Fantasia 2019: First Wave Reveals Sees Critters, Occult Thrillers, Gangster Battles, And More!

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Celebrating its 23rd anniversary this year is Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival, one of the world’s largest and most exciting genre fests. Loaded with over 130 features films, the festival will showcase world premieres as well as bring the best of overseas fests to Canada during its July 11 through August 1 run. Today, the first wave of films has been released and it’s packed to the brim with exciting titles!

Making its world premiere will be Malik Bader’s crime thriller Killerman, which stars Liam Hemsworth. Jaws star Richard Dreyfuss will star in the North American premiere of Astronaut while Lee Su-jin will see the North American premiere of his psychological thriller Idol. For those infatuated with Brian De Palma’s rock horror musical Phantom of the Paradise, there’s going to be a fascinating documentary called Phantom of Winnipeg about the Canadian town that fell in love with the movie and how they kept its spirit alive.

Horror fans rejoice for the Crites are back! Making its world premiere will be Bobby Miller’s Critters Attack!, which is the first feature-length film in the franchise in 27 years! Critically adored in Cannes, Lee Won-tae will screen The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil, which follows a mob boss, the police detective intent on taking him down, and their need to team up to stop a serial killer. Out of South Africa comes 8, a folklore horror from Harold Holscher. Jaume Balageuro’s Sleep Tight has been remade by South Korea’s Lee Kwon as Door Lock, which took the Thriller Prize at this year’s Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival. It will make its North American premiere at Fantasia.

Brothers Brett and Drew Pierce of Deadheads-fame will bring their occult thriller The Wretched for a world premiere while Ken Ninomiya’s Chiwawa is adapted from Kyoko Okazaki’s cult manga and makes its North American premiere. Jovanka Vuckovic highly anticipated debut feature film Riot Girls will make its North American premiere. Kim Bora brings House of Hummingbird for its Canadian premiere while Jon Mikel Caballero will see the North American premiere of his latest feature The Incredible Shrinking Wknd.

The black comedy We Are Little Zombies! from Makoto Nagahisa will make its Canadian Premiere. Pontypool‘s Stephen McHattie will reunite with much of that film’s cast/crew for Bruce MacDonald’s Dreamland (North American premiere), which is hailed as being, “…jazzy, darkly comic, and utterly offbeat”.

In the ‘Camera Lucida’ category, which is, “… dedicated to boundary-pushing, auteur-driven works of genre, and genre-adjacent cinema”, four films have been announced: Miguel Llanso’s Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway, Dwein Baltazar’s Ode to Nothing, Yi Okseop’s Maggie, and Jennifer Reeder’s Knives and Skin.

For Fantasia Action!, get ready to have your ass kicked by Lim Kyoung-tack’s No Mercy, Kan Eguchi’s The Fable, and Jimmy Henderson’s The Prey.

Fantasia also highlights some of the best in animation in its Axis section, which will showcase Gints Zilbalodis’ Away, Zhou Shengwei’s She, and a restoration of Marcell Jankovics’ 1981 classic The Son of the White Mare.

Here’s the rest of the first wave announcement:

21st CENTURY GIRL. Japan – Dir. Various
This joyful omnibus film from emerging female filmmakers brings together 15 shorts on the theme of gender and intimacy, and includes new work by Yoko Yamanaka (AMIKO), Aya Igashi (A CRIMSON STAR), and Ū-ki Yamato (DROWNING LOVE). Official Selection: Tokyo International Film Festival 2018. North American Premiere.

COME TO DADDY. Canada/New Zealand/Ireland/USA – Dir. Ant Timpson

Elijah Wood, Stephen McHattie, and Martin Donovan star in this inventively genre-bending thrill ride that begins as a quirky comedy about estranged family attempting a reconnection and soon shifts onto freakier and far, far bloodier sideroads than you’ll ever see coming. The feature directorial debut of producer/curator/superhero Ant Timpson (TURBO KID, DEATHGASM). Official Selection: Tribeca Film Festival 2019, Overlook Film Festival 2019, Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival 2019. Canadian Premiere.

DACHRA. Tunisia – Dir. Abdelhamid Bouchnak

A group of journalism students discover a hidden tribal society that has cultivated a way of life brimming with ancient practices and beliefs, rituals and blood. Tunisia’s first genre film is a nerve-shredding bear trap of horror cinema. Official Selection: Venice Film Festival (Critics’ Week) 2018, Fantastic Fest 2018, Göteborg Film Festival 2019, Imagine Film Festival 2019. Canadian Premiere.

DARLIN’. USA – Dir. Pollyanna McIntosh

A wild child slowly adjusts to “civilized” society, where the human monsters lurk under cover of church vestments. The sequel to OFFSPRING and THE WOMAN, actor Pollyanna McIntosh herself takes on the writing/directing reins, and adds an extra vivid flavour to this series’ cannibal-horror stew. Official Selection: SXSW 2019, What The Fest?! 2019. Canadian Premiere.

DEPRAVED. USA – Dir. Larry Fessenden

Celebrated New York auteur Larry Fessenden’s first film NO TELLING was subtitled THE FRANKENSTEIN COMPLEX, and now he tackles a more direct modern adaptation of Mary Shelley’s timeless tale. As always, Fessenden finds a distinctly personal way to shape classic themes, this time by telling the story from the point of view of the “monster.” Official selection: What The Fest?! 2019, Overlook Film Festival 2019. Sydney Film Festival 2019. Canadian Premiere.

EXTRA ORDINARY. Ireland/Belgium – Dir. Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman

Maeve Higgins and Will Forte star in this exhilaratingly funny and inventive instant classic about a driving instructor with paranormal sensitivities matching wits against a fizzled rock star looking to renew a Satanic pact. The festival is very proud that EXTRA ORDINARY came out of its own Frontières market. Official Selection: SXSW 2019, Melbourne International Film Festival 2019, Overlook 2019. Winner of the Silver Raven at the 2019 Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival. Canadian Premiere.

FLY ME TO THE SAITAMA. Japan – Dir. Hideki Takeuchi

A young man from Tokyo and a Saitama-born American exchange student develop a fierce rivalry based on caricatural suburban feuds, which turns into uncontrollable attraction. Hideki Takeuchi (THERMAE ROMAE) returns to zany, anachronistic fantasy with this Monty Python-esque adaptation of a classic manga from 1982. Official Selection: Udine Far East Film Festival 2019. Quebec Premiere.

G AFFAIRS. Hong Kong – Dir. Lee Cheuk-Pan
Heads will roll in this twisty, sordid thriller: a highly stylized portrait of contemporary Hong Kong where criminality, real estate crises, corruption, and conspiracy intertwine via words starting with “G” – the key to it all. Co-starring Chapman To. Official Selection: Hong Kong International Film Festival 2019. Canadian Premiere.

THE ISLAND OF CATS. Japan – Dir. Mitsuaki Iwago

The only constant in life is change, even for elderly Daikichi and his friends — human and otherwise — on a small, idyllic island far from Tokyo. A pure moment of calm and beauty, this light-hearted, sweet-natured slice-of-life dramedy is loaded with loveable characters — human and otherwise. Quebec Premiere

LITTLE MONSTERS. Australia/UK/USA – Dir. Abe Forsythe

A washed-up musician teams up with a teacher and a kid’s show personality to protect young children from a sudden outbreak of zombies in this hilarious crowd-pleaser starring Lupita Nyong’o, Josh Gad, and Stephen Peacocke and from the director of DOWN UNDER. Official Selection: Sundance 2019, SXSW 2019, Calgary Underground Film Festival 2019. Quebec Premiere.

THE MOON IN THE HIDDEN WOODS. South Korea – Dir. Takahiro Umehara

A princess and a musician confront marvels and monsters as fate shakes the world… and the heavens above! This is an exquisite animated blend of steampunk, Korean folk styles, and otherworldy fantasy peppered with innovative ideas and dazzling visual delights. Quebec Premiere.

SATANIC PANIC. USA – Dir: Chelsea Stardust

Get ready for a blood-splattered throwback to the days when cultists devoted to the horned one were all over theater screens, updated with a knowing sense of humor by Fangoria and screenwriter/best-selling author Grady Hendrix (MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM), from a story he wrote with Ted Geoghegan (WE ARE STILL HERE). Starring Hayley Griffith, Rebecca Romijn, Jordan Ladd, Jerry O’Connell, and AJ Bowen. Official Selection: Overlook Film Festival 2019, Cinepocalypse 2019. International Premiere.

SONS OF DENMARK. Denmark – Dir. Ulaa Salim

A radicalized teenage Muslim in Copenhagen trains to assassinate a hate-mongering, far-right leader. Loaded, provocative, and disturbing, this first feature written and directed by Ulaa Salim depicts a vicious circle of violence from which no one escapes unscathed. Official Selection: Rotterdam International Film Festival 2019, Seattle International Film Festival 2019. Canadian Premiere.

SUPER DELUXE. India – Dir. Thiagarajan Kumararaja

During a single day in Chennai, four destinies become forever entwined in this crazy, ambitious, and deliberately overloaded slice of stylized contemporary Indian cinema, painting a cosmic fresco of absurd connections, coincidences, and delicious digressions! Special Screening.

TONE-DEAF. USA – Dir. Richard Bates Jr

The magic of Airbnb connects fed-up-with-everything millennial Olive (Amanda Crew) with angry-with-everything MAGA widower Henry (Robert Patrick). Sparks fly, along with a whole lot of witticisms — and blood — in this venomous black comedy from the director of EXCISION and TRASH FIRE, a different kind of “home invasion” film that functions as an eccentric snapshot of modern America’s cultural/political divides. Official Selection: SXSW 2019, Boston Underground Film festival 2019. International Premiere.  

WHITE SNAKE. China – Dir. Amp Wong and Zhao Ji

The thousand-year-old folktale of the shape-shifting serpent sisters hatches anew in a gorgeous fantasy adventure that takes Chinese popular animation to unprecedented heights. Dazzling, thrilling, funny, romantic, even a bit spicy, WHITE SNAKE is guaranteed to charm! Canadian Premiere.

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