Fantasia 2021: Opening Film Announced For This Year's Virtual Event. And Lone Wolf and Pug?

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Fantasia 2021: Opening Film Announced For This Year's Virtual Event. And Lone Wolf and Pug?
I feel compelled, on behalf of Canada, to apologize to the rest of the world. I want to apologize that we are so shit at recovering from the global health crisis that our friends at Fantasia will be celebrating the quarter century mark as a virtual event. Again. Between the provinces of Quebec and Ontario seemingly focused on HOW MANY infections we can tally instead of reducing them in person events still seems a long ways away. 
 
Still, Fantasia soldiers on and are planning another three weeks of trademark mirth and mayhem, from August 5th to 25th. If there were a silver lining to all of this it is that because Fantasia has to go virtual again it means that the entire country gets to take in the program too. What else are you going to do during the many stay at home orders and states of emergencies from province to province, get a vaccine? 
 
And breathe. Look, the press release below is focusing on the positive results of last year's event so let's switch gears, light some soothing candles and talk about this year. 
 
First, the poster. What a banger! I mean, is there anything that artist Donald Caron cannot do? We've appreciated his work over the years, but this year? A tribute to Lone Wolf and Cub and an acknowledgement of the place of Japanese fantastic cinema in the festival's lifetime? Come on! You're speaking to our hearts now! This is just gorgeous and worthy of framing. Chef's kiss! 
 
Fantasia2021 Poster-EN (1).jpg
 
Fantasia have also announced their opening film and rightly so, are sticking to a local production, the Quebecois horror comedy Brain Freeze. First pitched at Frontieres, survived shooting around the pandemic and starring one of Quebecois cinema's most recognizable faces, Roy Dupuis, Brain Freeze is a great choice to open the festival. It speaks to Quebec's creativity, persistence in dark times and heritage of fantastic cinema. 
 
The full press release follows. 
 
The Fantasia International Film Festival will be celebrating its 25th edition as a virtual event accessible to audiences across Canada, with a dynamic program of scheduled screenings and premieres, panels, and workshops running from August 5 through August 25, 2021, once again using the leading-edge platform created by Festival Scope and Shift72. 
 
As the summer approaches, the festival will be following advice from local health authorities, with the possibility of also adding a range of flagship physical events to the lineup. 
 
Last summer’s virtual edition was a phenomenal success, screening to 85000 spectators and amassing a record amount of media coverage, with 475 accredited journalists from around the world covering Fantasia and its titles. The lineup showcased 104 features, a quarter of which were World Premieres, with the majority securing distribution out of the festival, with highlights including THE BLOCK ISLAND SOUND selling to Netflix, COME TRUE to IFC, THE PAPER TIGERS to WellGo USA, ANYTHING FOR JACKSON to Shudder, PVT CHAT to Dark Star, and MINOR PREMISE to Utopia.
 
For the creation of its 25th anniversary poster art, pictured below, Fantasia has once again turned to the talents of renowned illustrator Donald Caron. Taking inspiration from Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s beloved LONE WOLF AND CUB, Caron has created a work that not only acknowledges the key role that Japanese culture has played across Fantasia’s history, but also one that hints and honours our upcoming edition’s embrace of Japanese cinema as a core cinematic theme. 
 
Fantasia is proud to be opening its upcoming edition with the World Premiere of a major Québécois genre feature - Julien Knafo’s BRAIN FREEZE. First pitched at Frontières, the festival’s world-renowned international co-production market, the film is a smart and stylish zombie comedy that slyly comments on social concerns both domestic and universal, telling the tale of an environmental disaster that leads to a fast-spreading virus ravaging a wealthy gated community off the island of Montreal. BRAIN FREEZE joins the ranks of recently-released cinema that holds an eerie mirror up to our collective experience even though scripted and shot pre-pandemic. While production on the winter-set chiller was abruptly halted four days before completion following Quebec’s lockdown, shooting was miraculously able to wrap the following summer. There could not be a more perfect film for Fantasia 2021 to kick off with! Following the World Premiere on August 5th, BRAIN FREEZE will see theatrical release throughout Canada on August 13th from Filmoption International.
 
 
40 Zombie hands.jpg
Produced by Barbara Shrier (THE YEAR DOLLY PARTON WAS MY MOM, MÉMOIRES AFFECTIVES), the film stars Roy Dupuis (LA FEMME NIKITA, THE ROCKET), one of Quebec’s leading actors for the past three decades who celebrates his 50th feature with this role, alongside Iani Bédard (MON AMI WALID). The impressive cast is rounded out by an array of acclaimed figures in Québec cinema, including Marianne Fortier (AURORE), Anne-Élisabeth Bossé (LAURENCE ANYWAYS), Mylène Mackay (NELLY), Simon-Oliver Fecteau (BLUFF), Stéphane Crête (DANS UNE GALAXIE PRÈS DE CHEZ VOUS), Mahée Paiment (LES BOYS), Louis-Georges Girard (MAFIA INC), Claudia Ferri (BAD BLOOD), and Jean-Pierre Bergeron (SUR LE SEUIL).
 
Equally gorgeous as it is bloody, BRAIN FREEZE presents a clever take on corporate greed, the growing rift between the haves and have-nots and a government in crisis that uses a zombie outbreak to express its truth and succeeds at being both a charming horror comedy, coming-of-age tale, and a story of unexpected friendship in hazardous times.
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