The 27th edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival is set to run from from July 20th through August 9th at the Concordia Hall Cinema in Montreal, with additional screens at the Cinémathèque québécoise and Cinéma du Musée. In May, they announced the first wave of titles that will be showing at this year’s festival. Last month, the second wave was announced. Now, the titles that make up the third and final wave have been unveiled – and along with that comes the announcement that Nicolas Cage will be receiving the Cheval Noir Career Achievement Award at this year’s show!
The Fantasia International Film Festival has chosen to honor Nicolas Cage this year because he “has brought a wide variety of unforgettable people to life in works that are as memorable as the characters he portrayed, with textured performances that have been among the most exciting and unique from anyone in the last four decades.” And since, as mentioned in the second wave announcement, the Cage thriller Sympathy for the Devil will be having its world premiere at the show, this seemed like the ideal time for him to receive the Career Achievement Award.
Here’s the information on the third wave of titles, courtesy of the Fantasia press release:
OFFICIAL CLOSING FILM: RKSS COMES HOME WITH WE ARE ZOMBIES
The 27th edition of the festival will end on an especially riotous note with the World Premiere of WE ARE ZOMBIES, the latest from internationally beloved Quebecois cult collective RKSS (SUMMER OF ’84) – François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell. Based on the comic LES ZOMBIES QUI ONT MANGÉ LE MONDE (The Zombies that Ate the World), the film is set in a society where zombies, referred to as “living-impaired,” roam among us with no urge to eat flesh. The film stars Megan Peta Hill (RIVERDALE), Alexandre Nachi (1991) and Derek Johns (THE BOYS). Also on board is RKSS mainstay Jean-Philippe Bernier, handling both the cinematography and the pulsing electro soundtrack with his duo Le Matos. RKSS came of age at Fantasia, first in our audience and then on our screen with their early short films becoming instant crowd favourites. Their debut TURBO KID emerged from Frontières, premiered at Sundance and quickly attained rabid cult status across the world. Nothing makes us prouder than to close our 27th edition with the world premiere of their third feature, a special homecoming with RKSS returning to their earliest audience. World Premiere.
MS. APOCALYPSE RINGS IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM
Young-mi works as a bookkeeper for a tech factory, where her awkward disposition has earned her the nickname “Ms. Apocalypse.” Secretly infatuated with a co-worker named Do-young, she is shocked when she finds out that he has been embezzling company money; but ultimately chooses to cover his tracks. On the last day of 1999, Do-young turns himself in, and they are both sentenced to jail. When Young-mi is released a few months later, Do-young’s beautiful wife is waiting for her with a compelling offer. Director Lim Sun-ae (AN OLD LADY) returns with a poignant and profoundly human drama about courage and new beginnings. Cheval Noir Competition. World Premiere.
A WILDLY INDIVIDUALISTIC, DEEPLY PERSONAL COMEDY OF DISCOMFORT: HIPPO
Loosely based on ‘Hippolytus’ — HIPPO hilariously examines the coming of age of two homeschooled step-siblings: Hippo (Kimball Farley), a video game-addicted teenager and Buttercup (Silver Bear winner Lilla Kizlinger), a Hungarian immigrant with a love of classical music and Catholicism. Achingly funny and deeply perverse, this uncomfortable-yet-endearing comedy is steeped in pain and melancholia, with a pair of unique performances at its core. Think ‘90s Todd Solondz with a nightmare Wes Anderson aesthetic. The feature directorial debut of writer/director Mark H. Rapaport, producer of THE SCARY OF SIXTY-FIRST and PLEDGE. Also starring Eliza Roberts and Jesse Pimentel. Executive produced by Danny McBride, David Gordon Green and Jody Hill. Cheval Noir Competition. World Premiere.
EMBRACE THE MONSTER WITHIN WITH THE ROARING TIGER STRIPES
The first amongst her group of friends to hit puberty, 12-year-old Zaffan (Zafreen Zairizal) feels her body changing. In the small rural village in Malaysia where her life is structured around the rules of school and Muslim faith, this could become a problem…a monstrous problem. The first Malaysian film to win the Grand Prize at Cannes’ La Semaine de la Critique, Amanda Nell Eu’s TIGER STRIPES is a delightful addition to the canon of feminist, horror-tinged coming-of-age films: a striking debut that showcases an infectiously rebellious filmmaking spirit and aDIY energy that comes once in a blue moon. Cheval Noir Competition. North American Premiere.
A GRIPPING, CHARACTER-DRIVEN THRILLER THAT PACKS HEARTSTOPPING SURPRISE: NEW LIFE
A mysterious woman (Hayley Erin) is on the run, a fixer (Sonya Walger) is assigned to bring her in, and the stakes of the pursuit rise to apocalyptic proportions. Writer/director John Rosman’s NEW LIFE is a thriller that doubles as an unexpected emotional powerhouse, with its dimensioned, atypical duo both struggling to learn the what and why of their circumstances. NEW LIFE keeps the viewer on edge as its many layers begin to unravel, conjuring considerable tension in unpredictable ways. From the producers of SOMETHING IN THE DIRT and THE MORTUARY COLLECTION. World Premiere.
UNMASK THE PHANTOM
The 1930s: a dark time in Korean history. During the Japanese colonization of Korea in 1933, anti-occupation groups resist the oppression of the ruthless Imperial government. After a failed assassination attempt on the newly-appointed Governor General, security chief Kaito leads an investigation to hunt down an expert spy known only as the “Phantom.” Five prime suspects are then locked inside a remote hotel and forced to prove their innocence. Lee Hae-young (BELIEVER) returns to the festival with an edge-of-your-seat spy thriller featuring a who’s-who of insanely talented actors: Sul Kyung-gu (IDOL), Lee Hanee (EXTREME JOB), Park So-dam (PARASITE), Park Hae-soo (SQUID GAME) and Seo Hyun-woo (DECISION TO LEAVE). North American Premiere.
A TENSE REVENGE THRILLER RE-INTERPRETATION: FEMME
Performing as Aphrodite Banks, Jules (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, CANDYMAN) has become one of London’s most celebrated drag artists. After a show, he steps out to get some cigarettes when he is brutally attacked by a gang of racist homophobes. Jules withdraws from the drag race entirely, traumatised and despondent. Months later, while at a gay sauna, he recognizes a familiar face: his attacker Preston (George MacKay, 1917), whom he starts dating, hatching a plan for revenge. Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping’s debut FEMME is a jaw-dropping thriller built around the notion of code-switching along sexual orientation, but also racial and ideological lines. A perfectly calibrated queer thriller, it subverts the tired trauma narrative and instead focuses on drag as a powerful force. Cheval Noir Competition. North American Premiere.
BOOGER WILL HAVE YOU COUGHING UP MORE THAN JUST FURBALLS
Mary Dauterman’s short film, WAKEY WAKEY took Fantasia by storm when it internationally premiered in the Born of Woman showcase in 2019. She’s now back with her feature debut BOOGER, a dark comedy about lost cats, grief, and millennial despair. Anna’s (Grace Glowicki) best friend Izzy just died, and her landlord won’t stop calling about rent. As her life falls apart, she’s bitten by Izzy’s cat Booger and starts to get stranger every day: she’s hungry for canned fish, she keeps swallowing her hair, and her predator instincts are out of control. World Premiere.
THE ANIMALS ARE ALWAYS RIGHT IN ANIME GEM THE CONCIERGE
“The word ‘no’ doesn’t exist in a concierge’s dictionary.” That’s just one of the demanding rules that Akino must abide by in her new job as a concierge at the elegant and expansive Arctic Department Store, where the customers are all animals and the most valued among them are of extinct species. This anime gem adapts the much-loved manga by Tsuchika Nishimura. Populated by all manner of creatures great and small, THE CONCIERGE is a colourful, comical, compassionate treasure of bespoke anime, boasting animation production by Production I.G and a script by Satomi Ooshima (FORTUNE FAVORS LADY NIKUKO), marking the feature-film debut of gifted director Yoshimi Itazu (PIGTAILS, Fantasia 2016). Axis Section – North American Premiere.
A PACK OF FAILED CLOWNS HAVE THEIR MOMENT IN THE MAD IRISH CHAOS COMEDY APOCALYPSE CLOWN
A troupe of failed clowns and an intrepid reporter embark on a lunatic road trip of self-discovery after a mysterious solar event plunges the world into anarchy in what may be the funniest (and only) clowns-and-catastrophe movie ever made. A decade after their hilarious DISCOVERDALE, Irish director/co-writer George Kane re-teams with Demian Fox, Shane O’Brien and James Walmsley (of comedy rock band Dead Cat Bounce) with this insane and original chaos comedy freakout that pays tribute to clowning as much as it skewers it. Featuring David Earl, Natalie Palamides, Amy De Bhrún, Fionn Foley and Tadgh Murphy. International Premiere.
BETTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW THAN THE DEVILS YOU DON’T
Motivated by anger and revenge, homicide detective Jae-hwan is hellbent on taking down a dangerous serial killer named Jin-hyuk. During a frenzied chase, Jae-hwan finally captures the perpetrator but a disastrous accident sends him to the hospital. Upon waking, Jae-hwan finds something is terribly off: he now looks and sounds like Jin-hyuk Director Kim Jae-hoon makes his feature debut with the FACE/OFF-inspired body-swap thriller DEVILS: an over-the-top, thoroughly entertaining thrill ride starring Oh Dae-hwan (DELIVER US FROM EVIL) opposite Jang Dong-yoon (PROJECT WOLF HUNTING) in a gory, cinematic showdown for the ages. North American Premiere.
FICKLE FRIENDSHIP AND CLAY CREATIONS: FANTASTIC GOLEM AFFAIRS
Rudderless bachelor Juan (Brays Efe, PAQUITA SALAS) and his best friend David play charades on the rooftop. When David falls to his death, his body disintegrates into a thousand clay pieces.He was…a golem all along? Juan González and Nando Martínez’s latest collaboration is an unpredictable sci-fi comedy that feels part telenovela, part sketch comedy – all subverted by original offbeat humor and wacky world-building. Shot on 16mm and co-starring Spanish superstars Luis Tosar (MIAMI VICE) and Javier Botet ([REC]), THE FANTASTIC GOLEM AFFAIRS is a colorful creation dismantling the façades of everyday life. Camera Lucida Section. North American Premiere.
LEARN HOW TO FALL IN LOVE WITH MY WORST NEIGHBOR
Seung-jin moves into a shabby new flat, seeking one last chance to fulfil his dream of breaking into the tough world of pop music. However, two details soon derail him. Firstly, the walls are made of cardboard. Secondly, his neighbour Rani, an agoraphobic character designer, is determined to eliminate any noise. A war of attrition begins, with no face-to-face negotiations possible. A reinterpretation of Clovis Cornillac’s film UN PEU, BEAUCOUP, AVEUGLÉMENT, Lee Woo-chul’s MY WORST NEIGHBOR stars K-pop superstar Han Seung-yeon, of the group Kara, and actor Lee Ji-hoon, as two thoroughly endearing, charismatic neighbors. North American Premiere.
A FEROCIOUS REMINDER THAT PAST CAN BE PROLOGUE: RASCALS
Set during the rise of the skinhead movement that swept through Paris in the 1980s, RASCALS is a searing portrait of a generation caught up in rising facism. A dark coming of age story like THIS IS ENGLAND or LA HAINE, carried by an iconic period soundtrack. Director / co-writer Jimmy Laporal-Trésor has crafted a masterful debut, one of the most impactful features of the year, never overemphasizing violence but focusing brilliantly on its ramifications. The protagonists, superbly acted by a cast that includes Missoum Slimani, Jonathan Feltre, Angelina Woreth and Victor Meutelet, are each victims of circumstances that reach far beyond them. RASCALS could not be more topical or affecting. North American Premiere.
A STUDENT FILM WITH SHADES OF WONG KAR-WAI: THE MOON, SKY AND YOU
In Hei Yau Lin’s debut feature, THE MOON, SKY AND YOU, high school lovers fight against a hitman organization. Made for The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, THE MOON, SKY AND YOU announces a new voice for genre cinema. An electric experimentation that takes advantage of the full range of cinematic potential, the film balances ironic apathy with painful sincerity as it captures the fleeting innocence of youth. The film features a filet-o-fish-eating goldfish, a homemade carousel and blood-speckled schoolgirls. Underground Section. World Premiere.
A HALLUCINATORY VISION OF HELL: PANDEMONIUM
Winner of Fantasia’s 2016 Jury Prize for Best International Short for A NEARLY PERFECT BLUE SKY, celebrated writer/director Quarxx returns to the festival with the stunning new feature PANDEMONIUM. Drawing on themes found in Dante’s Inferno and Milton’s Paradise Lost, the film is a multi-textured existential fantasy topped with signature notes of visceral horror, disturbing fairy tale, wry comedy, and thrills. Exploring the many faces of death — suicide, murder, illness, accident — Quarxx dives deep into the notion of sin without redemption and the frailty of the human condition through the waking nightmare of one confused traveler (Hugo Dillon) who refuses to abandon all hope as he enters the gates of hell. North American Premiere.
VINEGAR SYNDROME’S DEBUT PRODUCTION MELTS RETINAS WITH EIGHT EYES
At the breaking point of their dysfunctional marriage, Cass (Emily Sweet) and Gav (Brad Thomas) take a trip through Serbia. After meeting a mysterious local, Saint Peter, who eagerly offers to be their guide, the couple embark on an impromptu sightseeing expedition that soon takes a series of sinister turns. The inaugural production from beloved restoration label Vinegar Syndrome, shot on location in 16mm with mind-bending cinematography, EIGHT EYES shocks hard. Director / co-writer Austin Jennings’ feature debut channels the spirits of exploitation cinema’s past to construct a film that is as ghoulish as it is captivating. Featuring an original score by Morricone Youth. World Premiere.
AKIRA TORIYAMA’S MANGA SAND LAND RETURNS AS AN ANIME FEATURE FILM
Best known for the world-renowned DRAGONBALL, celebrated Japanese manga creator Akira Toriyama’s many other works include the mini-epic SAND LAND, a demon-infested, post-apocalyptic screwball romp published in 2000. It portrayed a mysterious desert world where water is the most precious resource, and follows Satan’s son Beelzebub and his comrades on a desperate, dangerous quest. Toriyama’s countless fans can rejoice because now, a quarter century later, an anime adaptation has further rekindled SAND LAND’s appeal. Fantasia’s crowd can take particular pleasure in this news, because the director is the talented Toshihisa Yokoshima, a deft master of CG animation whose short film COCOLORS won a Satoshi Kon Award at the festival in 2017. Axis Section. Canadian Premiere.
BULLETS AND DRUGS COLLIDE IN HERMAN YAU’S WHITE STORM 3: HEAVEN OR HELL
Lock and load for this explosive action extravaganza, a stand alone sequel with all new characters directed by a true master of exploitation cinema, Herman Yau (THE LEGEND IS BORN-IP MAN, UNTOLD STORY). Yau directed, produced and photographed over 100 films, many which are classics that shaped Hong Kong cinema. Starring 3 Hong Kong legends including two Johnnie To regulars, Louis Koo (DRUG WAR) and Lau Ching-Wan (last year’s DETECTIVE VS. SLEUTHS). Canadian Premiere.
SATANIC PANIC, VIDEO DOORBELLS AND THE CRINGIEST FLAVOR OF STAR WARS: A TRIO OF DOCUMENTARIES FROM THE EDGE.
The call is coming from inside the house in HOME INVASION
“Made in bed during the pandemic” by playful experimentalist Graeme Arnfield, HOME INVASION is one of the most chilling cinematic experiences of the year. A nightmarish essay film doubling as an experiential horror film framed through an oppressive peephole, this genre-defying documentary takes the viewer from the invention of the doorbell to the arrival of Amazon’s ghoulish Ring, showing how this history intertwines with film technology, horror cinema and labour struggles. Composed from a mix of archival patent illustrations, domestic security footage and classic film clips from Hitchcock to Haneke, HOME INVASION asks what happens when our homes and dreams have been invaded. Official Selection: Berlinale 2023. Camera Lucida Section. North American Premiere.
SATAN WANTS YOU explores the truth about Satanic Panic through “Michelle Remembers”
In 1980, a book entitled Michelle Remembers rocked pop culture. Written by Michelle Smith and her psychiatrist Larry Pazder, this account reveals Michelle’s suppressed memories of satanic ritual abuse at the hands of her parents. In SATAN WANTS YOU, which debuted at SXSW 2023, directors Sean Horlor and Steve J. Adams interview key witnesses of Michelle’s ordeal to delve into the reasons why this book is seen as the catalyst for the Satanic Panic phenomenon. Our screening will include a special Q&A with Fantasia’s 2022 Canadian Trailblazer award winner, Kier-La Janisse in conversation with the filmmakers. Her book Satanic Panic: Pop-Culture Paranoia in the 1980s will also be available. Septentrion Shadows Section. Quebec Premiere.
The stranger-than-fiction story behind a terrible Star Wars holiday special: A DISTURBANCE IN THE FORCE.
There’s no doubt that we’re living in a golden age of television. 45 years ago, however, we were most decidedly not, and the proof lies in THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL, a two-hour TV monstrosity that has long been named the worst STAR WARS ever. Jeremy Coon and Steve Kozak’s exhaustively researched and wildly entertaining A DISTURBANCE IN THE FORCE interviews everyone from the show’s creators and crew to superfans including “Weird Al” Yankovic, Seth Green and Kevin Smith, revealing the absurd circumstances that led to the ‘70s Variety-style show turning out as disastrously as it did. International Premiere.
CLASSIC ADDITIONS TO FANTASIA 2023’S SOUTH KOREAN SPOTLIGHT!
Celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations between Canada and the Republic of Korea, in collaboration with the Korean Cultural Center Canada and the Cinémathèque québécoise, Fantasia adds exemplary masterpieces to the retrospective.
PEPPERMINT CANDY (South Korea) – Dir. Lee Chang-dong
As powerful now as ever, Lee Chang-dong’s 1999 novelistic breakthrough takes us through seven key chapters of a man’s unraveling life, and of a country’s history.
CHILSU AND MANSU (South Korea) – Dir. Park Kwang-su
Billboard painters Chilsu and Mansu take on a big job and reckon with a changing society, in this historical landmark of South Korean cinema, released in 1988.
IO ISLAND (South Korea) – Dir. Kim Ki-young
An executive travels to a mysterious, matriarchal island to investigate a death and clear his name in this 1977 folk horror masterpiece from the director of THE HOUSEMAID.
Also screening in this series: Jeong Jae-un’s TAKE CARE OF MY CAT (2001) and Im Sang-soo’s A GOOD LAWYER’S WIFE (2003) and THE PRESIDENT’S LAST BANG (2005).
ADDITIONAL 3rd WAVE TITLES
THE ABANDONED (Taiwan) – Dir. Tseng Ying-Ting
A grieving detective and her tyro partner seek justice for a mysterious series of murders whose tragic fates could be connected to an illegal migrant worker ring. From first time director Tseng Ying-Ting. Official selection: Rotterdam International Film Festival, Singapore Film Festival, Udine Far East Festival. Canadian Premiere.
BABY ASSASSINS 2 (Japan) – Dir. Yugo Sakamoto
Have the gun-toting gamines Mahiro and Chisato finally met their match? The comedic action concoction BABY ASSASINS returns for round two. Canadian Premiere.
BIRTH/REBIRTH (USA) – Dir. Laura Moss
A single mother (Judy Reyes) and a childless morgue technician (Marin Ireland) are bound together by their relationship with a little girl they have reanimated from the dead. A brilliant, provocative film that reimagines Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with such a contemporary understanding that it becomes something new and singular. Official Selection: Sundance 2023. Camera Lucida Section. Quebec Premiere.
THE CHILDE (South Korea) – Dir. Park Hoon-jung
A mixed-race boxer finds himself hunted by multiple assassins. An insane action film with a comic book flavour fit for a wild crowd. Québec Premiere.
FLAMING CLOUD (China) – Dir. Liu Siyi
Cursed by mischievous deities with a sleep-inducing kiss, Sangui sets out on a journey to find a cure and his long-lost love in Liu Siyi’s debut feature, a distinctive, whimsical and romantic fantasy. Canadian Premiere.
HUNDREDS OF BEAVERS (USA) – Dir. Mike Cheslik
A zany and anarchic homage to the silent film era pits a drunken applejack salesman against hundreds of beavers. An endlessly inventive freakout from the makers of the 2019 Fantasia audience award-winning LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER. Comparisons range from Tex Avery to William Castle, as the film’s relentless pace captures a style of filmmaking mostly lost in our modern era. Winner of a slew of awards on the festival circuit. Underground Section. Canadian Premiere.
IT LIVES INSIDE (USA) – Dir. Bishal Dutta
An Indian-American teenager (Megan Suri) struggling with her cultural identity unwittingly releases a demonic entity that grows stronger by feeding on her loneliness. A frightening meshing of the tensions of the immigrant experience with ferocious supernatural horror, finely crafted and exceptionally well-performed, with fresh concepts taking the film into severe nightmare territory. Winner of SXSW’s Midnighters award. Quebec Premiere.
The 27th edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival is presented by Videotron in collaboration with Desjardins and is made possible thanks to the financial contributions of the City of Montreal, the Conseil des arts de Montréal, the Government of Quebec, SODEC, Telefilm Canada and Tourisme Montréal.
Will you be attending the Fantasia International Film Festival this year? What do you think of the third wave of titles, and the plan to honor Nicolas Cage? Let us know by leaving a comment below.