Fantasia Festival – Initially, it was a festival devoted to highlighting Asian films, especially those with a fantastic or horror theme. That original vocation is still present today, but Fantasia Festival has evolved into something more complex and diversified, although its emphasis on Asian movies is easily detected just by the number of titles from that continent. This year Fantasia Festival presents its 21st edition with an exciting lineup that even includes what promises to be an American hit (to be released soon): “Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets” directed by Luc Bresson, with Dane DeHaan as Valerian and Cara Delevingne as Laureline. Most of the movies, however, are from outside the traditional Hollywood movie factory, which is certainly a good thing: we need some diversity after all.
“Fantasia has grown over the years to become an event now firmly established on the calendar of industry professionals and media around the world. This recognition allows us to have access to the best recent productions and to have the pleasure of welcoming their creators, who want to be present so as not to miss this unique experience” says President-Founder Pierre Corbeil.
Since I haven’t seen any of the movies yet, after going through the long lineup, I just picked up three that seems interesting according to the credentials of the directors and the description of their plots. Remember anyway that Fantasia highlights movies with a certain emphasis on the fantastic, horror, and science-fiction, although the comedic element may also be present in many of them too.
“Almost Coming, Almost Dying” by Japanese director Toshimasa Kobayashi, which actually makes his debut on the big screen with this production (he has been a TV director) caught my attention after reading the film description. “Ask yourself this: if you found yourself buck naked in the hospital following, say, a sudden, life-threatening brain hemorrhage, which occurred while you were doing something you’re mortifyingly ashamed of – and your concerned family really wants to know just what was going on – what would you do? In the case of Japanese comic artist Manabu Nakagawa, you’d relate every squirm-inducing detail in a popular autobiographical manga (“Kumoman”, named after the bat-wielding phantom teddybear Nakagawa envisioned as a mascot for Reversible Cerebral Vasoconstriction Syndrome).”
The Swiss-Polish-Austrian co-production “Animals” is another film that sounds worth seeing. “Greg Zglinski directs this strange hybrid of black comedy, marital melodrama and surrealist horror with masterful, often jaw-dropping assurance, showcasing his sharp ear for dialogue, and keener eye for montage, making every layer of reality collide into the other in constantly inventive and surprising ways, until the film’s shocking resolution – a virtuosic boiling point, closing the darkest scenes of a marriage you’ll see this year.”
“The Aztec Revenge” by American director Jeffrey Uhlmann, comes back to a particular type of superhero: the masked Mexican wrestler. “After a break-in at a campus storage facility, a college professor calls upon his old friend and world-renowned righter of wrongs, the legendary Mil Máscaras. As he investigates the crime scenes, the superhero wrestler soon realizes that these deeds are the work of an ancient demon more dangerous than anything he has ever faced before.”
Fantasia runs from July 13 to August 2; screenings take place at Concordia University (Downtown Campus), the Cinémathèque québécoise, and the McCord Museum. For detailed schedule, prices, and full film descriptions visit www.fantasiafestival.com