The truth is, nothing is for sure at Fantasia, and that’s the whole point. Montreal’s genre film festival, now in its 15th year, has been giving the people what they want for a decade and a half…
Seriously, Fantasia is a festival that has been fan-supported since the very beginning—for three weeks every summer, the kids (and grown-ups, too) have been forgoing splashy summer fun in the sun for the dank and dark confines of Concordia University’s cinemas for a freakshow of unfathomable proportions—and we mean that as the biggest compliment imaginable. Each year, dedicated programmers rifle through the world deep, dark cinema subconscious to create a programme of 100-odd feature films that represent the strangest and most bizarre, iconoclastic, genre-shattering cinema in the world.
The festival opened with a premiere of Kevin Smith’s aptly named foray into the horror genre, Red State, which premiered amidst controversy at Sundance in January, followed by a party with DJs for everyone—quite a stretch from the usual red-carpet ethos of some other film festivals down the way that we don’t care to mention. That’s kind of the point of Fantasia, it’s a festival with something for everyone, open to all, with absolutely no pretension, dedicated to real, true movie loving. That’s what makes it special.
Of course, with 21 days jam-packed with movies and events that range from the sublime to the ridiculously sublime, it can be hard to navigate the best of the fest—which is why we’ve laid out a few of the don’t miss events for the first days of the festival. That, and because we love every last minute of it.
#1: Belgian films have always been among the most striking selections of the fest, and Michael Roskam’s Bullhead is no exception. Promises to be harrowing.
#2: Burke and Hare, John Landis’ new film, stars Simpn Pegg and Andy Serkis (Gollum in the LOTR trilogy) in a screwball comedy about body-snatching in Victorian England. Part of a Lifetime Achievement Award for the famous Canadian director, who helmed The Blues Brothers and An American Werewolf in London.
#3: Fans of South Korean genre cinema will have a chance to kneel at the altar of Sion Sono (Love Exposure, Suicide Club) when the festival screens his latest, Cold Fish, a black romantic comedy set in a fish store.
#4: Jamie Bell, Cillian Murphy and Thandie Newton—a cracker U.K. “it” cast—add star muscle to Retreat, first-time director Carl Tibbetts’ horror movie about a vacation, an island…and a plague. Festival director Mitch Davis calls it the most visceral British horror film since The Descent, which is really saying something.
#5: The Theatre Bizarre: An anthology of shorts directed by some of modern horror cinema’smost controversial figures: Buddy Giovanazzo, Richard Stanley, and Montreal’s own Karim Hussain. Six films shot in four countries with identical production budgets and wildly different perversions: You get the idea.
Fantasia Film Festival, July 14-August 7, 2011