The Fantasia International Film Festival celebrates its 21st Anniversary in Montreal this summer, taking place from July 13-August 2, 2017, with its Frontières International Co-Production Market and Industry Rendez-Vous Weekend being held July 20-23. The full lineup of over 130 feature films will be announced July 5. In the meantime, the festival is excited to reveal a selected First Wave of titles, along with several special happenings.
In celebration of Montreal’s 375th anniversary, veteran Fantasia artist Donald Caron has created a poster the festival describes as “a visual love letter to our city with a piece that truly speaks for itself.”
Fantasia 2017 will start with a thunderous smash! After leaving the Cannes audience absolutely mesmerized with its groundbreaking and spectacular fight scenes and Kim Ok-vin’s ferocious, yet poignant interpretation, Jung Byung-gil’s action thriller THE VILLAINESS (North American Premiere) will be the Opening Film of this year’s edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival.
Following this astonishing jolt of raw adrenaline, who else than the Grand Maestro of international genre cinema could keep the pace? Fantasia favorite Takashi Miike, who received a well deserved Lifetime Achievement Award last year, will once again please his hordes of Montreal fans with the exuberant JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE: DIAMOND IS UNBREAKABLE (North American Premiere), masterfully adapted from Hirohiko Kitakubo’s cult manga and featuring a stellar cast led by Kento Yamazaki.
This Summer, Fantasia will be saluting the groundbreaking work of independent American filmmaker Larry Cohen. Widely recognized as one of the godfathers of progressive, socially conscious genre cinema with such individualistic landmarks as the IT’S ALIVE films, BLACK CASEAR, Q, and THE STUFF, in addition to his distinctive screenwriting work for a plethora of other filmmakers, Cohen’s output has always been smart, character-driven, and boldly confrontational.
Larry Cohen will be awarded before the World Premiere of Steve Mitchell’s KING COHEN, a phenomenal documentary about the filmmaker’s extraordinary history and work, that features appearances by Martin Scorsese, John Landis, Yaphet Kotto, J.J. Abrams, Fred Williamson, Rick Baker, Joe Dante, and Eric Bogosian, among many others.
Following our past live performance events of METROPOLIS and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, Gabriel Thibaudeau and Fantasia are re-teaming for a presentation of a unique cinematographic concert of Paul Leni’s 1928 classic THE MAN WHO LAUGHS, rightfully recognized as an early masterpiece of horror cinema. Thibaudeau’s original score for the film, which has been performed worldwide over the past 20 years, from Paris to São Paulo, Tokyo to New York, will be interpreted live by a nine-piece orchestra under the direction of the composer, featuring the Quatuor Molinari. Do not miss this true homage to silent cinema’s golden age!
Georgian-born French filmmaker Géla Babluani created one of the most significant thrillers of the last 15 years with his enthralling debut, the classic 13 TZAMETI. Now, after a seven-year hiatus following that film’s 2010 US remake, he has returned with MONEY’S MONEY – a taut robbery thriller whose stellar cast includes Benoît Magimel, Olivier Rabourdin, Vincent Rottiers, and Féodor Atkine. Fantasia will proudly be showcasing the film’s World Premiere.
Fantasia’s Axis Section presents two new animated films by Japan’s Yuasa Masaaki, who will attend the festival in person. Masaaki’s 2004 opus MIND GAME, showcasing his free-spirited sensibility, remains an all-time animated highlight of the festival’s programming history. First up, a wild jumble of characters and events that come together on one strange night in Kyoto, in the madcap, musical romantic comedy NIGHT IS SHORT, WALK ON GIRL (International Premiere). And then there’s LU OVER THE WALL (North American Premiere) – boy meets mermaid in this manic anime mash-up of Gothic folklore, wild fantasy, and feelgood teenage J-pop jams!
Fantasia will be presenting a special screening of Luc Besson’s hotly anticipated fantasy spectacular VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS. Based on the adored French comic series by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières, the film stars Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, and Rihanna – and promises to be one of the most visually extravagant genre works the screen has ever seen.
The lives of an addict, a Luchador, a cartel organ smuggler, and an ex-con collide in this wildly original crime/drama/blacker-than-black comedy/thriller that’s as informed by Mexican subcultures as it is by American cinema. A ferocious feature debut by Ryan Prows, LOWLIFE is one of the most gobsmacking crime film discoveries that we’ve come across in years. Beg, cheat, or steal to be at our World Premiere and witness the birth of an unforgettable instant classic.
Director Cho Sun-ho amazes with his masterfully crafted first feature film A DAY (International Premiere), which tells the story of a famous doctor stuck in a time loop where he must try to save his daughter from a fatal car accident over and over again. Going far beyond the GROUNDHOG DAY concept in terms of emotional implication and unpredictable twists, this riveting thriller will keep you on the very edge of your seat! Cho Sun-ho is definitely a name to remember!
Fantasia is proud to be presenting the World Premiere of FRIENDLY BEAST, a bold and brilliant feature debut from Brazilian writer/director Gabriela Amaral Almeida. Easily one of the most provocative works you’ll encounter this year, the film concerns a restaurant owner going over the edge when an armed robbery is attempted at his establishment. He holds everyone captive at gunpoint – criminals and customers alike – and situations corrode into a nightmare state, guided by manipulation and raw compulsion.
Ted Geoghegan’s sophomore feature, following 2015’s acclaimed WE ARE STILL HERE, confronts audiences with a very different kind of horror: our collective history. Set in 1814, MOHAWK tells the white-knuckle tale of two young Mohawk warriors and their British lover pursued by murderous American military renegades Hell-bent on blind revenge, and features a striking ensemble cast that includes Kaniehtiio Horn, Eamon Farren, Ezra Buzzington, Jonathan Huber (WWE Superstar Luke Harper), and Noah Segan. History often hurts, but sometimes it hits hard enough to kill.
The CAMERA LUCIDA Section is back at Fantasia for its eighth consecutive year! Opening with the Québec Premiere of David Lowery’s A GHOST STORY, a metaphysical exploration of love, longing, destiny and mortality that reunites the PETE’S DRAGON’s director with actors Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck, the section will once again showcase some of world cinema’s boldest and most innovative voices, at the very edge of genre cinema.
World premiering at Fantasia, Giordano Giulivi’s THE LAPLACE’S DEMON unfolds like an all-time great TWILIGHT ZONE episode directed by the three-headed offspring of Guy Maddin, Mario Bava, and Val Lewton! It will send you right over the edge with its unique mix of faux-vintage aesthetics, probabilistic science-fiction, and Gothic style. A total discovery, it beautifully balances pastiche, homage, and invention!
Also in the section, Yuya Ishii’s THE TOKYO NIGHT SKY IS ALWAYS THE DENSEST SHADE OF BLUE (Canadian Premiere) is an offbeat rom-com, a slacker dramedy, and a poetic ode to the Big City, all rolled into one virtuosic film from the director of THE GREAT PASSAGE, and based on the poetry of Tahi Saihate.
Geng Jun’s FREE AND EASY (also a Canadian Premiere) sees a soap salesman, a monk, and some lazy cops collide in a factory town in the Northeast of China. Putting the “dead” firmly back in deadpan, Geng’s comedy unfolds as an absurdist caper of Beckettian proportions, making for a great portrait of small-town crime in the wake of China’s rapid industrialization. The rest of this year’s Camera Lucida lineup will be revealed on July 5.
Years ago, Thailand gave the world ONG BAK. Then Indonesia surprised us with THE RAID. This year, it’s Cambodia’s turn to redefine the limits of action cinema with spectacular stunts and breathtaking fights at an unrelenting, frenetic pace. Explosively directed by Jimmy Henderson, JAILBREAK highlights the beauty and the know-how of a national cinema worth discovering. Don’t miss this!
YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE, the hilarious feature debut of Spanish stunt coordinator Federico Cueva, who has worked extensively on the films of Alex de la Iglesia and Santiago Segura, is an explosive action/comedy that sees a framed con man (Peter Lanzani) having to impersonate an orthodox Jew in order to escape ruthless killers – played by Segura, Gerard Depardieu, and Hugo Silva! Fantasia offers you the chance to be the first to see this incredible actioner outside its home country!
Fantasia favorite Yuichi Fukuda (HK: FORBIDDEN SUPERHERO) is back, with his biggest film yet: GINTAMA, based on Hideaki Sorachi’s long-running, best-selling shonen manga series – adapted to the big screen in all its comedic, swashbuckling, fourth-wall-breaking glory! Fukuda runs completely wild with the manga’s many sight gags and extravagant costumes, in what proves to be at once a must for diehard fans and a treat for manga enthusiasts in general; a crash-course in live-action done right!
From the Oscar-winning director of THE COUNTERFEITERS and the ANATOMIE films comes the crushingly intense COLD HELL – a film that crackles with elements of Giallo, horror, thriller, and full-throttle action cinema, anchored with powerful doses of socio-political confrontation. A tough-as-nails Turkish taxi driver (Violetta Schurawlow) in Vienna witnesses a murder and finds herself stalked by a fundamentalist serial killer inspired by Islam. After a lifetime of being under siege, she’s not about to run from anyone. What follows is anything but the usual cat and mouse formula, as ideology and hate clash up against ferocious, end-of-the-rope anger.
Danish madmen Casper Christensen and Frank Hvam became a comedy team for the ages in the unforgettable KLOWN series – the first film having won a Cheval Noir at Fantasia, where it had its North American Premiere. Now, they’re together again, as co-writers and stars, in Jesper Rofelt’s DAN DREAM, an ‘80s-set comedy about a group of eccentric men striving to make an electric car. Fantasia’s audience will be the very first to see the film outside of Denmark. Get excited!
If Nicolas Machiavelli would’ve written a comic book with an edgy sense of humor, it would look like Usamaru Furuya’s manga Teiichi no Kuni. Akira Nagai, director of the Fantasia 2016 success IF CATS DISAPPEARED FROM THE WORLD, adapts this witty mix of political satire and coming of age story without falling one second into outrageous cynicism. With a dynamic performance from actor Masaki Suda who bring just enough humanity to his aspiring politician character, TEIICHI: BATTLE OF THE SUPREME HIGH (North American Premiere) is the perfect film to maintain a bit of sanity in today’s political context.
After celebrating its World Premiere at Sundance and its European launch at Cannes (Critic’s Week), Dave McCary’s extraordinary BRIGSBY BEAR will have its Canadian bow at Fantasia. Brigsby Bear Adventures is a children’s TV show produced for an audience of one: James (Kyle Mooney). When the show abruptly ends, James’s life changes forever, and he sets out to finish the story himself. Co-starring Mark Hamill, Claire Danes, and Greg Kinnear, BRIGSBY BEAR is an inventive and touching outsider comedy about the power of storytelling that easily ranks among the most charming films you’ll encounter this year.
Liu Jian’s award-winning 2010 debut, PIERCING 1, marked him as China’s first world-class independent animator, and established an austere, understated visual style and caustic social commentary that has carried through to his latest. Making its Canadian Premiere at Fantasia 2017, Liu’s bold second feature, the Berlinale breakout HAVE A NICE DAY is a bitter, bitingly funny slice of low-key neo-noir, in which a memorable bunch of nobodies chase a bag of cash and strike hopeless bargains with fate.
ADDITIONAL FIRST WAVE TITLES INCLUDE:
USA – Dir: Trent Haaga
Matthew Gray Gubler and AnnaLynne McCord incinerate the screen in this crazy scumbag thrill-ride of white-trash crime and kink that manages to subversively play with gender and be a toxic anti-romantic bloodbath of a comedy in the same breathless blow. Winner: Audience Award (Midnighters), SXSW 2017. Canadian Premiere.
Thailand – Dir: Nattawut Poonpiriya
When Lynn (Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying) discovers that her academic skills can bring her thousands of baht if she helps her wealthy friends cheat at exams, she elaborates a complex scheme. What if OCEAN’S ELEVEN would somehow meet THE BREAKFAST CLUB? Well, it happened! A breathtaking coming-of-age thriller that is way smarter than anything you can expect! Official Selection: New York Asian Film Festival. Canadian Premiere.
Hong Kong – Dir: Tony Liu
Who will truly master the silkworm technique and bring balance to the martial world? The last surviving 35mm copy of the Shaw Brothers gem will blast you with its avalanche of unfettered lunacy. First Canadian screening in 30 years!
USA – Dir: Marianna Palka
The provocative tale of a woman (Palka) who snaps under crushing life pressures and assumes the psyche of a vicious dog. A sharp, feminist satire that’s alternately uncomfortably funny and confrontational with a warrior soul, BITCH is a stunning achievement in every sense. Official Selection: Sundance 2017, Chicago Critics Film Festival 2017. Canadian Premiere.
DEAD MAN TELLS HIS OWN TALE
Argentina – Dir: Fabián Forte
Misogynist alpha male Angel has it all – money, power, family, sex. His only problem is, he’s dead. Gender politics are unpacked in Fabián Forte’s subversive black comedy dosed with unexpected terror. Official Selection: Morbido 2016, Fantasporto 2017. Canadian Premiere.
Canada – Dir: Peter Ricq
A rural Canadian mix of DEAD ALIVE, SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, and ’80s kids’ movies! Director Peter Ricq (creator of the animated series FREAKTOWN) keeps things fast, light, and full of fight. Official Selection: Neuchetal Fantastic Film Festival 2017, Lund 2017. North American Premiere.
USA – Dir: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead
Two brothers return to the cult they fled from years ago to discover that the group’s beliefs may be more sane than they once thought. SPRING and RESOLUTION announced Benson and Moorehead as unconventional genre forces to be reckoned with. THE ENDLESS – in which the gifted filmmaking duo also star – confirms their brilliance beyond any question. Official Selection: Tribeca 2017. Canadian Premiere.
GAME OF DEATH
Canada – Dir: Sebastien Landry and Laurence Baz Morias
A hard-partying pack of teens are forced into a desperate game of kill-or-be-killed after playing the wrong retro game in this high-energy, blood-spattered brainchild of Montreal filmmakers Sebastien Landry and Laurence Baz Morais. Official Selection: SXSW 2017, Jeonju International Film Festival 2017. Canadian Premiere.
Australia – Dir: Damien Power
A young couple (Harriet Dyer; Ian Medows) on a romantic getaway in the Australian wilderness encounter a dangerous pair of locals (Aaron Pedersen; Aaron Glenane) and a make deadly discovery in this inventively intense thriller that brings audiences back to the glory days of Aussie genre cinema and sun-drenched outback horror. Official Selection: Sundance Film Festival. Canadian Premiere.
KODOKU MEATBALL MACHINE
Japan – Dir: Yoshihiro Nishimura
People are turning into bizarre organic/mechanical creatures who terrorize the last survivors of a decimated, dome-covered Tokyo. Yoshihiro Nishimura (TOKYO GORE POLICE), Japan’s master of extreme make-up effects, is back with more of his gory creativity and his formidable capacity to create hellish – but funny – monsters. Official Selection: SXSW 2017, Night Visions 2017, The Overlook Film Festival 2017. Canadian Premiere.
USA – Dir: Joe Lynch
Amid a frightening viral outbreak that leaves the infected temporarily unable to control their impulses – and subsequently not criminally responsible for their behaviour – a lawyer (THE WALKING DEAD’s Steven Yeun) and shafted homeowner (Samara Weaving) fight to confront the top executives who wronged them. A cheerfully ferocious middle finger salute to cutthroat corporate culture. Official Selection: SXSW 2017. Canadian Premiere.
USA – Dir: Natalia Leite
After being sexually assaulted by a fellow classmate, an art student (Francesca Eastwood) becomes an avenging vigilante, refusing the vulnerability of victimization and exacting cold-blooded – and bloody – revenge. Official Selection SXSW 2017, Galway Film Fleadh 2017. Canadian Premiere.
MON MON MON MONSTERS
Taiwan – Dir: Giddens Ko
In a shabby Taipei neighborhood plagued by nocturnal killings, four teenage boys find trouble… and trouble finds them. A twisted coming-of-age film from the writer of MACHI ACTION and an impressive blend of genres, bouncing from comedy to horror in matters of seconds without ever making a mess. Official selection: Hong Kong International Film Festival 2017, Udine Far East Film Festival 2017, New York Asian Film Festival 2017. Canadian Premiere.
Japan – Dir: Keishi Ohtomo
Fantasia favorite Keishi Ohtomo (the RUROUNI KENSHIN trilogy) is back with MUSEUM, based on Ryosuke Tomoe’s 2013 manga of the same name. It’s overworked cop vs. sadistic, frog-headed killer in this gruesome and deranged, horror-tinged thriller in the tradition of David Fincher’s SE7EN! Official Selection: Sitges 2016, Busan 2016. Canadian Premiere.
MY FRIEND DAHMER
USA – Dir: Marc Meyers
Ross Lynch stars in the haunting, sad, funny, and true story of Jeffrey Dahmer in high school, based on Derf Backderf’s critically acclaimed 2012 graphic novel of the same name and Meyers’s own 2014 Black List script. Also starring Anne Heche, Dallas Roberts, and Vincent Kartheiser. Official Selection: Tribeca 2017. Canadian Premiere.
Japan – Dir: Kenji Kamiyama
The divide between teenage Kokone’s fanciful reveries and the real world is crumbling in NAPPING PRINCESS, a sleek Japanese anime that blends steampunk fantasy and plugged-in techno-thrillers. From acclaimed director Kenji Kamiyama (GHOST IN THE SHELL: SAC, CYBORG 009, and EDEN OF THE EAST). Canadian Premiere.
NIGHT OF THE VIRGIN
Spain – Dir: Roberto San Sebastián
The first time is often clumsy and awkward, but for Nico the virgin, it’s the beginning of an endless nightmare. An unmissable comedy/horror rollercoaster of blood and lust that features some of the most grotesquely imaginative grossouts we’ve seen in years. Official Selection: Fantaspoa 2017, FrightFest 2017. Canadian Premiere.
New Zealand – Dir: Matt Murphy
A trio of young misfits in pursuit of lost love race the length of the country in a stolen Mini Cooper S. Avoiding the law and with nothing to lose, they become folk heroes and most wanted criminals as they find themselves caught in the crosshairs of a media frenzy and escalating police operation. North American Premiere.
Germany/Canada – Dir: Norbert Keil
Afflicted with a dermatological disease, young and beautiful Kira discovers she can replace her skin with that of other girls. REPLACE is a visually sumptuous and grotesque horror/science-fiction creation, co-scripted by Richard Stanley and co-starring genre legend Barbara Crampton. Canadian Premiere.
RON GOOSSENS, LOW-BUDGET STUNTMAN
Netherlands – Dir: Steffen Haars and Flip Van der Kuil
A failed stunt makes Ron Goossens an overnight national celebrity in Holland, in the incendiary new comedy from the team who gave you the insane NEW KIDS films! Official Selection: Fantaspoa 2017, Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival 2017. North American Premiere.
USA – Dir: Graham Skipper
A loner’s budding romance is menaced by a mysterious arcade game that’s a portal to the cosmos in this masterful melding of retro ’80s horror nostalgia and Lovecraftian doom. The directorial debut of actor Graham Skipper (THE MIND’S EYE), SEQUENCE BREAK won Best Feature Film at the 2017 Chattanooga Film Festival. International Premiere.
South Korea – Dir: Choi Kook-hee
A fallen bowling champion (OLDBOY’s Yoo Ji-tae) attempts to team up with an autistic prodigy (POETRY’s David Lee) to rack big money with underground bowling gambles. Built like a genuine sports drama, SPLIT has way more to offer than the traditional competition story… but it will still make you cheer for the protagonists until the end credits! Official Selection: New York Asian Film Festival 2017. Canadian Premiere.
SUPER DARK TIMES
USA – Dir: Kevin Phillips
An emotionally incinerating and strangely dream-like gaze into the shadowy crevices of teenage psychology, directed with vivid imagination, telling a powerful story about adolescence’s end and the darkening of innocence, friendship, loyalty… and murder. Official Selection: Rotterdam Film Festival 2017. Canadian Premiere.
France – Dir: Eric Valette
From the maker of MALEFIQUE and ONE MISSED CALL comes a compelling story about wine, drugs, neighbors, neophobia, and politics, in which a hitman seeks a place to hide. Starring Tomer Sisley (SLEEPLESS NIGHT). Official Selection: Rotterdam Film Festival 2017. North American Premiere.
UK/Canada/Japan – Dir: Kyoko Miyake
“Idols”, girl bands and their pop music, permeate every moment of Japanese life. TOKYO IDOLS peeks behind the curtains of this industry, explores a cultural phenomenon driven by an obsession with young female sexuality, and the growing disconnect between men and women in hyper-modern societies. Official Selection: Sundance 2017, Hot Docs 2017, DOXA 2017, Japan Cuts 2017. Québec Premiere.
TOM OF FINLAND
Finland – Dir: Dome Karukoski
Award-winning filmmaker Dome Karukoski (LAPLAND ODYSSEY) brings the life and work of one of the most influential and celebrated figures of twentieth century gay culture to the screen in this extraordinary story of revolution and acceptance through counter-cultural art. Official Selection: Goteborg Film Festival 2017, Edinburgh International Film Festival 2017, Tribeca 2017. Canadian Premiere.
VAMPIRE CLEANUP DEPARTMENT
Hong Kong – Dir: Yan Pak-Wing and Chiu Sin-Hang
A motley crew of misfits tackle the bloodthirsty hopping vampires descending on Hong Kong! Laughter, kung fu, horror, and insanity, with a gallery of HK icons! Official Selection: Udine Far East Film Festival 2017, Bucheon International Film Festival 2017. Canadian Premiere.
WHAT A WONDERFUL FAMILY! 2
Japan – Dir: Yoji Yamada
The Hirata family is back, and Grandpa is acting up again! This sequel reunites legendary director Yoji Yamada (of the TORA-SAN series) with the exceptional cast of the first film for another round of hilarious, multi-generational slapstick comedy! Official Selection: Beijing International Film Festival 2017, Shanghai International Film Festival 2017. Canadian Premiere.
China/Hong Kong – Dir: Derek Kwok
Award-winning director Derek Kwok (GALLANTS) reboots the famous Monkey King legend from the popular novel, with fresh vigour of epic proportions that you’ll love for 10,000 years. To be released during the same week in China and North America. Québec Premiere.