Of all the festivals that hit Montreal in the summer, one is a standout for film buffs: Fantasia. This gigantic film event for fans of genre cinema and Asian oddities has, in its own way, set the city apart on the underground film scene – we’re always dying to find out what the programmers who scour the nooks and crannies of genre film festivals around the world have brought back home for us to sink our teeth during this year’s festival.
Every year, the Fantasia International Film Festival takes over two theatres downtown at Concordia University for their program, which runs for three weeks in the heat of summer and offers the most off-kilter, strange, original and unique offerings on the Asian film market and from the horror scene, as well as animation, horror, wuxia, fantasy-romance, kids’ movies, and good old Hong Kong-style Kung Fu movies, with a big contingent of the unclassifiable.
This year’s program offers movies from all over the works, including Japan, China, Korea, the Netherlands, Argentina, Cuba, Britain, the U.S. and Canada: 160 feature films in all. So, from July 19 to August 7, be very, very afraid. In the best possible way.
Takashi Miike (Ichi The Killer, 13 Assassins) has been one of Fantasia’s favourite directors since the beginning – the opening film at Fantasia 2012 is his musical comedy-romance For Love’s Sake, which premiered at Cannes this year. His action-adventure-sci-fi thriller Ace Attorney (pictured above) will also be shown.
For fans of (vaguely) more mainstream fare, Fantasia boast the Montreal premiere of show an off-Hollywood oddity: William Friedkin’s Killer Joe, starring Emile Hirsch, Gina Gershon and Matthew McConaughey, which was my favourite film from the Toronto International Film Festival last fall. Friedkin, a stylish director of cinema classic (The French Connection, The Exorcist), here descends into the madness of a true-grit Texas deep-fried double-cross caper picture (there’s a scene with Matthew McConaughey, Gina Gershon and a drumstick of fried chicken you won’t want to miss.)
Speaking of missing movie stars, you’ll also want to know that Fantasia invites more special guests every year: Michael Biehn, Stephen McHattie, Danny Masterton from That ‘70s Show, Jennifer Lynch (Boxing Helena) and perhaps most importantly, Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker!). He’s in something called Sushi Girl. Tagline: Revenge is a dish best served cold. Get it?
The list of strange fruit contained in two theatres at Concordia University this summer is huge as usual – there’s something for everyone, and the weirder you are, the more you’ll like it. If you don’t know what to watch, I recommend randomly selecting a program based on the titles of films you’ve never heard of: Dead Sushi could be complemented by Errors of the Human Body, and wrapped up by Hemmorhage. Yum!
Sometimes, a good HK-style Kung Fu epic is what you’re craving, and this year Fantasia has two: Peter Chan’s Dragon also played at Cannes, and Reign of the Assassins directed by Su Chao-bin, co-produced by John Woo, and stars Michelle Yeoh.
Theres’ more to this festival than can be listed here, and sometimes the suprises are the best part: Their e-zine, Spectacular Optical is a good place to start.
Fantasia International Film Festival, July 19-August 9, 2012