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Fantasia Film Festival

After a jaw-dropping first wave announcement, the Fantasia Film Festival ups the ante with an astonishing second wave of diverse programming.

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The Fantasia International Film Festival will celebrate its upcoming 28th edition with an electrifying program of screenings, workshops, and launch events running from July 18 through August 4, 2024, returning yet again at the Concordia Hall and J.A. de Sève cinemas in Montreal, Quebec, with additional screens and events at Montréal’s Cinémathèque québécoise and Cinéma du Musée.

The festival’s full lineup will be announced on July 3, but Fantasia just announced an impressive second wave of premiere titles and its 2024 Canadian Trailblazer award recipient.

The prestigious fest will open with a bang, welcoming the World Premiere of Ant Timpson’s moving and hilarious BOOKWORM.

This highly anticipated film reunites the celebrated New Zealand filmmaker with his COME TO DADDY star Elijah Wood (Showtime’s Yellowjackets), who matches the through-the-roof comic chemistry of gifted his young co-star Nell Fisher (EVIL DEAD RISE).

Mildred (Fisher), a precocious eleven-year-old bookworm, escapes her humdrum existence by immersing herself in novels where literary adventures abound, with a long-dreamed quest to capture proof of a mythological beast known as The Canterbury Panther. When an unusual accident occurs, Mildred’s long-absent father, Strawn Wise (Wood), a washed-up illusionist, flies to New Zealand to look after a daughter he’s never met. When they agree to go camping despite neither being the outdoorsy type, this ultimate test in family bonding leads the duo on a string of increasingly absurd and treacherous adventures.

Fantasia will bestow its 2024 Canadian Trailblazer Award to visionary filmmaker Vincenzo Natali.

Natali’s landmark 1997 debut, the brilliant CUBE, blew open the doors on what became a new wave of individual and provocative Canuck genre works (including John Fawcett’s GINGER SNAPS, Jen and Sylvia Soska’s AMERICAN MARY, and countless more) in addition to siring both a film franchise and a Japanese remake.

Natali went on to make the equally idiosyncratic and quite underrated science fiction films CYPHER and NOTHING, the latter reuniting him with CUBE stars David Hewlett, Andrew Miller, and Maurice Dean Wint. He’s had his biggest hit to date with the Frankenstein-ian SPLICE. He also helmed the intriguing 2013 ghost story HAUNTER starring Abigail Breslin, the nightmarish Netflix Original IN THE TALL GRASS (based on the novella by Stephen King and Joe Hill), and has worked on several blockbuster series like NBC’s Hannibal, FX’s The Strain, HBO’s Westworld, Starz’s American Gods, and the Netflix’s Locke & Key and Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities.

Natali will receive his award before the World Premiere of the Canadian Film Centre’s new 4K restoration of CUBE, the film that started it all.

But that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the stacked programming headed to Fantasia this year. 

The 2007 TV series MONONOKE is one of the most singular and delightfully innovative works in the history of anime, and its devoted cult following, wistfully presuming that the paranormal escapades of the mysterious Medicine Seller were long since concluded, can rejoice.

Director Kenji Nakamura (GATCHAMAN CROWDS) has revived the intricate palace intrigue and hallucinatory supernatural thrills of his signature work with a brand-new feature film, MONONOKE THE MOVIE: THE PHANTOM IN THE RAIN, his most elaborate and opulent adventure yet, and it makes its grand debut at Fantasia.

Visually exquisite to an almost overwhelming degree, it gleefully indulges in the iconography and aesthetics of Edo-era Japan, doing so with Pop Art panache, playful anachronism, and percussive pacing, and immediately asserts itself as an essential anime classic. Prepare by watching the twelve episodes of the original series on Netflix. 

Phantasmagoric, gothic, and straight out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Kit Harington (Jon Snow from HBO’s Game of Thrones) stars in THE BEAST WITHIN, a nightmarish fantasy that reflects on the uncanniness of childhood and the creatures that come out at night.

The narrative feature debut of esteemed documentary filmmaker Alexander J. Farrel (REFUGEE), the film follows a ten-year-old girl as she starts to question her atypical life in her family’s fortified compound in rural England, ultimately discovering that once a month, her father (Harington) turns into a monster.

Fresh off a spectacular Cannes World Premiere that ended in a near-12-minute standing ovation, Alexandre de La Patellière and Matthieu Delaporte’s 1815-set blockbuster epic THE COUNT OF MONTE-CRISTO will be coming to Fantasia for its International bow.

Created by Alexandre Dumas in the mid-19th century, Edmond Dantès is one of the most celebrated characters in French literature, and the story of his retribution has left its mark on popular culture around the world — the similarities between Bruce Wayne and the wrongly imprisoned, revenge-minded Dantès are obvious. This new film adaptation subtly reappropriates that influence, hinting at the tropes and trappings of the modern superhero film while retaining the classicism of the work through grandiose art direction.

Award-winning Mexican filmmaker Isaac Ezban (THE INCIDENT, PARALLEL) returns with his fifth feature, a disturbing tale he’s spent the last seven years bringing to light. PÁRVULOS is a dystopian coming-of-age horror story that begins with three young brothers living alone in a remote cabin, hiding a terrifying secret in their basement.

Where it goes from there will pull the breath from your lungs as the children’s sealed world is forcefully expanded by monstrous elements beyond their control.

Vivieno Caldinelli, known for SEVEN STAGES TO ACHIEVE ETERNAL BLISS, tackles the journey of everyman to hero once again with his new feature SCARED SHITLESS! Steven Ogg (DARK MATCH, AMC’s The Walking Dead) and Daniel Doheny (Netflix’s Brand New Cherry Flavor) star as a father and son plumbing duo faced with a disgusting dilemma: rid a building of a toilet-dwelling creature before it unleashes itself to the rest of the world!

Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, the acclaimed filmmaking team behind INSIDE, LIVID, and THE DEEP HOUSE, have adopted the popular French novel by Alexis Laipsker to create a fresh turn in their distinctive filmography. A morbid procedural thriller with extreme horror flashpoints, THE SOUL EATER turned heads when it premiered at the Rotterdam International Film Festival earlier this year.

As violent and gruesome deaths plague a small mountain village, an old legend about a malevolent creature resurfaces. Two cops with different methods are compelled to join forces and uncover a sinister plot involving the disappearance of local children.

Want more? Fantasia has so much more in store for cinephiles and genre fans. 

The Old Man and the Demon Sword

We’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to extraordinary titles. Other killer content includes the Thai animated reimagining of the mighty, ancient mythological epic Ramayana — a cyberpunk space opera punctuated with powerhouse mecha battles: MANTRA WARRIOR: THE LEGEND OF THE EIGHT MOONS (the first installment of an exciting new franchise).

HAZE is an unforgettable sophomore feature from filmmaker Matthew Fifer (CIDADA). This somber, queer horror drama about a young journalist who returns home to investigate unsolved deaths at a psychiatric center is steeped in deeply-rooted trauma. It promises to haunt with eerie, richly intentional visuals.

Appearing in the Underground Section, Fábio Powers’ THE OLD MAN AND THE DEMON SWORD is a heartfelt and unlikely retelling of the hero’s journey.

Animalia Paradoxa

Blurring the line between fiction and nonfiction, ME AND MY VICTIM is about co-directors and subjects, Maurane and Billy Pedlow, who are not quite friends and not quite lovers, and the true, messy, and kind-of-fucked-up story about how they met. It promises to be another Underground sensation at the fest.

And if you can’t get enough of the Underground films, you won’t want to miss ANIMALIA PARADOXA. An amphibious humanoid searches for water in a labyrinthine, post-apocalyptic landscape, from the mind of filmmaker Niles Atalah (REY).

Other stellar titles include must-see offerings from around the world.

Yin Yang Master Zero

  • Genre auteur Xu Haofeng’s 100 YARDS (China);
  • Park Jin-Pyo’s BRAVE CITIZEN (South Korea) based on a popular webtoon about a former boxer and part-time teacher who dons a mask and deals with high school bullying the hard way;
  • Legendary monster suit maker Keizo Marase’s directorial debut about two teens who must save the world from a many-headed, mythological dragon, BRUSH OF THE GOD (Japan);
  • E.L. Katz’s post-apocalyptic chiller starring the incomparable Samara Weaving (READY OR NOT), AZRAEL;
  • Alice Maio Mackay’s bloody and hilarious CARNAGE FOR CHRISTMAS (Australia);
  • Naomi Jaye’s adaptation of the novel “The Incident Report” by Martha Baillie, DARKEST MIRIAM (Canada), about a library worker dealing with her father’s death, threatening letters at work, and an unexpected lover;
  • The compelling whodunit adapted from a popular, award-winning manga and subsequent hit TV series, Hiroaki Matsuyama’s DON’T CALL IT MYSTERY (Japan);
  • Kim Da-min’s sci-fi/coming-of-age story FAQ (South Korea), in which a stressed-out elementary school student secretly befriends a bottle of rice wine that can communicate through Morse Code;
  • Kourtney Roy’s SXSW sensation, KRYPTIC (Canada/U.K.), which follows a woman on a mysterious quest;
  • Carl Joseph Papa’s third animated feature, THE MISSING (Philippines) — a queer, surreal hybrid of romance, drama, and sci-fi embracing digital rotoscope animation;
  • Atta Hemwadee’s NOT FRIENDS (Thailand) about loss, deception, and emotional manipulation;
  • Damian McCarthy’s ODDITY (Ireland), winner of the Midnighter Audience Award at SXSW 2024 and the terrifying and imaginative follow-up to his outstanding CAVEAT;
  • The tense, gore-soaked new shocker from genre favorites RKSS ((TURBO KID, SUMMER OF ’84, WE ARE ZOMBIES), WAKE UP (Canada / France) about a gang of Gen Z activists who face a night of terror in the big-box store they’ve invaded after hours;
  • Shimako Sato’s YIN YANG MASTER ZERO (Japan), which sees the return of the popular historical-fantasy franchise to the big screen.

The festival’s full lineup will be announced on July 3rd. Ticket sales will commence shortly afterward.

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