Fantastic Fest announces a week of FREE virtual world premieres and curated online events, September 24th through October 1st via Alamo On Demand.
There are a handful of film festivals I consider among the best of the best — those which are “do whatever you have to do not to miss it” events. At the very top of the list, the event l look forward to most each year, is Fantastic Fest, held in my hometown of Austin, TX. Absolutely nothing compares to it.
To say Covid has ruined everyone’s year is a dramatic understatement. Beyond the human and financial toll on so many individuals, families, and small businesses, there’s the secondary impact: the devastating effect on entertainment and the music and film industry. From movie theaters shutting down, to video stores closing (this year, Austin was forced to say goodbye to our last two locally owned video stores), to the widespread cancellation of special events, concerts, conventions, and film festivals.
The first massive blow to the film festival world, and to Austin, happened back in March with the cancellation of SXSW. At the time, no one was prepared for how to handle festivals — and the films that depend heavily on the exposure they get from these fests — in a Covid-ravaged world.
Back in March, I was dismayed that SXSW was canceled. But I also had great optimism that, by the time Fantastic Fest, rolled around in late September, things would be different. However, by the time the announcement came in early July that Fantastic Fest was also cancelling their 2020 program, it was expected but no less heartbreaking.
Thus, I was elated when I woke up this morning to an actual bit of good news for a change.
My beloved Fantastic Fest announced they were take a cue from a couple of the other bigger fests, such as Chattanooga and Fantasia, who recently launched virtual versions of their festival programming.
In what is being billed as a Celebration of Fantastic Fest 2020, everything fans love about the second-to-none annual event will be available in a virtual setting. This includes live online versions of classics like Fantastic Feud and 100 Best Kills, badass repertory rediscoveries, and world premieres of the finest genre cinema 2020 has to offer.
Ready for even better news?
To make the party accessible to loyal fans and newbies alike, all new features and live events will be available FREE to view on the Alamo On Demand platform for anyone in the United States.
Fantastic Fest programmer Logan Taylor explains:
“Despite the many hardships 2020 has thrown our way, the Fantastic Fest team knew we needed to stick to our mission of celebrating and championing genre films from bold, diverse voices — new filmmakers and treasured alumni alike. While we have a much smaller selection than in previous years, we’re delighted to showcase 15 films that express our brand loudly and proudly.”
The festival will be bookended by unique spins on the werewolf film: opening with the charming and irreverent TEDDY by France’s Boukherma brothers and closing with Amelia Moses’s haunting thriller BLOODTHIRSTY (on the night of the full moon, no less)! Locals who are still hungry for more werewolves after that one-two punch will be invited to join the fest for the Texas Premiere of Jim Cummings’ newest, THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW, on October 8th at Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane.
If anything can get me back to a safe, socially distanced good time at the movies, it’s Fantastic Fest!
While this year’s slate may be more modest in scope, every film captures the spirit of Fantastic Fest in its own unique way.
Featuring 5 world premieres (with an additional 2 world premiere restorations) and 4 shorts blocks featuring 36 short films, the lineup amplifies talented female, queer, and racially diverse creatives from all over the globe. We might all be stuck on the couch. But, fortunately, this groundbreaking and influential festival is bringing a sampling of the world-class films we’ve come to expect from Fantastic Fest directly to our homes.
Quite fittingly and presciently, a theme of isolation and its transformational effects plays heavily throughout the lineup. So, in the spirit of Fantastic Fest and this theme, the world-famous renegade festival invites genre fans to make the most of the strange world we’re living in, come together through a virtual celebration, and enjoy some damn fine cinema!
All new features will be available FREE via the Alamo On Demand Platform for fans in the United States. Repertory titles will be available at special rates throughout the week-long celebration.
The two exclusive in-theater-only screenings are Brandon Cronenberg’s highly anticipated POSSESSOR on September 23rd and Jim Cummings’ THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW on October 8th. The festival is also excited to welcome back Fantastic Fest alum Mickey Reece with a new documentary short MICKEY REECE’S BELLE ÎSLE screening in the the SHORTS WITH LEGS short film sidebar (stay tuned for an upcoming Alamo On Demand announcement following the premiere of the short about a collection of his films to be made available for the first time).
The Celebration of Fantastic Fest will be offering a number of interactive virtual film screenings with Screener.
Screener is a watch party platform that enables millions of participants to simultaneously enjoy films together over immersive live video chat.
This integration is built into the Alamo On Demand platform that will go live at Fantastic Fest and remain in partnership with AOD, providing public or private co-watching parties that are synchronized in real-time and paired with video, audio and text chat.
Fantastic Fest interactive screenings will be taking viewers from pre-show to a hosted intro, through the film, and all the way to the Q&A for a fully synced and effortless experience for participants.
The week of virtual programming will include several world premieres of new and restored films, international premieres, as well as many US, North American, and Texas premieres.
World Premieres include Amelia Moses’ Bloodthirsty, David Charbonier and Justin Powell’s The Boy Behind the Door, Tyler Russell’s Cyst starring George Hardy of Troll 2 fame, Maria Bissell’s How to Deter a Robber, Jill Gevargizian’s The Stylist (based on her acclaimed 2016 short), and the 4k Restoration of Daughters of Darkness (1971).
Fans can also enjoy the International Premiere of Martin Laroche’s Laughter, the stop-motion comedy The Old Man Movie from directors Mikk Mägi & Oskar Lehemaa, Teddy from Ludovic Boukherma & Zoran Boukherma.
Chat Faust’s Girl starring Bella Thorne will be making its US Premiere, Kimo Stamboel’s The Queen of Black Magic will be making its North American Premiere, and both the highly anticipated new film from Brandon Cronenberg, Possessor, and Jim Cummings’ The Wolf of Snow Hollow will be making their Texas Premieres.
As per Fantastic Fest tradition, there will be a mystery secret screening.
You won’t know what you’ll be watching prior to the event, but trust me when I tell you this is one event you won’t want to miss. Secret Screenings are always the highlight of every Fantastic Fest event. This year’s screening is a World Premiere of a 4K Restoration described as “a special re-discovery of an explosive, death-defying, bullet-riddled, grenade-launching, flame-broiled, anti-human megattack.” How could you NOT tune in for that?! This secret screening will be free to view live during the event and available for Virtual Cinema rental on Alamo On Demand afterwards.
Finally, the virtual event also includes impressive selection of short film blocks, spanning a myriad of genres and sensibilities, including shorts that upset conventions and defy expectations. For more exciting news, after a six-year hiatus, Fantastic Fest’s animation showcase is also making a return this year!
Of course, it wouldn’t quite be Fantastic Fest without the fest’s signature special events, and those are happening again this year in a virtual setting.
Events include a screening of Invasion of the Bee Girls with Austin’s beloved Master Pancake comedy team providing color commentary throughout (think MST3K). John Erler and Owen Egerton, along with some special friends, will be celebrating their 20th Anniversary by revisiting one of the very first films they ever roasted back in the year 2000.
Fantastic Fest’s life-defying clip show returns from the grave with a dazzling onslaughter of the 100 finest decapitations in the nation.
Movie trivia lovers will definitely want to check out FANTASTIC FEUD, where filmmakers, journalists and various other movie megamasters collide in a no-holds-barred deathride of useless cinematic information and on-screen in(s)anity. And the KING OF MOVIES: LEONARD MALTIN GAME CHALLENGE gives participants the opportunity to compete against Hollywood screenwriters and win glory and killer prizes. Alamo Drafthouse’s beloved movie trivia night is also returning just for Fantastic Fest, featuring a special round in honor of Fantastic Fest tradition NERD RAP, written and performed by superstars of years past.
As if all that wasn’t enough, the Celebration of Fantastic Fest 2020 also includes an exciting immersive showcase.
Harkening back to the Satanic Panic Escape Room, VR debuts and Mondo Games First Looks of years past, this year features hand-picked selections of the best virtual escape rooms from around the world, curated by Cara Mandel (Story Experience Producer, Meow Wolf and Co-founder/CEO, Interwoven Immersive, Inc.) and Rachel Walker (Head of Programming & Creative, Drafthouse LA).
“The five selected experiences represent how escapes have adapted to the virtual space, in many cases providing an experience that simply could not be replicated in a physical room alone. It’s a thrill to be able to highlight them and support an industry going so outside of the box with narrative storytelling.”
All rooms will be keeping Fantastic Fest only scoreboards, with top times announced each day.
The five rooms include: the EVIL DEAD 2 REMOTE ESCAPE ROOM; the who-done-it, comedic-infused THE TRUTH ABOUT EDITH; EXORCIST ONLINE, which will take you deep into the history of Crowley manor which was last owned by the infamous Aleister Crowley; PROJECT AVATAR, offering non-linear gameplay for over 100 different variations of adventure; and PURSUIT OF THE ARTIST ASSASSIN, where you’ll team up with a secret agent to discover the secrets of the world-famous modern artist.
Instructions will be posted on FantasticFest.com and the fest’s social channels letting people know how to register for these limited events. Tickets will be booked directly through the rooms’ individual ticketing sites, so 100% of the ticket price will be going straight to the creators.
Need more incredible genre entertainment? Enjoy the best of previous Fantastic Fest Films on Alamo on Demand.
Programmers have curated a collection of over 120 (and growing) of their favorite Fantastic Fest films on Alamo on Demand. From that massive library, the programming team has curated six of their absolute favorites, which they are offering at a big discount for the duration of September. Enjoy the “Best of Fantastic Fest Six Pack” for 25% off purchase or rental. Check out the six pack and the complete collection here.