The Fantasia International Film Festival has announced the first wave of programming for its upcoming 25th edition, set again to take place as a virtual event accessible to audiences across Canada. The festival will run from August 5 – 25, 2021 and will include scheduled screenings and premieres, panels, and workshops, with films once again hosted on the platform created by Festival Scope and Shift72. As the summer approaches, Fantasia organizers will be following advice from local health authorities in Montreal with respect to the possibility of adding a limited range of physical events as well.
RICHARD BATES JR. INVITES YOU ON A GONZO SPIRITUAL QUEST
Richard Bates Jr. has been a longstanding member of the Fantasia Family with fest favourites EXCISION, TRASH FIRE, TONE-DEAF, and SUBURBAN GOTHIC. We’re thrilled to announce his return with the outlandish KING KNIGHT, an outsider’s outsider comedy starring Matthew Gray Gubler and Angela Sarafyan as Thorn and Willow, husband-and-wife high priest and priestess of a coven of witches in a small California community. When Willow unearths a secret from Thorn’s past, their lives are thrown into turmoil in this kooky, clever treat, decked with a wild cast that includes Nelson Franklin, Johnny Pemberton, Barbara Crampton, Ray Wise, Andy Milonakis, and the voices of Aubrey Plaza and AnnaLynne McCord. WORLD PREMIERE.
STEADY YOUR GAZE FOR THE LAST THING MARY SAW
Brace yourself for THE LAST THING MARY SAW, a breathtaking period occult drama set in an isolated farmhouse in the winter of 1843, where a young woman is under investigation following the mysterious death of her family’s matriarch. It soon becomes apparent that ageless forces are at play, from within and without. An eerie and hypnotic nightmare vision from debuting writer/director Edoardo Vitaletti, starring Stefanie Scott (INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3), Isabelle Fuhrman (ORPHAN), Judith Roberts (YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE), and Rory Culkin (LORDS OF CHAOS). WORLD PREMIERE.
A NEW CANADIAN HORROR CLASSIC IS BORN – THE RIGHTEOUS
Actor turned director Mark O’Brien (READY OR NOT, ARRIVAL) makes his feature debut with the slow-burn, character-driven occult chiller THE RIGHTEOUS, one of the year’s most thrilling genre discoveries that takes full advantage of Newfoundland’s maritime otherworldliness while blending timeless themes with an inventive and exciting filmmaking approach. A former priest who left the church to start a family is gripped by tragedy after his child’s death, and the life of him and his wife are thrown into further chaos upon the arrival of a mysterious young stranger. The film is written and directed by O’Brien, who also co-stars in the film alongside his READY OR NOT castmate Henry Czerny and a terrific Mimi Kuzyk (LOST AND DELIRIOUS). WORLD PREMIERE.
HELLBENDER IS AN OCCULT INSPIRATION
An occult, coming-of-age film unlike any you’ve seen, HELLBENDER is the extraordinary new creation from the Adams Family (John Adams, Toby Poser, Zelda Adams), the gifted filmmaking family behind 2019’s indie sensation THE DEEPER YOU DIG. It further affirms their stature as singular poets of the genre, making soulful and wholly original works with a one-of-a-kind look and feel, this time in the dreamy story of a lonely teenage girl (Zelda Adams) who finds guidance in her family’s suppressed supernatural linearage. HELLBENDER imaginatively explores questions of identity, instinct, and power roles in youth and parenthood alike. An uncanny film that’s all at once haunting, heartfelt, freakish, and fun. WORLD PREMIERE.
Canadian genre experimentalist Seth A. Smith (LOWLIFE, THE CRESCENT) returns to the Festival with TIN CAN, a timely, yet thoroughly unpredictable science-fiction-cum-survival-thriller and a marvel of Sci-Fi design. In a world being ravaged by a mysterious fungal infection, Fret is the leading parasitologist studying to control it – until she’s kidnapped and wakes up in a human-sized tin can. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.
In AGNES, the latest from prolific filmmaker Mickey Reece (CLIMATE OF THE HUNTER), a dissident priest and a bright-eyed neophyte are sent to investigate rumors of demonic possession at a convent. Both will be met with temptation as the strange goings-on test their faith, as well as that of one specific nun in residence. This structurally daring film tests the narrow-minded restrictions of (self) narrative and memory, as well as those of institutional religion. Starring Hayley McFarland (THE CONJURING), Jake Horowitz (THE VAST OF NIGHT), and Ben Hall (MINARI), and featuring Sean Gunn, Rachel True, Chris Browning, and Molly C. Quinn. INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE.
Like so many actors, Takumi Saitoh (playing a version of himself) is out of work due to COVID-19. He sits at home, and wonders what to do. Until kaiju expert Shinji Higuchi (ATTACK ON TITAN, SHIN GODZILLA) smartly suggests he buy capsule monsters online to defeat the virus. As film productions shut down across Japan, maestro Shunji Iwai turned to Zoom, the online lingua franca of these pandemic times, for THE 12 DAY TALE OF THE MONSTER THAT DIED IN 8. An ambitious slice of lockdown-life where fact, fiction, and inner worlds blend together. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.
Midnight mischief is afoot in LITTLE VAMPIRE, the latest film adaptation from France’s Joann Sfar (THE RABBI’S CAT), who both created the original children’s comic and helm’s the magically monstrous and endearingly morbid feature about the unlikely friendship between a never-aging vampire and a human boy. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.
A TWISTING AND TRANSFIXING JOURNEY INTO ULTRASOUND
After his car breaks down, Glen (Vincent Kartheiser, MAD MEN) spends one hell of an odd night with a married couple, setting into motion a chain of events that alter their lives plus those of several random strangers. That’s the official synopsis of Rob Schroeder’s ingenious ULTRASOUND and it’s best we don’t say a word more without running the risk of ruining the film’s endlessly twisty surprises that easily make it one of the most engrossing and unexpected genre creations of the year. Co-starring Breeda Wool (MR. MERCEDES), Chelsea Lopez (ARE WE NOT CATS), Tunde Adebimpe (RACHEL GETTING MARRIED), Rainey Qualley (OCEAN’S 8), and Bob Stephenson (LADY BIRD). INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE.
BABY MONEY WILL MURDER YOU WITH TENSION
After a botched burglary, a pair of criminals take refuge in the house of a single mother as they wait on their getaway driver to hash an escape plan in Mikhael Bassilli and Luc Walpoth’s phenomenal BABY MONEY. Mounting suspense, textured characters, and jolting storytelling come together in this powerhouse, pulse-racing crime thriller. Led by a remarkable cast that includes Danay Garcia (FEAR THE WALKING DEAD), Taja V. Simpson (THE OVAL), Michael Drayer (MR. ROBOT), and Joey Kern (GOOD BEHAVIOR) alongside newcomer Vernon Taylor III, an exceptional special-needs talent. WORLD PREMIERE.
SOUTH AFRICAN GENRE CINEMA EXCELS IN INDEMNITY
The new wave of South African genre cinema continues to astonish in INDEMNITY, the feature directorial debut of Gambit Films’ Travis Taute, co-writer and executive producer of Nosipho Dumisa’s Fantasia-award-winner NUMBER 37(and director of the originating short) and a writer and director on the hit Netflix series BLOOD & WATER. A subversive, high-tension action thriller that follows a fireman (Jarrid Geduld) with an anguished past who finds himself on the run for a crime he has no memory of, the knockout feature speaks to the horrors of the international arms trade and the use of trauma itself as a weapon. Co-starring Gail Mabalane (BLOOD & WATER), Andre Jacobs (BLACK VENUS), Nicole Fortuin (FLATLAND), and Tshamano Sebe (8, a Fantasia 2019 breakout premiere). WORLD PREMIERE.
Following the earlier news of the festival’s opening film, the world premiere of Julien Knafo’s Quebec-set zomcom BRAIN FREEZE starring Roy Dupuis and Iani Bédard, details on the first wave of feature films are revealed today, with the full lineup to be announced in late July. Additional titles have been announced today at the following address: https://fantasiafestival.com/
The 25th edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival will be presented by Videotron in collaboration with Desjardins,and will be made possible thanks to the financial assistance of the Government of Quebec, SODEC, Telefilm Canada, the City of Montreal, the Conseil des arts of Montreal and Tourism Montréal.
Fantasia’s full programming lineup will be announced in several waves across the coming months.
For more information, visit us on the web at www.fantasiafestival.com