Five Selections From Fantasia 2019 That Truly Encapsulate The Meaning Of The Festival

Posted in Fantasia 2019, Festival Coverage, Movies, Theatrical by - July 10, 2019
Five Selections From Fantasia 2019 That Truly Encapsulate The Meaning Of The Festival

When the temperature starts to rise up here in Canada, film fans start to gravitate to Montreal for the Fantasia International Film Festival that runs from Jul 11th through August 1st.

Every year the best in genre, action, horror, foreign, weird and everything else in between hits theatres in Montreal as the tippy top of weird world cinema thrills thousands and thousands of fans in the hot summer months.

We’ll have coverage for you starting up imminently and we’re going to take a quick look at the five that you should take a look at as they roll out in theatres and various VOD platforms and are truly emblematic of what the Fantasia International Film Festival is all about.

The Art of Self Defense

It’s a dark, DARK comedy that is so shockingly disarming that you’ll be rolling in the aisles laughing.

Before it opens wide across Canada on July 19th, Fantasia has the Quebec premiere on it’s opening night, and it’s the story of Casey (Jesse Eisenberg) and after he’s attacked on the street at night by a roving motorcycle gang, this timid bookkeeper joins a neighborhood karate studio to learn how to protect himself. Under the watchful eye of a charismatic instructor, Sensei (Alessandro Nivola), and hardcore brown belt Anna (Imogen Poots), Casey gains a newfound sense of confidence for the first time in his life. But when he attends Sensei’s mysterious night classes, he discovers a sinister world of fraternity, brutality and hyper-masculinity, presenting a journey that places him squarely in the sights of his enigmatic new mentor.

A great and really emblematic way to open this festival, this follow up from writer/director Riley Sterns is one of those movies with a simple enough premise but it takes us to this truly dark yet still humanistic place that we have inside of all of us.

The Art of Self Defense screens on Thursday July 11th.

Critters Attack

We too often forget that some wall to wall gonzo gore…can actually be kind of fun.

All Drea (Tashiana Washington) wants is to get into a good college, but for now, she’s stuck making deliveries for a local sushi restaurant. One night, after her little brother Phillip (Jaeden Noel) witnesses meteors plummeting to Earth, one of her co-workers is attacked by hungry alien fur balls with sharp teeth and big appetites. Yes, the rolling, ravenous critters are back, and soon Drea, Phillip, and two kids she’s babysitting (Ava Preston and Jack Fulton) are running for their lives. They’re also trying to protect an injured friendly alien they come across along the way, but every place they flee to becomes the site of a critter massacre.

It’s the world premiere return of those gonzo little aliens from outer space that only leave carnage in their wake.  And this screening with star Tashiana Washington and Director Bobby Miller in attendance is bound to be a blood curdling blast that will leave audiences wanting for more.

Critters Attack! screens on July 13th

Bruce McDonald’s ‘Dreamland’

It’s a Canadian film festival and it’s always important to give a little love to some home grown content…

On the orders of his boss, the low-level gangster Hercules (Henry Rollins), hit man Johnny (Stephen McHattie) must cut off the pinkie finger of celebrated jazz trumpeter The Maestro (Stephen McHattie, again) just before an important, high-profile gig. Seems simple enough, but the gig is a wedding at the fortified palace of crime queen The Countess (Juliette Lewis) and Johnny isn’t quite feeling it. Hercules is moving up from standard gangster stuff to human trafficking and the reason for the pinky request is more of a slight than anything else. Like all movie hit men, Johnny is thinking of getting out of the game and this job has convinced him it’s time to retire. Throw in The Countess’ vampire brother (Tómas Lemarquis), his child bride and the wedding from hell, you’ll think you’ve imagined it all, but no, it’s just a visit to Dreamland.

Making its North American Premiere at the festival, it’s nice to see Bruce McDonald a veteran director in our national system get back to making something that at first glance appears to be gloriously weird and more than a little messed up and this feels like it just might be the spiritual follow up to 2008’s Pontypool that we’ve all been waiting for.

Bruce McDonald’s ‘Dreamland’ screens on July 14th and 15th at the festival.

No Mercy

It’s important to remember that in this day and age, the ladies can kick a little ass as well.

After serving a long prison sentence, Inae (Lee Si-young) returns home to her younger sister Eunhye (Park Se-wan), who greets him with overwhelming enthusiasm. For Inae, a former martial arts champion, her little sister is the most precious thing in the world, and because Eunhye has an intellectual disability and so is extremely vulnerable, Inae always sworn to protect her. However, the touching reunions won’t last long. The next day, Eunhye vanishes. Alerting her school and the police, Inae is confronted with total indifference, and realizes that she will have to take things into her own hands. By way of rough, tough interrogation, Inae discovers that a group of schoolgirls who bullied her sister have forced her into an awful situation involving petty criminals, pawnbrokers, pimps and more. Desperate to rescue her sister, her rage growing exponentially, Inae will show little mercy to Eunhye’s abusers.

Fantasia brings its audiences cinema from all over the world and if you’re looking for a good and juicy revenge story then look no further then the cinema of South Korea.  Much in the vein of films like The Villainess this looks like a movie eager to break some boundaries and kick some ass in only the way that a woman could looking for revenge on her little sister.

No Mercy screens on July 18th


Sometimes you’ve got to find one of those stories pulled from the gutter to truly make you feel alive.

Moe (Liam Hemsworth) and Skunk (Emory Cohen) are making names for themselves working for small time crime boss Perico (Zlatko Buric), smuggling gold and laundering money, but they both want a score that will help make them big. That chance arrives with a too-good-to-be-true drug deal of uncut heroin that they go in on using Perico’s money. And deals that are too good to be true are just that, as Moe and Skunk barely escape with their lives (and the heroin) when dirty cops show up as the deal goes down. As the cops give chase, Moe loses his memory in a car crash, leaving he and Skunk to piece together the rest of deal as Moe tries to regain his memory to save their lives.

From writer/director Malik Bader who crashed on to the scene back at Fantasia in 2015 with his criminally under seen Cash Only; Killerman feels like it has all the right ingredients to be the kind of movie that you just can’t wash off you after you’ve seen as Bader brings a frenetic energy to everything he touches and we just can’t wait to see it…and neither should you.

Killerman screens on July 20th.

From the world over and as close as our backyard, the Fantasia International Film Festival is dedicated each and every year to highlighting movies that will knock your socks off.  If you’re in Montreal, go get some tickets, you won’t regret it.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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