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First wave of Fantasia International Film Festival titles announced; new poster

Tuesday, June 9, 2020 | Fantasia International Film Festival, News


Montreal’s Fantasia fest is going digital this year, and the first round of its typically impressive lineup of movies has been revealed, along with the poster.

Reconceived as an on-line event due to the ongoing pandemic, Fantasia 2020 will run August 20-September 2, accessible to fans across Canada. The fest opens with a special screening of THE RECKONING (pictured above), the latest from director Neil Marshall, marking his second Opening Film at Fantasia after THE DESCENT in 2005. Starring Charlotte Kirk, Sean Pertwee from Marshall’s DOG SOLDIERS and DOOMSDAY, Joe Anderson (THE GREY, THE CRAZIES), Steven Waddington and Emma Campbell-Jones, THE RECKONING is set during the witch hunts amidst the Great Plague of the 17th century, and is thus very timely today. Also part of the initial announcement:

• An otherworldly journey through a Europe in decline, Chino Moya’s UNDERGODS is a collection of aesthetically astonishing, darkly humorous fantasy tales about a series of men whose worlds fall apart through a visit from an unexpected stranger. This singular visual feast is a co-production between the UK, Belgium, Estonia, Serbia, and Sweden with a cast that includes Geza Rohrig (SON OF SAUL), Johann Meyers (SNATCH), Hayley Carmichael (LES MISERABLES), Eric Godon (IN BRUGES), Kate Dickie (THE WITCH), Adrian Rawlins (CHERNOBYL), Ned Dennehy (MANDY), and an especially crazed Jan Bijvoet (BORGMAN). World Premiere

  • One night, a famous novelist encounters a young, seemingly homeless woman in an overpass tunnel. He brings her home, which sets him on a path of increasingly bizarre encounters. TEZUKA’S BARBARA is the abrasively jazzy adaptation of Osamu Tezuka’s adult manga of the same name. Directed by Makoto Tezuka (LEGEND OF THE STARDUST BROTHERS) and lensed by Christopher Doyle (IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, HERO), this film–released as part of Tezuka’s 90th-anniversary celebration–mixes pinku-style erotica with an examination of the creative impulse and a dash of the occult, thus unveiling the lesser-known dark side of the ASTRO BOY creator and anime maestro. North American Premiere

  • A mother and daughter are suspected of witchcraft by their devout rural community in Canadian filmmaker Thomas Robert Lee’s freakishly nightmarish THE CURSE OF AUDREY EARNSHAW. One of the most unsettling and surprising occult horror films since HEREDITARY, this haunting tale is steeped in folklore and brimming with imagery that will besiege your subconscious. It stars Catherine Walker (A DARK SONG), Jared Abrahamson (HELLO DESTROYER), Hannah Emily Anderson (WHAT KEEPS YOU ALIVE), Don McKellar (LAST NIGHT), and Sean McGinley (BRAVEHEART), and is co-produced by MY BLOODY VALENTINE director George Mihalka. World Premiere

  • In New Delhi filmmaker Sidharth Srinivasan’s first horror work–and first narrative feature in a decade, following SOUL OF SAND–a DJ encounters a beautiful woman at a club, goes back to her home, and finds himself thrust into a nightmare odyssey of ritual magic, patriarchal death customs, and family conflict most unusual. Transgressive, darkly humorous, and mystically atmospheric, KRIYA is a fever dream of fear starring Navjot Randhawa (MEHSAMPUR), Noble Luke, and Avantika Akerkar (THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL), is co-produced by Andy Starke (IN FABRIC) and Pete Tombs (FREE FIRE), and features an unforgettable score by Jim Williams (POSSESSOR). World Premiere

  • Bernardo is an undertaker. He runs his mortuary business in the same house where he resides. In the front, he has his clients. And in the back, his dysfunctional family lives amongst coffins, wreaths, and the mischievous but non-violent ghosts that visit on a daily basis. But when a malevolent entity enters the scene, it wreaks havoc on the already fractured household in Argentinean writer/director Mauro Iván Ojeda’s chilling first feature. THE UNDERTAKER’S HOME (LA FUNERARIA) stars Luís Machín (MONTECRISTO), Celeste Gerez (DESTINO ANUNCIADO), and Camila Vaccarini (PAISAJE). World Premiere

  • The sophomore feature by Canadian writer/director/cinematographer/composer Anthony Scott Burns (OUR HOUSE), COME TRUE is a distinctive and compelling work of dark science fiction that haunts the space between wakefulness and sleep. Plagued by disturbing dreams and unable to go home, rebellious teenager Sarah (THE KILLING’s Julia Sarah Stone) is relieved to find shelter at a university sleep study. Hoping this will finally help her to get rid of her nightmares, she unwittingly becomes the channel to a horrifying new discovery. Co-starring Landon Liboiron (TRUTH OR DARE). Produced by Mark Smith (IN THE TALL GRASS) and Nicholas Bechard (HOLIDAYS) and Canadian genre-film luminaries Steve Hoban (GINGER SNAPS) and Vincenzo Natali (CUBE). World Premiere

  • Nearly 25 years after the release of TROMEO & JULIET, Lloyd Kaufman and the Troma Team are going “back to the Bard” with an utterly insane interpretation of Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST, set against America’s opioid crisis. Kaufman celebrates Troma’s 45th–and his 50th–year of making movies by taking on Big Pharma, addiction, and an intolerance of social media with all the sex, mutants, musical numbers, and violence that Shakespeare always wanted but never had. #SHAKESPEARESSHITSTORM marks the most ambitious project in Troma’s 45-year history, popping with Kaufman’s uniquely anarchistic style at a time when it couldn’t possibly be more needed! World Premiere

  • A film by John C. Lyons and Dorota Swies, UNEARTH is a fracking horror story that follows two neighboring farm families whose relationships are strained when one of them chooses to lease their land to a gas company. In the midst of growing tension, the land is drilled, and something–long dormant and terrifying, deep beneath the earth’s surface–is released. Adrienne Barbeau (THE FOG), Marc Blucas (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER), and Allison McAtee (WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS) star. World Premiere

  • Kazuto is not your typical amateur thespian. His dreams have been spoiled by a special nervous condition that makes him faint at the slightest sign of stress! One day, upon his brother’s serendipitous invitation, he joins a most peculiar agency, employing everyday actors to stage real-life situations! Being a stand-in at a wedding or a funeral is one thing…but soon enough, Kazuto must infiltrate a cult…and all hell breaks loose! Shinichiro Ueda (ONE CUT OF THE DEAD) is back with his highly anticipated sophomore film SPECIAL ACTORS! A delirious meta-comedy, doubling down on the performative antics of his previous making-of/zom-com hybrid, Ueda now turns the entire world into a stage–to our utmost delight! Canadian Premiere

  • The sophomore feature from Natasha Kermani (IMITATION GIRL), LUCKY tells the tale of May (Brea Grant, who also scripted), a self-help author who suddenly finds herself stalked by a threatening but elusive masked man that mysteriously reappears every night. Struggling to get help from the people around her as she fights to stay alive, May is forced to ask if this is just paranoia, or if she’s doomed to accept her new reality? A visceral and smart exploration of gaslighting through the prism of horror storytelling, LUCKY was originally slated to launch at this year’s SXSW. International Premiere
  • The story of Tiny Tim’s improbable rise to stardom is the ultimate fairy tale–and so is that of his downfall. For a brief time, the shy and truly unusual outsider artist was the biggest star in the world. Swedish filmmaker Johan Von Sydow’s eight-years-in-the-making TINY TIM: KING FOR A DAY, like its subject, is unlike anything else out there. Through Tiny’s intense diaries (read by “Weird Al” Yankovic performing Tim’s inner voice with genuinely dramatic results), archival footage, and interviews with family, friends, and contemporaries like Wavy Gravy, Tommy James, and the late Jonas Mekas and D.A. Pennabaker, the film paints an intimate portrait of one of the oddest careers in showbiz. It is a story that will have you in stitches and in tears. World Premiere

  • Tormented by vivid nightmares and the belief they are real, Marlene suffers a nervous breakdown in a remote German village. As her 19-year-old daughter heads there to join her, she encounters a well-kept family secret and an old curse that will make her life a never-ending nightmare. Michael Venus’ SLEEP (SCHLAF), co-starring Gro Swantje Kohlhof (NOTHING BAD CAN HAPPEN) and Sandra Hüller (TONI ERDMANN), is a supremely confident debut–smartly examining the continuing roots of totalitarianism through the prism of a dreamy haunted-hotel film and the horror of our current, waking moment. A standout at this year’s Berlinale. North American Premiere

  • Writer/director Brea Grant (who also scripted and stars in this year’s LUCKY) has delivered one of our favorite films of the year. A gripping real-time, hospital-set thriller/black comedy taking place in the late ’90s at the onset of the opioid crisis, 12 HOUR SHIFT follows a junkie nurse through an ascension of grisly criminal happenings as she funds her habit through organ-harvesting side work on the job. Fronted by a career-best performance from Angela Bettis (MAY), playing a ferociously uncommon kind of anti-hero, and infused with inspired directorial details, the film co-stars Chloe Farnworth, David Arquette, and Mick Foley. Originally slated to launch at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. International Premiere
  • An alien takes over the body of a middle-aged drug addict (Gary Green) and goes on a delirious joyride across Cape Town in Ryan Kruger’s FRIED BARRY, an acid trip of a road movie. Winner of a RapidLion Award for Best South African Film, it’s a tale that’s alternately depraved and oddly sweet–featuring over 100 actors and some seriously bonkers FX. It’s an absolute first in the history of South African cinema–and perhaps in humankind itself! Canadian Premiere

  • Believe the hype. With YUMMY, Belgian filmmaker Lars Damoiseaux has made one of the craziest, funniest, most inventive, and surprising zombie gorefests to assault screens in recent years. You won’t believe your eyes! Quebec Premiere

In the Camera Lucida section:

  • On its closing night, a cinema is struck by lightning and a trio of young men are thrust beyond the screen, into the dying days of Japan’s feudal era, the Boshin War, the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Battle of Okinawa, and the eve of the Hiroshima bombing. With the passing of director Nobuhiko Obayashi in April of 2020, cinema lost a titan. His final film, LABYRINTH OF CINEMA (2019) is a deeply humanist text: an endlessly delirious career coda and a voyage through Japan’s wartime and cinematic history. It stands as a timely reminder of the power of movies to inspire in the face of hopeless barbarism. Canadian Premiere
  • In LAPSIS, a delivery man struggles to support himself and his ailing brother. After a series of dead-end hustles, he takes a job in a strange new realm of the gig economy: trekking deep into the forest and pulling miles of cable over treacherous terrain to connect a new quantum trading market. A chillingly pertinent tale, Noah Hutton follows activist documentaries DEEP TIME and CRUDE INDEPENDENCE with this brilliant skewering of the absurdity of contemporary work environments, leaving no stone unturned: from the sharing economy to healthcare profiteering and the increasing game-ification of labor. This is speculative fiction at its most relevant. Originally slated to launch at this year’s SXSW. Canadian Premiere
  • Germany, the 1970s. Stephanie is a lively child. She leads an isolated life alongside a mentally unstable mother, an absent father, and their cat. Her days there turn into weeks, and the weeks into months, then years…bringing aging and rot, but no future in sight. And so Stephanie retreats into a dark world of barbaric fantasies… An entrancing debut from Sabrina Mertens, TIME OF MOULTING unfolds as a series of meticulous domestic tableaux, slowly morphing into a disturbing descent into a young girl’s inner turmoil. Crushing, and not for the faint of heart. North American Premiere

And in the animation section:

  • Mexican feature A COSTUME FOR NICHOLAS, directed by Eduardo Rivero, is a wild and colorful fantasy adventure with a special point to make. Nicholas, a 10-year-old with Down Syndrome, has a grand collection of costumes his mother made him, but as he and his resentful and troubled cousin David find out, just because it’s make-believe doesn’t mean it’s not real! Canadian Premiere
  • In the Estonian country-bumpkin shock-comedy THE OLD MAN MOVIE, a couple of city kids are dropped off for the summer at the grandfather’s farm for a taste of country living, but when his precious cow escapes, a hair-raising hellride of back-country horrors, gross-out gags, and rural surrealism breaks loose. With the help of director Oskar Lehemaa, Peeter Ritso and Mikk Mägi’s hugely successful YouTube series has become a high-water mark for stop-motion animation, and a glorious new low in lowbrow laughs! North American Premiere

The second wave of titles will be announced in July, with the full lineup unveiled in early August and ticket sales beginning shortly after that. For further info, head over to Fantasia’s official website.

Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold (RUE MORGUE's Head Writer) has been covering the world of horror cinema for over three decades, and in addition to his work for RUE MORGUE, he has been a longtime writer and editor for FANGORIA magazine and its website. He has also written for BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH, SCREAM,, TIME OUT, DELIRIUM, MOVIEMAKER and others. He is the author of the AD NAUSEAM books (1984 Publishing) and THE FRIGHTFEST GUIDE TO MONSTER MOVIES (FAB Press), and he has contributed documentaries, featurettes and liner notes to numerous Blu-rays, including the award-winning feature-length doc TWISTED TALE: THE UNMAKING OF "SPOOKIES" (Vinegar Syndrome).