The Fantasia International Film Festival is proud to announce the first wave of programming for its upcoming 25th edition, set again to take place as a virtual event accessible to audiences across Canada. The festival will run from August 5 - 25, 2021, and will include scheduled screenings and premieres, panels, and workshops, with films once again hosted on the leading-edge platform created by Festival Scope and Shift72. As the summer approaches, Fantasia organizers will be following advice from local health authorities in Montreal with respect to the possibility of adding a limited range of physical events as well. In celebration of the key role that Japan’s culture has played across Fantasia’s history, the festival’s 25th edition will be featuring an enhanced focus on Japanese cinema.
Following the earlier news of the festival’s opening film, the world premiere of Julien Knafo’s Quebec-set zomcom BRAIN FREEZE starring Roy Dupuis and Iani Bédard, details on the first wave of feature films are revealed today, with the full lineup to be announced in late July.
Here are a few highlights that caught our attention:
STEADY YOUR GAZE FOR THE LAST THING MARY SAW
Brace yourself for THE LAST THING MARY SAW, a breathtaking period occult drama set in an isolated farmhouse in the winter of 1843, where a young woman is under investigation following the mysterious death of her family’s matriarch. It soon becomes apparent that ageless forces are at play, from within and without. An eerie and hypnotic nightmare vision from debuting writer/director Edoardo Vitaletti, starring Stefanie Scott (INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3), Isabelle Fuhrman (ORPHAN), Judith Roberts (YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE), and Rory Culkin (LORDS OF CHAOS). WORLD PREMIERE.
GO ALL-IN WITH KAKEGURUI 2: ULTIMATE RUSSIAN ROULETTE
Welcome back to Hyakkaoh Academy, where the students engage in compulsive gambling to climb the social ladder, but this time around the return of a demented alumni will wreak a new kind of havoc on the school. KAKEGURUI 2: ULTIMATE RUSSIAN ROULETTE, written and directed by Tsutomu Hanabusa (PROJECT DREAMS), raises the stakes beyond money and clout to a game of life and death. This highly creative, colorful, and thrilling manga adaptation makes a reinvented poker game as engaging as a championship match. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.
A SPANISH-BASQUE MASTERPIECE TAKES VAMPIRE CINEMA TO POIGNANT NEW HEIGHTS – STARE INTO ALL THE MOONS
Spain. 1876. A young girl (Haizea Carneros) is severely injured when a religious orphanage is bombed during the third Carlist war. On the verge of death, she is healed by a mysterious woman (Itziar Ituño) whom she perceives to be an angel. They are soon separated, the child left to fend for herself - for decades upon decades. With ALL THE MOONS, director Igor Legarreta masterfully employs the tenets of vampire lore as the basis for an intimate epic dealing with themes of life and death, love and loneliness, devotion and intolerance. Impeccably crafted, it ranks among the best of vampire cinema. INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE.
NOT QUITE DEAD YET BRINGS A WHOLE NEW LOOK AT THE AFTERLIFE
A death metal singer must team up with the ghost of her recently deceased father to uncover a scheme underway at the company he left behind… and miraculously save his life! A punchy, playful, and pleasingly morbid comedy romp, NOT QUITE DEAD YET mixes up a quick-paced concoction of corporate intrigue, family melodrama, and supernatural silliness. With deft timing, first-time director Shinji Hamasaki orchestrates an outstanding cast of sympathetic characters interpreted by stars Suzu Hirose (CHIHAYAFURU), Ryo Yoshizawa (BLEACH), and Shinichi Tsutsumi (THE MOLE SONG). NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.
HELLBENDER IS AN OCCULT INSPIRATION
An occult, coming-of-age film unlike any you’ve seen, HELLBENDER is the extraordinary new creation from the Adams Family (John Adams, Toby Poser, Zelda Adams), the gifted filmmaking family behind 2019’s indie sensation THE DEEPER YOU DIG. It further affirms their stature as singular poets of the genre, making soulful and wholly original works with a one-of-a-kind look and feel, this time in the dreamy story of a lonely teenage girl (Zelda Adams) who finds guidance in her family’s suppressed supernatural lineage. HELLBENDER imaginatively explores questions of identity, instinct, and power roles in youth and parenthood alike. An uncanny film that’s all at once haunting, heartfelt, freakish, and fun. WORLD PREMIERE.
Midnight mischief is afoot in LITTLE VAMPIRE, the latest film adaptation from France’s Joann Sfar (THE RABBI’S CAT), who both created the original children’s comic and helm’s the magically monstrous and endearingly morbid feature about the unlikely friendship between a never-aging vampire and a human boy. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.
A second wave of Fantasia 2021 titles will be announced in June with the full lineup to be revealed in late July, with ticket sales commencing shortly afterwards. For more information, visit us on the web at www.fantasiafestival.com