It’s hard to believe, but it’s already May, and along with everything else that comes with the start of summer we’ve also just received my favorite email of the season — the first-wave title announcement for this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival.
The Montreal-set festival remains one of the absolute best for genre film fans who appreciate original horror, fresh action, and stunningly bonkers cinema from around the world. The first wave of titles already promises a wealth of delights with a new action epic from Indonesia, a trio of films from Shinsuke Sato, two new horror anthologies, ghost stories, and more.
Keep reading for a look at Fantasia Fest‘s first wave of titles playing this year, and start getting excited.
INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE OF BLEACH HIGHLIGHTS A TRIO OF BLOCKBUSTER MASTERPIECES BY PROLIFIC DIRECTOR SHINSUKE SATO
The most anticipated Japanese film of 2018 will have its International Premiere at Fantasia 2018 and completely blow everyone’s minds! Adapted from one of the world’s most popular mangas, BLEACH is directed by Shinsuke Sato (GANTZ, LIBRARY WARS) and masterfully portrays the epic fight between Shinigamis (Soul Reapers) and monstrous lost souls called Hollows. BLEACH fans will shed tears of joy as they see teenager Ichigo Kurosaki (AS THE GODS WILL’s Sota Fukushi) slice his giant sword through superbly designed Hollows, while the uninitiated will be amazed by this action-packed fantasy loaded with young rising stars and state-of-the-art special effects. BLEACH has everything one hopes for in a summer blockbuster… and much more!
Another crowd-pleasing powerhouse directed by Shinsuke Sato, INUYASHIKI, will set Fantasia 2018 on fire at its Canadian Premiere. The film reunites Sato with the universe of mangaka Hiroya Oku, creator of GANTZ, in a live-action adaptation that perfectly balances fast-paced action, humour, and bloody thrills! Winner of the Golden Raven at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival, INUYASHIKI opposes a lovable bullied old man (comedian Noritake Kinashi) and a cold murderous student (RUROUNI KENSHIN’s Takeru Satoh), both turned into powerful cyborgs after a strange explosion. It’s a glorious, fun ride with far more depth than it seems.
Lastly, to cap the festival’s celebration of Shinsuke Sato, Fantasia will be showcasing a special screening of the filmmaker’s celebrated 2015 instant-classic of the zombie sub-genre I AM A HERO, widely regarded as one of the best horror films in recent years. Acclaimed everywhere it was shown, the film won numerous awards, notably at SXSW, Sitges and Brussels, and it will soon be ravaging Montreal in its long-time-coming Quebec Premiere!
FIVE FORCES OF FEAR COME TOGETHER FOR A TERRIFYING DOSE OF NIGHTMARE CINEMA
As part of Fantasia’s Opening Night events, the festival will unveil the World Premiere of Cinelou Films’ hotly-anticipated anthology NIGHTMARE CINEMA, featuring segments by Joe Dante (GREMLINS), Mick Garris (THE STAND), Alejandro Brugués (JUAN OF THE DEAD), Ryûhei Kitamura (VERSUS), and David Slade (30 DAYS OF NIGHT) with a cast that includes Mickey Rourke, Richard Chamberlain, Adam Godley, Belinda Balaski, Elizabeth Reaser, and Annabeth Gish. It’s always cause for celebration when the acclaimed “Masters of Horror” brew new creations, and seeing their energies distilled into a single feature film will all but make the universe explode. Join us for what’s sure to be a very special night, with all five filmmakers in attendance. Not to mention…
A LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR JOE DANTE!
Fantasia will be presenting a Lifetime Achievement Award to adored US genre legend Joe Dante, a man whose inspired filmography has touched generations of cinephiles. From PIRANHA, THE HOWLING, and the universally-beloved GREMLINS films to INNERSPACE, EXPLORERS, and his bold television work, Dante’s works are electric with witty personality and brim with innovative storytelling and a big-hearted affection for all things film. As Fantasia will be World Premiering his latest work with NIGHTMARE CINEMA, there couldn’t be a better time to honour the great man. Previous recipients of Fantasia’s Lifetime Achievement Award include Guillermo del Toro, Takashi Miike, Ken Russell, Tobe Hooper, Jean Rollin, Andrzej Zulawski, Mamoru Oshii, John Landis, José Mojica Marins, Larry Cohen, and Ray Harryhausen.
SECURE YOUR BROWSERS FOR THE INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE OF UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB
In 2014, Fantasia World Premiered the cutting-edge independent horror breakout UNFRIENDED under its original title, CYBERNATURAL, to significant acclaim, leading to the film’s acquisition by Blumhouse and Universal. Now, four years later, the festival will showcase the International Premiere of UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB, a wholly unique – and deeply unsettling – standalone sequel that launched at SXSW this past March, as a special event screening on Friday, July 13th. UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB was written and directed by Stephen Susco and stars Colin Woodell, Betty Gabriel, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Stephanie Nogueras, Andrew Lees, Savira Windyani, and Connor Del Rio.
BE THE WORLD’S FIRST TO GAZE UPON THE WITCH IN THE WINDOW
Andy Mitton, co-writer and co-director of WE GO ON and YELLOWBRICKROAD, goes solo this time as he continues his streak of staggeringly effective, character-driven supernatural horror. Stunningly scripted and performed, THE WITCH IN THE WINDOW (World Premiere) is a gripping paranormal chiller about a divorced father taking his 12-year-old son to rural Vermont to help him with a fixer-upper farmhouse – a farmhouse whose previous owner, however deceased she may be, has never left the premises. Produced by Richard W. King and starring Alex Draper, Arija Bareikis, Greg Naughton, and Charlie Tacker.
THE RIVETING WORLD PREMIERE OF CAM WILL TAKE YOUR BREATH AWAY
Key among this year’s most exciting discoveries is Isa Mazzei and Danny Goldhaber’s CAM (World Premiere), a surrealistic thriller set in the world of webcam erotica in which an ambitious young camgirl (“The Handmaid Tale”’s Madeline Brewer) discovers that she’s inexplicably been replaced on her site with an exact replica of herself – a replica that knows personal things only she could know, and is considerably less guarded about privacy. The control that she has over her life, and the people in it, begins to break away. CAM is both an extraordinary genre vision and a milestone – the rare film about sex work written by a former sex worker. CAM brilliantly captures the anxieties and identity struggles of this unfairly judged field of work, with an approach that borders on the Lynchian. Produced by Blumhouse Pictures, Gunpowder & Sky, and Divide/Conquer, CAM also stars Patch Darragh, Melora Walters, Devin Druid, and Samantha Robinson.
SIDES AND MOLECULES WILL SPLIT AT THE WORLD PREMIERE OF MEGA TIME SQUAD
Bursting with comic invention and absurdist scenarios, MEGA TIME SQUAD (World Premiere) is New Zealand writer/director Tim van Dammen’s oddball sophomore feature, a wildly entertaining sci-fi tale about a two-bit criminal stumbling upon an ancient time-travel device. Ridiculous happenings ensue. Starring Anton Tenet and a slew of familiar faces from the Kiwi genre scene, including WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS’ Jonny Brugh and DEATHGASM’s Milo Cawthorne!
UDINE WINNER LAST CHILD INTRODUCES A BRILLIANT NEW FILMMAKER WHO WILL LEAVE HIS MARK ON KOREAN CINEMA
After Sung-cheol and Mi-sook lose their teenage boy, who drowns saving fellow student Ki-hyun, their lives collapse. When Sung-cheol takes Ki-hyun under his wing, things improve rapidly, but truth always rises to the surface, causing the dynamic between the trio of scorched souls to change drastically. Selected at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival, LAST CHILD, which will have its Canadian Premiere at Fantasia, is probably the most powerful and poignant first feature film to come out of Korea since Lee Su-jin’s HAN GONG-JU. Thanks to beautiful performances by Choi Moo-seong (I SAW THE DEVIL), Kim Yeo-jin (PEPPERMINT CANDY) and Seong Yu-bin (ALONG WITH THE GODS), writer/director Shin Dong-seok’s masterpiece recently secured the coveted White Mulberry Award for Best Debut Film at the Udine Far East Film Festival.
HOUSES ARE AS HAUNTED AS YOU MAKE THEM: THE WORLD PREMIERE OF OUR HOUSE
Fantasia will be channeling the World Premiere of the Canadian paranormal chiller OUR HOUSE, a tight, engrossing remake of the clever 2010 indie GHOST FROM THE MACHINE (itself having world premiered at Fantasia under its original title PHASMA EX MACHINA), directed by Anthony Scott Burns (HOLIDAYS) with a screenplay by Nathan Parker (MOON) and starring Thomas Mann, Nicola Peltz and Percy Hynes White.
THE WORLD PREMIERE OF INDONESIA’S ASTONISHING WESTERN BUFFALO BOYS IS THE FIRST REVEAL OF FANTASIA 2018’S ACTION! SECTION
Genre producer Mike Wiluan (HEADSHOT, BEYOND SKYLINE, MACABRE) leaps into the director’s chair for this searing, screaming action epic set during the Dutch occupation of Indonesia. When all seems lost in a small town overrun by colonialist violence, two revenge-seeking brothers arrive, meting out bloody justice that leaps effortlessly between brutal Western gunslinging and stylized Eastern swordplay. Starring a gorgeous cast featuring HEADSHOT’s Sunny Pang and THE RAID 2’s Alex Abbad, BUFFALO BOYS (World Premiere) is a virtual who’s who of Indonesia’s finest action and stunt talent that will knock your skull through the back of the cinema.
CAMERA LUCIDA UNVEILS UNDER THE SILVER LAKE, LUZ, MADELINE’S MADELINE, AND HANAGATAMI!
Fantasia’s CAMERA LUCIDA section, dedicated to experimental, boundary-pushing and auteur-driven works of genre cinema, is back for its ninth consecutive year, and proud to unveil its first four titles.
Join us for a Special Screening of UNDER THE SILVER LAKE, David Robert Mitchell’s much-anticipated follow-up to IT FOLLOWS! Fresh off the Croisette, Mitchell’s latest is, much like his previous take on horror, a playful exercise in genre-bending; an L.A.-set, sun-soaked noir-comedy – starring Andrew Garfield and Riley Keough – in the venerable tradition of THE LONG GOODBYE, MULHOLLAND DRIVE, and INHERENT VICE. Under the paving stones… the lake!
Hot off its World Premiere at the 68th Berlinale, Fantasia welcomes Tilman Singer’s tectonic LUZ (North American Premiere). A first feature heralding a bold new talent in genre, LUZ recalls the best of ’70s arthouse and Euro-horror (Zulawski, Fulci, and even Fassbinder come to mind), without ever giving way to pastiche or citation. Instead, LUZ is a mise-en-scène tour-de-force; an experimental subversion of the familiar possession narrative by way of avant-garde theatre – even shot in scope on gorgeous 16mm!
The section will also welcome back filmmaker-extraordinaire Josephine Decker (THOU WAST MILD AND LOVELY; Fantasia 2014), with her latest, deeply personal masterwork, MADELINE’S MADELINE (Canadian Premiere). An essential film about the search for one’s identity, the problematics of appropriation, cultural or otherwise, and the treacherous process of creating art from lived experience, Decker’s latest is an intensely gripping work, set in and around New York’s experimental theater scene, and unfolds in the mode of an edge-of-your-seat psychodrama. Much like her previous work, MADELINE’S MADELINE further blurs the boundaries between introspective arthouse and genre mechanics.
Finally, the section is pleased to celebrate the great Nobuhiko Obayashi with the screening of his latest film, HANAGATAMI (Quebec Premiere). Diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer at the time of production (from which the filmmaker has since miraculously recovered), Obayashi has gone back to his first feature script, and directed a new film in the style, and with the vitality, of his beloved 1977 cult film HOUSE (HAUSU) – in what amounts here to an exaltedly stylized epic; a boldly experimental paean to youth, memory, and the resistance of the human spirit; and a dreamy narrative blending fantasy, horror, and melodrama at the brink of World War II.
As of 2017, all titles selected in the Camera Lucida section are eligible for the Camera Lucida-AQCC prize, awarded by the Association québécoise des critiques de cinéma (Québec’s Critics Association), member of FIPRESCI.
THE EVOLUTION OF ANIME CONTINUES IN FANTASIA’S AXIS SECTION
Japanese animation remains a key ingredient of Fantasia’s recipe, and the year’s most notable works again grace the programming of the festival’s Axis section. The first three films announced in the 2018 Axis lineup reflect the strength and variety of the anime genre at this time.
Screenwriter Mari Okada (THE ANTHEM OF THE HEART) makes her directorial debut with the breathtaking MAQUIA: WHEN THE PROMISED FLOWER BLOOMS (Canadian Premiere). Okada’s gifts as a storyteller fortify this medieval fantasy escapade, adding rare emotional heft to the dazzling visuals, further enhanced by legendary composer Kenji Kawai (GHOST IN THE SHELL).
Celebrated producer Genki Kawamura (THE BOY AND THE BEAST, YOUR NAME) has breathed life into yet another essential work of the current anime renaissance. Adapting a cult ’90s TV series by Shunji Iwai, FIREWORKS(Canadian Premiere) is a keenly rendered drama of adolescent romance with a fantastical, what-if twist.
Following up his 2013 debut BURNING BUDDHA MAN, ultra-outré Japanese creator Ujicha returns to Fantasia with the equally bizarre and marvelous VIOLENCE VOYAGER (Canadian Premiere) – a very, very unusual amusement-park experience. Ujicha is the world’s leading (and probably only) practitioner of “gekimation,” in which hand-painted cardboard are manipulated and filmed live.
RENEGADE FRENCH ANIMATORS BOBBYPILLS BREAK HEARTS, MINDS, AND BONES WITH CRISIS JUNG
The Axis section is proud to make room for newcomers Bobbypills, a renegade French animation studio whose web series fuse the flavours of Japanese anime and the Euro-American underground. Following their gloriously sleazy debut series VERMIN, Bobbypills will soon unleash Baptiste Gaubert and Jérémie Hoarau’s CRISIS JUNG (International Premiere), a tale of broken hearts, bent minds and bashed-out brains in a ravaged, savaged, sexed-up futureworld. Fantasia’s international premiere of CRISIS JUNG, in its entirety and in lustrous 4K, will mark a very rare opportunity to see this mobile-bound maelstrom of mayhem towering on the big screen.
ADDITIONAL FIRST WAVE TITLES:
ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE
UK – Dir: John McPhail
A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven – at Christmas – forcing Anna and her friends to fight, slash, and sing their way to survival, facing hellish snowmen, an undead Santa, and bloodthirsty elves in a desperate race to reach their loved ones. Official Selection: Fantastic Fest 2017. Winner: Midnight X-Treme Best Feature, Sitges 2017. Canadian Premiere.
Austria / Canada – Dir: Justin P. Lange
An undead teenage girl befriends a blind boy that she meets in a forest she haunts and hunts in. Both have been victims of unimaginable abuse, and each finds solace in the other. There may be a chance of light at the end of their tunnel, but it will come with a body count. Official Selection: Tribeca Film Festival 2018, Fantaspoa 2018. Canadian Premiere.
THE FIELD GUIDE TO EVIL
Various – Dirs: Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala, Peter Strickland, Ashim Ahluwalia, Agnieszka Smoczynska, Katrin Gebbe, Can Evrenol, Calvin Reeder, Yannis Veslemes
They are known as myths, lore, and folktales. Created to give logic to mankind’s darkest fears, these stories laid the foundation for what we now know as the horror genre. This anthology film overflows with striking visions from Austria, Greece, India, Norway, Poland, Turkey, the UK, and the USA, each directed by their country’s leading genre auteurs. Official Selection: SXSW 2018. Canadian Premiere.
Canada – Dir: Michael Peterson
TURBO KID stars Munro Chambers and Michael Ironside headline this dead serious surprise from the director of LLOYD THE CONQUEROR. KNUCKLEBALL reminds you that there’s nothing quite like chilly Canadian landscapes filled with deadly intentions to bring a chill up your spine. Official Selection: Cinequest 2018, Calgary Underground Film Festival 2018. Quebec Premiere.
South Korea – Kang Yun-sung
Anyone who saw TRAIN TO BUSAN remembers the huge, zombie-punching badass who stole the show – and now, Don Lee is back to kick more ass in this gritty action thriller! When a Korean-Chinese gang war lead by the cruel Jang Chen (POONGSAN’s Yoon Kye-sang) starts tearing his district apart, Detective Ma Seok-do must calm things down and protect his community – by redecorating rooms with gangsters faces! Extremely funny and entertaining, THE OUTLAWS is the ultimate gift for all 1990’s Stallone film fans! Official Selection, Dubai International Film Festival, Macao International Film Festival. Quebec Premiere.
Canada/USA – Dir. Isaac Ezban
From BRON Studios division The Realm comes the English language debut of award-winning Mexican science-fiction wunderkind Isaac Ezban (The Incident, The Similars), Parallel is a fantasy work without – well, let’s avoid the obvious title-derived pun! A clever sci-fi film that smashes through the multiverse, starring Aml Ameen, Martin Wallström, Georgia King, Mark O´Brien, and Kathleen Quinlan, featuring stunning visuals from cinematographer Karim Hussain… This year, get ready for a movie that is out of this universe! Official Selection: Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival 2018. North American Premiere.
PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH
USA/UK – Dirs: Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund
Thomas Lennon, Udo Kier, Barbara Crampton, Nelson Franklin, and Charlene Yi star in this utterly crazy reimagining of Charles Band classic’s franchise about homicidal puppets created by a Nazi occultist. Filled with crazed gore, THE LITTLEST REICH is scripted with heaps of wit and cruelty by none other than BONE TOMAHAWK and BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 director S. Craig Zahler! Official Selection: Overlook Film Festival 2018, Fantaspoa 2018. Canadian Premiere.
USA – Dir: Jenn Wexler
The directorial debut of MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND producer Jenn Wexler (and a project born out of Frontieres, Fantasia’s co-production market), THE RANGER offers a modern take on survivalist horror that both celebrates and subverts slasher tropes – with equal parts humor, glitter, and gore – and a punk soundtrack to literally die for. Official Selection: SXSW 2018, Chattanooga Film Festival 2018, Fantaspoa 2018. Canadian Premiere.
ROKUROKU: THE PROMISE OF THE WITCH
Japan – Dir: Yudai Yamaguchi
Those peculiar spirits of Japanese folklore, the yokai, are back on the big screen, but this time, with a creepy horrific twist! ROKUROKU is a delightful omnibus of episodic spook-outs from two luminaries of Japanese genre film, Yudai Yamaguchi (CROMARTIE HIGH) and Keita Amemiya (ZEIRAM). Official Selection: Busan International Film Festival 2017. Canadian Premiere.
Indonesia / South Korea – Dir. Joko Anwar
A record-breaking box-office hit upon release, Joko Anwar’s affectionate remake of 1980’s PENGABDI SETAN is one of horror cinema’s recent triumphs: an atmospheric, expertly-shot roller-coaster ride of a haunted house film, inspired as much by Indonesian folklore as by retro genre classics. Official Selection: Rotterdam Film Festival 2018. Winner: Feature Jury Prize, Overlook Film Festival 2018. Canadian Premiere.
USA – Dir. Crystal Moselle
Documentary filmmaker Crystal Moselle’s fiction film debut following THE WOLFPACK is a superb girl-power anthem; a film beaming with raw authenticity, and mostly shot with non-actors. An empowering and uplifting counter-culture film described by some as a streetwise alternative to GIRLS, it follows a young woman’s drastic life changes when she meets the New York skate crew Skate Kitchen. Official Selection: Sundance 2018, Inside Out 2018. Quebec Premiere.
TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID
Mexico – Dir: Issa López
A dark fairytale about a gang of children trying to survive the horrific violence of the cartels and the ghosts created every day by the drug war, TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID is the winner of 23 awards (and counting!) on the international festival circuit, and ranks among the great genre works of our time. Guillermo del Toro was so enraptured by it that he’s signed up to produce a film with its gifted director. Official Selection: Fantastic Fest 2017, Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival 2018. Quebec Premiere.
TREMBLE ALL YOU WANT
Japan – Dir. Akiko Ohku
The tale of quirky, 24-year-old Yoshiku’s ten-year crush on “Ishi” (her first), suddenly interrupted by “Ni” (second) provides the set-up for one of the most charming, psychologically resonant, and genuinely subversive romantic comedies in recent memory, based on Risa Wataya’s acclaimed 2010 novel. Winner: Audience Award, Tokyo International Film Festival 2017. Quebec Premiere.
WILDERNESS: Part 1 and Part 2
Japan – Dir: Yoshiyuki Kishi
In a near-future where Japanese society has collapsed and terrorist attacks frequently hit Tokyo, two drastically different men – cocky and aggressive Shinji and stuttering, shy Kenji – will try to find their place in this world through boxing. Widely considered one of the best Japanese films of 2017, WILDERNESS is a sensitive drama, beautifully depicting male friendship as a visceral sports drama in the tradition of RAGING BULL or CRYING FIST. Giving masterful performances, GINTAMA’s Masaki Suda was named Best Lead Actor at the Japan Academy Prizes and Yang Ik-june, who grabbed two awards at Fantasia 2009 for BREATHLESS, won Best Supporting Actor at the Asian Film Awards. Official Selection, Busan International Film Festival 2017. Canadian Premiere.
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Related Topics: Fantasia Film Festival, Film Festivals