If most people suddenly came into millions of dollars they would buy big houses and expensive cars. Not me. I'd like to just squirrel away my newly flush funds so that every year I could make the pilgrimage to a few select film festivals. Sure, Cannes and Sundance are two of the most talked about film festivals in the world, but for me the "wish I had enough money to go" fests are Fantasia, Sitges and Fantastic Fest. Fortunately I live in the home town of the latter, so I do get to attend that glorious week of genre programming, but it's Fantasia that currently has me longing for disposal income thanks to its initial line-up announcement.
Dread Central has done a great job of culling together all of the various press releases on the matter to put together one great list of reasons you too should be wishing for the coin to travel to Montreal this July 8th to the 27th for Fantasia. If I had to pick just one title to be excited about, it would have to be Christopher Smith's Black Death, but it's certainly got some stiff competition:
SPOTLIGHT: BETWEEN DEATH AND THE DEVIL
Recent times and crimes have seen extraordinary levels of disillusionment with organized religion, particularly with the Catholic Church, and genre cinema has mirrored this anger with startling impact. In the face of this, we've put together this troubling spotlight focused on the abuse of faith, the horrors of ideology and the corruption of Godliness. Several of these films will absolutely stagger you.
BLACK DEATH (UK) Dir: Christopher Smith – North American premiere. Hosted by Director Christopher Smith
With the Black Death sweeping across England, a witch-hunting knight (Sean Bean) leads a pack of mercenaries across the country in search of a village that has somehow been spared the plague, allegedly due to the inhabitants practicing satanic rituals. BLACK DEATH is a nightmarish morality play that frequently shifts concepts of right and wrong as good characters do inexcusable things, bad characters do good, acts of violence are at once justifiable and indefensible, and ideals give way to instinct, then back again. It is an incredible film, one of the strongest horror entries of 2010.
THE DEVILS (UK) Dir: Ken Russell – Special screening. Hosted by Director Ken Russell
The bravest, most powerful, most ferociously confrontational film ever to lay assault on the criminal opportunism and hypocrisies of the Church, THE DEVILS remains one of the most widely banned and controversial pictures ever made. Starring Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave, directed with theatricality, wit and rage by the great Ken Russell, this is an utterly terrifying, wholly unforgettable masterpiece unlike anything you've ever seen. It was an ironic winner of the award for Best Director-Foreign Film at the 1971 Venice Film Festival, despite being banned in the country.
HEARTLESS (UK) Dir: Phillip Ridley – North American premiere
Philip Ridley, iconoclastic director of THE REFLECTING SKIN, is back with his first film in 14 years, a satanic odyssey whose tones settle somewhere between the haunted universes of Clive Barker and David Lynch, filtered through the horrific truths that have spiked every work in his filmography. Jamie Morgan (Jim Sturgess) was born disfigured with a heart-shaped birthmark pulling across one side of his face. Taunted and alone, he agrees to do some very grisly favours for the Mephistophelian "Pappa B," who promises to remove his birthmark in exchange for...we'll say no more!
THE LAST EXORCISM (USA) Dir: Daniel Stamm – Canadian premiere
A celebrity priest who also happens to be a fraud of an exorcist has a massive crisis in ideals when he comes across a genuine case of demonic possession in this eerie, subjectively shot shocker by Daniel (A NECESSARY DEATH) Stamm, co-produced by Eli Roth. This is a tight, effective indie horror film that writhes with hair-raising sights and sounds, built on the foundation of a compelling spiritual conflict. It will creep you out. It may well haunt your soul.
POSSESSED (South Korea) Dir: Lee Yong-ju – Canadian premiere
Big sister Hee-jin is trying desperately to find her missing sister. According to inhabitants of the apartment block, the girl is possessed by spirits. Meanwhile, her evangelical mother believes her to be the chosen one. When several neighbours commit suicide, it gets increasingly difficult to stay rational. Staged with precision and loaded with strong performances, POSSESSED arrives like a fresh gust of wind across the South Korean horror scene, instantly infusing hope and maturity into a genre that was believed to be at death's door. A major hit at Tribeca and Rotterdam.
THE SHRINE (Canada) Dir: Jon Knautz – World premiere. Hosted by director Jon Knautz & actor/co-producer Trevor Matthews
The cruelty of religion and the horrors of the supernatural combine to ignite a powder keg of punishment in this harrowing nail-biter from the maverick writing/acting/producing/directing team behind JACK BROOKS MONSTER SLAYER. Turning completely away from the comedy-horror sensibilities that made his previous film an international cult hit, Knautz and his pack have crafted a diabolically effective, deadly-serious shocker of pagan practices and ritual murder in a forgotten Polish village.
SPOTLIGHT: SUBVERSIVE SERBIA
Montreal, June 29, 2010. Serbia's terrifying recent history has birthed a confrontational new generation of filmmakers who are using the medium to express their wounded psyches in ways the Western World can barely get its head around. Our spotlight, which we are calling SUBVERSIVE SERBIA showcases the key entries in this intelligently transgressive and politically-charged filmmaking scene. We're also going to showcase a string of retro Serbian genre films never before screened here, programmed in association with Dejan Ognjanovic and the Belgrade Cinematheque.
Beyond the screenings, Mr. Ognjanovic will be presenting a multimedia presentation and panel discussion - AN INTRODUCTION TO SERBIAN HORROR CINEMA – where he will be joined by the makers of many of the films showcased in our spotlight.
Your eyes are about to be opened. Wide.
"The voices emerging from the new wave of independent Serbian cinema are some of the rawest and most daring of any we've ever encountered," said Fantasia co-director Mitch Davis. "This is smart, confrontational filmmaking with astounding elements of shock, armed with the intelligence and the urgency to back it up. In particular, A SERBIAN FILM and THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A PORNO GANG are, to my mind, the CLOCKWORK ORANGEs of our generation. They push boundaries in ways that cinema rarely has the courage to do."
A SERBIAN FILM producer Nikola Pantelic issued the following statement: "To us, Canada is a very special place because it is the homeland of one of our favourite filmmakers, whose work greatly inspired us - David Cronenberg. We're honoured to participate in the Fantasia Film Festival - a place where a majority of our favourite recent films were screened. Montreal's Fantasia is one of the few places left on this earth where artistic freedom and unorthodox cinema thinking still mean something. Fantasia has made a Mecca for gutsy and vital cinema today. For A Serbian Film, things have come full circle."
The New Blood:
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A PORNO GANG, Dir: Mladen Djordjevic – Montreal premiere. Hosted by director Mladen Djordjevic
This razor-sharp and often perversely comic metaphor about the social pathologies of Serbian life in the 1990s was a major hit at the Rotterdam Film Festival. A travelling "porno cabaret" journeys from village to village across rural Serbia, performing live sex acts in radical framings as a means of sexual confrontation, often provoking violent responses from the locals. Situations take a turn for the darker when the troupe are approached by a shady foreign war correspondent who makes them an offer they struggle against refusing-a ton of money in exchange for shooting actual murders, theatrically "performed" on willing, consensual victims who no longer care about living.
TEARS FOR SALE Director's Cut Dir: Uros Stojanovic – International premiere. Hosted by screenwriter Aleksandar Radivojevic.
A Serbian village has been so devastated by war that virtually all the males have been killed, with only women remaining. Two girls earn their living as mourners-for-hire-they cry at other people's funerals for money. When they inadvertently cause the death of the last remaining man in the village, the other women force them to go to Belgrade and find some fresh male flesh. They embark on the journey, followed by the ghost of their grandmother. An ambitious piece of eye-candy with a budget and visuals unprecedented in Serbian films, TEARS brings to mind a somewhat darker and more erotic Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Luscious period detail and costumes are blended with elaborate visual effects to conjure a unique fantasy environment for the fairy-tale plot, which uses the country's tragic past as a background for an ambiguously dark romance. TEARS FOR SALE is characteristically Serbian in its mixture of tragedy and comedy, road movie and fantasy, death and romance, and myth and reality, and it represents a fresh vision which effectively merges the local with the universal. Also typically Serbian is the central conflict-obligation to society versus personal happiness, and the resulting clash between the individual and the communal, between selfishness and sacrifice. The film won raves everywhere from Tiff to Rotterdam in a highly reedited version in 2008, the original director's cut having never been screened to audiences outside of Serbia...until now. Fantasia will be home to the international premiere of the film's very different director's cut.
A SERBIAN FILM Dir: Srdjan Spasojevic – Canadian premiere
Hosted by Director Srdjan Spasojevic, screenwriter Aleksandar Radivojevic, & producer Nikola Pantelic
Milos, a retired adult film performer agrees to do one last film in order to sustain his impoverished family. But the first day of shooting is a bit strange. Then it gets weirder. When Milos decides to pull out, things go from bad to worse. And worse. Until they reach the unspeakable. A film firmly rooted in the frustration and despair of living in Serbia today, A SERBIAN FILM reinvents the horror genre to suit its own purpose, turning it into a powerful cinematic scream of anger and frustration. It offers a stylized version of what it feels like to grow up in a country humiliated, denigrated, impoverished, bombed-out, stripped of its territory, labeled genocidal and haunted by the spirits of war crimes. It is a scream against corrupt politics, both domestic and foreign; against limitations both internal and external; against being both metaphorically and literally f***ed. It is the ne plus ultra of shock, but this already-notorious content comprises only a small portion of the film. It's true power lies in its furious point-of-view, its shattered performances and it's De-Palma-esque mise-en-scene. Scripted with eloquence by Aleksandar Radivojevic...who also wrote TEARS FOR SALE!
TECHNOTISE: EDIT & I Dir: Aleksa Gajic
Serbia's first animated feature film. Edit is a smart, poised and exceptionally good-looking young psychology student in Belgrade in the year 2074. In addition to her studies, she works for a major scientific research firm. After failing her grueling psych exam for the sixth time, however, she decides to lower her ethical standards and have a black-market memory-booster chip implanted in her to guarantee a passing grade next time around. The chip is successful, but seems to have some strange side effects, and Edit is soon gobbling iron-supplement pills like an addict. Something is going on inside her, and whatever this mysterious condition may be, it is of great interest to the company she works for... TECHNOTISE is a feast for fans of Euro-sci-fi comics à la Métal Hurlant. No surprise, as in addition to being a well-established illustrator at home, the film's writer/director is known across the continent for his comic books with prominent French publisher Soleil. His debut film is packed with delightfully distinctive and carefully drafted little visual details and devices.
The Older Blood:
VARIOLA VERA (1982) Dir: Goran Markovic
VARIOLA VERA's title refers to the Latin name for smallpox, and it is loosely based on a real event. In 1972, in what was then Yugoslavia, an Albanian Muslim from Kosovo was infected with smallpox on his pilgrimage in the Middle East and upon his return to Serbia, caused an epidemic in the Belgrade City Hospital. In the claustrophobic environment of a quarantined hospital, a group of characters, led by Rade Serbedzija (EYES WIDE SHUT), try to survive the best way they can, and to retain their humanity in the process if at all possible. No one is safe in this bleak but also blackly humorous account of body horror infecting the body politic.
A HOLY PLACE (1990) Dir: Djordje Kadijevic. Hosted by producer Zoran Otasevic
A HOLY PLACE remains a hidden gem of psycho-supernatural horror which audiences outside of Serbia have yet to discover. Since the film is not available on DVD, this is the only chance you'll ever get to see it with subtitles and on the big screen that its imagery deserves. This is the version of Nikolai Gogol's short story "Viy" that foreign audiences have barely ever seen-most have probably never heard of it. Unlike the rather benign Russian fantasy VIY (1967), the Serbian version is definitively for adults. The story is still about a reluctant theology student forced to spend three nights in a row locked in a spooky church, reading the Psalms over the (un)dead girl. All the while, supernatural forces are trying to grab him from the holy circle drawn on the floor. Gogol's half-humorous story is enriched into a more complex one, whose intensity is unique among other, tamer Slavic attempts at producing fear
T.T. SYNDROME (2002) Dir: Dejan Zecevic
A group of young people in Belgrade are out to score some weed. They go to the Turkish baths within an ancient fortress to meet their dealer, but end up trapped there and mercilessly killed one by one by a mysterious murderer clad in black leather. It all seems to have some connection with the strange and very rare illness "T. T. Syndrome". With elements of Dario Argento and John Carpenter, T.T. was the first Serbian horror film that didn't feel obliged to justify itself with elements of more respectable genres. It does not imply a political allegory-although placing (and killing off) its youthful cast entirely in a public toilet might have been a statement about the dashed hopes of post-Milosevic Serbia, after all! But above everything else, the movie uses motifs and style of the slasher film, plain and simple, to scare its audience. It has attained cult status in Serbia.
AN INTRODUCTION TO SERBIAN HORROR CINEMA (a special multimedia presentation and panel discussion) – July 14, 6PM, EV Building, 1515 St. Catherine W.
Serbian contribution to the horror film universe is relatively small. And yet, what Serbian horror cinema lacks in terms of quantity, it more than makes up for in quality. It can be argued that more than a dozen of existing Serbian horror titles belong among the most original works made in this nation's cinema in the past decades, and they deserve to be wider known.
The panel devoted to Serbian horror films will be opened by Dejan Ognjanovic, film critic and author of the book In the Hills, the Horrors: Serbian Horror Cinema. He will provide the historical context and cultural background for the emergence of fantastic and horrific elements in Serbian films, with exclusive clips from rare titles barely (or never) shown outside of Serbia, like: THE SHE-BUTTERFLY, THE DAMNED THING, STRANGLER VS STRANGLER, DÉJÀ VU aka REFLECTIONS, etc.
He will be joined by the directors Mladen Djordjevic (THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A PORNO GANG) and Srdjan Spasojevic (A SERBIAN FILM), screenwriter Aleksandar Radivojevic (A SERBIAN FILM, TEARS FOR SALE) and producers Nikola Pantelic (A SERBIAN FILM) and Zoran Otasevic (A HOLY PLACE) to discuss the currents trends, potentials and plans for the new face(s) of Serbian horror cinema.
Fantasia's 2010 occidental lineup of World Cinema is once again on fire with an astounding kaleidoscope of styles and sensibilities. Walk with us as we highlight by country-of-origin what we're bringing to Montreal in July. Ready... steady... GO!
Montreal, June 29, 2010. From the US, we have a multitude of treats and feats: Edgar Wright's hotly anticipated SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD (Canadian premiere) is a lunatic comedy/fantasy that sees Michael Cera battling an increasingly outrageous onslaught of his girlfriend's evil ex's. Steven R. Monoe's I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (World premiere) updates Meir Zarchi's seminal 1978 exploitation epic to contemporary times, sparing none of the original's shock and ferocity while bringing extra helpings of rage to the proceedings. With THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE (Official Opening Film – Canadian premiere), Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Jon Turteltaub join forces again for a modern-day live-action (emphasis on action!) film that tips its hat to the most beloved sequence in Disney's animated classic FANTASIA. Matt Osterman's PHASMA EX MACHINA (World premiere) is an intelligent, emotionally moving chiller that sees a grieving young man build an electrical device that can bring back the dead. Daniel Stamm's Eli Roth-produced THE LAST EXORCISM (Canadian premiere) is an eerie, subjectively-shot shocker concerning a celebrity priest famous for his (fake) skills as an exorcist, encountering an actual case of demonic possession.
John Stalberg Jr.'s HIGH SCHOOL (International premiere) is a radical, counter-culture stoner comedy featuring up-for-anything-cool Oscar-winner Adrian Brody that created all manor of buzz at Sundance. The Butcher Brothers's demonically outrageous genre-twisting THE VIOLENT KIND (Canadian premiere) is another Fantasia pick that drew first blood at Sundance, leaving its audience in a daze. Also making its CDN bow after wowing audiences at Sundance is Nick Tomnay's phenomenal reverse home invasion thriller THE PERFECT HOST, featuring David Hyde Pierce in the most against-type performance imaginable!
Kerry Prior's delirious THE REVENANT is an inspired comedy/horror about an undead soldier that feels like Henenlotter fused with Gordon and has won countless awards on the international festival circuit. James Nguyen's no-budget jaw-dropper BIRDEMIC (Montreal premiere), a "romantic thriller" allegedly shot in homage to Hitchcock, has become a so-bad-it's-good phenomenon, with such mainstream outlets as BBC, CNN and the New York Times hailing it as the most entertainingly awful film ever made. Steven Calcote & Stuart J. Levy's VAN VON HUNTER (Canadian premiere) is a mockumentary comedy about a crime fighter-cum-celebrity, starring cult voice actor Yuri Lowenthal in the titular role. Daniel Erickson's EVE'S NECKLACE (Canadian premiere) reinvents the Film Noir thriller in a unique new light – with a cast of mannequins!
On the documentary front, we have HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS: THE GODFATHER OF GORE (World premiere) is an affectionate portrait of HG Lewis, pioneer of the gore film, co-directed by Frank Henenlotter (a genre film legend in his own right!) and Jimmy Maslon, and featuring appearances from the likes of John Waters, Bunny Yeagher and Joe Bob Briggs. Similarly, Greg Olliver & Wes Orshoski's LEMMY (International premiere) is a pounding, rollicking profile of Motorhead's one-of-a-kind frontman Lemmy Kilmister, featuring appearances by everyone from Metallica and The Damned to Dave Grohl, Joan Jett, Ozzy Osbourne and Billy Bob Thornton! A stunner of a different kind is Marc D. Levitz's shattering and award-winning FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION: THE OTERO FAMILY MURDERS (Canadian premiere), a film about a man struggling to mend a life has been in pieces since the time that, at age 15, he came home to find his entire family murdered by a stranger who was later revealed to be the BTK killer. This is a film of extraordinary emotional force, and it will have you in tears.
France brings us a pair of genre oddities, both coming here fresh from their launches in Cannes. Part zombie film, part backwoods terror pic, Franck Richard's LA MEUTE (North American premiere) is an atmospheric genre hybrid starring Émilie Dequenne, Philippe Nahon and Yolande Moreau. Spinning out from the warped mind of Quentin Dupieux (AKA electro house musician Mr Oizo), RUBBER (International premiere) is the story of Robert, who happens to be an angry, psychic...tire. An all season tire, to be specific. Yes.
Also from France, we have both of Jean-François Richet's mass award-winning crime thrillers based on the law-smashing life of Jacques Mesrine: MESRINE: L'INSTINCT DE MORT and MESRINE: L'ENNEMI PUBLIC NO. 1, starring the great Vincent Cassel in the titular role. We will be screening both features back to back for en epic MESRINE soiree, to be hosted by co-star Roy Dupuis!
Mexico's WE ARE WHAT WE ARE (North American premiere), directed by Jorge Michel Grau, is an innovative and savage cannibal drama that was one of the most buzzed-about films at Cannes this year.
Russia's BLACK LIGHTNING (North American premiere), directed by Dmitriy Kiselev & Aleksandr Voytinskiy is a joyous, teen comedy/action film about a misfit who rises above his obstacles – literally – when he accidentally takes possession of a flying car and uses it to fight crime!
The UK edge of our lineup features some of this year's strongest revelations: Christopher Smith's BLACK DEATH (North American premiere), a medieval tale of plague and necromancy is one of the smartest and most frightening horror films of the year. Simon Rumley returns to Fantasia with his ingeniously executed, white hot vengeance thriller RED WHITE & BLUE, a huge critical success at Rotterdam and SXSW. Philip Ridley's startling and poignant HEARTLESS (North American premiere) is a satanic urban fairytale that stars Jim Sturgess and marks the visionary REFLECTING SKIN filmmaker's return to cinema after a 14-year absence. THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED (Montreal premiere) is a tense kidnapping thriller that had many hailing its young director as the most exciting British breakout since Danny Boyle when it screened at Tribeca a few months ago. Neil Marshall's CENTURION (Canadian premiere) is a breathtaking medieval siege rollercoaster starring Michael Fassbender and Olga Kurylenko that will blow you out the back wall of the theatre - exactly what you were hoping for when you learned that the maker of THE DESCENT was undertaking a big budget action epic. Jake West's splatstick DOGHOUSE (Canadian premiere) turns sexism on its head when a boorish group of men on a getaway weekend find themselves in a town populated by demonically possessed women ready to tear them limb from limb. DOWN TERRACE, the feature debut from acclaimed BBC comedy writer Ben Wheatley is a brilliantly black comedy/thriller about a family of criminals turning against each other while living under one roof.
Spain's [REC] 2 (Montreal premiere) reunites the original film's celebrated co-directing team of Paco Plaza and Jaume Balaguero to create an absolute nightmare onscreen, resuming immediately from the final moments of the first film.
From New Zealand we have David Blyth's controversial WOUND (International premiere), a Lynchian BDSM-tinged fever dream that writhes with sweat and dread. Another kiwi curio, Sean Byrne's much-buzzed-about THE LOVED ONES (Montreal premiere), is a teen coming of age horror/thriller/comedy from hell that won an audience award at Tiff and is sure to see mega love at the Fantasia prom.
Greece brings us the super kinetic screwball zombie actioneer EVIL: IN THE TME OF HEROES (North American premiere), a highly unusual detour in the realm of Greek film culture.
Belgium represents with Vincent Lannoo's VAMPIRES (North American premiere), a wickedly droll mockumentary concerning a bourgeois family of vampires who find themselves excommunicated to Montreal, Quebec!
Scandinavia and Eastern Europe have birthed a strongly compelling crop of cinema in recent months. Behold:
From Denmark comes a trio of hugely unconventional gems: the outrageous action/comedy AT WORLD'S END (North American premiere), scripted by the great Anders Thomas Jensen (ADAM'S APPLES, AFTER THE WEDDING), directed by Tomas Villum Jensen and starring Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, is funny, funny stuff, about a flower named "Hedvig" that promises eternal life – and the many lives bloodily ended in search of it! Ole Bornedal's multiple award-winning DELIVER US FROM EVIL (Montreal premiere) is a compelling, frightening thriller about small-town xenophobia and small-minded brutality that's found itself upon many a top-ten list. INTO ETERNITY (Montreal premiere), directed by Michael Madsen (the other one!), is a poetic and hypnotic documentary about the dilemma of long-term storage of nuclear waste – precisely, how to prevent a population 10,000 years down the road from going near these toxic places – that plays in part like an unusual science fiction tale.
Norway's FATSO (North American premiere), directed by Arild Fröhlich, is a surprising, hysterical grossout teen comedy that, markedly unlike its North American contemporaries, boasts as much heart and soul as it does tits and ass.
Hailing from the Netherlands, Tom Six's HUMAN CENTIPEDE (Canadian premiere) is an already-legendary, scientifically accurate (!), award-winning Grand Guignol shocker with a premise too revolting to be described here. Just trust us on that.
Hungary's ingenious "1" (North American premiere), directed by Pater Sparrow, details a bookshop whose shelves of rare editions are all replaced with mass copies of a mysterious almanac that describes what will happen to all of humanity over the course of one minute.
Serbia's powerhouse new generation of filmmakers will be showcased with four unforgettable new selections (and 3 retro picks – more on that later!): Mladen Djordjevic's blacker than black comedy THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A PORNO GANG is reminiscent of early Almodovar-by-way-of-Miike and is in ways the CLOCKWORK ORANGE of Serbia. Uros Stojanovic's visually-sumptuous whimsical fantasy TEARS FOR SALE won raves everywhere from Tiff to Rotterdam in a highly reedited version, the original director's cut having never been screened to audiences outside of Serbia...until now. Fantasia will be home to the international premiere of the film's very different director's cut! Srdjan Spasojevic's politically-charged, DePalma-esque A SERBIAN FILM had heads spinning at its recent launch at SXSW, where it was greeted with startled accolades. Aleksa Gajic's TECHNOTISE: EDIT & I (Montreal premiere) is Serbia's first animated feature film, set in Belgrade, 2074, whose plot concerns a student implanting a memory chip in her head after failing one exam too many, with very unexpected consequences.
Canada delivers the goods in spades with a wealth of standouts: Jon Knautz's THE SHRINE (World premiere) is an eerie supernatural thriller set in a forgotten Polish town – a major change of pace from the man behind the international cult sensation JACK BROOKS MONSTER SLAYER, who this time is playing his scares dead serious. A hit at Sundance and an audience prize winner at SXSW, Eli Craig's outrageous TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL (Official Closing Film - Canadian premiere) is one of the best comedy/horrors in years, about a loveable pair of hillbillies accidentally mistaken for DELIVERANCE style killers by camping college kids. Chad Archibald's NEVERLOST (World premiere) is an inspired thriller taking place largely inside an addict's mind as he escapes from a toxic real-world to solve the crime that murdered his past. Chris Pickle's disturbing SAVING GRACE (World premiere) sees a young mother kidnapped from her hospital bed and waking up in the hands of her captor, who insists to her that a nuclear disaster has rendered the outside world deadly. Frédérick Maheux's startling THEORIE DE LA RELIGION (World premiere) is an experimental nightmare, a film of transgressive beauty that no synopsis could properly summarize. Jephté Bastien's SORTIE 67 (special work-in-progress screening) is Quebec's first-ever production to deal explicitly with local street gangs, and the results are equally smart and explosive. Steve Villeneuve's UNDER THE SCARES (Canadian premiere) offers us a ground zero primer on the production and distribution of an independent horror film, with tips from the likes of Lloyd Kaufman, HG Lewis, Tony Timpone, Rodrigo Gudino, Maurice Devereaux and Debbie Rochon. Phillip Carrer's IF A TREE FALLS (World premiere) takes '70s exploitation film aesthetics to glorious heights/depths in a modern-yet-retro reinvention of yesterday's stalked-in-the-woods horror epics, with a freakish twist. Patrick Downing's charming I HEART DOOMSDAY (Montreal premiere) is a romantic sci-fi comedy about love, loss and...robots. Blaine Thurier's comedic slacker crime flick A GUN TO THE HEAD (Montreal premiere) finally makes it to Montreal after tearing up Tiff and the Calgary Underground, Whistler and Atlantic film festivals. FRANKENSTEIN UNLIMITED is an inventive indie anthology film presenting six eccentric tales inspired by Mary Shelley's creation, coming from the minds of Matthew Saliba, King-Wei Chu, Matthew Forbes, Maude Michaud, Peter James and Martin Gauthier. Corey Adams & Alex Craig's oddball skater comedy MACHOTAILDROP (Montreal premiere) kind of needs to be seen to be believed, and if you can believe it, you can be it. Rob Stefaniuk's SUCK (Montreal premiere) is a slamming comedy/horror/musical about a rock band turning into vampires on tour, starring Stefaniuk and Jessica Paré, featuring appearances by Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, Moby and Henry Rollins. Dominique Adams's TWISTED SEDUCTION (world premiere) is, as the title implies, a twisted romance with black humour where a would-be seducer traps a woman in an apartment, hoping to keep her captive until she falls in love with him.
On the retro side of the lineup, Fantasia will be doing big screen resurrections of numerous landmarks of the genre – Fritz Lang's METROPOLIS (newly restored with 25 minutes of previously lost footage, to be screened with live orchestral accompaniment performing a new score by Gabriel Thibaudeau – the first time it will ever be heard), Ken Russell's THE DEVILS, Jean Cocteau's LE SANG D'UN POETE (with live musical accompaniment by Siouxsie and the Banshees co-founder Steven Severin!), Stuart Gordon's RE-ANIMATOR, HG Lewis's BLOOD FEAST, Camil Adam's MANETTE: LA FOLLE ET LES DIEUX DE CARTON, Don Bluth & Gary Goldman's THE LAND BEFORE TIME and Jean-Claude Lord's PARLEZ NOUS D'AMOUR. We'll also be bringing in a string of retro Serbian genre films long overdue for discovery by a Western audience – Goran Markovic's smallpox quarantine nightmare VARIOLA VERA, Dejan Zecevic's revisionist slasher T.T. SYNDROME and Djordje Kadijevic's daring and Bava-esque adaptation of Gogol's "Viy", A HOLY PLACE.
From Asia with Love – Overview of the Asian Programming of Fantasia 2010
Montreal, June 29, 2010 – For its fourteenth edition, the Fantasia Film Festival is proud to present over 50 titles from Asia. Once again, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong and the People's Republic of China are widely represented, demonstrating the great quality and diversity of their industries. And, as always, the programming team is also dedicated to exposing several hidden gems hailing from emerging national cinemas. Through these, audiences can discover new visions and new sensibilities. Therefore, the public will be privy to works hailing from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and – a first for the festival – Indonesia. The filmic multicultural feast prepared by the 2010 Fantasia Film Festival promises to satisfy film lovers of all kinds.
The Asian film selection brought forth by Fantasia 2010 will allow spectators to experience a variety of Asian cultures, all while enjoying a wide range of cinematic genres that will inspire every possible emotion. From musicals to thrillers to war films and horror flicks, Asian filmmakers often use genre cinema as means of painting a portrait of their nation, highlighting certain social preoccupations, or examining historical events that have impacted that corner of the globe. This reality is strongly represented in the Asian film selection at this year's Fantasia Film Festival.
In order to paint an accurate picture of the national cinemas presented in our program, attention will also be given to certain key works that have helped shape the contemporary cinematic landscape of these countries. Therefore, Fantasia will offer an excellent selection of classic films, so that audiences may discover the inspiration behind the artists that shake up the screen year after year.
When in Japan, Anything Can Happen
The annual selection of Japanese films at Fantasia 2010 is a testimonial to the vitality of a film industry that is still amongst the finest nations of the seventh art, due in no small part to its boundless imagination, an incomparable narrative and visual originality, as well as the flawless capacity to produce first-class work, all of this regardless of the budget allotted to the director. Japanese animation is making a strong Fantasia comeback this year with eight feature films. For the entire family, OBLIVION ISLAND: HARUKA AND THE MAGIC MIRROR (Canadian premiere), a digital animation film offering a visually sumptuous fairylike universe that will be preceded by JE T'AIME (North American premiere), a short by the master Mamoru Oshii (GHOST IN THE SHELL), and MAI MAI MIRACLE (Canadian premiere), a poetic piece worthy of Hayao Miyazaki (SPIRITED AWAY), will create magical moments for children big and small. We are also screening one of last year's landmark animations, Mamoru Hosoda's (THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME) magnificent SUMMER WARS. Film adaptations of mangas and animated series are also on the program with screenings of GINTAMA: THE MOVIE (International premiere), SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: RESURRECTION (International premiere) and EVANGELION 2.0: YOU CAN (NOT) ADVANCE. KING OF THORN (Canadian premiere), a fantastic fable set in a post-apocalyptic universe, and FIRST SQUAD: THE MOMENT OF TRUTH, a studio 4'C picture with an arcane twist set during WW II, close things off.
If the transposition of manga's creativity to the big screen can be represented this year by works such as BOYS ON THE RUN (Canadian premiere), HIGANJIMA (Canadian premiere) and Takashi Miike`s CROWS ZERO 2 (Canadian premiere), the adaptation of novels are equally prominent in Japan, a tendency noticeable through pictures like FISH STORY, and GOLDEN SLUMBER (Canadian premiere), presented at Berlin, both taken from the writings of Kotaro Isaka (ACCURACY OF DEATH) and directed by eclectic, pop-culture obsessed filmmaker Yoshihiro Nakamura. For the first time, Fantasia is honoured to present a feature film by the great Hirokazu Kore-eda (NOBODY KNOWS) who pays a visit to the fantastic with the sumptuous AIR DOLL, selected at Cannes 2009 for 'Un certain regard'. In the same poetic vein, two films starring a strong female protagonist come from Japan: RINCO'S RESTAURANT (North American premiere hosted by director Mai Tominaga who directed WOOL 100%) and SAWAKO DECIDES (Canadian premiere), two pictures which feature Hikari Mitsushima, last year's best actress winner at Fantasia for LOVE EXPOSURE. The unique sense of humour of Japanese comic actor Hitoshi Matsumoto (BIG MAN JAPAN) is deployed in all its splendour with SYMBOL, a symbolically rich comedy that uniquely illustrates how our smallest gestures can lead to the biggest of consequences. Deranged horror comedies are also on the program with MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD (Canadian premiere with co-director Yoshihiro Nishimura and producer Yoshinori Chiba attending) and ALIEN VS NINJA (Canadian premiere with producer Yoshinori Chiba attending). Finally, the punk-rock-ish comedy BRASS KNUCKLE BOYS and the comedy RAISE THE CASTLE (Canadian premiere), as well as the classics KURONEKO (presented in collaboration with Panorama-cinéma) and BATTLE FROM OUTER SPACE (presented by author Ed Godziszewski) conclude the Japanese line-up for Fantasia 2010.
Perpetual Rebirth of Korean New Wave
This year, Cine-Asie and Fantasia are collaborating to highlight programming emanating from the Republic of Korea. This spotlight presents an extremely diverse selection that is rich in emotions. A LITTLE POND (Canadian premiere), a poignant, poetic and intensively documented drama that explores the massacre at Nogunri, will be shown in honour of the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. The festival celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Korean classic THE HOUSEMAID (1960), the remake of which was in competition at Cannes this year. Directed by Kim Ki-young (who is recognized as one of South Korea's greatest filmmakers) this film's realistic approach and mise-en-scene revolutionized the peninsula's cinema. Martin Scorsese once wrote "that this intensely, even passionately claustrophobic film is known only to the most devoted film lovers in the west is one of the great accidents of film history..." And former Cahier du Cinema film critic Jean Michel Frodon refers to the director, Kim, as "a brother of Luis Bunuel in Korea!"
There are several epic films on the schedule. BLADES OF BLOOD (Canadian premiere), based on a famous Korean comic, follows the destinies of four characters as they navigate the clatter of blades in revolutionary times. A FROZEN FLOWER (Canadian premiere) examines a love triangle between the queen, the king and one of his guards in a picture that is both sumptuous and intense. In a more playful spirit, WOOCHI (Canadian premiere) transports the folkloric hero Jeon Woo-chi to contemporary Seoul, where he'll need all of his magical powers to fight the forces of evil. Culinary-driven dramatic comedies will also be in order, represented by the appetizing THE NAKED KITCHEN (North American premiere), an epicurean romantic comedy by a female director Hong Ji-Young, and starring Shin Min-ah and Joo Ji Hoon; Korea's top stars at the moment. LE GRAND CHEF 2: KIMCHI BATTLE (Canadian premiere), tells the story of a chefs tournament that is designed to protect the heritage of Korea's national dish. This year also marks the strong return of South Korean horror cinema with POSSESSED (Canadian premiere), a cerebral fright flick that deals with religious fervour, and THE NEIGHBOR ZOMBIE (North American premiere with co-director Jang Yoon-jung attending), an innovative collective that pits us right in the middle of a zombie invasion. THE EXECUTIONER (North American premiere) a staggering drama, will no doubt disrupt Fantasia audiences and spark animated discussions regarding the death penalty. The animated feature WHAT IS NOT ROMANCE? (International premiere) takes us through the memories of a typical Korean family, and proves that an animated film can illustrate the daily lives of endearing characters in an intelligent and realistic fashion. Korean comedies have always been well-received at Fantasia, and this year, we are showing three comedies that are sure to please the audience. Earning praise wherever it's screened, CASTAWAY ON THE MOON stars Jung Jae-young (GOING BY THE BOOK) as a man trapped on a desert island in the very heart of Seoul. SCANDAL MAKERS (Canadian premiere), is a cheerful comedy that found tremendous domestic success, and that may potentially be in line for a Hollywood remake. Co-produced with China, SOPHIE'S REVENGE (Canadian premiere) recalls LE FABULEUX DESTIN D'AMELIE POULAIN and stars renowned Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi (2046) and Korean actor So Ji-sub (ROUGH CUT). Finally, director Jang Hun (ROUGH CUT) returns with SECRET REUNION (Canadian premiere), an energetic mixture of suspense, comedy and action in which the excellent Song Kang-ho (THIRST) and the rising star Gang Dong-won (WOOCHI) respectively portray a South Korean agent and a North Korean spy who treat themselves to a surprising and captivating joust involving a brutal communist assassin.
Legendary Lethal Weapons of China
The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (Canada) is once again sponsoring the Hong Kong cinema programming this year, a listing that promises to be extraordinarily sweeping and spectacular. Following IP MAN's success last year, we can expect a full house for every screening filled with festival-goers enthusiastic for IP MAN 2 (Canadian premiere). Donnie Yen reprises his role as Bruce Lee's celebrated master who this time must deal with martial arts cinema legend Sammo Hung (PROJECT A). Yen is also part of the prestigious cast for BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS (Canadian premiere), an epic historical fresco filled with fantastic battles set in the middle of the Chinese revolution. Another Kung Fu legend proves his worth in LITTLE BIG SOLDIER (Canadian premiere). Jackie Chan, Hong Kong cinema's ambassador par-excellence in the West, delivers a nuanced performance in light of his persona recently displayed in KARATE KID. Bruce Leung (KUNG FU HUSTLE) and Chen Kuan Tai will delight fans of traditional Kung Fu with the hilarious martial arts comedy GALLANTS (Canadian premiere with actor Bruce Leung and co-director Clement Cheng attending), one of the wonderful surprises to emerge from Hong Kong this year.
Johnny To returns as a producer for the acclaimed thriller ACCIDENT where a hit-man and his team conjure up fake accidents to eliminate their victims. Long-time To collaborator, Wai Ka-Fai, offers WRITTEN BY, an elliptical fantasy drama in the vein of a Charlie Kaufman script, starring Lau Ching-Wan, who also plays in this year's suspenseful OVERHEARD, an engaging and original cat-and-mouse game in which a surveillance team gets tempted with fiscal fraud. Another festival favourite, Pang-Ho Cheung, returns with two pictures that demonstrate once again his capacity to take ordinary premises and transform them into something extraordinary, all of it sprinkled with shady social satire. LOVE IN A PUFF (International premiere) is a comedy in which smoking prohibition leads to laughs, swearing and close camaraderie, whereas the horrific comedy DREAM HOME (Canadian premiere) deals with a woman willing to kill to acquire her dream dwelling. Finally, from Mainland China, THE MESSAGE (Canadian premiere) crosses genres by offering an intense espionage suspense thriller set during World War II.
Rise of Southeast Asian Cinéma
Three films represent Thailand this year. First off, RAGING PHOENIX (Canadian premiere) is a martial arts film that mixes muay thai, drunken boxing and breakdance and in which Jeeja Yanin (CHOCOLATE) solidifies her place amongst the rising stars of the international action scene. Then comes PHOBIA 2 (North American premiere) which, following 4BIA's presentation at Fantasia 2008, offers a horror collective conceived by the top Thai craftsmen, including the creators of SHUTTER Banjong Pisanthankun and Parpoom Wongpoom. Finally, presented in collaboration with the Cinemathèque francaise, LES HOMMES D'UNE AUTRE PLANETE, the "classic" kaiju film with a singular history, not to mention surrealist slant, will create waves of laughter with its approximate French translation and ugly monsters. The team behind THE REBEL, screened at Fantasia 2008, returns with THE CLASH (Canadian premiere), an explosive Vietnamese martial arts picture in which Johnny Nguyen (THE PROTECTOR with Tony Jaa) and Veronica Ngo give us more than an eyeful. This year, Fantasia presents its first Indonesian film, MERENTAU (Canadian premiere), a halting full-length feature displaying the ancient art of silat harimau, an impressive technique of Indonesian combat. Finally, a musical from Malaysia, SELL OUT!, will offer Fantasia audiences surrealist musical numbers worthy of Monty Python. Yeo Joon Han's first feature is assuredly one of the most lucid and corrosive critiques of reality television and the corporate mentality.
The 14th annual Fantasia Film Festival will take place in Montreal July 8–July 27, 2010. For more including ticket information visit FantasiaFestival.com.