Fantasia Film Festival 2018 runs through August 2nd in beautiful Montreal!
Opening weekend of Fantasia Festival 2018 is upon us, and while I won’t be on the ground in Montreal until Monday the 16th my excitement level is already pretty damn high. I might even try poutine this time! The fest is a highlight every year for film fans from around the world, and this year’s lineup promises to once again deliver an incredible mix of action, horror, drama, comedy, and overall weirdness.
There are 116 features playing this year alongside numerous short films and special events, and while I won’t be able to see them all there are more than a few that I’m most looking forward to.
Tales from the Hood 2 is world premiering at the fest, and while it’s not the only horror anthology playing this year it’s undoubtedly the most long-awaited. Twenty-three years after the original film — an underloved genre classic — the original director/writers have returned with more EC Comics-inspired terror. I’m a horror anthology junkie and am also looking forward to Nightmare Cinema and The Field Guide to Evil, but today’s world being what it is this is the multi-headed monster I’m most hoping to catch.
Any chance you get to see a Takashi Miike movie on the big screen should be gripped tightly in both hands, and that’s just what I’ll be doing with his new film Laplace’s Witch. The film appears to be a more restrained affair from the madman, but even a restrained Miike is more unpredictable than most other filmmakers at full tilt. So yeah, I’m all in on a murder mystery helmed by the director of Visitor Q, Happiness of the Katakuris, and Audition.
David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows remains one of the most inventive horror films in recent years, and between it and his feature debut (The Myth of the American Sleepover) it’s clear he’s a director to watch. Under the Silver Lake sees Mitchell tackling the LA noir with ambition, humor, and a strong sense of identity, and with Andrew Garfield taking lead it promises to be a mystery worth seeking out.
Some movies lull you in with a trailer, a pedigree, or the high promise of advance praise, but other times all it takes is a title. The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot is one such film. The title alone makes this a must-see, and you’re lying if you say otherwise. Add in that the legendary Sam Elliott is playing the title role (the man, not the Bigfoot) and you have a movie that’s simply impossible to miss.
The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion is a horribly convoluted title, but it’s probably my most anticipated film of the fest all the same. Why? It’s a South Korean action flick for one thing, and while that’s enough for me to start salivating it’s also from the beautifully twisted mind of Park Hoon-jung (the writer of I Saw the Devil). The movie looks to blend action, sci-fi, and purely Korean awesomeness into a 126 minute package, and that is entirely my jam.
Other films I’m hoping to catch include Sion Sono’s Tokyo Vampire Hotel (a feature version of his recent Amazon Prime series), Joseph Kahn’s Bodied (which I’ve already missed at three different festivals), Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich because how can I not want to see that, the highly acclaimed Japanese zombie flick I Am a Hero, and many, many more. Films I’ve already seen and can recommend wholeheartedly include The Night Eats the World, One Cut of the Dead, Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum, and the absolutely brilliant Anna and the Apocalypse.
AFTER CONQUERING SUNDANCE AND CANNES, MANDY COMES TO FANTASIA (Official Closing Film)
Fantasia’s 22nd edition will close on a cinematic power chord with the Canadian Premiere of the thunderously-acclaimed MANDY (Official Closing Film), Panos Cosmatos’ long awaited sophomore feature following the stunning BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW. The film makes its first screening in the country after transfixing audiences at Sundance and Cannes’ Director’s Fortnight. Starring an especially strong Nicolas Cage in a performance that seethes with internalized rage, MANDY also features a shredding experimental electronic score from the late Jóhann Jóhannsson that works hypnotically with the film’s pacing and imagery to create a dreamy mood of near-death intoxication. MANDY is a pounding, bleeding act of cinema that’s as singular as it is sensational.
DONNIE YEN WILL SCHOOL YOU IN BIG BROTHER (WorldPremiere)
Mixed martial arts meet high-school intrigue, with Hong Kong superhero Donnie Yen (ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY) at the blackboard! The closing nightfestivities of Fantasia 2018 will begin with the World Premiere of BIG BROTHER, which sees Yen reuniting with action director Kenji Tanigaki (GOD OF WAR, Fantasia 2017) and delivering an exhilarating, scholastic twist on the martial arts film. Having collaborated on the fight scenes in WU XIA (aka DRAGON, Fantasia 2011) and LEGEND OF THE FIST: RETURN OF CHEN ZHEN, Yen and Tanigaki once again land a bone-breaking bull’s-eye with BIG BROTHER.
TAKASHI MIIKE TURNS MATHEMATICS INTO WITCHCRAFT IN THE NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE OF LAPLACE’S WITCH
Everyone knows the tight bond that has united Takashi Miike and Fantasia for over two decades, and the festival is honoured to continue the tradition with the North American Premiere of his spellbinding new murder mystery LAPLACE’S WITCH! Of course, in Miike’s hands, things quickly veer into the unexpected when a geochemistry professor investigating a double murder case meets a young mathematics genius with an almost supernatural level of knowledge. Crafting gorgeous imagery, stunning locations, and stellar special effects, Miike and his star-studded cast bring us down an unexpected path where the mystic and reality collide. Long-time Miike fans, as well as those just now learning of his work, will not be disappointed!
A MASTER CLASS WITH TIMUR BEKMAMBETOV – AND THE CANADIAN PREMIERE OF PROFILE
Fantasia audiences were the first in the world to see UNFRIENDED when it launched at the festival under its original title, CYBERNATURAL. Producer Timur Bekmambetov pioneered its innovative, immersive storytelling approach – dubbed “Screenlife” – which brilliantly captures the way we communicate online. This year, Fantasia will showcase a trio of Screenlife features, each landing with an uncommon impact that’s wholly unique, and tells a very different kind of story. In addition to the previously-announced SEARCHING (Canadian Premiere) and UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB (International Premiere), the festival is proud to showcase the Canadian launch of PROFILE, a riveting award-winner at Berlinale and SXSW, about a journalist catfishing an ISIS recruiter, based on the non-fiction bestseller “In the Skin of a Jihadist”. On July 17, Bekmambetov will conduct a multimedia master class event specifically centered around the inception and production methodologies of this brilliant storytelling approach.
PUNK SAMURAI SLASH DOWN SLICES ITS WAY TO A NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE!
Japanese punk rocker Ko Machida’s 2004 maniacally meta novel rips up the silver screen in Gakuryu Ishii’s PUNK SAMURAI SLASH DOWN (North American Premiere). Loaded with loopy weirdness and jolts of anachronistic rock ’n’ roll energy, the cinematic adaptation by Ishii (formerly Sogo) is just as colourful, anarchic, and irreverent as you’d expect, given his bona fides as a key instigator of Japan’s punk film eruption of the 1980s. Collaborating here with screenwriter Kankuro Kudo (of TOO YOUNG TO DIE! fame), the film’s all-star cast includes Go Ayano (AJIN: DEMI HUMAN), Shota Sometani (PARASYTE), Jun Kunimura (ATTACK ON TITAN), Etsushi Toyokawa (20TH CENTURY BOYS), and Tadanobu Asano (KASANE).
SWIM OUT TO THE NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE OF BLACK TIDE
Adapted from Dror Mishani’s novel “The Missing File”, BLACK TIDE is a taut, methodical crime thriller told with quasi-Fincheresque precision by co-writer/director Erick Zonca (JULIA). Actor Romain Duris is fascinating and Sandrine Kiberlain is heartbreaking, but it’s Vincent Cassel who blows us away with his electrifying performance as an alcoholic cop, whose unkempt hair and beard reflect his tormented, equally-tousled soul. Obsessed with his case like a beast gnawing on a bone, this man-on-the-edge is determined to uncover the truth, no matter how horrible it ends up being.
A HELLISHLY SPECIAL SCREENING OF L’INFERNO (1911), LIVE-SCORED BY GOBLIN’S MAURIZIO GUARINI
Fantasia presents a special screening of Italy’s first genre film (which also happens to be the world’s oldest surviving feature), the spectacularly surreal 1911 masterpiece L’INFERNO. Loosely based on Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy and influenced by Gustave Doré’s illustrations, the film was directed by Francesco Bertolini, Adolfo Padovan, and Giuseppe de Liguoro, working with more than 150 cast and crew members over a period of three years. For the film’s 107th anniversary, Fantasia will present a special screening of L’INFERNO with a live-score performance by none other than Maurizio Guarini of Goblin – the legendary band responsible for of some of Italian horror cinema’s most cherished musical scores!
GET LAZY WITH RELAXER’S INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE!
Y2K is right around the corner, and Cam (David Dastmalchian) has just given his younger brother Abbie (Joshua Burge) the dopest challenge ever: to beat Johnny Mitchell’s infamous Pac-Man high score without ever getting off the couch! Not once! Not even to pee, eat, or drink! SLACKER by way of THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL (with a hint of BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD), Joel Potrykus’ (BUZZARD, THE ALCHEMIST COOKBOOK) latest is a closed-room, mise-en-scène tour-de-force that transforms a gamer’s crummy apartment into a space of unlimited potential. A true punk film, RELAXER is at once indescribable, demanding, and completely insolent, encapsulating the best (and the worst) of ’90s pop culture in one experiential trip.
BRING THE BEST MEMORIES OF YOUR FAVOURITE PETS – AND PLENTY OF TISSUES – FOR THE WORLD PREMIERE OF THE TRAVELING CAT CHRONICLES
Kind-hearted Satoru (BLEACH’s Sota Fukushi) has been living happily with his cat Nana after rescuing it from a car accident. Despite the bond that unites them, Satoru’s new engagement forces them go on a road trip across Japan to find Nana a new owner. Following the Fantasia 2016 hit IF CATS DISAPPEARED FROM THE WORLD, Japan has provided a new, extremely efficient tear-jerker about man’s other best friend… with just a hint of fantasy. In THE TRAVELING CAT CHRONICLES (World Premiere), we can hear animals talk, which brings on great humour, heart, and a whole lot of tears. A beautiful tale of friendship and faithfulness, THE TRAVELLING CAT CHRONICLES provides a heartfelt lesson in life for the whole family.
LOVE HURTS, BODIES SHIFT: THE WORLD PREMIERE OFLIFECHANGER
Drew has the ability to transport from body to body, and his desire to reconnect with the woman he loves will ultimately prove to be the undoing of many – perhaps even Drew himself. The latest from Canadian genre vet Justin McConnell, LIFECHANGER is exactly the kind of smart and efficient genre piece that Fantasia takes pride in introducing to audiences. It’s a film that’s fresh, surprising, and alive, anchored by terrific performances from Lora Burke (POOR AGNES) and Jack Foley. LIFECHANGER is an excellent reminder that all great horror is also one part tragedy, and it’s that element that will help audiences remember this one long after they’ve left the theatre.
PREPARE TO OVERDOSE ON COLD, RAW FEAR AT THE CANADIAN PREMIERE OF TERRIFIED
Gifted Argentinean filmmaker Demián Rugna has single-handedly transformed his nation’s cinema with this genuinely terrifying paranormal nightmare that starts with a bloody bang and never lets go. Electric with the pure, raw kind of intense horror that makes your entire body ache with fear and adrenaline, TERRIFIED won accolades at Mar del Plata and has been, well, terrifying audiences everywhere from Sitges and Brussels to Brazil’s Fantaspoa. Prepare yourself, because Fantasia’s Canadian premiere is sure to elicit screams that will be heard a continent away.
MEET AN ALTOGETHER NEW KIND OF EXORCIST IN ROOM LAUNDERING
In Japan, law requires landlords to divulge tragic passings to their next tenants – but that same law fails to specify just how many subsequent renters one needs to inform! Thus, Miko Yagumo (Elaiza Ikeda, of THE MANY FACES OF ITO), a shy and antisocial young girl, is a “room launderer”: a transitory occupant, with the ability to see the spirits of the deceased. With ROOM LAUNDERING (North American Premiere), first-time filmmaker Kenji Katagiri proves himself to be one to watch out for – perfectly juggling quirky comedy and supernatural drama. This gem co-stars veteran, fan-favourite actor Joe Odagiri (ADRIFT IN TOKYO, MR. GO, AIR DOLL) and Kiyohiko Shibukawa (LOWLIFE LOVE and PUNK SAMURAI SLASH DOWN),
THE CAMERA LUCIDA SECTION UNVEILS ITS FINAL THREE TITLES!
Fantasia’s Camera Lucida section, dedicated to experimental, boundary-pushing and auteur-driven works on the borders of genre cinema, unveils its final three Canadian premieres:
Blue is the colour of Mia, a 15-year-old with an odd new thirst. With BLUE MY MIND, Swiss filmmaker Lisa Brühlmann offers a masterful, fresh take on the horrific degeneration of a teenager’s anatomy, cleverly entwined with classic fairytale storytelling pitched somewhere between recent genre hits such as THE LURE and RAW.
When the price of cigarettes goes up, thirty-something Miso embraces homelessness and sees it as an occasion to reconnect with old friends. MICROHABITAT, Jeon Go-woon’s surprising first feature, subtly reinvents the conventions of slacker cinema. From one social environment to the next, a complex, tragi-comic portrait of South Korean society emerges – its class consciousness, the ambitions that drive it, and the characters that populate it.
When Reed (Christopher Abbott) meets Jackie (Mia Wasikowska), he realizes his meticulous night of murder isn’t going to go as planned. A cruel cat-and-mouse game is turned on its head, as writer-director Nicolas Pesce returns to Fantasia with PIERCING, a dark, twisted comedy about death and desire, adapted from Ryu Murakami’s novel (AUDITION).
Being Natural, dir. Tadashi Nagayama (International Premiere); Blue My Mind, dir. Lisa Brülhmann (Canadian Premiere); Chained for Life, dir. Aaron Schimberg (International Premiere); Hanagatami, dir. Nobuhiko Obayashi (Québec Premiere); Luz, dir. Tilman Singer (North American Premiere); Madeline’s Madeline, dir. Josephine Decker (Canadian Premiere); Microhabitat, dir. Jeon Go-woon (Canadian Premiere); Piercing, dir. Nicolas Pesce (Canadian Premiere); Under the Silver Lake, dir. David Robert Mitchell (North American Premiere)All titles will compete for the AQCC-Camera Lucida prize, awarded by a jury of critics from the Québec’s Critics Association (AQCC), member of the FIPRESCI.
CHINA’S ANIMATED DA HU FA IS A RAMBUNCTIOUS, REBELLIOUS FIND!
A formidable fighter discovers a hidden town where dread, violence, and corruption pervade in Chinese animator Busifan’s DA HU FA (North American Premiere), presented in eye-popping 3D at Fantasia. A wonderfully unusual and defiant work of rambunctious, rebellious fantasy animation, this beautifully-animated adventure has been largely unseen outside of China until now.
IT’S A LITERAL FACE-OFF AS KASANE COMES TO NORTH AMERICA
Kasane must live with a face deformed by a giant scar, even though she is blessed with impressive performing skills. Nina is an arrogant actress who looks divine but is completely talentless. With the power of a magic tube of lipstick, they will change faces to create the ultimate actress. An adaptation of the popular manga, KASANE is a remarkably effective psychological thriller mixed with dark fantasy that forces us to confront our own superficiality regarding appearances – all without stuffing the lesson down our throat. A brilliant adaptation of mangaka Daruma Matsuura’s unique work, KASANE stars Kyoko Yoshine (the PRINCESS JELLYFISH series) and Tao Tsuchiya (RUROUNI KENSHIN: KYOTO INFERNO), while Tadanobu Asano (THOR) shines as the Machiavellian architect of their pact.
TIRED OF BY THE BOOK ROM-COMS? THE NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE OF TORNADO GIRL WILL WIN YOU OVER IMMEDIATELY!
After vowing to copy the coolest man he knows – real-life grungy hipster pop star Tamio Okuda – Koroki wins the admiration of his colleagues, but attracts the attention of Akari (Kiko Mizuhara), the publicist for a fashion brand who’s turned her sex appeal into a weapon of mass-distraction. Director Hitoshi One (BAKUMAN), who already amazed audiences in the rom-com genre with the MTV style musical hybrid LOVE STRIKES!, hits a bullseye again with TORNADO GIRL (North American Premiere), a cutting-edge romance that’s actually romantic, paired with surreal comedy that’s actually funny! With an amazing cast lead by the convincing duo Satoshi Tsumabuki (FOR LOVE’S SAKE) and Kiko Mizuhara (ATTACK ON TITAN), this one is sure to win audiences’ hearts.