Fantasia 2019: Festival Lineup and Cinapse Crew Picks

Back for its 23rd year, one of the best fests out there for genre, The Fantasia International Film Festival, will be taking over Montreal this summer, from July 11th- August 1st, screening over 130 features. This year they have not only an outstanding film lineup, but also a focus on live events and repertoire screenings as well. The fest opens this year with Sadako, which has original Ringu director Hideo Nakata returning to the Ring franchise, and closes with the anime feature Promare, the feature length debut from studio Trigger. Directed by Kazuki Nakashima and written by Hiroyuki Imaishi, Promar reunites the duo who previously worked together on the anime TV series Gurren Lagann and Kill La Kill.

As far as live events, Cinapse favorite Joe Bob Briggs will be in Canada, for the first time presenting his live show How Rednecks Saved Hollywood (read our interview with Briggs here). Iconic producer Edward R. Pressman will take part in “Edward R. Pressman: Live in Conversation,” an intimate interview with critic and professor Donato Totaro. They will be discussing his career from Conan The Barbarian to Bad Lieutenant. For Studio Ghibli fans looking for a night away from the movie theater, Montreal’s Orchestre à Vents de Musiques de Films will be performing a live orchestral retrospective of the studio celebrating the music from their vast catalog of classics.

Before we do a full rundown of the screenings and events, I asked a few of my fellow writers on Cinapse to give their picks from the fest’s amazing lineup, starting with mine.

Dan Tabor’s Picks:


To be honest, I am probably most excited for the festival opener Sadako, which reunites original Ringu director Hideo Nakata with the Ring franchise. After re-visiting the series thanks to Arrow’s great Blu-ray box, set I am more than ready for another entry in the series that looks to lose a bit of the ridiculousness that has seeped into the films over the years and return it to its darker roots.


This doc looks to explore that one of the most interesting facets of De Palma’s 1974 horror musical Phantom of the Paradise, which disappeared from US theaters almost as soon as it was released. The story goes that when the film played the small Canadian town of Winnipeg, it was so popular it played nonstop in the local cinema for four months. I’m a big Phantom of the Paradise fan, so I can’t wait to check this out, as it looks to examine not only the film, but the world wide fandom as well.


All I read in the description was Chiaki Kuriyama (Kill Bill Vol. 1) and Tadanobu Asano (Ichi the Killer) in the live action adaptation of a manga by Kyoko Okazaki, and I had to see this film. The film is the story of a group of friends who are trying to solve the riddle their dead friend Chiwawa became by remembering the relentless and self-destructive quest for love and attention that led to her demise.


Produced by the recently exhumed Fangoria and written by best-selling author Grady Hendrix (My Best Friend’s Exorcism, Horrorstör), Satanic Panic is a horror comedy about a pizza delivery girl whose last delivery of the night turns out to be to a satanic cult.


I love the tiny monster sub-genre, and Critters Attack! is the first feature-length Critters film in 27 years. Directed by Bobby Miller (The Cleanse) and written by Scott Lobdell (Happy Death Day), the film has Dee Wallace (E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial) making her triumphant return to the franchise that promises plenty of little prosthetic monsters and a lot of blood.


A film that got a lot of buzz when it played at the Overlook Film Fest, Porno is a horror comedy about five sex-starved religious teens trapped in a theater who happen to find a cursed porn film.

Consider me sold.

Frank Calvillo’s Picks:


Elijah Wood has spent most of the last decade, if not longer, carving out a name for himself in the world of indie horror thanks to his production company Spectre films (which has produced such offerings as The Boy and The Greasy Strangler) and through his brave acting choices within the genre, including Maniac and Cooties. Wood’s presence at this year’s Fantasia Fest continues the cementing of his name within the genre thanks to two different titles which showcase his talent as an actor and knack as a producer. While Come to Daddy sees the actor play a self-absorbed millennial who reconnects with his estranged (and slightly demented) father in a remote house that soon leads to shocking results, the producer side of him explores the darkness of mental illness in Daniel Isn’t Real, the story of a college student whose imaginary childhood friend suddenly returns years later. Both titles have already received their fair share of acclaim following previous festival screenings and look to further Wood’s artistry and reputation in horror cinema.

Justin Harlan’s Picks:


In a matter of a few weeks, this film went from barely on my radar to one of my most anticipated films of the year. Samara Weaving has proven herself a genre star in the last few years, as far as I’m concerned… and the rest of the cast looks stellar as well. The insane premise of the film and shocking deaths in the trailer have me more than sold on this one.


Since our editor and action afficionado, Ed Travis, isn’t able to join us in Fantasia coverage this year, it felt important for me to highlight this one. It screams Ed… which is to say, it looks like a badass fighting film. Whopoing ass and taking names, I’m in.

Check out the full program rundown below!

Twenty years ago, Fantasia celebrated the North American Premiere of Hideo Nakata’s RINGU and its sequel, which led to Dreamworks acquiring the franchise and is largely seen as having been the birth of J-Horror in the West. This Summer, the festival is proud to open its 23rd edition with the series’ latest sequel, SADAKO (North American Premiere), which also marks the return of director Nakata to his beloved franchise. One of cinema’s scariest characters is back on the big screen, and you’d better prepare yourself in case she and her young acolyte decide to crawl out of it. SADAKO cleverly respects all of the elements that made Koji Suzuki’s novels so successful, but brings in a host of new elements that will revive J-horror for an all-new generation of terrified moviegoers.

Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin (V/H/S) and Tyler Gillett (DEVIL’S DUE), READY OR NOT follows a young bride (Samara Weaving of MAYHEM) as she joins her new husband’s (Mark O’Brien) rich, eccentric family (Adam Brody, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell) in a time-honored tradition that turns into a lethal game with everyone fighting for their survival. In this Special Screening from Fox Searchlight Pictures, the games that people play are the games where people slay!

Extreme heat never looked so cool! In the embers of the globe-engulfing great flame war, the maverick firefighters of Burning Rescue confront the fiery terrorists of Burnish Mad. Director Kazuki Nakashima and writer Hiroyuki Imaishi, who previously worked together on GURREN LAGANN and KILL LA KILL, are at the wheel for PROMARE (Canadian Premiere), the debut feature from edgy anime studio Trigger. A raging riot of bright colours, daring design, crazy characters, and whiplash action, this isn’t just the most thrilling anime of the year, it’s a genuine pop art masterpiece.

Preceding PROMARE is a special anime treasure — the World Premiere of Wit Studio’s short film THE GIRL FROM THE OTHER SIDE, the screen debut of manga artist Nagabe’s affecting gothic fairytale!

A sad, soulful crime drama about choice, guilt and consequence, imbued with a creeping sense of damnation that will haunt you to your core, BLOOD ON HER NAME (World Premiere) is a scorching feature debut for director and co-writer Matthew Pope. It’s an intimately powerful film centered around an extraordinary performance from Bethany Anne Lind, who reveals herself to be one of the most remarkable actors working today. Through her character’s perspective, she and Pope deliver a compelling exploration of moral compromise steeped in a tone of defeated desperation that pulls us into its world without a single false move. Also starring Will Patton and Elisabeth Rohm, this film will mark you forever.

Adolfo Alix Jr. (DARK IS THE NIGHT, MANILA, PORNO) is one of most prolific independent filmmakers of the Philippines, whose multi-genre films have graced the screens of Cannes TIFF, Rotterdam and Locarno. With MYSTERY OF THE NIGHT (World Premiere), he gleefully turns to horror with a strange, impactful, 1900s-set adaptation of Rody Vera’s play “The First Aswang”. Making great use of the classic folklore of the Aswang, Alix Jr. addresses the multi-generational horrors of Spanish colonial rule in a classic fairy tale retold with a dash of eroticism and the weird. This special, unforgettable film achieves a unique and strange aesthetic that builds to great hypnotic effect, sinking its claws into its audience, and dragging them further into the night.

Following an acclaimed launch in Critics Week at Cannes, Irish filmmaker Lorcan Finnegan’s VIVARIUM will be making its North American debut at Fantasia 2019. It tells the story of a young couple, played with charm by Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg, who check out a potential new home in a Kafkaesque suburbia, only to later discover that they’re unable to escape from the endless, empty residential neighbourhood. Featuring stellar supporting performances by Eanna Hardwicke and Jonathan Aris, this fascinating paranoid thriller is in the vein of the greatest Twilight Zone episodes: a tense science fiction fable that will imprison you in its otherworldly hold and never let go.

The dead are piling up at an alarming rate, and the state in which the victims are discovered is even more shocking. Everyone seems to have died from heart attacks, visibly provoked by extreme fear — and their eyes have literally exploded. Fans of RINGU’s Sadako and THE GRUDGE’s Kayako will be thrilled to experience STARE (World Premiere)… and meet Shirai-san, an unforgettable new Eastern apparition that will haunt festivalgoers’ nightmares forever. 2019 continues to deliver on cutting edge J-horror — and there is no doubt that director, screenwriter, and author Hirotaka Adachi’s STARE will be one of the year’s biggest highlights.

The feature debut of writer/director David Marmor, 1BR (World Premiere) joins a very select group of quality horror films — including Polanski’s THE TENANT and Argento’s INFERNO — to successfully explore the terrors of apartment living, but what sets this film apart is its plausibility. It would be running into spoiler territory to divulge more, except to say it’s probably not a coincidence the story is set in Los Angeles, a city where unsuspecting people, looking to make a change, all too often have that change forced upon them against their will. Marmor’s smart script and solid cast of mostly unknowns make 1BR one of Fantasia 2019’s top discoveries.

Tense, well scripted, and terrifically performed, A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND (Special Advance Screening) is a compelling take on the tried-and-true “ordinary person caught in extraordinary circumstances” story. Repurposed through the prism of a vengeance thriller — and told through the perspective of a fiercely strong female lead (MAYAN MC’s Sarah Bolger) — it will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish, and deliver countless surprises along the way. The stylish sophomore feature of British filmmaker Abner Pastoll (ROAD GAMES) — and featuring a career-best performance from IFTA award-winning Bolger — the film (which co-stars Edward Hogg and Edward Simpson) takes hold with frighteningly desperate situations and unexpected bursts of violence.

In Shaun Piccinino’s AMERICAN FIGHTER (World Premiere), a wrestling champ is desperate to get his mother safely out of Iran, but this can’t be done through conventional channels. And it can’t be done cheaply. The only answer? Head-to-head fights, any style goes, for cash. Producer Ali Afshar told his own inspiring story with the 2017 sports drama AMERICAN WRESTLER: THE WIZARD, and has his alter ego Ali Jahani (George Kosturos) follow a much darker path this time. A pinch of political thriller, a helping of California coming-of-age tale, and whole lotta bare-fisted battling in the bad part of town add up to a solid win.


Fantasia favourite Yuya Ishii (THE TOKYO NIGHT SKY IS ALWAYS THE DENSEST SHADE OF BLUE) returns to Fantasia with ALMOST A MIRACLE (North American Premiere), a big-budget adaptation of Yuki Ando’s beloved manga. Nerdy Hajime Machida would be typical high-school student, were it not for an almost pathological condition that prompts him to constantly help everyone around him, often to his own detriment — an ailment that leads to a myriad of comedic complications. In keeping with his interest for loners, iconoclasts, and unique protagonists, director Ishii provides audiences with an empathetic and heartwarming portrait of an unlikely hero, in what is already one of the most crowd-pleasing and heart-warming films of the year.

After her first feature, FRIENDLY BEAST, a theatrical tale of blood, sex, and the battle between social classes which world-premiered at Fantasia 2017, Gabriela Amaral Almeida returns with a second, much darker film. THE FATHER’S SHADOW (North American Premiere) was a short film written and developed in 2014 through Sundance’s Director’s Lab program, which evolved into a feature. Inspired by virtually every great master of horror, and much like her zombie-obsessed young lead, Amaral uses her fantastic imagination and ability to create visceral, haunting images in order to express the anguish of Brazilian society in decline.

Michelle (Alex Essoe) meets Linda (Precious Chong) at a yoga class. Linda’s wide-eyed enthusiasm is clearly off-putting, but Michelle’s aversion to conflict makes it difficult for her to brush off the increasingly pushy woman. Things escalate once Linda asks Michelle to redecorate her home and refuses to let her leave. Written by director Zack Gayne and the film’s two stars, Chong and Essoe (who wowed audiences with her breakthrough performance in 2014’s STARRY EYES), HOMEWRECKER (World Premiere) embraces an unusual tone informed by late 1980s pop sensibilities. With the energy of a Jane Fonda workout tape, the movie escalates into the uncanny, especially as it deals with gendered expectations surrounding femininity and romance.

Recalling his fondest childhood memories — bonding with his workaholic dad over 8-bit victories in the earliest Final Fantasy games — Akio hatches a plan. He’ll convince his father to take up gaming, befriend him anonymously within the online world, and rebuild their connection. Directorial tag team of Teruo Noguchi and Kiyoshi Yamamoto have created something special with BRAVE FATHER ONLINE — OUR STORY OF FINAL FANTASY XIV (International Premiere), the former overseeing the film’s live-action scenes, the latter commanding a squad of online players in an inspired combination of virtual combat and animated melodrama. The two outdo themselves with a clever, thoughtful, and flat-out great-looking film that is not to be missed.

A malevolent spirit menaces a family already frayed at the edges in SATOR (World Premiere), an exercise in horror minimalism that draws you in, holds you captive, and then freezes your blood with freakish visions and unflinching violence. Basing the story on his own family’s experiences, Jordan Graham weaves a moody tale of physical and emotional isolation and dysfunction, exacerbated by the growing threat of the supernatural. As signaled by the handwritten opening credits, this was a true do-it-yourself project for Graham, who wrote, directed, produced, shot, edited, and did pretty much everything else on SATOR, a passion project which has taken him five years to complete.

Kim Yoon-seok is one of South Korea’s most respected actors. Whether he’s a sympathetic antihero in THE CHASER or a terrifying antagonist in 1987: WHEN THE DAY COMES, he’s always managed to capture audiences’ attention with his immense talent. With ANOTHER CHILD (Canadian Premiere), Kim goes behind the camera as director and co-writer to impress us once again, this time by imbuing his fundamentally feminist directorial debut with a finesse and sensitivity that highlights its narrative richness. This delicately crafted coming of age film relies not only on a beautiful story, but on the absolutely mind-blowing performances of four majestic actresses.

Fearless, headstrong, and furious, Shin is determined to avenge his friend and help the exiled monarch of the Qin Dynasty win back his throne, unaware of the larger than life opponents he will have to face. After having masterfully handled horror (I AM A HERO), the superhero film (INUYASHIKI), and many other genres, Shinsuke Sato (BLEACH) breathlessly takes us to China’s pre-imperial era of feuding warlords in KINGDOM (Canadian Premiere). This spectacular fantastic-historical epic bursts with gripping, carefully choreographed battles, while Sato mixes perfect amounts of action, humour, violence, and drama to create one of the best films of his career.

In an attempt to boost their online popularity, a group of friends obsessed with their social media exposure decide to broadcast their clandestine visit into an abandoned building that was last used by a cult, and end up opening a portal to an alternate dimension. Writer-director-producer Kimo Stamboel of the Mo Brothers (MACABRE) demonstrates impressive efficiency and creativity with his first solo feature DREADOUT (North American Premiere), adapted from the popular video game. If DETECTIVE PIKACHU gave gamers a cuteness overdose, DREADOUT is the remedy — an ample serving of the undead with a shot of demonic possession on the side.

Blaise Harrison’s enigmatic LES PARTICULES — hot off its bow in the Director’s Fortnight in Cannes — joins the rich tradition of coming-of-age films tinged with the supernatural, mixing the tropes of science-fiction and adolescent drama to better insinuate the otherworldly. P.A., a shy teenager, finds his place with a tight-knit group of friends. One hundred metres below their feet, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) roars. A huge and spectacular machine with cosmic designs. As adolescence and life itself accelerates, one wonders: Is something strange happening… or is this simply what growing up is like?
Nao Yoshigai, one of the most exciting Japanese filmmakers to emerge in recent years, has steadfastly developed a unique, personal, and remarkably coherent universe. Trained as a choreographer and dancer, her films function as fantastical microcosms of mounting intensity, in which the often violent, daring and surprising impulses of the human body and the natural world provide many surprises. NAO YOSHIGAI X 4: OF BLOOMING FLOWERS AND DEAD SKIN — the first retrospective program of her work anywhere in the world — will showcase “Hottamaru Days” (International Premiere), “The Pear and the Fang” (International Premiere), “Stories Floating in the Wind” (Canadian Premiere), and “Grand Bouquet” (Canadian Premiere).
NIGHT GOD. Kazakhstan — Dir. Adilkhan Yerzhanov. Smothered in darkness, the world is slowly descending into chaos. Violent and absurd, crepuscular and hypnotizing, the acclaimed Kazakh auteur’s fifth feature is the assured vision of a waking nightmare. North American Premiere.
AND YOUR BIRD CAN SING. Japan — Dir. Sho Miyake. Tasuku Emoto, Shizuka Ishibashi, and Shota Sometani star in this breezy and languorous coming-of-age film, capturing the strange, uncertain beauty of sleepless nights and restless days in Hakodate, Japan. Canadian Premiere.
LETTERS TO PAUL MORRISSEY. Spain — Dirs. Armand Rovira and Saida Benzal. Five characters in crisis confide in avant-garde master Paul Morrissey, with each segment in this hypnotic collection of black-and-white 16mm filmic correspondences being wildly unique: from druggy and horrific to very intimate. Canadian Premiere.
KOKO-DI KOKO-DA. Sweden — Dir. Johannes Nyholm. What once was is now lost, and Elin and Tobias must relive the same nightmarish events, as that day and the horrors they experienced repeat themselves infinitely. As beautiful as it is horrible: the film portrays grief as a life of its own. Canadian Premiere.
JESSICA FOREVER. France — Dirs. Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel. In a dystopian Neverland, Jessica prepares her tribe of lost boys for love and death. Directors Poggi and Vinel, promising paragons of alternative French cinema, unleash a brutal and poised feature debut. Quebec Premiere.
Previously announced titles include Jesus Shows You The Way to the Highway (Spain/Ethiopia/Estonia), dir. Miguel Llanso; Knives and Skin (US), dir. Jennifer Reeder; Ode to Nothing (Philippines), dir. Dwein Ruedas Baltazar; and Maggie (South Korea), dir. Yi Okseop.

All titles will compete for the AQCC-Camera Lucida prize, awarded by a jury of critics from the Québec’s Critics Association (AQCC), member of the FIPRESCI.

Fantasia’s section dedicated to unconventional outsider visions returns with four left-field works that must be seen to be believed.
The shackles of grief are overwhelming in the dreamy DIY supernatural thriller THE DEEPER YOU DIG (World Premiere). The line between the living and the dead collapses for a mother, daughter, and stranger in the aftermath of a roadside accident. A family affair, the movie was written, directed, and produced by John Adams, Toby Poser, and their daughter, Zelda. They also star, shoot, and compose the film’s score. The intimacy of the production is felt in the immediacy of the performances and the depth of ideas. This journey into the underworld crawls under your skin and draws you into your deepest, darkest nightmares.
At a small New York theatre, an aging magician (Ronald Guttman) comes up with a devilish plan to save his piece of old New York by invoking real black magic. Harsh realities and fantastic illusions come together in BLACK MAGIC FOR WHITE BOYS (International Premiere), SUMMER OF BLOOD / CATFIGHT director Onur Tukel’s latest film is a bizarre comic adventure about gentrification, race, and bodily autonomy in The Big Apple. With over 50 minutes of new footage, Tukel has completely reworked a project initially presented in 2017 as a four-episode series at Tribeca into a gnarly and charmingly weird dark comedy, balancing edgy misanthropy with a strain of silly sweetness. Co-starring Leah Shore and Jamie Block, and shot by TOAD ROAD / FELT director Jason Banker.
Becca rushes to rescue her down-and-out, suicidal brother, Richard, only to find him… and an apartment full of corpses that look just like him. A fun and fearless microbudget feature debut from Montreal-based duo Chris Bavota and Lee Paula Springer (the 2017 short EVEN THE DARKNESS HAS ARMS) DEAD DICKS (World Premiere) is not what it seems. Beneath its gross outs and absurd humour, the film is a sincere reflection on familial drama, dependency, and mental health.
What if SpongeBob had been directed by Canadian experimental master Guy Maddin? The answer lies with director Ryland Brickson Cole Tews and his microbudget creature feature, LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER (International Premiere). Made with great inventiveness and a love for ’50s B-movies and monster flicks, this is everything indie cinema should be and more. With gritty black-and-white photography, special effects galore, hand-crafted sets and costumes, and jaw-dropping hallucinatory sequences, this charmer won awards for Best Cinematography, Best Ensemble in a Feature, and the Audience Award for Best Feature at 2019’s Milwaukee Twisted Dreams Film Festival.

In addition to the previously announced World Premiere of PHANTOM OF WINNIPEG, Fantasia is proud to announce a trio of extraordinary new features for its Documentaries from the Edge section.
Since she first pointed her lens at the broken remains of a mob victim, Sicilian photojournalist Letizia Battaglia has been waging a decades-long battle with the mafia. An official selection at Sundance, Berlin, and Hot Docs, Kim Longinotto’s SHOOTING THE MAFIA (Quebec Premiere) is a moving and inspirational portrait of bravery and self-determination, the story of an ultimate outsider hero who never met a bully she wouldn’t stand up to and whose art remains a finely-honed weapon.
The hilarious history of the Church of the SubGenius, an early-’80s mock religion that challenged the mores and mendacities of its moment, and in no few ways predicted the existential insanity of our own, is explored in Sandy K. Boone’s J.R. “BOB” DOBBS AND THE CHURCH OF THE SUBGENIUS (Canadian Premiere). Featuring mad, mad vintage footage and ample contributions from founders Reverend Ivan Stang, Philo Drummond, and numerous SubGenius participants and devotees, including Richard Linklater, Nick Offerman, Penn Jillette, and Devo’s Gerald Casale.
Years in the making, BLOOD & FLESH: THE REEL LIFE AND GHASTLY DEATH OF AL ADAMSON (World Premiere), by Severin Films founder and filmmaker David Gregory (LOST SOUL: THE DOOMED JOURNEY OF RICHARD STANLEY’S ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU), goes beyond detailing the uncommon life and unthinkable murder of the legendary no-budget exploitation filmmaker. It beautifully captures the worlds of outsider moviemaking communities that existed in California in the ’70s, and the weird ways they intersected with Hollywood mainstream and union indies. On Adamson shoots, regular Orson Welles crew and cinematographers like Gary Graver, Vilmos Szigmond, and Lazlo Kovaks worked alongside John Carradine, Bud Cardos — and at one point — Charles Manson! This is the story of a resourceful band of outsiders, creatives, and hustlers during a unique period of filmmaking opportunity.

It’s a bumper-crop year for eye-catching anime features from Japan, and Fantasia’s Axis is proud to be presenting many of the very best, most for the first time on North American shores!
From the lively, liberated imagination of Masaaki Yuasa (LU OVER THE WALL, Netflix’s DEVILMAN CRYBABY, the masterful MIND GAME) comes RIDE YOUR WAVE, a film about losing love, leaning on friends, and learning how to find oneself. Yuasa plays with the very elements here: fire, and especially water, are fluid and amorphous… and almost alive. North American Premiere.
Teenager Akane and her daffy aunt Chii step down into the basement — and out of this world! — in THE WONDERLAND, a fantastical anime adventure bursting with imagination, from Keiichi Hara, award-winning director of COLORFUL and MISS HOKUSAI. North American Premiere.
Teenage romance, ontological science fiction, and fierce, acrobatic mecha battles collide in THE RELATIVE WORLDS, the dazzlengly intense feature-film rebuild of his own successful web animation series by digital animator Yuhei Sakuragi (the INGRESS anime, NEON GENESIS IMPACTS). North American Premiere.
Overseen by Katsuyuki Motohiro, a veteran of the FLCL and PSYCHO-PASS franchises, and directed by Fuminori Kizaki (AFRO SAMURAI), HUMAN LOST is a gripping cyberpunk anime thriller, packed with political intrigue, philosophical challenges, savage techno-horror, and exciting action! Canadian Premiere.
Ten years after Atsuya Uki’s amazing half-hour short CENCOROLL World Premiered at Fantasia 2009, the idiosyncratic, surrealist sci-fi teen drama is back with a sequel, making up the feature-length bundle CENCOROLL CONNECT. Casually uncanny and uncommonly cool, this is a true event for fans of offbeat and original anime. Canadian Premiere.
Imbuing the prosaic with something a bit like magic, Yutaka Yamamoto’s crowdfunded indie teen-romance mini-feature TWILIGHT is a postcard from Fukushima Prefecture, with love, laughs, tears, and the occasional perfect moment. International Premiere.
Fill your pockets with pujok, omamori, and fu talismans for THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE EAST! It’s Fantasia’s shivery short-film showcase, eleven Asian animated tales of spooks, spirits, monsters, and mystery — a mixed bag of the magical and macabre created through a multitude of techniques, from Japan, China, Taiwan, and South Korea. World Premieres include SHISHIGARI, a calling card (with music by the legendary Kenji Kawai) for the new, independent Studio Durian of Japan’s Kiyotaka Oshiyama.
Since the 1980s, Keita Amemiya (ZEIRAM, TWEENY WITCHES) has left his mark in countless corners of the universe of tokusatsu — Japanese science-fantasy cinema and TV. Amemiya-san visits Fantasia this summer to present GARO — UNDER THE MOONBOW, the latest entry his ongoing chronicle of otherworldly conflict. International Premiere.
A prolific director, Amemiya is equally celebrated as a renowned designer of uncanny characters, creatures, and costumes, never lacking for surprising innovation and a self-aware flair that stands out in his field. For his special Fantasia Master Class, Keita Amemiya takes a look at the masks, monsters, and marvels of his imagination!

In addition to its incredible film lineup, Fantasia 2019 is proud to host a number of cinema-centric live events, headlined by a special appearance from legendary film critic and horror host Joe Bob Briggs, a conversation with producer Edward R. Pressman, a bus tour of Montreal’s horror film history, and much more!

Previously announced was a special event by Montreal’s Orchestre à Vents de Musiques de Films, performing a live orchestral concert celebrating music from a wide variety of Studio Ghibli classics.
Joe Bob Briggs, who currently hosts The Last Drive-In, will blow the roof of Fantasia’s trailer park with Shudder Presents Joe Bob Briggs Live: How Rednecks Saved Hollywood: an energetic live performance which rockets audiences through decades of gory, sleazy, and just plain awesome exploitation cinema via rapid-fire photos, video clips, and hilarious, informative commentary from America’s favourite horror host.
Iconic producer Edward R. Pressman, who’s created incredible films with everyone from Terrence Malick and Sam Raimi to Zhang Yimou and Brian De Palma, will take part in Edward R. Pressman: Live in Conversation, an intimate onstage interview with critic and professor Donato Totaro, chronicling his career — from CONAN THE BARBARIAN to BAD LIEUTENANT, and everything in-between!
By popular demand, House of Psychotic Women author Kier-La Janisse and Fangoria’s Michael Gingold will host Spectacular Optical and The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies’ Horror Express: The Fantasia Edition: an epic afternoon bus tour of Montreal’s most famous and infamous horror film locations, stopping at ten incredible locales around the city. Expect a day of unforgettable photo ops and amazing horror history from two of the genre’s most brilliant minds.
Gingold, whose Ad Nauseum presentation as last year’s Fantasia was one of the festival’s hottest live events, will also host the book launch for his latest tome, Ad Astra: 20 Years of Newspaper Ads for Sci-Fi & Fantasy Films. Join the journalist that Guillermo del Toro called “the torch carrier for the original spirit of a generation of horror, fantasy, and science fiction aficionados” as he takes you through the history of 1980s and ’90s sci-fi and fantasy — with the book for sale immediately following the presentation.
Join David Gregory (Severin Films), Nora Mehenni (Arrow Video) and Joe Rubin (Vinegar Syndrome) for Returning Life to the Departed: Adventures in Genre Cinema Restoration, a very special discussion about the trials, thrills, and rewards of digitally restoring everything from obscure treasures to cinematic holy grails — and what it takes to create a film’s definitive home video release.

Fantasia is proud to present a new section in its lineup, dedicated to special screenings of major genre film restorations, in addition to showings of rare 35mm and 16mm prints.
Restoration Premieres to include:
DECODER (Germany, 1984) — Dir: Muscha
New 2K Restoration from Vinegar Syndrome. World Premiere.
DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN (USA, 1971) — Dir: Al Adamson
New Restoration by Severin Films. World Premiere.
New 4K Restoration by Synapse Films. World Premiere.
SATAN’S SLAVE (Indonesia, 1982) — Dir: Sisworo Gautama Putra
New 2K Restoration by Severin Films. International Premiere.
SON OF THE WHITE MARE (Hungary, 1981) — Dir: Marcell Jankovics
 New 4K Restoration by Arbelos Films. World Premiere.
LEGEND OF THE STARDUST BROTHERS (Japan, 1981) — Dir. Makoto Tezuka
New 2K Restoration from Third Window Films. Canadian Premiere.
A 35mm showing of the Shaw Bros classic THE BOXER’S OMEN (Hong Kong, 1983) — Dir. Kuei Chih-Hung.
The Montreal Film Society will present a special 16mm screening of Sam O’Steen’s made-for-television sequel LOOK WHAT’S HAPPENED TO ROSEMARY’S BABY (USA, 1976), hosted by actor Stephen McHattie.
Further, the Action! Lineup will be showing a rare 35mm print of Ringo Lam’s FULL CONTACT (Hong Kong, 1992) and StudioCanal’s recent restoration of Ted Kotcheff’s legendary, dramatic first chapter in the Rambo franchise, FIRST BLOOD (USA, 1982).


“I am not the judge of my characters. I am their best witness.” — Ted Kotcheff

Fantasia will bestow its inaugural Canadian Trailblazer Award to director Ted Kotcheff, a singular filmmaker who has worked across genres and mediums to tell bold, vivid stories with strong points-of-view. Born in Toronto in 1931, he began directing at the CBC at age 24 and was, at the time, the youngest director ever at the station. His filmography includes the Outback thriller WAKE IN FRIGHT (1971), the quintessentiel Montreal film THE APPRENTICEHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ (1974), WHO IS KILLING THE GREAT CHEFS OF EUROPE? (1978), NORTH DALLAS FORTY (1979), the Stallone-starring blockbuster FIRST BLOOD (1982), UNCOMMON VALOUR (1983), JOSHUA THEN AND NOW (1985), ’80s comedy staple WEEKEND AT BERNIE’S (1989), and THE SHOOTER (1995).

Mr Kotcheff will be presented his award at a special screening of the Canadian Film Centre’s restoration of THE APPRENTICESHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ.

Fantasia will also be screening StudioCanal’s recent restoration of FIRST BLOOD, with Kotcheff in attendance, as part of the festival’s Action! Section lineup.
ALIEN CRYSTAL PALACE. France — Dir. Arielle Dombasle.
A crazy scientist is on a quest to create a new, immaculate, androgynous being. Parisian nightlife icon Arielle Dombasle has made a psychotronic big-screen erotic fantasy, a kitsch and camp kaleidoscope, generous, absurd, and genuinely endearing. Co-starring Jean-Pierre Léaud and Asia Argento. North American Premiere.
After being mugged, meek accountant Casey (Jesse Eisenberg) joins a karate school — and his life takes a strange and dark turn. FAULTS director Riley Stearns’ sophomore feature is a twisted tale of the dangers of toxic masculinity. Co-starring Imogen Poots. Official Selection: SXSW 2019. Quebec Premiere.
BLISS. USA — Dir: Joe Begos
A drug-fueled night out in LA transforms a young artist into something otherworldly, but is it due to the vampiric ménage à trois she took part in or the cocaine-like “bliss” she’s been snorting? ALMOST HUMAN/THE MIND’S EYE director Joe Begos deliver a stunning heavy metal head-trip that’s equal parts blissful euphoria and horrifying bloodbath. Official Selection: Tribeca Film Festival 2019, Overlook Film Festival 2019, Cinepocalypse 2019. Canadian Premiere.
CULTURE SHOCK. USA — Dir: Gigi Saul Guerrero
Blumhouse’s Into the Dark delivers its most impressive film to date, with Gigi Saul Guerrero’s scathing takedown of The United States’ treatment of Mexican dreamers, where “The Land of the Free” is far from the truth. Featuring Martha Higareda, Shawn Ashmore, and a spine-tingling performance from Fantasia fave Barbara Crampton. Official Selection: Cinepocalypse 2019, Etheria Film Night 2019. International Premiere.
DANCE WITH ME. Japan — Dir. Shinobu Yaguchi
Have you ever imagined a musical number spontaneously occurring in real life? Ambitious financier Shizuka has accidentally been hypnotized. Now, a ringing phone or radio jingle will set her off on a Gene Kelly-like rampage… A sassy send-up of musical comedies from Shinobu Yaguchi (SWING GIRLS, ROBO-G) with genuinely catchy, impressive song-and-dance numbers! Official Selection: Shanghai International Film Festival 2019, NY Japan Cuts 2019. Quebec Premiere.
DANIEL ISN’T REAL. USA — Dir: Adam Egypt Mortimer
A childhood friend reappearing after a decade seems like it should be cause for celebration… but what happens if it’s a troublemaking — and possibly deadly — imaginary friend? This is the conundrum in Adam Egypt Mortimer’s clever, violent thriller, whose title isn’t as cut and dry as one might first think. Official Selection: South by Southwest 2019, Sydney International Film Festival 2019, Overlook Film Festival 2019. Canadian Premiere.
DARE TO STOP US. Japan — Dir. Kazuya Shiraishi
The surprising and utterly unexpected biopic of a legend of Japanese countercultural cinema: Koji Wakamatsu! A film that takes the pulse of a transgressive cinematographic heritage in which sex, violence and revolutionary thought rubbed shoulders on screen. Canadian Premiere.
DAY AND NIGHT. Japan — Dir. Michihito Fujii
When Koji, son of a whistleblower driven to suicide, steps outside the law in his quest for justice, the thin line that separates good from evil begins to fray. A suspenseful drama about the tragic fate reserved to whistleblowers that offers a necessary reflection on justice. Official Selection: Japan Filmfest Hamburg 2019. Canadian Premiere.
THE DUDE IN ME. South Korea — Dir. Kang Hyo-jin
After an overweight teenager literally falls on him, a gangster realizes to his great dismay that they have swapped bodies. Packed with outlandish twists and turns, this fantasy comedy skilfully juggles gags, action, and emotion! Official Selection: Hawaii International Film Festival 2019. Canadian Premiere.
FREAKS. Canada — Dirs: Zach Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein
Bruce Dern, Emile Hirsch, and Amanda Crew headline this mind-bending mystery box of a thriller about a young girl (newcomer Lexy Kolker) whose father has convinced her that leaving their suburban home will spell her doom… and when she finally does step outside, she discovers a world unlike anything she — or this film’s viewers — would ever believe. Official Selection: Toronto International Film Festival 2018. WINNER: Prix Public, Best Feature, Les Utopiales 2018, Audience Award, Best Film, What the Fest…?! 2019. Quebec Premiere.
GINTAMA 2: RULES ARE MADE TO BE BROKEN. Japan — Dir. Yuichi Fukuda
The silver-haired samurai Gintoki and his odd-job agency associates are back for this second manga adaptation, with no less loopy lunacy, swashbuckling swordfights, gratuitous anime references, and costume design to die for. Official Selection: Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival 2019. North American Premiere.
HARD-CORE. Japan — Dir. Nobuhiro Yamashita
Ukon and Ushiyama discover a discarded robot, unaware of the extent of its potential, in this bizarre science-fiction comedy drama. If you are looking for unusual cinema that makes you laugh without knowing why, you’ve just found it. Never before has the concept of WTF seemed so natural. Official Selection: Golden Horse Fantastic Film Festival 2019, Udine Far East Film Festival 2019. Canadian Premiere.
HARPOON. Canada — Dir: Rob Grant
When a troubled trio of young friends find themselves marooned on a yacht in the middle of the ocean, suspicions and anger bubble to the surface as their faith in each other sinks like a shipwreck. Writer/director Rob Grant returns to Fantasia with thrilling, seafaring suspense film that takes absolutely no prisoners. Starring TURBO KID’s Munro Chambers. Official Selection: Rotterdam International Film Festival 2019, Chattanooga Film Festival 2019, Calgary Underground Film Festival 2019, Fantaspoa 2019, BIFAN 2019. Quebec Premiere.
HIS BAD BLOOD. Japan — Dir. Koichiro Oyama
A despicable con artist left the tightly knitted village the day his wife gave birth. 30 years later, his traumatized son is chased because of him. They both end up sheltering in a church, knowing nothing about each other. HIS BAD BLOOD is proof that independent Japanese cinema remains creatively fertile. WINNER: Audience Award, Yubari Fantastic Film Festival 2019. International Premiere.
IT COMES. Japan — Dir. Tetsuya Nakashima
Convinced that a supernatural force is threatening his family, Hideki reaches out to a writer specializing in the occult, and his clairvoyant girlfriend to rid himself of the entity. To tell you anything more about this completely bonkers horror tale would ruin the many surprises waiting within. Official Selection: Hawaii International Film Festival 2019, Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival 2019. Canadian Premiere.
JUDY AND PUNCH. Australia — Dir: Mirrah Foulkes
Village puppeteers Judy (Mia Wasikowska) and Punch (Damon Herriman) are at the eye of this whirlwind of black comedy, filled with slapstick violence and, amid the theatricality of the marionette show, gripping drama. An old morality play with a modern twist. Official Selection: Sundance 2019. Canadian Premiere.
THE LODGE. UK/USA — Dirs: Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala
Hailed at Sundance as “the next great horror film,” this nerve-shredding story of inexplicable, terrifying things happening to a snowed-in family stars Riley Keough, Richard Armitage, and Alicia Silverstone. This is a film whose horrors are both intellectual and deeply visceral, with imagery that will have your heart in your throat. From the makers of GOODNIGHT MOMMY. Official Selection: Sundance 2019, Karlovy Vary 2019, Overlook Film Festival 2019. Canadian Premiere.
MIRACLE OF THE SARGASSO SEA. Greece/Germany/Netherlands/Switzerland — Dir: Syllas Tzoumerkas
After a shocking death rocks a sun-bleached village, two women’s destinies interlock and their grip on reality start to slip. This work of New Weird Greek Wave cinema, starring Angeliki Papoulia (DOGTOOTH, ALPS), blends the blood-spattered real world and the troubling nightmares of legend. Official Selection: Berlin International Film Festival 2019. Canadian Premiere.
MISS AND MRS. COPS. South Korea — Dir. Jung Da-won
There are a lot of badass lady cops in Seoul, and they’re all ready to prove their worth and kick some scumbag ass! Remember the buddy cop movie? Writer-director Jung Da-won has magically resurrected it in fantastic fashion. Quebec Premiere.
MISSBEHAVIOR. Hong Kong — Dir. Pang Ho-Cheung
A terrible mistake reunites a gang of estranged drama queens in search of human breast milk throughout Hong Kong! An utterly ridiculous, hilarious, and politically incorrect comedy caper from Pang Ho-Cheung (VULGARIA, DREAM HOME). Official Selection: Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019. Quebec Premiere.
THE ODD FAMILY: ZOMBIE ON SALE. South Korea — Dir. Lee Min-jae
The eccentric Park family captures Zzongbie, a harmless living corpse who also happens to be a walking dose of Viagra. This South Korean Zom-com has a ball reanimating the done-to-death conventions of the zombie flick. Official Selection: Udine Far East Film Festival 2019, New York Asian Film Festival 2019. Canadian Premiere.
PARADISE HILLS. Spain — Dir: Alice Waddington
Amid rapturous production design, Emma Roberts, Awkwafina, Eiza González, and Danielle Macdonald gather under the cold eye of headmistress Milla Jovovich in this genre-bending allegory about femininity and social norms. With shades of PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK and THE HANDMAID’S TALE, this soft and beguiling nightmare is about the cost of living the life you choose, rather than the life that is expected. Official Selection: Sundance 2019. Canadian Premiere.
PORNO. USA — Dir: Keola Racela
Trapped in a cinema late at night, five sex-starved religious teens are easy prey for a succubus with lust and murder in mind, but these Bible-thumpers won’t give up without a fight… even when this ‘90s-set retro riot has their balls literally to the wall. Official Selection: South by Southwest 2019, Overlook Film Festival 2019. Canadian Premiere.
THE PURITY OF VENGEANCE. Denmark — Dir: Christoffer Boe
Packed with crime, sex, and revenge — as well as being the highest-grossing film in Danish cinema history — this uber-blockbuster based on the book by Jussi Adler-Olsen finds two detectives trying to unravel a violent, decades-old murder mystery as they struggle with their own fraught relationship. From the director of BEAST and OFFSCREEN. Official Selection: Sitges 2018, Transylvania International Film Festival 2019, Palm Springs International Film Festival 2019. Canadian Premiere.
SWALLOW. USA — Dir: Carlo Mirabella-Davis
Meek housewife Hunter (an utterly terrific Haley Bennett) struggles to find purpose and meaning — until she begins swallowing a variety of household objects. A film that will pique anxieties and turn stomachs, this is a surprisingly tender look at the echoes of abuse. See this one at all costs or miss one of the most potent works of the year. Official Selection: Tribeca Film Festival 2019, Neuchâtel International Film Festival 2019. Canadian Premiere.
TOKYO GHOUL ‘S’. Japan — Dir. Kazuhiko Hiramaki
Another round of blood and black leather on the midnight streets of Tokyo’s Ward 20! Moody intrigue and twisted terror take hold again in the second live-action adaptation of the immensely popular urban-horror manga. Official Selection: Los Angeles Anime Expo 2019. Canadian Premiere.
WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE!. Russia — Dir: Kirill Sokolov
All holy household hell breaks loose in a single, ever-more-battle-scarred Moscow apartment. Kirill Sokolov’s attention-grabbing debut feature is a sure-footed synthesis of suspense, dark comedy, and deranged, detail-oriented ultraviolence. Sokolov is ruthlessly deliberate in his decisions, be it the pressure-cooker dialogue, the cunning camera work, or the piquant colour scheme. Official Selection: Tallinn Black Nights 2018, What the Fest…?! 2019, Cinepocalypse 2019. Canadian Premiere.
THE WRATH. South Korea — Dir. Yoo Young-seon
A powerful family’s lineage is threatened by the spirit of a wailing woman haunting their lands. This straight-up horror film set in medieval Korea recalls the glory days of VHS, dishing out enough jump scares to rouse the dead. Canadian Premiere.

Fantasia is pleased to announce the 2019 Cheval Noir competition titles:
8. South Africa — Dir. Harold Holscher
ALMOST A MIRACLE. Japan — Dir. Yuya Ishii
ANOTHER CHILD. South Korea — Dir. Kim Yoon-seok
BLOOD ON HER NAME. USA — Dir. Matthew Pope
THE FATHER’S SHADOW. Brazil — Dir. Gabriela Amaral Almeida
IDOL. South Korea – Dir. Lee Su-jin
THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING WKND. Spain — Dir. Jon Mikel Caballero
IT COMES. Japan — Dir.Tetsuya Nakashima
KINGDOM. Japan — Dir. Shinsuke Sato
THE LODGE. UK/USA — Dirs. Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala
MYSTERY OF THE NIGHT. The Philippines — Dir. Adolfo Alix Jr.
SWALLOW. USA — Dir. Carlo Mirabella-Davis
WE ARE LITTLE ZOMBIES. Japan — Dir. Makoto Nagahisa
THE WRETCHED. USA — Dirs. Brett and Drew Pierce
The following industry professionals make up the Fantasia 2019 juries:

Jury President: Annick Mahnert — Producer, Festival Programmer (Fantastic Fest, Sitges)
Shaked Berenson — Producer, Member of the IFTA Board of Directors
Amy Darling — Producer, Festival Organizer (Calgary Underground Film Festival)
Miles Fineburg — Director of Acquisitions (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
Maurizio Guarini — Composer (Goblin)

Jury President: Onur Tukel — Director, Screenwriter, Actor, Painter
Jonathan Barkan — Editor-in-Chief (Dread Central)
Susan Curran — COO (A71 Entertainment)
Ariel Fisher — Critic (Atom Insider, Rue Morgue Magazine, Fangoria), Editor, Podcaster
Kyle Greenberg — Director of Theatrical Marketing and Distribution (Gunpowder & Sky)

Jury President: Frederic Temps — Musician, Critic, Festival Director (Les Utopiales), Founder of L’Étrange Festival
Kerensa Cadenas — Writer, Film Editor (Entertainment Weekly)
Chelsea Lupkin — Director, Cinematographer, Producer, Senior Programmer and Writer (Short of the Week)
Justin Timms — Co-Founder (Yellow Veil Pictures), Co-Festival Director (Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, North Bend Film Festival)

Andrew Todd — Writer (Birth. Movies. Death., Slashfilm), filmmaker, composer
Donato Totaro — Professor, editor-in-chief (Offscreen)
Elijah Baron — Film critic (24 Images), translator

Jury President: Diana Tapia Munguia — Production Assistant (Cinesite Studios), Marketing and PR Chair (Women in Animation Montreal)
Alaska B — Drummer and Leader (Yamantaka // Sonic Titan)
Julien Deragon — 3D Animator (RodeoFX)
Jean-Philippe Bernier — Cinematographer, Composer (Le Matos)
Andy Bélanger — Comic Artist, Illustrator
JF Lachapelle — Stuntman, Stunt Coordinator

Jury President: Erik Canuel — Director
Martin Girard — Screenwriter, Critic (Le Devoir)
RKSS — Directors, Screenwriters

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