With a real sense of guarded optimism, we can say only this. It’s beginning to feel a lot like summer…and for genre fans that means only one thing…
Back in the heart of downtown Montreal from July 14th through August 3rd it’s the 25th Anniversary of the Fantasia International Film Festival which is unquestionably the premiere genre festival in North America and dare we say, the planet itself.
It’s nearly three glorious weeks of horror, action, thriller, animation, retrospectives, industry panels and everything else in between as film fans descend to the streets of Montreal for the first time in years (Thanks COVID) to take in some amazing productions from all across the world and even our own back yard.
With spotlights on Korean Animation, Queer Genre Cinema, Quebecois Cinema among many of the options while going from theatre to theatre there’s simply so much to watch that even the most seasoned of filmgoer could be overwhelmed.
Of course we’ll be watching like mad and providing some extensive coverage with boots on the ground (and virtually; but that being said we’ve boiled this years edition of the festival down to the 8 Films or events that we feel that you just can’t miss.
Where else would we start but with a little home grown cinema which just happens to be kicking off the entire festival.
Polaris is the story of Sumi and her polar-bear mother who live in a snow-laden, post-apocalyptic world. On their way to the North Star where it shines the brightest, their journey is interrupted by roving bands of warrior women. Ultimately separated from her mother, Sumi uses her wits, guile and magical powers to make her way in this world through all the challenges that will present themselves.
We’ve got a soft spot for some bad ass female driven cinema that at first glance feels like Mad Max meets the Hoth planet from The Empire Strikes Back and when it’s shot in the Yukon it scratches our love of all things Canadian so we’re in for this ride and then some. And it’s a world premiere to boot.
Polaris screens on July 14th at 6:30PM.
The Round Up
Who doesn’t love some good old fashion action comedy?
Sometimes it’s just better to let the trailer do the talking…
This one looks like something of a spiritual sequel to a film called The Outlaws which played back at the festival in 2017. If we even get half of the action and the laughs here that we saw in The Outlaws years back then audiences promise to be in for a hell of a good time.
The Round Up screens on July 18th at 9:30PM.
Sarah Jo (Kristine Froseth) is a sensitive and naive 26-year-old living on the fringes of Hollywood with her disillusioned mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and influencer sister (Taylour Paige). Working as a caregiver and just longing to be seen, she begins an exploratory affair with her older, married employer (Jon Bernthal), and is thrust into a startling education on sexuality, loss and power.
Writer/Director Lena Dunham is back to the big screen and takes on how sex in the modern age has taken on an all new form and changed how we deal with interpersonal relationships and she’s bound to make us laugh and squirm like only she can.
Sharp Stick screens on Saturday July 30th at 7PM and on Monday August 1st at 3:05PM
It’s no secret that we love our retrospective cinema…
Hard Boiled is the story of a tough-as-nails cop teams up with an undercover agent to shut down a sinister mobster and his crew.
As a part of the special Artist Talk and Career Achievement Award they are giving writer/director John Woo during the festival, fans will have a chance to watch what is arguably the greatest action film of all time, one the big screen like it should be seen. If you’ve never seen it before, don’t miss out on a life-changing experience.
Hard Bolied is screening on Friday July 15th at 9:30PM.
The desire to embrace the vigilante lifestyle knows no gender or orientation boundaries…
Driven by rage, empathy, and something she can’t yet name, Wally secretly patrols the streets at night, taking physical revenge on abusive hipster men on behalf of the survivors who can’t. When law-abiding Lou enters her world, love and revenge clash threatening to infiltrate their relationship.
Compulsus is a Canadian queer vigilante film akin to something like Death Wish and something like we’ve rarely seen come out of the Canadian indie cinema scene. Writer/Director Tara Thorne announces herself as a story telling force to be reckoned with and star Lesley Smith gives a performance that you’re not going to forget anytime soon.
Compulsus screens on Tuesday Aug. 2nd at 7PM
The Witch Part 2: The Other One
The story continues…
In this sequel to the popular Korean sci-fi action thriller The Witch: The Subversion, the story moves away from a confined secret lab and out into the real world. After a mysterious girl emerges as the sole survivor of a bloody raid on the research facility behind the top-secret Witch Program, she is rescued by a pair of civilians who soon realize the girl is both very powerful and in very grave danger. However, as the assassins tasked with locating and silencing the girl move ever closer, the lives of everyone around her fall under increasingly great peril.
This is a hell of a ride that you’ll want to jump on if you’ve seen the first installment or not and yet another stellar example of the quality of cinema that is coming out of Korea.
The Witch Part Two: The Other One screens on Friday July 29th at 9:45PM
Speak No Evil
When words like “dark, Danish, satirical and sadistic” come into play….colour us intrigued.
On a vacation in Tuscany, two families – one Danish, one Dutch – meet and become fast friends. Months later, the free-spirited Dutch family extends an invitation to the more conservative Danish one for a holiday weekend getaway at their countryside home. However, it doesn’t take long before things gradually get out of hand as the joy of reunion is replaced with misunderstandings. The Dutch hospitality quickly turns unnerving for the Danes, and they find themselves increasingly caught in a web of their own politeness in the face of eccentric…or is it sinister…behavior.
We’ve only watched the trailer but it really looks like writer/director Christian Tafdrup is about to take audiences on a ride that they won’t soon come down from….and we can’t wait to see it.
Speak No Evil screens on Friday July 29th at 9:45 PM AND on Monday August 1st at 5PM.
Detectives vs Sleuths
When a master goes back behind the camera, you have to acknowledge it and pay notice.
Hong Kong is rocked by multiple gruesome murders, the police forms a task force to investigate. Jun (Sean Lau), once a brilliant detective who suffered a mental breakdown, begins his own investigation. Eventually, the police learn that the murder victims are all suspects of cold cases being rubbed out by a figure known as “The Sleuth”. Now, Jun and a detective from the task force are on a race against time to beat the brutal killer at its own game.
Director Wai Ka-Fai getting back behind the camera for the first time in 13 years is something that you just won’t want to miss as the frenetic madness he brings to the big screen can only be described as one of a kind.
Detectives Vs Sleuths screens on Thursday July 21st at 9:05PM.
These and many more films will blow your mind at the 26th Edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival. Visit the website right here and don’t miss out on the madness.