For many people the Summer season means different things. A time to get together with family. Time for adventures or escape. For others though, it’s the start of the big film festival push. While they’re things going on all year, mid to late Summer is when things really kick into gear. 2021 look a to be a banner year for those events, specially when it comes to this year’s Fantasia Film Festival. The vaunted festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary by pulling out all the stops and delivering an insane lineup. The last wave of which was released today.
Prepare to copy & paste a bunch of titles here, as this final released titles is absolutely stacked. Any even that manages to set a Takashi Miike film as the closing spot, is a festival worth your time!
TAKASHI MIIKE CLOSES OUT FANTASIA 2021 WITH THE GREAT YOKAI WAR – GUARDIANS
The honour of Closing Film belongs to the great Takashi Miike (AUDITION, 13 ASSASSINS), a constant yet always surprising presence in the festival’s long history. THE GREAT YOKAI WAR – GUARDIANS, a sequel to THE GREAT YOKAI WAR, which opened Fantasia in 2006, plunges the audience into the fairy-tale world of friendly Japanese demons that overflows with creativity. With its kaiju references, unifying story, festive atmosphere, love for popular culture, and spectacular direction from the festival’s favourite filmmaker, it’s the perfect movie to close out this 25th anniversary. INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE.
WHAT JOSIAH SAW WILL CHILL YOU TO YOUR VERY CORE
In director Vincent Grashaw’s Southern Gothic nightmare WHAT JOSIAH SAW, an estranged family grapples with the sins of the past… yanking the skeletons right out of their closet, kicking and screaming all the way! The superlative cast includes Robert Patrick, Nick Stahl, Kelli Garner, Tony Hale, Scott Haze and Jake Weber. It’s this year’s THE DARK AND THE WICKED. WORLD PREMIERE.
CRIME AND POLITICS COLLIDE IN SOUTH KOREAN NAILBITER THE DEVIL’S DEAL
In his first picture since the Cannes selection THE GANGSTER, THE COP, THE DEVIL, Lee Won-tae returns with the masterfully directed THE DEVIL’S DEAL. What starts as a critical political satire escalates into a white-hot thriller in which corruption, insider trading, and organized crime run the show. Leading a fabulous cast, actor Cho Jin-woong (ME AND ME) delivers one of the best performances of his career, portraying with disarming naturalism the multiple facets of an ambitious and tortured politician, as endearing as he is loathsome, whose life literally depends on his election. With its immersive score, captivating plot, and clever twists, THE DEVIL’S DEAL is a must-see. WORLD PREMIERE.
A FEROCIOUS BRITISH CRIME THRILLER THAT CHARGES LIKE A BULL
A feared gang enforcer (Neil Maskell, KILL LIST), vanished for ten years, returns to hunt the mobsters he once ran with in BULL, the ferocious British revenge thriller from BAFTA-winner Paul Andrew Williams (LONDON TO BRIGHTON). A brutal and subversive work that frequently plays out like a horror film, stunningly executed and grounded by well-scripted characters, with a cast that includes Tamzin Outhwaite (EASTENDERS) and David Hayman (TABOO, SID AND NANCY) in a frightening turn that ranks with the strongest of British mobster portrayals. WORLD PREMIERE.
TOKYO REVENGERS IS AN ALL-OUT STREET FIGHT TO SAVE THE FUTURE
Takemichi may just have a chance to change the future – if he can survive his own past! A jawbreaking, juvenile delinquent street fight royale combined with a high-stakes time travel thriller and dashes of adolescent angst and romantic comedy, TOKYO REVENGERS is the live-action feature adaptation of Ken Wakui’s enormously popular award-winning manga of the same name. Director Tsutomu Hanabusa (KAKEGURUI 1 and 2, also at Fantasia this year) succeeds mightily at adapting this complex science-fiction story; amid a barrage of bloody, brutal hoodlum battles, he still finds room for the sweetness of first love. INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE.
A DYSTOPIAN SOUTH AFRICAN FAIRY TALE: GLASSHOUSE
A memory-shredding neurochemical permeates the atmosphere like airborne dementia, but safe within an airtight glasshouse a family preserves their past through rituals of collective memory. Sensual and savage, GLASSHOUSE weaves aspects of dystopian science fiction with notes of folk horror and perverse, brooding, Gothic melodrama to craft a taught existential tale that ultimately explores the importance of storytelling and memory. It’s a stunning feature debut from South African filmmaker Kelsey Egan, starring Adrienne Pearce, Jessica Alexander, Anja Taljaard, and Hilton Pelser. WORLD PREMIERE.
WHEN A BEAUTIFUL COMING OF AGE STORY MEETS SCIENCE-FICTION, JUST FOLLOW THE LIGHT
Freshly arrived from Tokyo to a fading village in the Japanese countryside, Akira becomes fascinated with an isolated girl who is obsessed with a crop circle in her grandfather’s fields. This multi-layered, sci-fi coming-of-age story by first-time director Yoichi Narita is a true gem with a dazzling narrative. The majestic, rich cinematography, which highlights the magnificent rural landscapes, and judicious use of music recall Shunji Iwai’s masterpiece ALL ABOUT LILY CHOU-CHOU. FOLLOW THE LIGHT will leave a lasting impression with its soft visual splendour and sensitive storytelling. WORLD PREMIERE.
BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER IN THE CRIME FAMILY SAGA IDA RED
Midwest filmmaker John Swab (LET ME MAKE YOU A MARTYR) returns to Fantasia with IDA RED, a propulsive, gripping, crime thriller that escalates his career to the big leagues. Cast-as-criminals Josh Hartnett, Frank Grillo, and Melissa Leo (as a modern Ma Barker) have never been better. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.
THE TRANSGRESSIVE HORROR EXPERIENCE OF THE DECADE: THE SADNESS
In an alternate version of Taiwan, a rapidly spreading pandemic suddenly mutates into a rabies-like affliction, and the infected find themselves unable to control their id. A nightmare vision steeped in unspeakably upsetting moments of violence, Rob Jabbaz’s THE SADNESS plays like a return to the no-holds-barred shock sensibilities of ’90s Hong Kong Category III films. Electrified with an existential fear that punches spikes of panic energy straight into your nervous system, and told with incredible style, THE SADNESS is a force to be reckoned with. Fantasia is proud to be bringing this extreme horror rollercoaster to North American shores, hot off its bow at Locarno. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.
ALL HAIL PRODUCTION I.G’S ANIME FANTASY EPIC THE DEER KING!
Following its world premiere at Annecy, and ahead of theatrical release in Japan, comes the highly anticipated THE DEER KING, co-directed by anime veterans Masashi Ando and Masayuki Miyaji. Based on the books by bestselling Japanese fantasy author Nahoko Uehashi, the epic saga of the legendary warrior Broken Antler Van comes to life with the peerless standards of quality we expect from the studios of Production I.G (GHOST IN THE SHELL, NEON GENESIS EVANGELION). Elegant and exacting design and animation seamlessly pair with Uehashi’s sturdy world-building and compelling conflicts to create a transporting animated otherworldly tale. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.
DON’T SAY ITS NAME IS A SNOW-SET, INDIGENOUS HORROR FOR OUR TIMES
When an environmental activist is called back to the world of the living after a suspicious accident takes her life, an ancient spirit is reborn outside a small northern town. With a wealth of Indigenous talent both in front of and behind the camera, DON’T SAY ITS NAME, the eerie feature debut from director/co-writer Rueben Martell, builds its chills with compellingly real characters and strong performances from Madison Walsh (SOMETHING UNDONE), Sera-Lys McArthur (OUTLANDER), Samuel Marty (GODLESS), Carla Fox, and Julian Black-Antelope (HOLD THE DARK). WORLD PREMIERE.
HAVING FUN IS ALL THAT MATTERS IN GRAND BLUE DREAMING
Stuck in a surreal, nudist loop somewhere between GROUNDHOG DAY and MEMENTO, two young men end up trapped in a scuba diving club full of muscular party animals and pretty girls with a temper. Based on a popular manga series, GRAND BLUE DREAMING, by Tsutomu Hanabusa (TOKYO REVENGERS), is as weird as it is hilarious. Astonishingly fast-paced and loaded with politically incorrect humour, this wild comedy also finds moments of calmness with beautiful and relaxing underwater shots. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.
CROSS INTO THE DEEP HOUSE FOR IMMERSIVE UNDERWATER HAUNTS
Two daredevil Youtubers with a passion for abandoned urban edifices film themselves as they take a deep dive into the bottom of a lake where there lies a mysterious house with a sinister past. Award-winning French genre maestros Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury (INSIDE, KANDISHA) display numerous filmic skills with this intelligent found footage style feature. The immersive darkness, the floating strangeness, THE DEEP HOUSE takes us down and further down, from mere unfamiliar discomfort to absolute and unfathomable terror. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.
BREATHTAKING SOUTH KOREAN THRILLER MIDNIGHT WILL LEAVE YOU SPEECHLESS
A wave of murders hits the city and, lurking in the shadows, a killer has just identified his new prey – a deaf woman. South Korea has become the go-to source for fans of dark, intense, unpredictable thrillers that deliver cutthroat tension, and Kwon Oh-seung’s debut feature MIDNIGHT follows in this tradition. A breathless tale boasting hallucinatory sound design that relishes in testing the nerves of even the most seasoned viewers. CANADIAN PREMIERE.
A HAUNTING NEW CREATION FROM PERRY BLACKSHEAR
A brother and sister face off against a mysterious force responsible for years of devastating misfortunes in WHEN I CONSUME YOU, a haunting new work from award-winning indie filmmaker Perry Blackshear. Reuniting with Evan Dumouchel, MacLeod Andrews, and Margaret Ying Drake, the core acting trio of his previous films THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE and THE SIREN, Blackshear and his team dole out powerful blows of tragedy, devastation, and personal struggle while a demonic figure looms just out of focus, yellow eyes burning in the background. WORLD PREMIERE.
A SEPTET OF LEGENDARY FILMMAKERS PAYS TRIBUTE TO HONG KONG
A sifu hardens his students with “Exercise” in Sammo Hung’s evocation of childhood. Ann Hui stages a stirring tribute to Hong Kong educators in “Headmaster.” Patrick Tam Kar-Ming depicts the emigration of Hong Kongers by way of an impressionistic love story, “Tender is the Night.” Master action choreographer and director Yuen Woo-ping addresses generational divides in the 90s with “Homecoming.” Johnnie To details the city’s capitalistic hustle in “Bonanza.” The expanding harbour opens the floodgates of memory in Ringo Lam’s posthumous film “Astray,” and the decade to come is evoked by Tsui Hark’s futuristic, tongue-in-cheek closer “Conversation in Depth.” An exceptional omnibus comes to us at a crucial time in Hong Kong history, SEPTET: THE STORY OF HONG KONG reunites seven legendary Hong Kong directors for a heartfelt project composed of personal, resonant stories. QUEBEC PREMIERE.
CATCH THE FAIR ONE FOR A BRUTAL REVENGE THRILLER THAT SCARS WITH PURPOSE
A mixed Indigenous ex-boxer infiltrates the sex trafficking world in search of her missing sister in this ferocious thriller propelled by a commanding performance from WBA Super Lightweight Champion Kali “K.O. Mequinonoag” Reis. Pulverizing with fury and grief, CATCH THE FAIR ONE is the culmination of a four-year collaboration with director Josef Kubota Wladyka (MANOS SUCIAS), who co-wrote with his star. As much a hard-hitting revenge thriller as it is a personal interpretation of true crimes, the film addresses North America’s horrific crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women with urgency. Co-produced by Darren Aronofsky and 2021 Oscar-winner Mollye Asher (NOMADLAND) and winner of the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE.
FROM ARGENTINA, HORROR AND MYSTERY CONVERGE ON THE 3RD DAY
The latest from Argentinean director Daniel de la Vega (WHITE COFFIN) and production house Del Toro Films (South America’s answer to Hammer Studios), ON THE 3RD DAY follows an anguished mother (Mariana Anghileri) trying to find her missing son, and the missing memory of what happened on the night of a terrible car accident. INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE.
MEET A WOMAN ON THE (SUPERNATURAL) EDGE IN, THE NIGHT HOUSE
From director David Bruckner (THE RITUAL, THE SIGNAL) comes THE NIGHT HOUSE. Reeling from the unexpected death of her husband, Beth (Rebecca Hall) is left alone in the lakeside home he built for her. She tries as best she can to keep it together – but then nightmares come. Disturbing visions of a presence in the house calling to her, beckoning her with a ghostly allure. Against the advice of her friends, she begins digging into her husband’s belongings, yearning for answers. What she finds are secrets both strange and disturbing – a mystery she’s determined to unravel. THE NIGHT HOUSE stars Rebecca Hall (GODZILLA VS. KONG), Sarah Goldberg (Barry, Elementary), Vondie Curtis Hall (DIE HARD 2, EVE’S BAYOU), Evan Jonigkeit (Togetherish, Sweetbitter), and Stacy Martin (VOX LUX, NYMPHOMANIAC). CANADIAN PREMIERE.
DON’T GET CAUGHT OUTSIDE AT… MIDNIGHT IN A PERFECT WORLD — FINAL FEATURE OF THIS YEAR’S CAMERA LUCIDA SLATE
Near-future Manila is now a “perfect” world; the powerful forces keep it so, thoroughly hidden from view yet pressing down subconsciously and oppressively on the citizens. With rumoured blackouts happening around the city past midnight, the only refuge becomes government-sanctioned “safe houses” scattered around Manila. While many believe them to be a hoax, the truth of what they cover up may be something far worse. Taking its title from a DJ Shadow cut, and unfolding with an air of Philip K. Dickian strangeness, Dodo Dayao’s (VIOLATOR) long-awaited sophomore effort MIDNIGHT IN A PERFECT WORLD is, like his previous film, a uniquely savvy and nightmarish trip befitting the world’s ongoing dystopian situation, and one that cements Dayao’s unique voice in independent Filipino cinema. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.
Step aside John Hughes and relinquish your crown because coming-of-age, teen romance will never quite be the same after BABY, DON’T CRY! Directed by Jesse Dvorak and written, designed, and starring Zita Bai, this astoundingly unique and harrowingly sincere film follows Baby, a Chinese immigrant in suburban Seattle, as she makes sense of her troubled home life and outsider existence through her indie DIY films and animalistic visions of the world. When she meets Fox (Vas Provatakis), a Skid Row punk with questionable decision-making skills, a whirlwind of intensity, ferocity, and sexuality engulfs the pair. Teetering between Baby’s fantastical visions and Fox’s raw punk rock ethos the two dive into this powder keg romance headfirst with no-holds-barred. WORLD PREMIERE.
Are you ready for an orgy of blood? FRANK & ZED, one of the year’s goriest films, promises just that. In this bloodthirsty, bone-crunching, and strangely heartwarming movie, an odd-couple monster-duo Frank and Zed, a Frankenstein-type monster and his brain-eating companion, attempt to survive a medieval curse that has befallen a small village. And did we mention they’re all puppets? A true DIY passion project, conceived and made over 6 years, director Jesse Blanchard seizes an opportunity born from limitation to create an irresistible crowd-pleaser that embodies the resilience of thriving underground cinema. QUEBEC PREMIERE.
Welcome to GIVING BIRTH TO A BUTTERFLY, the strange, melodic, and haunting feature debut of Theodore Schaefer. After having her identity stolen, Diana (Annie Parisse) goes on a surreal road trip with her son’s pregnant girlfriend, Marlene (Gus Birney), to find the perpetrators. Shot on pastel-toned 16mm, the film’s dreamy quality lulls you into its unusual atmosphere. As the lines between waking and dreaming life fade, the movie blends its ironic sense of humour with a unique blend of American surrealism that explores kitsch and performance to unearth a deep sense of alienation and loneliness. WORLD PREMIERE.
In 1989, Stephen Sayadian, aka Rinse Dream, released one of the most iconic and fantastical works in American exploitation cinema. For the first time since its release, thanks to a new restoration, it will finally find its audience and retroactively be appreciated as the Underground masterpiece that it is. Bizarre, stunning, goofy, and unsettling, DR. CALIGARI embraces the avant-garde in its exquisite and hilarious exploitation of America’s repressed libido. As the film’s title might suggest, the feature is a loose remake of the German expressionist classic, centered on Mrs. Van Houten, a woman who seems to be losing touch with reality, and her treatment under Dr. Caligari, who diagnoses her with a “disease of the libido.”
HACKS, DRUGS & PUNKS: BEYOND THE LINES OF REASON IN DOCS FROM THE EDGE FINAL THREE TITLES
Alice’s webcam’s red light flashes. A hacker, a ghost, a god? She decides to expose the identity of the invader. DEAR HACKER, Alice Lenay’s debut documentary, is a patchwork of video calls that come together as a metaphysical reflection. Alice gleefully jumps down the rabbit hole and navigates the infinite universe of the web – our minds’ web – and our interconnectedness at a time when we’ve never been so distant. With her witty observations and sagacious imagination, Lenay writes a visual letter in the form of this film telling a story of perception, reality, and society. The loading circle spirals out, but Alice keeps going. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.
A high-spirited group of British bus drivers set their minds to launching a homemade stage play adaptation of Ridley Scott’s ALIEN in Lucy Harvey and Danielle Kummer’s debut documentary ALIEN ON STAGE. With a Christopher Guest-esque charisma that particularly recalls his community theatre classic WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, the film follows the ups and downs of the delightfully DIY production, with its second-hand costumes and cardboard sets, and the charming crew determined to make it succeed. QUEBEC PREMIERE.
A fiercely moving tribute to one of the most recognizable and unconventional figures in punk history, POLY STYRENE: I AM A CLICHÉ celebrates the life and legacy of Poly Styrene, famous frontwoman of X-Ray Spex and poster child for the UK’s Riot Grrrl and Afropunk movements. Featuring previously unseen archival footage and a succession of eloquent diary entries narrated by Oscar-nominated actress Ruth Negga and co-directed by the icon’s own daughter, Celeste Bell, and seasoned documentarian Paul Sng. QUEBEC PREMIERE.
ADDITIONAL THIRD WAVE TITLES
COMING HOME IN THE DARK
New Zealand – Dir. James Ashcroft This extraordinary neo-noir is a blisteringly tense road movie into hell that plays like a home-invasion thriller set largely in a moving car. Based on the 1995 short story by award-winning New Zealand author Owen Marshall, described by David Hill as “one of the most harrowing narratives in our literature.” Official Selection: Sundance 2021, Calgary Underground Film Festival 2021. QUEBEC PREMIERE.
UK – Dir. Lee Haven Jones Shot entirely in the Welsh language and crafted with intelligence and cruelty, THE FEAST plays like a modern fairy tale for greed-fueled end-times. It’s a striking feature debut from BAFTA-winning director Lee Haven Jones (35 DAYS, DOCTOR WHO) dripping with atmosphere, this grotesque shocker is a standout in cinema’s current folk horror revival. Official Selection: SXSW 2021. CANADIAN PREMIERE.
South Korea – Dir. Jéro Yun Life is a constant struggle for Jina, a North Korean refugee, but she finds her path in boxing. Director Jéro Yun judiciously uses close-up shots highlighting the glances and silences that say much more than words, thanks to near-surgical editing, displaying a transcendent presence by actress Lim Seong-mi. Official Selection: Berlinale 2021, Busan International Film Festival 2021. CANADIAN PREMIERE
HAND ROLLED CIGARETTE
Hong Kong, Dir. Chan Kin-Long Triad intrigue involving turtles, smuggled drugs, and instant noodles in the underbelly of neon HK in this refreshing film noir action that recently won the White Mulberry Award for best debut feature at the Udine Far East Film Festival. CANADIAN PREMIERE
South Korea – Dir. Kim Jeong-kwan After an incident that leaves her electric wheelchair disabled, Josée is rescued by Young-seok, who she then brings in to discover her unique
imaginary world. A beautiful, moving, charming, and visually polished fil by Kim Jeong-kwan faithfully adapted from the popular novel Josee, the Tiger and the Fish. Official Selection: Busan International Film Festival 2021.
ONE SECOND CHAMPION
Hong Kong – Dir. Chiu Sin-Hang With the power to see one second into the future, loser Chow becomes a winner in the ring. It’s ROCKY with a high concept and loaded with more humor and high-pressure fun— Hong Kong style, from one of the directors of Fantasia 2017’s VAMPIRE CLEANUP DEPARTMENT. Official Selection: Udine Far East Film Festival 2021. CANADIAN PREMIERE.
Québec – dir. Alain Vézina Mexican wrestler L’Ange Doré is back, and he’s confronting the dark designs of the Third Reich. Film teacher and documentarian Alain Vézina (LES SOEURS DE NAGASAKI, 2018) embraces the mockumentary genre wholeheartedly with his latest joyous delirium. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.
South Korea – Dir. Lee Yong-joo A former secret service agent (GongYoo, TRAIN TO BUSAN) struggling with a brain tumor must return to duty for a mission of the utmost importance: protecting Seobok (Park Bo-gum, COIN LOCKER GIRL), the first human clone who has unnatural powers. Few mainstream films integrate ethical reflection with breathtaking, high-octane entertainment to this incredible extent. CANADIAN PREMIERE.
SWEETIE, YOU WON’T BELIEVE IT
Kazakhstan – Dir. Yernar Nurgaliyev Seasoned Kazakh comedy director Yernar Nurgaliyev plunges into horror-comedy for the first time, serving us a fresh, dynamic mix of genres while spicing it with Kazakh flair in this award-winning film. Imagine TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE meets THE HANGOVER. CANADIAN PREMIERE.
UNDER THE OPEN SKY
Japan – Dir. Miwa Nishikawa A former driver for the yakuza has just spent 13 years behind bars. Determined to reintegrate into society, he discovers a hostile and changing Japan that he struggles to recognize. Miwa Nishikawa’s (THE LONG EXCUSE) gripping UNDER THE OPEN SKY features Koji Yakusho (TOKYO SONATA) in one of his most moving roles. Official Selection: TIFF 2020. QUEBEC PREMIERE.
Denmark – Dir. Thomas Daneskov Armed only with a bow and an ensemble of animal skins, Martin (Rasmus Bjerg, ALL FOR ONE) sets off into the forest in a misguided attempt to overcome his midlife crisis. A chance meeting with a fugitive named Musa (Zaki Youssef, SONS OF DENMARK) leads to a twisted trip through the fjords with police, drug runners, and Martin’s family not far behind. Those who have any doubt that the funniest movies being made today come from Denmark need not look any further. Official Selection: Tribeca 2021. CANADIAN PREMIERE.
With so much to choose from, Fantasia Film Festival, is one festival you shouldn’t miss. Luckily, since this one is still digital for 2021, lots of people have a chance to join in on the fun. The festival runs from August 5 thru August 25. For more information be sure to check out fantasiafestival.com