If any Canadian festival is worthy of having its name spoken alongside the behemoth that is TIFF, the Fantasia International Film Festival and its eclectic bunch of genre fare is it. Currently in its 22nd year, the excitement surrounding its line-up has never been better with its fair share of world, international, and Canadian premieres from artists as far-ranging as festival favorite Satoshi Miki (LOUDER! Can’t Hear What You’re Singin’, Wimp!) to innovator Josephine Decker (Madeline’s Madeline) to retro screenings from the likes of Mario Bava (Blood and Black Lace) and Joe Dante (Gremlins and The Howling).
Things kick off with Daniel Roby’s Olga Kurylenko and Romain Duris starring Dans la brume on July 12th and continue until August 1st drops the world premiere of Kam Ka-Wai’s Big Brother and the Canadian premiere of Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy.
In between comes world premieres of the John Sayles-produced The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot and Rusty Cundieff and Darin Scott’s two-decades-in-the-making Tales From the Hood 2; North American premieres of Takashi Miike’s Laplace’s Witch and Erick Zonca’s Black Tide; the international premiere of Joel Potrykus’ Relaxer; and the Canadian premieres of Nicolas Pesce’s Piercing and Aneesh Chaganty’s Searching.
And don’t forget a can’t-miss list of planned guests including Miki, Cosmatos, Dante, Joseph Kahn (Bodied), Jenn Wexler (The Ranger), Michael Ironside, and Sam Elliott.
We’ve already seen a bunch at earlier festivals too. Here’s a quick rundown:
Bodied (Joseph Kahn) – July 24th
“Now arrives Kahn’s third feature, Bodied, coming at the beginning of “Trump’s America,” and it is, if anything, a middle-finger to “The Movie We Need Right Now” ethos dolloped out on a daily basis. The most ideological of the three, it’s also formally a bit more inconsistent than the previous two, which saw Kahn taking all the skills learned from hundreds of music videos to the extreme for the sake of deconstructionist pop-filmmaking. Bodied is as much a “pop” film, but it definitely feels a little rougher around the edges, if justly suited to its underground California battle rap setting. Though that may have to also do with the fact that the film’s chief concern is words.” – Ethan Vestby (review)
Five Fingers for Marseilles (Michael Matthews) – July 29th
“Director Michael Matthews and writer Sean Drummond were drawn to the landscapes of South Africa’s Eastern Cape while traveling their homeland, especially the echoes of classic cinematic western environments. Learning about how its current towns arose — from the ashes of Apartheid-era cities mimicking European capitals by name — only cemented the comparison, each a product of the locals taking control once their oppressors left after their government changed hands and the train lines shutdown. This new frontier became the pair’s setting, their story gelling after seven years of research and development to do right by the inhabitants’ history and struggles. Sprinkle in a bit of legend and lore to create an antihero hidden beneath rage and Five Fingers for Marseilles was born.” – Jared Mobarak (review)
Madeline’s Madeline (Josephine Decker) – July 30th, August 1st
“The greatest praise I can give Madeline’s Madeline is that, considering its sheer momentum and imaginative tackling of the complicated issue of exploitation for art’s sake, multiple viewings would reap greater rewards. With just one, it’s clear Decker has crafted a whirlwind of an experience, one that coheres in breathtaking bravado by the climax when art as therapy reaches its uncomfortable, astounding conclusion. There will never be easy answers when dealing with the soul-baring act of producing truly great art, but Josephine Decker’s film is as mesmerizing a plunge into the process as one is likely to find in modern cinema.” – Jordan Raup (review)
Mandy (Panos Cosmatos) – August 1st
“In an era of dime-a-dozen Nicolas Cage movies, you may think you know what you’re getting when sitting down for his latest feature. Rest assured, nothing could prepare you for the experience of Mandy. I’m not even referring to the gory and gleeful shocks–of which the back half has many–but rather Panos Cosmatos’ intoxicating, singular version, which mixes beauty and batshit insanity for an LSD-fueled descent into darkness like no other.” – Jordan Raup (review)
Relaxer (Joel Potrykus) – July 14, 16
“Relaxer is a hard film to “like,” full of commentary and situations that push the bounds of good taste and camp but it’s one of Potrykus’ best pictures; watchable, hilarious, uncompromising, and even thrilling in its final moments–if you have the stomach and patience for it.” – John Fink (review)
Searching (Aneesh Chaganty) – July 26th
“John Cho should be our next leading man. Above all else does the thriller Searching, directed by Aneesh Chaganty, make this abundantly clear. Cho stars as David Kim, recently-widowed father of teenage daughter Margot (Michelle La) and doing his best to keep his composure. Opening on a heartfelt and heartbreaking montage of messages and moments as displayed on a computer screen, Chaganty establishes what will be the aesthetic of the picture.” – Dan Mecca (review)
Skate Kitchen (Crystal Moselle) – July 29th
“For her breakthrough documentary The Wolfpack, director Crystal Moselle discovered a group of sheltered brothers in NYC’s Lower East Side and captured their passion for filmmaking. With a muddled style and questionable directorial choices, it didn’t quite live up to the film’s initial hook, but Moselle clearly showed talent for making a connection with the youth of the city. That latter quality continues with Skate Kitchen, which uses a narrative backdrop to place us in the center of a female teen skater group–who Moselle discovered on a subway ride–all of whom exude a care-free independence as they make NYC their playground. It’s such a step-up in vibrancy, scope, and emotion that it feels like the introduction of an entirely different, more accomplished filmmaker.” – Jordan Raup (review)
Under the Silver Lake (David Robert Mitchell) – July 19th
“David Robert Mitchell is a nostalgic. His debut feature, The Myth of the American Sleepover, paid tribute to such teenage dramas as American Graffiti and the work of John Hughes. Its follow-up, the terrific It Follows, ranks amongst the smartest and most effective specimens in John Carpenter’s vast and variegated suburban horror legacy. Mitchell has now tried his hand at an L.A. noir with Under the Silver Lake, which owes as big a debt to The Long Goodbye, Mulholland Drive, and Inherent Vice (to mention but three of the most conspicuous referents) as it does Thomas Pynchon’s labyrinthine, paranoia-laden narratives.” – Giovanni Marchini Camia (review)
The fun happens in Montreal, Quebec’s Concordia Hall Cinema, Cinémathèque québécoise, and McCord Museum. We’ll be sharing full reviews of premieres over the next few weeks, so check back. For full schedule and information, visit their website.