With the majority of film festivals cancelling or postponing in 2020, the cinematic world feels a bit more empty, than it normally does. Festivals are often a chance for indie and genre offerings to shine and gems that rise to the top often go on to win many awards. Thankfully the Fantasia International Film Festival is still set to go off…at least in an online format. Hailed as one of the biggest and best genre film festivals out there, Fantasia has a ton of great stuff on offer. We’ve previously charted their first and second wave of title announcements and today we’re excited to share their third and last batch of selections!
Get your pencils, pens, paper or copy/paste fingers ready, as this list is a doozy and you could easily loose yourself, along the way.
AN INDIGENOUS KIWI MARTIAL ARTS ACTION COMEDY CLOSES FANTASIA 2020
Fantasia’s 24th edition will slam into crescendo with the North American Premiere of NZ filmmaker Kiel McNaughton’s THE LEGEND OF BARON TO’A. Uli Latukefu (of Taika Waititi’s upcoming NEXT GOAL WINS) gives a charismatic turn in the leading role, supported by a talented Polynesian cast including THE MATRIX RELOADED’s Nathaniel Lees and ATTACK OF THE CLONES’ Jay Laga’aia. The film delivers comedy and pathos in a seamless blend of English and Tongan. While the hard-hitting fight choreography draws inspiration from pro wrestling and martial arts movies, it’s firmly grounded in its suburban setting, resulting in setpieces that celebrate the Pacific Island experience just as much as the script does. North American Premiere.
HUNTED TAKES SURVIVAL ACTION TO ITS MOST HUMAN PLACE
Once upon a frenzied time, man meets woman. Man kisses woman. Woman escapes man. Man chases woman. This oft-recycled revenge plot takes an unexpected turn in HUNTED – a bold story where codes are bent and reborn. The psychotic Big Bad Wolf, embodiment of patriarchy, and his dummy sidekick engage in a wild hunt within mother nature’s protective maze of trees; meanwhile, our tale’s Red Riding Hood’s awaits with killer moves – and won’t surrender so easily. Vincent Paronnaud (acclaimed comic book creator and co-director of the Academy Award-nominated PERSEPOLIS) brings us a thrilling, humanist tale that’s as animalistic as it is mystifying. World Premiere.
THE INCREDIBLE JOHNNIE TO MAKE OUR DREAM COME TRUE
When Tiger (Jacky Heung, of PUSH and FEARLESS) and Cuckoo (Keru Wang, YOUTH) meet, it’s a match made in heaven. Both involved with moneylenders, one is an over-enthusiastic rising star in the MMA world; the other a resourceful, aspiring singer on-the-run who will stop at nothing for a spot on ‘Perfect Diva’! Following THREE (Fantasia 2016), master filmmaker Johnnie To is back with CHASING DREAM: an unexpected blend of mixed-martial-arts drama and high-stakes musical comedy, taking the viewers back to the madcap energy of his mid-2000s collaborations with Wai Ka-Fai and the themes of his sports-and-destiny masterpiece THROW DOWN. Canadian Premiere.
JORGE MICHEL GRAU RETURNS WITH THE BREATHLESS, STYLISH PERDIDA
A decade after his cannibalistic modern classic WE ARE WHAT WE ARE, Mexican filmmaker Jorge Michel Grau returns to Fantasia with PERDIDA. Starring José María de Tavira, Paulina Dávila, and Cristina Rodlo, Grau enters into the realm of Hitchcock and De Palma to deliver one of the best, most sustained thrillers of recent times. A remake of Andrés Baiz’s acclaimed 2011 feature THE HIDDEN FACE, Grau superbly creates suspense through contemporary architecture and a love triangle that consistently surprises. International Premiere.
PLACE YOUR BETS ON ROM
Fourteen-year-old Rom (Tran Anh Khoa) is a runner. That is, he runs lottery numbers for the indebted inhabitants of a dilapidated tenement – a network of interconnected homes soon to be demolished by greedy developers. The bookie climbs and zips through its many alleys; down streets, up balconies, staircases, and across other unstable contraptions – in order to be the first to give his clients’ numbers to the teller. Tran Thanh Huy’s ROM, winner of the New Currents Award at the 2020 Busan Film Festival, is an electrifying debut: a jolt of a film, shot with great, street-savvy energy and constant forward momentum. North American Premiere.
LIFE TAKES YOU FOR A RIDE WITH MARYGOROUND
Nearly fifty and hitting menopause, Mary (Grazyna Misiorowska) makes the decision to begin hormone therapy to ease the transition. Meanwhile, the sudden arrival of her niece coincides with an awakening – one of burgeoning sexuality, bravery, and curiosity. Maybe it’s the hormones… or maybe it’s something far more mystical and powerful. Prepare for MARYGOROUND, a beautiful, unsettling, and touching dark comedy about the importance of finding yourself at any age, brought to life through Polish director Daria Woszek’s sensitive and original worldview, and originally slated to world premiere at SXSW. International Premiere.
BEING A GEEK IS NOTHING TO HIDE, EVEN THOUGH LOVE IS HARD FOR OTAKU
Narumi is starting a new job and doing everything she can to hide the fact she is an otaku, but one of her new colleagues is a childhood friend who knows all about her passion for manga and anime. Thanks to the superb chemistry between Mitsuki Takahata (ALMOST A MIRACLE) and Kento Yamazaki (KINGDOM), the unique creativity of writer/director Yuichi Fukuda (HK: FORBIDDEN SUPERHERO), and musical numbers going from J-pop to jazz, WOTAKOI: LOVE IS HARD FOR OTAKU is the perfect immersion into the fascinating world of otaku culture. North American Premiere.
PREPARE FOR A FISHY KAIJU ATTACK WITH MONSTER SEAFOOD WARS
When a disgraced scientist who now works at his dad’s sushi shop gets into a minor bicycle accident, he ends up creating a huge-but-delicious problem that can only be described as MONSTER SEAFOOD WARS! Before you can say “colossal calamari”, a squid, an octopus, and a crab – each as big as buildings – are wreaking massive kaiju havoc all over Tokyo! Beloved director Minoru Kawasaki (THE CALAMARI WRESTLER, EXECUTIVE KOALA) employs incredible oldschool techniques in this hilarious and heartfelt monster film, and brings back a disappearing genre in Japanese cinema known as “kigurumi tokusatsu”, or, as we know them, sci-fi movies featuring actors in rubber giant monster costumes! International Premiere.
WILDLAND ASKS WHAT YOU’RE WILLING TO SACRIFICE FOR FLESH AND BLOOD
After her mother’s abrupt death, Ida is taken in by an estranged aunt and her three sons. She soon discovers that her new family are local mafioso and things suddenly go south when a violent murder challenges the family’s loyalty to each other. WILDLAND, Danish director Jeanette Nordahl’s stunning debut feature – which was an official selection at this year’s Berlinale – is a rite of passage tale, delicate and highly adroit, from the perspective of a lost girl facing arduous and fundamental questions. North American Premiere.
IT’LL TAKE MUSCLES TO FOLD THESE PAPER TIGERS!
Three childhood Kung Fu prodigies have grown into washed-up, middle-aged men one kick away from pulling their hamstrings. But when their master is murdered, they must juggle their dead-end jobs and dad duties to overcome old grudges and avenge his death.
Writer/director Bao Tran has made not just another martial arts movie, but a film that’s about martial arts: its philosophies and the lessons it continues to teach you into old age. Anchored by immensely likeable performances from its cast, THE PAPER TIGERS delivers all the quality ass-kicking you want out of a good martial arts film, while also impacting much more: a story about the importance of friendship and staying true to your heart, which is what makes THE PAPER TIGERS so special. World Premiere.
CONSEQUENCES ARE HIGH WHEN A MAN’S SON IS LEGALLY DECLARED DEAD
An insurance agent suspects his client (Anthony Wong, of UNTOLD STORY and INFERNAL AFFAIRS) may have murdered his own son to collect the insurance money. As he investigates the suspicious death, he begins to be met with threats on all sides. Director Yuen Kim-Wai elevates a thrilling story by expertly balancing a touchy subject with suspense and nuanced characters. Based on the famous Japanese novel BLACK HOUSE, the striking, exciting LEGALLY DECLARED DEAD recently launched in Hong Kong and Taiwan. North American Premiere.
ELDERLY SATANISTS WILL DO PRACTICALLY ANYTHING FOR JACKSON
Canadian genre royalty Sheila McCarthy and Julian Richings star in Ontario filmmaker Justin G. Dyck’s ANYTHING FOR JACKSON, a clever, funny, and delightfully mean-spirited horror tale of elderly Satanists carried way over their heads in the name of love. Keith Cooper’s screenplay constantly surprises, by turning funny, nasty, and progressively more intense as it moves along, but it’s the pairing of McCarthy and Richings that makes JACKSON so special. World Premiere.
THIS MOM-TO-BE DEFINITELY HAS NO IDEA WHAT’S IN STORE FOR HER!
Award-winning Hong Kong screenwriter and director Luk Yee-Sum returns to Fantasia with the expectant comedy, BABY: THE SECRET DIARY OF A MOM TO BE, the perfect follow-up to her coming of age debut LAZY HAZY CRAZY (Fantasia 2016). As far as Carmen (Dada Chan, VULGARIA) is concerned, she has it all: a handsome basketball-star husband, a great job with an exciting promotion in reach, and a group of lifelong friends that are closer than family. But she’s about to get one thing she didn’t plan for – a baby on the way. Having previously screened at Tokyo International Film Festival and Hong Kong Asian Film Festival, this charming dramedy draws back the curtain on the ups and downs of when you’re unexpectedly expecting. Canadian Premiere.
WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN TO LIVE IN A FREE COUNTRY
Two years after the German reunification, a pair of out-of-town detectives begin to uncover the dark secrets of a lawless backwoods area. ANTIBODIES director Christian Alvart’s tense remake of Alberto Rodriguez’s Goya-sweeping Spanish thriller MARSHLAND (winner of a 2015 Fantasia Audience Award), FREE COUNTRY is as exciting and socially conscious as its predecessor, both films showcasing this crime story as a fascinating backdrop of post-fascist societies. Canadian Premiere.
IN THESE PHOTOGRAPHS, BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
Solitary photographer Kai (Hideki Nagai) is afraid of women, but it doesn’t keep him from shamelessly retouching their photographs when asked. On a trek through the forest, he encounters a model, Kyoko (Itsuki Otaki), who soon asks him to retouch hers. As their relationship grows, Kai feels a rare pang of responsibility, motivated for the first time to challenge his vindictive perception of women. Takeshi Kushida’s WOMAN OF THE PHOTOGRAPHS is a mysterious and captivating debut, throwing the viewer into an uncertain world of obsession and forgery; a potent examination of image-making and alienation in our contemporary age. Quebec Premiere.
POLICE TRAINING GOES AWRY IN SUBVERSIVE 80S HOMAGE SURVIVAL SKILLS
Writer/director Quinn Armstrong’s feature debut SURVIVAL SKILLS, expanded from his 2017 short, is simultaneously a throwback to a bygone age and very much a film for the current moment. Designed like an 80s police-training video, Armstrong builds up a wholesome and comedic world replete with bubbling Americana and educational-film naivete before shattering it with the grim reality of domestic violence. Starring Vayu O’Donnell and Stacy Keach, the film casts a bleakly satirical light on the disasters that can occur when simplistic training, complex ethics, and the dark side of human nature collide. International Premiere.
IT’S EXTREMELY DANGEROUS FOR A SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD
When Lee’s teenage daughter accidentally kills a classmate who is blackmailing her, she, unfortunately, discovers that the deceased’s mother happens to be a merciless cop (legendary actress Joan Chen of Twin Peaks and THE LAST EMPEROR). Lee, armed with an arsenal of film knowledge and wits, devises the ultimate alibi, ready for every counter-move that awaits his family. SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD is a relentless cat-and-mouse thriller with just the right dose of dark humor, emotional nuance, and tension from first-time director Sam Quah. Released to such an avalanche of positive press, the film overtook STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER in China’s box office! Quebec Premiere.
A CRIMINAL, A DETECTIVE, AND A TALKING PARROT ARE NEEDED TO SOLVE A THRILLING CRIME PUZZLE IN A WITNESS OUT OF THE BLUE!
Three months after a botched robbery, Wong, the mastermind behind it, is now a prime suspect for the murder of one of his teammates. Trying to clear his name, Wong instead falls into a complex web of betrayal and collateral damage, while a detective scrambles to piece together the puzzle with the help of a talking parrot. A WITNESS OUT OF THE BLUE is a riveting thriller from director Fung Chih-Chiang, who previously collaborated with Stephen Chow (SHAOLIN SOCCER) and Johnny To (SPARROW), and has screened at Bucheon Film Festival and Rotterdam Film Festival. Canadian Premiere
DOCUMENTARIES FROM THE EDGE UNVEILS SEVEN NEW TITLES
Fantasia’s section dedicated to unconventional non-fiction storytelling just keeps expanding, with seven amazing new documentaries that are sure to impress.
A “LYNCHIAN PRE-APOCALYPTIC URBEX DOCUMENTARY”, FROM HAUNTED DRIVE-INS TO UNDERGROUND MUSIC
Conceived by their parents in the back seat of a Chevy at the local drive-in, bottle-fed with images of exploitation cinema, monsters, and fears, they are now fighting against social norms and a “life of feudalistic servitude”. TEXAS TRIP – A CARNIVAL OF GHOSTS, directorial duo Maxime Lachaud and Steve Balestreri’s beguiling debut feature documentary, is a portrait of Attic Ted, Virginia Black, Mother Fakhir, and more – artists making strange sounds, experimenting to the extreme with abstract ideas through the materiality of their own flesh. World Premiere.
YOU CANNOT KILL DAVID ARQUETTE – ONLY HE CAN DO THAT
Branded as the most hated man in wrestling after winning a highly controversial WCW World Heavyweight Championship in 2000, actor David Arquette attempts a rocky return to the sport that stalled his promising Hollywood career in YOU CANNOT KILL DAVID ARQUETTE. An unexpectedly emotional and heartfelt documentary directed by David Darg and Price James, this is a truly outrageous portrait of a dangerously determined former A-lister. Canadian Premiere.
EVIL DEAD FANS GET GROOVY IN HAIL TO THE DEADITES
Few horror franchises have inspired as devoted a cult following as the 1981 classic THE EVIL DEAD, and HAIL TO THE DEADITES offers a deep-dive into the fan culture that has spawned around it. Through interviews with the cast, crew, collectors, fans, freaks, and geeks, this special doc illuminates the darkest reaches of the EVIL DEAD franchise’s undying and still-growing popularity. A pop culture icon that has given birth to a TV series, comic books, figurines, and surpassed even its creator’s wildest dreams, EVIL DEAD now inspires this stellar new doc from Steve Villeneuve, director of UNDER THE SCARS and founder of the Requiem Fear Fest. World Premiere.
MORGANA I’D LOVE TO FILM – [MILF – ACRONYM. /mɪlf/]
After twenty years locked in a sexless existence, housewife Morgana frees herself and learns to spread her… wings. Following the ups and downs (and upside-downs) of homemaker-turned-porn filmmaker Morgana Muses, directorial duo Isabel Peppard and Josie Hess take us on the ride of a lifetime. MORGANA is a license to live judgment-free, an open letter to all invisible and emotionally-secluded women who have been forced into a miserable life of heteronormative submission. Get ready for an inspiring, sex-positive documentary for anyone in need of an orgasmic awakening. North American Premiere.
BEHOLD THE AMAZING, INSPIRING ART OF IVAN, THE TERRIRBLE
Relatively unknown outside Brazil, Ivan Cardoso (NOSFERATU IN BRAZIL, THE SECRET OF THE MUMMY) is one of the country’s most significant genre filmmakers. Throughout his decades-spanning career, Cardoso has blended radical aesthetics with lowbrow ambitions and pioneered a style of filmmaking called Terrir (a play on the word terror, and the Portuguese word for “to laugh”). Intercut with animation, interviews, and clips, Mario Abbade’s IVAN, THE TERRIRBLE is a crash course on Brazil’s best-kept genre secret and a fun homage for his biggest fans. While the country’s cinematic past and present are under threat with President Bolsonaro in power, this film emerges during a moment of national reflection on the importance of art and liberty under political oppression. World Premiere.
FEELS GOOD, MAN FEELS PRETTY POWERFUL, MAN
A Sundance 2020 Special Jury Award Winner and standout of this year’s Berlinale, Arthur Jones’ FEELS GOOD, MAN is a playful and poignant documentary about illustrator Matt Furie’s infamous-but-once-innocent Pepe the Frog character. In Jones’ hands, the story of a frog takes us on a journey through the birth of meme culture, from the MySpace and 4chan era, to Trump’s explosive election year, where Pepe has found his present fate as a reluctant rallying symbol of the alt-right. Quebec Premiere.
THAT’S A WRAP ON CLAPBOARD JUNGLE
CLAPBOARD JUNGLE is an emotional and introspective journey following five years in the life of Canadian independent filmmaker Justin McConnell (LIFECHANGER), which poses one central question: How does an indie filmmaker survive in the current industry? Featuring interviews with Guillermo del Toro, Richard Stanley, Barbara Crampton, Paul Schrader, Tom Savini, George A. Romero, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Michael Biehn, Frank Henenlotter, and many more. An official selection at festivals such as FrightFest, and Night Visions. Quebec Premiere.
ADDITIONAL THIRD WAVE TITLES
BRING ME HOME
South Korea – Dir: Kim Seung-woo
Six years after her son’s disappearance, Jung-yeon goes to a small fishing village to track him down. But nothing could have prepared for what she discovers upon arrival. Actress Lee Young-ae (LADY VENGEANCE) shines in writer-director Kim Seung-woo’s feature debut. Quebec Premiere.
Greece – Dir: Rinio Dragasaki
Anna is an eccentric supermarket cashier living alone in her parent’s roomy apartment in Athens. When the father of the 10-year-old girl next door suddenly goes missing she finds herself forced to take responsibility for the child, and take her in herself. Exploring the frivolities of youth and the difficulties of mental illness, COSMIC CANDY is a sparkling burst of optimism in the face of profound gloom. Canadian Premiere.
DINNER IN AMERICA
USA – Dir: Adam Rehmeier
This riotously hilarious, punk-as-f*ck anti-romantic comedy – that just so happens to be genuinely romantic – exists in the same universe as classics like WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE and REPO MAN. Starring Emily Skeggs, Kyle Gallner, Lea Thompson, and Pat Healy and winner of the Audience Award at the 2020 Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival. Quebec Premiere.
France – Dir: Zoé Wittock
Socially awkward Jeanne (PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE’s Noémie Merlant) is in love… with an amusement park ride. This beautifully strange romance is a coming-of-age “coming out” story unlike any you’ve ever seen. JUMBO questions gender and sexual identity in a truly novel way, and does it with humor, heart, and breathtaking visual flair. A compelling and wondrous instant classic of eccentric cinema. Quebec Premiere.
Japan – Dir: Tsutomu Hanabusa
Welcome to Hyakkaoh Private Academy, where gambling determines the school’s hierarchy. But the status quo is about to be shaken up by the arrival of a new student who is ready to take on the head of the powerful student council. Based on the popular manga by Homura Kawamoto and Toru Naomura, Tsutomu Hanabusa’s KAKEGURUI (PROJECT DREAMS) is a hilarious and riveting school drama with biting social critique. Canadian Premiere.
THE MORTUARY COLLECTION
USA – Dir: Ryan Spindell
A stylish, colourful and ghoulishly fun horror anthology in the vein of ‘70s Amicus Productions, THE MORTUARY COLLECTION stars the great Clancy Brown as a sinister mortician, chronicling the strange history of his town through a series of morbid tales. Born at the 2013 Frontières market and completed last year, THE MORTUARY COLLECTION has been tearing up the festival circuit, playing everywhere from FrightFest and Fantastic Fest to Maskoon, Haapsalu, and Lund. Quebec Premiere.
NO LONGER HUMAN
Japan – Dir. Mika Ninagawa
Genius writer Osamu Dazai has become a star, despite rumors of affairs, multiple suicide attempts, and an eccentric, anti-Establishment way of life. Mika Ninagawa (HELTER SKELTER, SAKURAN) tackles the life of one of Japan’s foremost literary figures in this bold, colourful, and stylish film. Quebec Premiere.
Belgium – Dir: Tim Mielants
Making his feature film debut after a television career spanning the likes of PEAKY BLINDERS, THE TERROR, and LEGION, director Tim Mielants paints a down-to-earth portrait of a man struggling to deal with his feelings – and of a micro-society struggling to deal with him. Co-starring Kevin Janssens (REVENGE) and Jemaine Clement (WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS) and winner of six awards on the international festival circuit, including Best Director at Karlovy Vary and Best Film at Fantastic Fest. Canadian Premiere.
FANTASIA RETRO UNVEILS A TRIO OF RESTORATION PREMIERES
BUDDY GIOVINAZZO’S NO WAY HOME BREAKS HEARTS AND BONES
Fans of hard-hitting genre cinema will know Buddy Giovinazzo from his blistering backyard debut COMBAT SHOCK, released in the late 80s. His hotly anticipated but still-underground follow-up, NO WAY HOME, boasted a trio of amazing emerging talent of the era: Tim Roth, James Russo, and Deborah Kara Unger. For the first time since its criminally brief run in cinemas, it will soon be possible to see NO WAY HOME as intended, in all its ruthless glory, thanks to Severin Films and their new 4K restoration from original negatives. Restoration World Premiere.
HALF MAN, HALF JELLYFISH, ONE SERIOUSLY BONKERS STING OF DEATH
A mad marine biologist sneaks off to an underwater lab, transforms himself into a mutant half-man-half-jellyfish, and attacks college kids with his Sting of Death! Why? Because he’s in love! Maverick filmmaker Bill Grefé’s kitsch classic STING OF DEATH (1966) – a poverty row take on THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON shot deep in the Florida everglades – emerges from the watery depths of cinema history in a stunning new 2K restoration from the original 35mm negative, courtesy of the aquatic horror connoisseurs at Arrow Video. Restoration World Premiere.
ÁLEX DE LA IGLESIA’S BELOVED BEAST REBORN IN A STUNNING NEW RESTORATION
In between his cult hit debut ACCIÓN MUTANTE and proudly transgressive PERIDITA DURANGO, writer/director Álex de la Iglesia delivered DAY OF THE BEAST, which remains one of the best horror comedies of our time and turned Santiago Segura into a domestic megastar. Winner of 6 Goya Awards including Best Director – and a Fantasia audience award back in the day – now restored in 4K from the original negative by Severin Films. Restoration World Premiere.
THE WORLD OF LAURIN IS RICH WITH BEAUTIFUL TERRORS IN THIS RARE RETRO
Robert Sigl’s 1989 feature debut horror fable LAURIN largely remained a curio outside of its native West Germany, with North American audiences having to wait until recently to experience its twisted, dreamy pleasures. The quasi-giallo won Sigl (SCHOOL’S OUT, LEXX) numerous accolades at European festivals, and offers up an entrancing mix of pre-Guillermo del Toro childhood innocence and adult horror, breathtakingly lensed by Nyika Jancsó. Fantasia is proud to present the long-overdue Canadian Premiere of this gorgeous 4K restoration. Restoration Canadian Premiere.
Whew! Did you survive? Are your fingers worn down?
As brilliant as the films selected for the festival are, just sharing them with you is one thing. Actually letting you know which films are worth your time, in the future, is another. Which is to say, although Fantasia will be geo-locked to Canadian Residents, Boom Howdy has been granted press access to the festival. So well be bringing you a bevy of reviews, possible interviews and breakdowns of all the events taking place! So make sure to keep us bookmarked from August 20- Sept 2, as Fantasia International Film Festival takes the world, er internet, by storm!