Blood, Porn and Vampires: Montreal’s Fantasia

Posted on July 24th, 2009 by .

If you think Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the wackiest movie you’ll see this summer, well, get ready for something a little more intense. The Fantasia Film Festival is celebrating its 13th edition with more than 115 genre movies from the four corners of the world, including Asia, Europe, United States and Canada. Goodbye Hogwarts, hello monsters, murderers and other tentacles. Read more about this transgressive event that’s taking place until July 29th.

Two years ago at FANTASIA, I remember discovering one of the craziest movies I’ve ever seen. Try to imagine an impossible love story sitting between Amelie and Twin Peaks – and as if this wasn’t strange enough, try to imagine the whole thing in Thai. Unfortunately, the movie never made it to regular movie theatres in Montreal – or possibly anywhere else in North America. I can’t even find it on DVD. But I think that’s exactly what Fantasia is about: with everything from gore to science-fiction, from Japanese horror films to Danish neo-thrillers, it might be your only chance to find unknown masterpieces. No Twilight in sight.

The biggest festival of its kind in North America, Fantasia showcases hard-to-find movies from the six continents until July 29 in the area around Concordia University (that’s downtown Montreal, in case you’re wondering). This year, you will find many Asian movies, including Park-Chan Wook’s latest movie, THIRST. Celebrated for Oldboy and Lady Vengeance, the Korean filmmaker brings this modern tale about a vampire priest (!) in Montreal after critical acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival, with a special prize given by Isabelle Huppert’s jury. Also expect Sion Sono’s LOVE EXPOSURE, a four-hour long film feature about sin, love and hysteria, and Takashi Miike’s new movie, YATTERMAN. These movies probably contain enough haemoglobin to turn your dreams into nightmares for a few days. If you feel a little more cerebral, try Michel Houellebecq’s POSSIBILITY OF AN ISLAND, the North American premiere of this film adaptation of the French provocateur’s controversial novel. Finally, it’s also a good opportunity to discover Quebec’s emerging talent, with movies such as young director Robin Aubert’s TRAIN TO NOWHERE, shot entirely in India with natural lighting and without any script. I’m a little curious about LESBIAN VAMPIRE KILLERS: sounds like a wonderful British alternative to Dawn of the Dead. Oh, and I forgot to mention that a screening of Quentin Tarantino’s long-awaited new movie (after cult movies such as Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill), called INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, will be closing the event on July 29th. It’s the North American premiere of Tarantino’s film before its official release in movie theatres across Canada and the United States on August 21st.

Once again, Fantasia tries to avoid clichés. It’s one of the last events in Montreal that truly embraces the spirit of a film festival: it’s a unique occasion to discover underground film features that you won’t be able to see anywhere else. Only in Montreal can you find such a festival that offers such an alternative, experimental and transgressive program. If you’re in town, I highly recommend checking out this year’s program: you might find an unforgettable movie that will transform your getaway to Montreal into a psychedelic trip to Neverland.

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