With Dan at the helm, the Cinapse Fantasia Team delivers the list of what they are most excited for at this year’s Fantasia Festival
North America’s largest genre film festival, Fantasia, is back and a bit earlier this year with its 26th iteration of the iconic fest, running from Thursday, July 14th, through Wednesday, August 3rd. This year, the Montreal based festival is back “in person” only, with their selection of can’t miss premieres, classics, panels, and workshops. Along with their traditional programming festival Spotlights this year include Korean Animation, Queer Genre Cinema and the 10th Anniversary of Kier-La Janisse’s tome exploring the topography of female neurosis in horror and exploitation film, House of Psychotic Women. If that name sounds familiar Kier-La most recently directed the excellent and extremely comprehensive doc on folk horror — Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror. They will also be honoring the master of modern action cinema John Woo with a career achievement award. To celebrate the director will be hosting an artist talk that looks to explore his filmmaking journey from Hong Kong to the US, and his filmmaking process.
This year’s Fantasia opens with the world premiere of the eco-action dystopian fantasy Polaris and closes with July Jung’s Cannes Sensation Next Sohee. The program this year is chock full of some great genre, and with that in mind, I queried my fellow writers here on Cinapse for the titles they were excited about checking out. You can check out fantasiafestival.com for a full rundown of the program, and in the meantime here’s our picks:
Dan Tabor’s Picks
I can personally vouch for the following titles, having reviewed some of them at previous fests:
Next Exit, Dark Glasses, Resurrection, Sharp Stick
As for first time watches at the fest I am stoked to check out, they include:
Shin Ultraman — This is anime icon Hideaki Anno’s (Neon Genesis Evangelion/Shin Godzilla) update on the classic tokusatsu superhero. If it’s anything like his update on Godzilla, we are in for a real treat here given Anno has a talent for imbuing these properties with subtext and weight which elevates them into something much more substantial. For example, his Godzilla film is a scathing satire on the bureaucracy of Japan and something that has only grew in relevance over the years with his biting commentary.
Sadako DX — In Japan the Ring films never really stopped, and have ventured into some ridiculous territories with Sadako taking on other J-Horror icons after turning in a few 3D specific entries. That being said, a Ring Horror comedy about a video that kills the viewer 24 hours later filled with self mockery written by a guy known more for his work on Kamen Rider doesn’t feel completely out of character here. To be honest, I can’t wait for this one.
Deadstream — Another horror comedy, this one in the found footage sub-genre is a must see for me. This one follows a canceled livestreamer who locks himself in a haunted house overnight to try and get those views. I love found footage and a horror comedy within that genre should be fertile ground.
Swallowed — This one promises “a transgressive queer horror”, starring Jena Malone. That alone puts it in my must watch, Malone is one of those actors that supplements here more mainstream fare with more thought provoking indies, which always has me curious when she turns up in a film.
This film follows two friends, who might be more than friends, Dom and Ben who are heading out to LA to get into the porn industry, when they take a detour into the drug smuggling game thanks to Alice (Jena Malone).
Frank Calvillo’s Picks
Identikit – One of the oddest films ever made is making a rare big screen appearance at this year’s Fantasia. Starring Elizabeth Taylor, Identikit (or The Driver’s Seat, depending on the market), tells the incredibly offbeat story of a woman who finds herself traveling all over Europe in search of someone to murder her. With wild sequences and haunting images, anyone who has seen Identikit will never forget and an even more select few cannot wait to see it again. Presented this year in a 4K transfer, courtesy of Severin Films, Identikit is not only one of the most bizarre films Liz ever said yes to, but an entry in 70s Italian cinema that remains worthy of revisiting.
Maigret — As a sucker for old-fashioned murder mysteries, my eyes went immediately to Maigret. This anticipated collaboration between actor Gerard Depardieu and writer/director Patrice Leconte has everything a genre lover could ask for in this tale about an aging detective (Depardieu) tasked with solving a crime which deeply disturbs him. What little is known about Maigret so far is that it’s got both a stylish-looking aesthetic and the kind of detective not too often seen in films anymore. What feels even more promising is the case in question, which looks to blend traditional crime cinema tropes with an involving mystery that aims to turn the genre on its head.
Justin Harlan’s Picks
Like Dan, I can vouch for a few titles here already, notably several shorts that we were lucky enough to program at Buried Alive Film Festival, a great genre fest I’d been helping with for the last several years in Atlanta. The one that most jumps out at me is the insanely unique and creative The Blood of the Dinosaurs from Joe Badon (whose debut feature The God Inside My Ear was reviewed a few years back here by Jon).
However, there are tons of other shorts and features that are brand new for me and have me buzzing. Deadstream is on top of my list as a found footage junkie, but Dan already highlighted that one, so I’ll focus on the short film blocks that I always look most forward to.
Born of Woman 2022 — Every year at Fantasia, I most look forward to 2 short film blocks, this is one of them. These hand picked films made by women and highlighting women always blow me away. This year’s Born of Woman block consists of 9 short films clocking in at just over 2 hours.
Highlights for this block include Tipper Newton’s Wild Card and Sarah Gross’s Kin.
Small Gauge Trauma 2022 — The other block I always get excited about is Small Gauge Trauma. Like Born of Woman, it’s a bit over 2 hours in total and consists of 9 films this year. The short I’m most excited for is the new one from Chelsea Lupkin — whom I was introduced to by this very festival a few years back when they played her short short Lucy’s Tale. The new one, Scooter, is about a woman who is abandoned on the side of the road and then finds a scooter that she rides “towards her destiny”. It sounds like a blast and if Lucy’s Tale was an indication, it’s gonna rule.
Fantasia International Film Festival 2022 kicks off on the 14th and runs through August 3rd. For the full program check out fantasiafestival.com and stay tuned for coverage here at Cinapse!