Demand platform for anyone in the United States."

This mirrors the approach taken recently by Fantasia, which was available for anyone in Canada. I know that virtual events are not for everyone, but the lineup of free sceenings is definitely tantalizing, so what will make this celebration worth the time (and possible investment in a larger screen for enjoyment at home)?

"The festival will be bookended by unique spins on the werewolf film: opening with the charming and irreverent Teddy by France's Boukherma brothers and closing with Amelia Moses's haunting thriller Bloodthirsty (on the night of the full moon, no less)!

"If you're still hungry for more werewolves after that one-two punch, join us for the Texas Premiere of Jim Cummings' newest, The Wolf of Snow Hollow, on October 8 at Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane!

"While this year's slate may be more modest in scope, every film captures the spirit of Fantastic Fest in its own unique way. Featuring 5 world premieres (with an additional 2 world premiere restorations) and 4 shorts blocks featuring 36 short films, the lineup amplifies talented female, queer, and racially diverse creatives from all over the globe. We might all be stuck on the couch, but we are still excited to bring a sampling of world-class films you've come to expect from Fantastic Fest directly to your home."

Of the premieres listed, I am especially looking forward to the world premiere of The Stylist, directed by Jill Gevargizian and adapted from her very good short film of the same title, which played at Fantastic Fest previously. The synopsis: "Few things in life hold more promise than a new hairstyle. But the women who visit stylist Claire's chair get more than they bargained for, bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase 'extreme makeover' in Jill Gevargizian's first feature film, based on her acclaimed 2016 short."

Also, the North American premiere of Kimo Stamboel's The Queen of Black Magic should be notable for its likely thrills and chills: "Childhood friends Hanif, Jefri, and Anton take their families on a trip to the orphanage where they grew up to pay their final respects to the man who raised them. But they'll soon discover that the secrets from their past refuse to stay buried."

To be clear, what films will be free to view and which will not?

"All new features will be available FREE on our Alamo On Demand Platform for fans in the United States. Repertory titles will be available at special rates throughout the week-long celebration. We will also be presenting two exclusive in-theater-only screenings, Brandon Cronenberg's highly anticipated Posessor on September 23 and Jim Cummings' The Wolf of Snow Hollow on October 8.

"The festival is also excited to welcome back Fantastic Fest alum Mickey Reece with a new documentary short Mickey Reece's Belle Isle screening in the the Shorts With Legs short film sidebar - stay tuned for an upcoming Alamo On Demand announcement following the premiere of the short about a collection of his films to be made available for the first time."

On the non-film side, Fantastic Fest Creative Director Zack Carlson declares: "Any celebration of FF absolutely needs to include those traditions, and though the cold fist of 2020 may prohibit us from having a food fight or demolition derby, we're still here to bring the good-natured chaos."

Events will include a live 'Master Pancake,' 100 Best Kills, Fantastic Fest Triviadome, Fantastic Feud, and King of Movies: The Leonard Maltin Challenge. There will also be an Immersive Showcase, the Evil Dead 2 Escape Room, and much more.

What if you just want to get to the films? "We have curated a collection of over 120 (and growing) of our favorite Fantastic Fest films on Alamo on Demand. The programming team has curated six of our favorite films from this collection and for the duration of September, we are offering this 'Best of Fantastic Fest Six Pack' for 25% off purchase or rental. Check out the six pack and the complete collection here."

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