The Fantasia International Film Festival has announced a massive new assortment of feature films for its 25th edition, along with details on scheduled panels, talks, tributes, special events, and our esteemed juries. On top of the impressive virtual slate of films, all geo-locked to Canada, and in addition to the globally accessible streamed events, the upcoming festival will also feature a limited number of in-person screenings in Montreal.
Fantasia begins August 5th with the World Premiere of Quebec zombie feature Brain Freeze (2021), following the August 4th special event screening of James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad (2021) in celebration of the festival, and ends on August 25th with a newly announced closing film, Takashi Miike’s hotly-anticipated Yokai Daisenso: Guardians (2021).
TAKASHI MIIKE CLOSES OUT FANTASIA 2021 WITH THE GREAT YOKAI WAR – GUARDIANS
The honor of closing Film belongs to the great Takashi Miike (13 Assassins (2010), Ichi the Killer (2001), Audition (1999)), a constant yet always surprising presence in the festival’s long history. The Great Yokai War: Guardians (2021), a sequel to The Great Yokai War (2005), 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 favorite 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 (2021), 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 (2020). 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 (2019), Lee Won-tae returns with the masterfully directed The Devil’s Dead (aka Daewoebi: Gwonryeok-ui Tansaeng) (2021). 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 (2020)) 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 Dead (2021) is a must-see. WORLD PREMIERE.
A FEROCIOUS BRITISH CRIME THRILLER THAT CHARGES LIKE A BULL
A feared gang enforcer (Neil Maskell, Kill List (2011)), who vanished for ten years, returns to hunt the mobsters he once ran with in Bull (2021), the ferocious British revenge thriller from BAFTA-winner Paul Andrew Williams (London to Brighton (2006)). 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 (1985–)) and David Hayman (Sid and Nancy (1986)) 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 (2021) is the live-action feature adaptation of Ken Wakui’s enormously popular award-winning manga of the same name. Director Tsutomu Hanabusa (Kakegurui the Movie: Zettai Zetsumei Russian Roulette (2021), 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 (2021) 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.
BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER IN THE CRIME FAMILY SAGA IDA RED
Midwest filmmaker John Swab (Let Me Make You a Martyr (2016)) returns to Fantasia with Ida Red (2021), 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 (2021) 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 (2021) 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.
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 (2021), 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 (2021– )), Sera-Lys McArthur (Outlander (2014–)), Samuel Marty (Godless (2017)), Carla Fox, and Julian Black-Antelope (Hold the Dark (2018)). WORLD PREMIERE.
HAVING FUN IS ALL THAT MATTERS IN GRAND BLUE DREAMING
Stuck in a surreal, nudist loop somewhere between Groundhog Day (1993) and Memento (2000), 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 (2020), by Tsutomu Hanabusa (Tokyo Revengers (2021)), is as weird as it is hilarious. Astonishingly fast-paced and loaded with politically incorrect humor, 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 (À l’intérieur (2007), Kandisha (2020)) display numerous filmic skills with this intelligent found footage style feature. The immersive darkness, the floating strangeness, The Deep House (2021) 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 (2021) follows in this tradition. A breathless tale boasting a 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 (2021), 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 (2015) and The Siren (2019), 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.
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 (2021) is the culmination of a four-year collaboration with director Josef Kubota Wladyka (Manos Sucias (2014)), 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 (2020)) 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 DA
The latest from Argentinean director Daniel de la Vega (Ataúd Blanco: El Juego Diabólico (2016)) and production house Del Toro Films (South America’s answer to Hammer Studios), On the 3rd Day (2021) 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 (2017), The Signal (2007)) comes The Night House (2020). 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 (2020) stars Rebecca Hall (Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)), Sarah Goldberg (Barry (2018–)), Vondie Curtis Hall (Die Hard 2 (1990)), Evan Jonigkeit (Bone Tomahawk (2015), Easy (2016–)), and Stacy Martin (Nymphomaniac (2013)). 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 rumored 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 (2014)) long-awaited sophomore effort Midnight in a Perfect World (2020) 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.
The main text is taken from the official Fantasia International Film Festival press note. For more information and tickets visit the official festival’s site. Check out the 2021 Fantasia Festival promo.
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