The Fantasia International Film Festival has been going strong for over a quarter century now and it is aging like a fine wine. That is, if the wine is decadently action-packed, all while being the most delicate mashup of Asian cinema, Canadian film celebration, and good old fashioned indulgent weirdness. The Montreal film fest is unparalleled in its sheer love of all genre cinema and its eagerness to share the goods with anyone willing to listen.
Highlights of the upcoming fest are a Canadian Trailblazer award for Larry Kent, a new film by the Adams Family (of The Deeper You Dig and Hellbender notoriety), Jenn Wexler (The Ranger), and a sequel to fest favorite The Roundup by Sang-yong Lee.
The fest will run in-person from July 20 through August 9, 2023 in beautiful Montreal.
Full release below:
BRIGHT SPOTLIGHTS ON SOUTH KOREAN CINEMA ILLUMINATE FANTASIA’s 27th EDITION
Since the selection of Kang Je-gyu’s GINGKO BED at Fantasia’s 1998 edition, the festival has become one of the premiere destinations for South Korean cinema. Over the years, Fantasia’s audience has had the opportunity to discover several essential Korean auteurs: Bong Joon-ho (BARKING DOGS NEVER BITE), Park Chan-wook (SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE), Kim Ji-woon (THE QUIET FAMILY), Hwang Dong-hyuk (MISS GRANNY), and Yeon Sang-ho (THE KING OF PIGS) among many others. These filmmakers are now mainstays of the international film scene, lighting up the big screen and streaming platforms alike.
Celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations between Canada and the Republic of Korea, the Fantasia International Film Festival –in collaboration with the Korean Cultural Center Canada and the Cinémathèque québécoise– is proud to showcase this unique national cinema. The festival will emphasize the vitality of current works and the versatility of South Korean creators, who work in a multitude of genres ranging from action to arthouse, breathtaking thrillers to outlandish musical comedies. The festival will also present a retrospective highlighting several significant works that led to the revival of Korean cinema in the 2000s, an effervescence that hasn’t stopped since.
Fantasia will host the North American premiere of NEW NORMAL by Jung Bum-shik (GONJIAM: HAUNTED ASYLUM), a cynical and timely one-man horror anthology. The festival will also host the Canadian premieres of An Tae-jin’s period acupuncturist thriller THE NIGHT OWL; the violent and boisterous THE ROUNDUP: NO WAY OUT by Lee Sang-yong, featuring Don Lee once again; the 4K restoration of Jeong Jae-un’s coming-of-age TAKE CARE OF MY CAT (2001) and a screening of the unmissable THE PRESIDENT’S LAST BANG (2005) by master Im Sang-soo. More titles will be announced soon.
In recognition of the spotlight, this year’s poster art was created by Montreal visual artist Donald Caron as an interpretation of the mythical nine-tailed fox, a fantastical creature that appears in the folktales of East Asia and legends of Korea.
FEAR RUNS LOVELY, DARK, AND DEEP
LOVELY, DARK AND DEEP is the hotly anticipated directorial debut of Teresa Sutherland, screenwriter of THE WIND and a writer on MIDNIGHT MASS. Laced with stunning visuals, this ominously beautiful, deeply frightening nightmare is anchored by a captivating lead performance from BARBARIAN’s Georgina Campbell. Campbell plays a park ranger in an isolated forest outpost, the site of multiple mysterious disappearances, and she is plagued by visions blending the past and present with something even more sinister. This transfixing film oozes an immersive, fever dream atmosphere. Also starring Nick Blood, Wai Ching Ho and Edgar Morais. World Premiere.
A SUPPRESSED AND SPECTACULAR REINVENTION OF VAMPIRE LORE: EMPIRE V
A disaffected student (Pavel Tabakov) follows an invitation to join “the elite” and finds himself forcibly transformed into a vampire, joining a supernatural ruling class who exercise an anonymous dictatorship over humans. Celebrated Russian-American director Victor Ginzburg (GENERATION P) demonstrates a striking visual imagination, perfectly complementing a story that reinvents nearly every aspect of vampire lore in clever and fantastical ways. This is the MATRIX of vampire cinema. Years in the making, EMPIRE V is both next-level blockbuster storytelling and megabudget anti-Oligarch satire, electrified with breathtaking visuals from the great Aleksei Rodionov (COME AND SEE). Co-starring Miron Fedorov, AKA rap star Oxxxymiron, whose anti-War benefit concerts led the Russian justice ministry to condemn him as a “foreign agent.” EMPIRE V itself has been banned by Russia’s Ministry of Culture, ensuring that the citizens of its home country may never see the film. World Premiere.
THE TOKYO REVENGERS SAGA REVEALS HIGHER STAKES AND LOADS OF EMOTIONS
Tekemichi gets another blast from the past when his beloved Mio perishes again before his eyes in a freak accident… Or was it? Tekemichi must go back in time to save her, and find out how his involvement with the Tokyo Maji Gang ruined his real life once more. Nothing can prepare you for the amount of action, suspense and emotion TOKYO REVENGERS 2 – PART 1 and TOKYO REVENGERS 2 – PART 2 bring to the big screen! Director Tsutomu Hanabusa surpasses himself with two riveting new chapters in this beloved saga, whose legions of fans break Japan’s box office at every occasion. Come see this acclaimed manga-turned-anime in its ultimate incarnation as a star studded live-action juggernaut. International Premiere.
A HEARTBREAKING, TIME-BENDING MASTERPIECE OF SPECULATIVE SCIENCE-FICTION: APORIA
Since losing her husband Mal (Edi Gathegi, FOR ALL MANKIND) in a drunk-driving incident, Sophie (Judy Greer, HALLOWEEN) has struggled to manage crippling grief, a full-time job, and the demands of parenting her devastated teenage daughter (Faithe Herman, THIS IS US). When her husband’s best friend (Payman Maadi, A SEPARATION), a former physicist, reveals he and Mal had been building a time-bending machine that could restore her former life, Sophie will be faced with an impossible choice.This riveting character-driven sci-fi work from award-winning writer/director Jared Moshe (THE BALLAD OF LEFTY BROWN), imaginatively grapples with the ripple effects of morally fraught choices made in the name of love and raises timely questions about ethics in technological innovation. World Premiere.
THE ADAMS FAMILY TAKE YOU WHERE THE DEVIL ROAMS
Darkest prayers will be answered, in sawdust and sacrilege, when Fantasia goes WHERE THE DEVIL ROAMS. This astonishing new feature from cult favourites The Adams Family (Toby Poster, John Adams, Zelda Adams), follows a family of travelling sideshow performers as they traverse Depression-era America on a bloody search for eternal life. As in THE DEEPER YOU DIG and HELLBENDER, both Fantasia World Premieres, the gifted filmmaking family’s latest creation continues their inspired explorations of familial power dynamics through the prism of horror. Haunting, poetic, sometimes funny, frequently freakish and told with conviction through a deeply personal lens. World Premiere.
© Thanaporn Arkmanon
XAVIER GENS BRINGS SHATTERING FISTFULS OF MAYHEM!
Xavier Gens (FRONTIER(S), GANGS OF LONDON) is back! Sam, (Nassim Lyes) a professional boxer recently released from prison, breaks probation, flees to a faraway island in Thailand, and starts a family there. But when he’s blackmailed by a fierce local Godfather (Olivier Gourmet) into becoming a drug smuggler, things go straight to hell.. and then some! A blood-soaked revenge roller coaster, MAYHEM! starts slow and seething before exploding off the screen with tendon-snapping tension and unbelievably ferocious fight choreography of the sort that’s seldom seen in modern film. Also starring Loryn Nounay, Vithaya Pansringarm, Mehdi Hadim and Kenneth Won. World Premiere.
LET IT ALL OUT WITH PEOPLE WHO TALK TO PLUSHIES ARE KIND.
When sophomore student Nanamori joins the Plushies Club, he is encouraged to share his feelings with stuffed animals. You could call it an introvert’s paradise, or better yet, a safe space. And while for some it’s a natural fit, for others it’s an insular distraction. Adapted from a novella by rising literary star Ao Omae and directed by up-and-comer Yurina Kaneko (Fantasia 2019 selection 21ST CENTURY GIRL), PEOPLE WHO TALK TO PLUSHIES ARE KIND enchants with a gently provocative exploration of sexuality, gender, kindness and tolerance in Japanese society. A thought-provoking update on the youth film, for when the world feels like entirely too much. North American Premiere. Camera Lucida section.
LYCANTHROPIAN CHILLS FROM FROM LARRY FESSENDEN: BLACKOUT
At last, acclaimed horror auteur Larry Fessenden has fulfilled his long-held desire to make a werewolf film, rounding out the triptych begun with his vampire drama HABIT (1997) and FRANKENSTEIN variation DEPRAVED (2019). Fessenden, as always, makes BLACKOUT a very human story as well as a gripping horror show while weaving in his traditional focus on socio-political themes, from his long-held ecological concerns to very modern issues of suspicion and paranoia. Starring Alex Hurt, Addison Timlin, Marshall Bell, James LeGros, Barbara Crampton and Joe Swanberg. World Premiere.
FROM SOUTH KOREA, COMES MOTHER LAND AN ARCTIC STOP-MOTION ADVENTURE
When the health of Krisha’s mother takes a turn for the worse, the village shaman offers her wisdom: follow the North Star to the Ancient Forest and find its guardian and master, the great red bear of legend. The first South Korean stop-motion feature film in almost half a century, director Park Jae-beom’s animated adventure MOTHER LAND is an exquisitely crafted snowbound fantasy with a potent emotional warmth at its core. It explores the lives and lore of the nomadic, indigenous reindeer herders of the sparse and unforgiving Siberian tundra. North American Premiere. Axis Section
FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS AND BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
A chef with gambling problems (Nick Stahl) flees to the Latin American villa of an old friend who appears to be living an extraordinary life. Envy soon turns to greed and then to something more unsettling for the chef when he assumes his friend’s life. A Hitchockian, edge-of-your-seat descent into moral compromise with generous servings of dark humour, shock and surprise, WHAT YOU WISH FOR is the gripping sophomore feature of writer/director Nicholas Tomnay (THE PERFECT HOST). Grounded by a career best performance from Stahl, the film co-stars Tamsin Topolski, Randy Vasquez and Penelope Mitchell. From the producers of THE FLORIDA PROJECT. World Premiere.
A GUT-WRENCHING REFLECTION ON MODERN SLAVERY TAKES PLACE IN RICHELIEU
When Stéphane (Marc-André Grondin, RAVENOUS, C.R.A.Z.Y.) hires Ariane (Ariane Castellanos) to act as an interpreter for his Guatemalan workers, he expects nothing more than a messenger. But after witnessing the horrifying abuse the men are subjected to, Ariane will be pushed to choose between their lives and her own. A stunning debut feature from Québécois director Pier-Philippe Chevigny, RICHELIEU delivers a raw and emotional portrait of a system in which we are all complicit unless we are willing to bear the cost of standing up for justice. Canadian Premiere.
SUPERNATURAL POWERS AND SCHOOL GIRLS WITH SECRETS KICK OFF THE 2023 SEPTENTRION SHADOWS SECTION LINEUP!
A NOSTALGIC, SUPERNATURAL ROAD TRIP LEADS TO DAUGHTER OF THE SUN
Take a supernatural journey with Sonny, a man with Tourette Syndrome, and his daughter Hildie as they forge their path across the country. They hide a powerful secret but join a community of friendly nomadic strangers whose kindness conceals a darker intention. The World Premiere of DAUGHTER OF THE SUN is Sonny’s next chapter and a continuation of director/actor Ryan Ward’s award-winning SON OF THE SUNSHINE. This deeply personal journey reflects aspects of Ward’s life with cosmic imagery, stunning cinematography shot in Ward’s home province of Manitoba, and stellar performances from teens Nyah Perkin and Lennox Leacock. World Premiere.
JENN WEXLER DARES YOU TO BLEED FOR THE SACRIFICE GAME!
Jenn Wexler’s THE RANGER, a high-octane punk rock banger, exploded onto the genre landscape in 2018, and now she’s back with her sophomore feature THE SACRIFICE GAME. Filled with gore and lore, indie filmmaker Wexler penned this gripping and stylish ‘70s-set chiller involving school girls, power-mad killers and occult prophecy with partner Sean Redlitz. Shot in Quebec, this breakneck horror film stars Mena Massoud (EVOLVING VEGAN and ALADDIN), Olivia Scott Welch (LUCKY HANK, FEAR STREET Trilogy), Gus Kenworthy (AMERICAN HORROR STORY), Georgia Acken, Madison Baines and features the return of THE RANGERS’ Chloë Levine. You won’t want to miss a second of THE SACRIFICE GAME! World Premiere co-presented with Les Fantastique Week-ends.