The FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL announces a massive new assortment of feature films for its 24th edition, along with details on scheduled panels, talks, tributes, and special events.
John Carpenter Lifetime Achievement Award and Masterclass
FANTASIA attendees lovingly recall that the Kentucky-raised writer/director/musician was one of the first major international guests to attend Fantasia for the fest’s third edition in 1998, when it launched the International Premiere of 'Vampires'. In conjunction with awarding him a Fantasia Lifetime Achievement Award, the festival will also present a masterclass from Carpenter, where he’ll discuss everything from his own festival origin story to his awe-inspiring career, touching on 'Halloween', 'The Fog', 'Escape from New York', 'The Thing', 'Starman', 'They Live', and many more. In addition, the fest will explore his recent resurgence as a touring musician and play you his latest spine-tingling single!
A Tribute to Jose Mojica Marins
On February 19th of this year, South American cinema lost its boldest visionary with the passing of José Mojica Marins, one of the most original and inspired voices in the history of genre film. A master of confrontational filmmaking who conquered numerous obstacles, Marins’ creations are radical lightning bolts of transgression made in defiance of Brazil's then-dictatorship, whose collective glow will continue to influence and astonish generations to come. Fantasia had the honor of bringing Marins to the fest twice and of bestowing him with a Lifetime Achievement award. He will be greatly missed.
In recognition of Marins’ passing, FANTASIA will be presenting three of his works –
'At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul' (1964), 'The Strange World of Coffin Joe' (1968), and 'The End of Man' (1971).
In addition, the festival will also present a live talk with Brazilian filmmaker Dennison Ramalho ('The Nighshifter'), co-screenwriter of Mojica’s acclaimed 2008 Coffin Joe comeback film, 'Embodiment of Evil'. He will reminisce on his own history growing up inspired by the man, as well as his relationship with his friend and collaborator.
An Indigenous Kiwi Martial Arts Action Comedy Closes FANTASIA 2020 FANTASIA’s 24th edition will slam into crescendo with the North American Premiere of NZ filmmaker Kiel McNaughton’s 'The Legend of Baron To'a'. Uli Latukefu (of Taika Waititi’s upcoming 'Next Goal Wins') gives a charismatic turn in the leading role, supported by a talented Polynesian cast including 'The Matrix Reloaded’s Nathaniel Lees and 'Attack of the Clones' Jay Laga’aia. The film delivers comedy and pathos in a seamless blend of English and Tongan. While the hard-hitting fight choreography draws inspiration from pro wrestling and martial arts movies, it’s firmly grounded in its suburban setting, resulting in setpieces that celebrate the Pacific Island experience just as much as the script does. North American Premiere. 'Hunted' Takes Survival Action to its Most Human Place Once upon a frenzied time, man meets woman. Man kisses woman. Woman escapes man. Man chases woman. This oft-recycled revenge plot takes an unexpected turn in 'Hunted' - a bold story where codes are bent and reborn. The psychotic Big Bad Wolf, embodiment of patriarchy, and his dummy sidekick engage in a wild hunt within mother nature’s protective maze of trees; meanwhile, our tale’s Red Riding Hood’s awaits with killer moves - and won’t surrender so easily. Vincent Paronnaud (acclaimed comic book creator and co-director of the Academy Award-nominated PERSEPOLIS) brings us a thrilling, humanist tale that’s as animalistic as it is mystifying. World Premiere. The Incredible Johnnie to Make Our 'Dream' Come True When Tiger (Jacky Heung, of 'Push' and 'Fearless') and Cuckoo (Keru Wang, 'Youth') meet, it’s a match made in heaven. Both involved with moneylenders, one is an over-enthusiastic rising star in the MMA world; the other a resourceful, aspiring singer on-the-run who will stop at nothing for a spot on ‘Perfect Diva’! Following 'Three' (FANTASIA 2016), master filmmaker Johnnie To is back with 'Chasing Dream': an unexpected blend of mixed-martial-arts drama and high-stakes musical comedy, taking the viewers back to the madcap energy of his mid-2000s collaborations with Wai Ka-Fai and the themes of his sports-and-destiny masterpiece 'Throw Down'. Canadian Premiere. Jorge Michel Grau Returns with the Breathless, Stylish 'Perdida' A decade after his cannibalistic modern classic 'We Are What We Are', Mexican filmmaker Jorge Michel Grau returns to FANTASIA with 'Perdida'. Starring José María de Tavira, Paulina Dávila, and Cristina Rodlo, Grau enters into the realm of Hitchcock and De Palma to deliver one of the best, most sustained thrillers of recent times. A remake of Andrés Baiz's acclaimed 2011 feature 'The Hidden Face', Grau superbly creates suspense through contemporary architecture and a love triangle that consistently surprises. International Premiere. Place Your Bets on 'Rom' Fourteen-year-old Rom (Tran Anh Khoa) is a runner. That is, he runs lottery numbers for the indebted inhabitants of a dilapidated tenement – a network of interconnected homes soon to be demolished by greedy developers. The bookie climbs and zips through its many alleys; down streets, up balconies, staircases, and across other unstable contraptions – in order to be the first to give his clients’ numbers to the teller. Tran Thanh Huy’s 'Rom', winner of the New Currents Award at the 2020 Busan Film Festival, is an electrifying debut: a jolt of a film, shot with great, street-savvy energy and constant forward momentum. North American Premiere. Life Takes you for a Ride with 'Marygoround' Nearly fifty and hitting menopause, Mary (Grazyna Misiorowska) makes the decision to begin hormone therapy to ease the transition. Meanwhile, the sudden arrival of her niece coincides with an awakening – one of burgeoning sexuality, bravery, and curiosity. Maybe it’s the hormones... or maybe it’s something far more mystical and powerful. Prepare for 'Marygoround', a beautiful, unsettling, and touching dark comedy about the importance of finding yourself at any age, brought to life through Polish director Daria Woszek’s sensitive and original worldview, and originally slated to world premiere at SXSW. International Premiere. Being a Geek is Nothing to Hide, Even Though 'Love is Hard for Otaku' Narumi is starting a new job and doing everything she can to hide the fact she is an otaku, but one of her new colleagues is a childhood friend who knows all about her passion for manga and anime. Thanks to the superb chemistry between Mitsuki Takahata ('Almost a Miracle') and Kento Yamazaki ('Kingdom'), the unique creativity of writer/director Yuichi Fukuda ('HK: Forbidden Superhero'), and musical numbers going from J-pop to jazz, 'Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku' is the perfect immersion into the fascinating world of otaku culture. North American Premiere. Prepare for a Fishy Kauju Attack with 'Monster Seafood Wars' When a disgraced scientist who now works at his dad’s sushi shop gets into a minor bicycle accident, he ends up creating a huge-but-delicious problem that can only be described as 'Monster Seafood Wars'! Before you can say "colossal calamari", a squid, an octopus, and a crab - each as big as buildings - are wreaking massive kaiju havoc all over Tokyo! Beloved director Minoru Kawasaki ('The Calamari Wrestler', 'Executive Koala') employs incredible oldschool techniques in this hilarious and heartfelt monster film, and brings back a disappearing genre in Japanese cinema known as "kigurumi tokusatsu", or, as we know them, sci-fi movies featuring actors in rubber giant monster costumes! International Premiere. 'Wildland' Asks What You're Willing to Sacrifice for Flesh and Blood After her mother’s abrupt death, Ida is taken in by an estranged aunt and her three sons. She soon discovers that her new family are local mafioso and things suddenly go south when a violent murder challenges the family’s loyalty to each other. 'Wildland', Danish director Jeanette Nordahl’s stunning debut feature – which was an official selection at this year’s Berlinale – is a rite of passage tale, delicate and highly adroit, from the perspective of a lost girl facing arduous and fundamental questions. North American Premiere. It'll Take Muscles to Fold These 'Paper Tigers'! Three childhood Kung Fu prodigies have grown into washed-up, middle-aged men one kick away from pulling their hamstrings. But when their master is murdered, they must juggle their dead-end jobs and dad duties to overcome old grudges and avenge his death. Writer/director Bao Tran has made not just another martial arts movie, but a film that's about martial arts: its philosophies and the lessons it continues to teach you into old age. Anchored by immensely likeable performances from its cast, 'The Paper Tigers' delivers all the quality ass-kicking you want out of a good martial arts film, while also impacting much more: a story about the importance of friendship and staying true to your heart, which is what makes 'The Paper Tigers' so special. World Premiere. Consequences are High When a Man's Son is 'Legally Declared Dead' An insurance agent suspects his client (Anthony Wong, of UNTOLD STORY and INFERNAL AFFAIRS) may have murdered his own son to collect the insurance money. As he investigates the suspicious death, he begins to be met with threats on all sides. Director Yuen Kim-Wai elevates a thrilling story by expertly balancing a touchy subject with suspense and nuanced characters. Based on the famous Japanese novel 'Black House', the striking, exciting 'Legally Declared Dead' recently launched in Hong Kong and Taiwan. North American Premiere. Elderly Satanists Will Do Practically 'Anything for Jackson' Canadian genre royalty Sheila McCarthy and Julian Richings star in Ontario filmmaker Justin G. Dyck’s 'Anything for Jackson', a clever, funny, and delightfully mean-spirited horror tale of elderly Satanists carried way over their heads in the name of love. Keith Cooper's screenplay constantly surprises, by turning funny, nasty, and progressively more intense as it moves along, but it's the pairing of McCarthy and Richings that makes 'Jackson' so special. World Premiere. This 'Mom-to-Be' Definitely Has No Idea What's in Store for Her! Award-winning Hong Kong screenwriter and director Luk Yee-Sum returns to Fantasia with the expectant comedy, 'Baby: The Secret Diary of a Mom-to-Be' the perfect follow-up to her coming of age debut 'Lazy Crazy Hazy' (FANTASIA 2016). As far as Carmen (Dada Chan, 'Vulgaria') is concerned, she has it all: a handsome basketball-star husband, a great job with an exciting promotion in reach, and a group of lifelong friends that are closer than family. But she’s about to get one thing she didn’t plan for - a baby on the way. Having previously screened at Tokyo International Film Festival and Hong Kong Asian Film Festival, this charming dramedy draws back the curtain on the ups and downs of when you’re unexpectedly expecting. Canadian Premiere. What Does it Really Mean to Live in a 'Free Country'? Two years after the German reunification, a pair of out-of-town detectives begin to uncover the dark secrets of a lawless backwoods area. 'Antibodies' director Christian Alvart’s tense remake of Alberto Rodriguez’s Goya-sweeping Spanish thriller 'Marshland' (winner of a 2015 Fantasia Audience Award), 'Free Country' is as exciting and socially conscious as its predecessor, both films showcasing this crime story as a fascinating backdrop of post-fascist societies. Canadian Premiere. In These 'Photographs', Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder Solitary photographer Kai (Hideki Nagai) is afraid of women, but it doesn’t keep him from shamelessly retouching their photographs when asked. On a trek through the forest, he encounters a model, Kyoko (Itsuki Otaki), who soon asks him to retouch hers. As their relationship grows, Kai feels a rare pang of responsibility, motivated for the first time to challenge his vindictive perception of women. Takeshi Kushida’s 'Woman of the Photographs' is a mysterious and captivating debut, throwing the viewer into an uncertain world of obsession and forgery; a potent examination of image-making and alienation in our contemporary age. Quebec Premiere. Police Training Goes Awry in Subversive 80s Homage 'Survival Skills' Writer/director Quinn Armstrong’s feature debut 'Survival Skills', expanded from his 2017 short, is simultaneously a throwback to a bygone age and very much a film for the current moment. Designed like an 80s police-training video, Armstrong builds up a wholesome and comedic world replete with bubbling Americana and educational-film naivete before shattering it with the grim reality of domestic violence. Starring Vayu O’Donnell and Stacy Keach, the film casts a bleakly satirical light on the disasters that can occur when simplistic training, complex ethics, and the dark side of human nature collide. International Premiere. It's Extremely Dangerous for a 'Sheep Without a Shepherd' When Lee’s teenage daughter accidentally kills a classmate who is blackmailing her, she, unfortunately, discovers that the deceased’s mother happens to be a merciless cop (legendary actress Joan Chen of 'Twin Peaks' and 'The Last Emperor'). Lee, armed with an arsenal of film knowledge and wits, devises the ultimate alibi, ready for every counter-move that awaits his family. 'Sheep Without a Shepherd' is a relentless cat-and-mouse thriller with just the right dose of dark humor, emotional nuance, and tension from first-time director Sam Quah. Released to such an avalanche of positive press, the film overtook 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' in China’s box office! Quebec Premiere. A Criminal, A Detective, and a Talking Parrot are Needed to Solve a Thrilling Crime in 'A Witness Out of the Blue'! Three months after a botched robbery, Wong, the mastermind behind it, is now a prime suspect for the murder of one of his teammates. Trying to clear his name, Wong instead falls into a complex web of betrayal and collateral damage, while a detective scrambles to piece together the puzzle with the help of a talking parrot. 'A Witness Out of the Blue' is a riveting thriller from director Fung Chih-Chiang, who previously collaborated with Stephen Chow ('Shaolin Soccer') and Johnny To ('Sparrow'), and has screened at Bucheon Film Festival and Rotterdam Film Festival. Canadian Premiere DOCUMENTARIES FROM THE EDGE UNVEILS SEVEN NEW TITLES
FANTASIA’s section dedicated to unconventional non-fiction storytelling just keeps expanding, with seven amazing new documentaries that are sure to impress. A “Lynchian Pre-Apocalyptic Urbex Documentary”, From Haunted Drive-Ins to Underground Music Conceived by their parents in the back seat of a Chevy at the local drive-in, bottle-fed with images of exploitation cinema, monsters, and fears, they are now fighting against social norms and a “life of feudalistic servitude”. Texas Trip – A Carnival of Ghosts, directorial duo Maxime Lachaud and Steve Balestreri’s beguiling debut feature documentary, is a portrait of Attic Ted, Virginia Black, Mother Fakhir, and more – artists making strange sounds, experimenting to the extreme with abstract ideas through the materiality of their own flesh. World Premiere. 'You Cannot Kill David Arquette' – Only He Can Do That Branded as the most hated man in wrestling after winning a highly controversial WCW World Heavyweight Championship in 2000, actor David Arquette attempts a rocky return to the sport that stalled his promising Hollywood career in 'You Cannot Kill David Arquette'. An unexpectedly emotional and heartfelt documentary directed by David Darg and Price James, this is a truly outrageous portrait of a dangerously determined former A-lister. Canadian Premiere. Evil Dead Fans Get Groovy in 'Hail to the Deadities' Few horror franchises have inspired as devoted a cult following as the 1981 classic 'The Evil Dead', and 'Hail to the Deadities' offers a deep-dive into the fan culture that has spawned around it. Through interviews with the cast, crew, collectors, fans, freaks, and geeks, this special doc illuminates the darkest reaches of the 'Evil Dead' franchise’s undying and still-growing popularity. A pop culture icon that has given birth to a TV series, comic books, figurines, and surpassed even its creator’s wildest dreams, 'Evil Dead' now inspires this stellar new doc from Steve Villeneuve, director of 'Under the Scars' and founder of the Requiem Fear Fest. World Premiere. 'Morgana' I'd Love to Film - [MILF - Acronym. /mɪlf/] After twenty years locked in a sexless existence, housewife Morgana frees herself and learns to spread her... wings. Following the ups and downs (and upside-downs) of homemaker-turned-porn filmmaker Morgana Muses, directorial duo Isabel Peppard and Josie Hess take us on the ride of a lifetime. 'Morgana' is a license to live judgment-free, an open letter to all invisible and emotionally-secluded women who have been forced into a miserable life of heteronormative submission. Get ready for an inspiring, sex-positive documentary for anyone in need of an orgasmic awakening. North American Premiere. Behold The Amazing, Inspiring Art of 'Ivan, The Terrible' Relatively unknown outside Brazil, Ivan Cardoso ('Nosferatu in Brazil', 'The Secret of the Mummy') is one of the country’s most significant genre filmmakers. Throughout his decades-spanning career, Cardoso has blended radical aesthetics with lowbrow ambitions and pioneered a style of filmmaking called 'Terrir' (a play on the word terror, and the Portuguese word for “to laugh”). Intercut with animation, interviews, and clips, Mario Abbade’s 'Ivan, The Terrible' is a crash course on Brazil's best-kept genre secret and a fun homage for his biggest fans. While the country’s cinematic past and present are under threat with President Bolsonaro in power, this film emerges during a moment of national reflection on the importance of art and liberty under political oppression. World Premiere. 'Feels Good', Man Feels Pretty Powerful, Man A Sundance 2020 Special Jury Award Winner and standout of this year’s Berlinale, Arthur Jones’ 'Feels Good' is a playful and poignant documentary about illustrator Matt Furie’s infamous-but-once-innocent Pepe the Frog character. In Jones’ hands, the story of a frog takes us on a journey through the birth of meme culture, from the MySpace and 4chan era, to Trump’s explosive election year, where Pepe has found his present fate as a reluctant rallying symbol of the alt-right. Quebec Premiere. That's a Wrap on 'Clapboard Jungle' 'Clapboard Jungle'is an emotional and introspective journey following five years in the life of Canadian independent filmmaker Justin McConnell ('Lifechanger'), which poses one central question: How does an indie filmmaker survive in the current industry? Featuring interviews with Guillermo del Toro, Richard Stanley, Barbara Crampton, Paul Schrader, Tom Savini, George A. Romero, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Michael Biehn, Frank Henenlotter, and many more. An official selection at festivals such as FrightFest, and Night Visions. Quebec Premiere.