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The Vintage Tempest’s Picks on What to See at Fantasia Fest 2021

24 Jul

Fantasia Festival | 2020 Artwork

Fantasia Fest 2021 is now half-and-half, offering in-person and online screenings! People living in Canada have the option to either travel to the East Coast for this genre film celebration or stay at home. The pandemic is still lingering around, and we don’t need real life zombies roaming the streets of Montreal.

Please be aware there’s limited seating options for the in-person events, especially James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad (also opening theatrically at the same time). These are bound to sell out fast as sales opened yesterday. Online, most screenings are on demand, with a select group scheduled to broadcast at a select time. These details will be noted as needed.

In this two-part article are my top picks on what to see. There’s a lot to explore, as this festival is very diverse and month-long! I’m including seminars since this year will be honouring Phil Tippitt with a Lifetime Achievement Award (event ticket here). There’ll also be a masterclass with the master too, exploring the deeper roots of his art. His panel and film screening tops my list of must attend. The bonus is that the online discussion is free to view!

Other events or screenings include:

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A Different Monster:
Black Women and the Monstrous

Presentation by Carolyn Mauricette

From Sarah Baartman to Grace Jones, Black women are often thought of as exotic creatures and grossly misunderstood, or, like Frankenstein’s monster, they have been put in a category where they are feared and disliked, with observers quick to vilify or dismiss. Yet, in horror, characters who are supernatural beings or “monsters” are actually an embodiment of Black women’s strength and perseverance. We’ll look at some of the most interesting characters, whether vampires, witches or supernatural beings, and see how even in their otherness and within problematic representation, they have power, agency and represent the vulnerability and strength Black women have possessed through the ages.

Haunting The National Consciousness:
The Rise of Indigenous Horror

Presentation by Dr Kali Simmons

In this lecture, expanded from work presented at the Miskatonic Institute for Horror Studies, film scholar Dr. Kali Simmons will analyze the ways that horror has been deployed in the service of settler-colonialism as well as the ways Indigenous writers, actors, and filmmakers spoken back to these troubling stories. Works by Indigenous artists like Jeff Barnaby, Cherie Dimaline, Stephen Graham Jones, Waubgeshig Rice, Gwaii Edenshaw and Helen-Haig Brown not only challenge our notions of horror and monstrosity but ask how to live as an ethical human being in a time of catastrophic and terrifying change. Does horror have the potential to unsettle audiences in meaningful ways? Following the talk there will be a Q&A period which is open to virtual audience members.


Alien on Stage

In the great tradition of pantomimes, a form of participatory community theatre, a merry bunch of bus drivers are working on a homemade stage play adaptation of Ridley Scott’s ALIEN.

This movie is as DYI as it gets, with costumes from charity shops and cardboard decor, we follow the ups and downs of the most delightful, down-to-earth and charming people you’ll ever get to meet, in Lucy Harvey and Danielle Kummer’s debut feature.

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All The Moons

19 August 21h30
21 August 09h00

As war rages through 1876 Spain, an orphanage is bombed and a young girl (Haizea Carneros) is gravely injured. She is rescued by a woman (Itziar Ituño) whom she perceives to be an angel, and who heals her wounds, while telling the girl she must now avoid the daylight. She also promises the girl that she will see many more full moons, and when more soldiers attack, they are forced to flee into the wilderness.

The two become separated, and the girl is forced to take shelter, facing an uncertain future – and one that will last far beyond that of ordinary human beings.

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The Deer King

21 August 13h00

Years of begrudging peace have held since the Zol empire subjugated the kingdom of Aquafa – except for its Fire Horse region, for fear of the Black Wolf Fever. The ancestral curse now returns. A horde of otherworldly wolves ravage the land, leaving deadly illness in their wake. A brilliant physician desperately seeks to cure the plague, and dispatches a skilled bounty hunter to track down those who might hold the key.

A terrible attack on prisoners in a mine has left only one man and a child alive, and salvation may lie with them. With his uncanny strength and command over animals, this is no ordinary man, but then, these are not ordinary times. As both his past and his pursuers draw ever closer, and palace schemes threaten to shatter the peace, the legendary warrior Broken Antler Van must reluctantly face his destiny.

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Funky Forest

If you look at them just right, the most mundane elements of daily life can seem utterly bizarre. Conversely, the strangest, most inexplicable things can seem perfectly ordinary. That’s the lunatic logic behind 2005’s FUNKY FOREST, a sprawling omnibus of the obvious and the oddball, the casual and the completely insane.

FUNKY FOREST‘s daringly disjointed narrative is a mishmash of blackouts, non-sequiturs, flashbacks, lucid dreams, magical moments and so much more. Life’s little disappointments are woven together with all sorts of extraterrestrial freaks and incomprehensible biological curiosities, music-video mayhem and mind-bending theatrics, and psychedelic surrealism of the finest grade, delivered with a deadpan shrug.

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Ghosting Gloria

11 August 18h30
13 August 09h00

Gloria (Stefania Tortorella) needs an orgasm. According to her friend Sandra (Nenan Pelenur), it’s written all over her face. When was the last time she had one? She doesn’t know. She doesn’t know if she’s ever had one.

So begins Marcela Matta and Mauro Sarser’s sophomore feature GHOSTING GLORIA, a film which blends genres – switching between horror, fantasy, offbeat comedy – all wrapped up in whimsical, somewhat unconventional and subversive, romance. Gloria’s problem with getting an orgasm is easily solved when she finds the right man. There is just one issue with her new love interest: he’s a ghost.

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The Great Yokai War

25 August 19h00

Like many children his age, Kei learns to control his fears and constantly quarrels with his little brother Dai. One night, a strange creature comes to visit him, then a mysterious portal opens in his room. He is transported to the magical world of the Yokai, the gentle Japanese demons, each with an unusual shape and unique character traits. They tell him that a terrible war threatening their world will devastate downtown Tokyo in the form of the colossal Yokaiju.

Worse, the emergency meeting of the great international council of Yokai, where Dracula, the mermaid, what looks like a Trumpist, and their cronies have abandoned them, has designated Kei and Dai as their only hopes, as they are the last descendants of a legendary fighter. Frightened, Kei refuses. When he returns, Dai has disappeared. Kei must find the courage to fulfill his destiny in order to save his brother, the Yokai, and Tokyo.

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Hello! Tapir

14 August 17h00

It has the body of a pig, the trunk of an elephant, the ears of a horse and the feet of a rhinoceros. At night, it passes through sleeping villages and gobbles up people’s pesky nightmares. This huge, fantastical beast, called a tapir, is real, and eight-year-old Ah Keat’s father once told the boy he had in fact seen one when he himself was young.

One grey day, the family’s fishing boat is towed back into the village harbour, and Ah Keat’s father is not on it. The adults around him – his distraught grandmother, his anxious mom who has returned from Taipei – are not forthcoming with Ah Keat about what has happened. He wants his father back, and he believes the tapir can help, so he and his friends begin a quest to find the gentle, benevolent beast.

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Ah, children. The source of much joy, hope and innocence for many, but truth be told the little monsters are out to kill us all. Let’s be honest, they’re all selfish wretches who do nothing but drive you crazy and suck up your will to live.

And now, in a small Estonian village, two narcissistic little brats (Nora and Harri Merivoo, the director’s kids!), dropped off at their Grandmother’s (Mari Lili) farm for a few weeks while their parents attend a self-help retreat, may bring about the end of human existence as we know it. Complaining about the actual work they’re expected to do, these little snot-nosed pests bring the local legend of the Kratt – a Terminator-like demonic spirit that must always be fed work, or else – to life just so they can take it easy, but in doing so they may have set in motion the destruction of Grandma, her village and perhaps the world with it. And all because they couldn’t get internet access.

Love, Life and Goldfish

6 August 19h30
8 August 09h00

They say it’s unhealthy to bottle up your emotions. Makoto, an elite employee at one of Tokyo’s biggest banks, has learned this the hard way. The poor guy is so closed off, and has built up so much frustration, that when he is about to receive an important promotion, he can’t help but shower a volley of gratuitous insults on his boss. As a result, he finds himself transferred to a small rural town, in the middle of nowhere. Once there, he meets the sweet Yoshino, the owner of a strange establishment where the customers compete in goldfish fishing. He immediately falls in love with her, but strongly resists this unwanted feeling. Then there is the exuberant local pub owner, Asuka, who seems to have a crush on him. Caught up in an emotional whirlwind, Makoto will have to learn to tame and express his emotions before he explodes again, and unwittingly sends everyone packing.

Phil Tippett's MAD GOD

Mad God

22 August 19h30
24 August 09h00

Under a barrage of enemy fire, an intrepid special agent in a suspended container is lowered steadily into an ominous shaft. Down, down, inexorably down, through the strata of ruin and residue bearing enigmatic witness to time’s passing.

At last, the pod touches down on terra firma, and its occupant emerges, map in hand and mission in mind. The surrounding landscape is a broken place of corruption and decay, of casual horror and degradation. Our hero will not be deterred, though the path ahead holds only more horrors, so many to behold…

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Operation Luchador

The Second World War still holds so many mysteries. You think you know everything about WWII? Well, this world war still holds many surprises for you. Did you know that Mexico, in the 1940s, was the home of the Eagle of the Reich, a famous fascist masked wrestler and follower of Nazi teachings? That the American intelligence service had recruited a Mexican masked wrestler, The Golden Angel, to infiltrate the ranks of the Führer to curb his Machiavellian plans.

Thanks to OPÉRATION LUCHADOR, you will learn all about Hitler’s horrible machinations, including the bombing of the Gatún Dam to block the Suez Canal, the infamous cosmic mirror known as the Sun Cannon, intended to literally fry the United States of America, the creation of a squadron of trained dogs converted into kamikaze pilots; and the existence of a National Socialist hideout protected by a certain Nazi Yeti in Patagonia. You will discover what may have happened in the Führer’s bunker on 30 April 1945, and more importantly, what may have happened to Hitler’s brain after his supposed suicide.

Pompo: The Cinephile

7 August 13h00

“Is there a secret to making a great movie?” That’s the question that Gene Fini asks of retired producer J.D. Peterzen, a legend in Nyallywood, the world capital of filmmaking. Gene is a lowly, anxious production assistant, taking careful notes on everything he sees in the studio while handling countless minor tasks for his boss, Joelle D. Pomponette – aka “Pompo”. A bundle of energy with a sharp eye and fast decision-making reflexes, Pompo is Peterzen’s granddaughter, and a B-movie mogul in her own right. Gene has no plans of becoming a director himself, the idea terrifies him in fact. But Pompo has plans for Gene, plans that will turn his life upside-down – and lead him ever closer to the secret of cinematic success!

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Prisoners of the Ghostland

20 August 21h45
23 August 19h00

Two American men, Hero (Nicolas Cage) and Psycho (Nick Cassavettes), walk into a Japanese bank in Samurai Town toting guns and screaming “Banzai!”. A small boy offers them gumballs. It does not end well. In another part of town, Bernice (Sofia Boutella), granddaughter of the town’s tyrannical ruler, The Governor (Bill Moseley), attempts to escape. It does not end well. Bernice is now trapped in a lawless locale known as The Ghostland, that The Governor deems too dangerous, and he wants her back. For this mission, he plucks Hero out of prison with an offer of freedom if he can find Bernice and bring her back, alive and “unsoiled”, in three days. It will not end well, if it ever ends at all.

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We’re All Going to the World’s Fair

8 August 21h30

Somewhere in a typical American suburb – a big house and an attic bedroom containing an unknowable adolescent universe orbiting around the World Wide Web – a lonely teen stares intently at her computer screen.

“Casey here. Today I’m going to take the World’s Fair Challenge.” A worrisome ritual, at once banal and bizarre, proceeds. Over the course of the next few days, Casey documents every step of this viral challenge – which takes hold of her body and mind, and spins her in an increasingly dissociative state.

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Woodlands Dark &
Days Bewitched:
A History of Folk Horror

Winner of a Midnighter Audience Award at SXSW, WOODLANDS DARK AND DAYS BEWITCHED navigates through 200 films and 50 interviewees, including Robert Eggers (THE VVITCH), Alice Lowe (PREVENGE) and Piers Haggard (BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW), to name a few. WOODLANDS DARK is produced by Severin Film’s David Gregory, masterfully edited and precisely paced. A groundbreaking work, extensively researched and made over a period of many years, and, cherry on top, features an eerie paper collage sequence by Canadian treasure Guy Maddin. As for the director herself, Kier-La Janisse, she’s the author of acclaimed House Of Psychotic Women, founder of the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies, film curator, critic, producer – Janisse has proven time and time again that she is an infinite well of wisdom and knowledge on all things within genre cinema. In her own words, WOODLANDS DARK “investigates the many ways that we alternately celebrate, conceal and manipulate our own histories in an attempt to find spiritual resonance in our surroundings.” How about that?

Yakuza Princess

18 August 21h00
20 August 09h00

Sao Paulo, Brazil is the largest Japanese diasporic community in the world, home to over 1.6 million Japanese-Brazilians and many former Japanese residents. Among them is Akemi (Japanese-American singer MASUMI), a young Japanese woman raised in Brazil and trained since childhood in martial arts and sword fighting by the benevolent but strict Chiba (Toshiji Takeshima). Akemi knows nothing of her heritage or her family, and yearns to break free and find her own way in the world – but her family’s past will soon catch up to her. Elsewhere in a Sao Paulo hospital lies the mysterious Shiro (Johnathan Rhys-Meyers), badly wounded and an amnesiac, with only an antique Japanese sword to provide any answers to the riddles of who he is and how he got there. The two mysteries will soon intersect and the criminal underworld will be rocked by the answers the pair uncover together. And it won’t be pretty.

Fantasia’s 25th Anniversary Goes Virtual!

21 May

Fantasia2021By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

For the latest updates, please visit the official website.

Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival is going half and half, with a mix of physical events and digital for the genre enthusiast. The 25th Anniversary can’t be just one without the other because of the current global medical crisis, and the organizers can’t say for certain if the pandemic can be contained by the time summer rolls around. This event will include scheduled screenings and premieres, panels, and workshops, with films once again hosted on the leading-edge platform created by Festival Scope and Shift72. The number of physical events will be based on what the province’s health authority says, and this news don’t drop until closer to the event.

In what’s known is how important Japan’s culture has played across Fantasia’s history. There’ll be an enhanced focus, and this enthusiast can’t wait to see what’s coming! I hope they can secure the rights to show the full run of Evangelion films in its entirety! 

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It’s no ‘Brain Freeze’ that Montreal’s Fantasia’s Going Digital for a 2nd Year

9 Apr

Fantasia International Film Festival (@FantasiaFest) | TwitterThe Fantasia International Film Festival will be celebrating its 25th edition as a virtual event accessible to audiences across Canada, with a dynamic program of scheduled screenings and premieres, panels, and workshops running from August 5 through August 25, 2021, once again using the leading-edge platform created by Festival Scope and Shift72.

As the summer approaches, the festival will be following advice from local health authorities, with the possibility of also adding a range of flagship physical events to the lineup.

Last summer’s virtual edition was a phenomenal success, screening to 85000 spectators and amassing a record amount of media coverage, with 475 accredited journalists from around the world covering Fantasia and its titles. The lineup showcased 104 features, a quarter of which were World Premieres, with the majority securing distribution out of the festival, with highlights including The Block Island Sound selling to Netflix, Come True to IFC, The Paper Tigers to WellGo USA, Anything for Jackson to Shudder, PVT Chat to Dark Star, and Minor Premise to Utopia.

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The Vintage Tempest’s Picks of the Fantasia International Film Festival 2019

15 Jul

Image result for fantasia film festival 2019Runs: July 11 – August 1st
Montreal, Quebec

The Fantasia International Film Festival is in full swing, taking place in Montreal, Quebec with plenty of works to view and a wonderful look into all things fantastic. The genres also include horror, science-fiction and drama. In this show, the focus is on the extraordinary, hence the name. I encourage anyone who loves these genres to come to this show and see the world premieres that take place here.

Of particular note is a premiere screening of Shelagh McLeod’s Astronaut (review coming) starring Richard Dreyfuss. Arielle Dombasle’s Crystal Palace is a French production which only some can describe–a hallucinatory experience, a kitsch and camp kaleidoscope with surrealist dialogue and cardboard costumes (literally), all with a dash of meta-cinema. I’m particularly excited for the release of Takahiro Umehara’s The Moon in the Hidden Woods which blends steampunk, Korean folk styles and otherworldly fantasy into a tale of a world bereft of a lunar guardian. Adilkhan Yerzhanov’s Night God is said to be a waking nightmare, an unknowable maze of gigantic moving paintings, reminding one at times of the painter Carel Willink.

But it’s not the movies that defines a show. The huge list of shorts showcase the imagination of many a new filmmaker. Swiss animator Nils Hedinger’s Kuap looks like it may borrow from Hayao Miyazaki in narrative, Simon Beaupré’s Evil James Bond vs World War Z is a must for those who love crazy crossover ideas. Those who love Chinese folklore should look at Wan Jinyue and Du Jinzhi‘s The Girl and the Serpent.

The list does not end here. From the press release:

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