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We can’t wait for the 15th edition of Montreal’s Fantasia
film festival, which runs July 14-August 7. Word has just come down about a
bunch of the movies and filmmakers that will be part of the event, so read on
for the news, with trailers for some of the flicks.
Opening the fest on the 14th will be the Canadian premiere
of RED STATE, Kevin Smith’s controversial venture into the horror genre, in
which teens are persecuted by rural religious fanatics. Another comedy director
who’s dabbled in fright fare, John Landis, will receive a Lifetime Achievement
Award at a ceremony followed by the Canadian premiere of his grisly period
farce BURKE AND HARE, starring Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis. Veteran filmmaker
Robin Hardy will be on hand for the world premiere of THE WICKER TREE (pictured
above), his four-decades-later follow-up to the classic THE WICKER MAN, along
with producer Peter Snell; this event will also include a book launch for
Hardy’s WICKER TREE novel. Hardy will also take part in a discussion event with
fellow Brit Richard Stanley, who’ll be on hand for the premiere of the
anthology THE THEATRE BIZARRE (see details here ; actors Udo Kier and Lynn
Lowry have been added to the lineup attending that one).
In the spirit of last year’s successful screening of
METROPOLIS, Fantasia and the Cinémathèque québécoise will present a rare and
pristine 35mm print of the 1925 classic silent version of THE PHANTOM OF THE
OPERA at Montreal’s Place des Arts, where Gabriel Thibaudeau will conduct an
original score performed by a 30-person orchestra. And Korean filmmaker Ryoo
Seung-wan, whose credits include CRYING FIST, CITY OF VIOLENCE and ARAHAN, will
be on hand for the Canadian premiere of his new thriller THE UNJUST and to host
a master class on action-film staging and choreography.
From the official announcement, also part of the Fantasia
ATTACK THE BLOCK (UK, Dir. Joe Cornish): This insane laughfest depicting a British teen street
gang defending their block against an alien invasion became an overnight
sensation after its launch at SXSW in April. Co-produced by Edgar Wright,
starring Nick Frost and featuring some of the funniest moments you’ll encounter
anywhere this year—on or off this planet. Quebec premiere.
BRAWLER (U.S., Dir. Chris Sivertson): Fantasia veteran
Sivertson (THE LOST, I KNOW WHO KILLED ME) will be returning to Montreal for
the world premiere of his latest knockout, BRAWLER, set in the world of extreme
fighting, starring and co-produced by Marc Senter (RED WHITE & BLUE, THE
LOST). Hosted by director Sivertson and actors/co-producers Senter and Nathan
DEADBALL (Japan, Dir. Yudai Yamaguchi): From the cult
director of such bizarre greats as MEATBALL MACHINE and BATTLEFIELD BASEBALL
comes…something best experienced without spoilers! World premiere hosted by
director Yamaguchi, producer Yoshinori Chiba and actor Tak Sakaguchi.
THE DEVIL’S ROCK (New Zealand, Dir. Paul Campion): The
feature directorial debut of gifted New Zealand visual FX artist Campion (the
LORD OF THE RINGS and NARNIA films, CLASH OF THE TITANS remake) is an intense
occult thriller taking place during WWII on the eve of D-Day, with a single
soldier uncovering a Nazi plot to conjure supernatural forces with which to win
the war. A satanic Nazi chamber piece featuring three characters and bottomless
tension. North American premiere hosted by director/screewriter/executive
producer Paul Campion and actors Matt Sunderland and Karlos Drinkwater.
DON’T GO BREAKING MY HEART (Hong Kong, Dir: Johnnie To): The
working relationship of longtime collaborators To and Wai Ka-Fai is best known
internationally for their gonzo action thrillers (RUNNING ON KARMA) and more
taut, character-based work (MAD DETECTIVE), but this time out, they tackle the
romantic comedy, with surprising results. Opening film of the 2011 Hong Kong
International Film Festival. North American premiere.
EXIT (Australia, Dir. Marek Polgar): Taking place in a
labyrinthine city where many individuals are looking for a mystical door that
could lead them to a better world, this promising genre film from a visionary
director explores the theme of urban alienation while remaining a poignant
piece of cinema that will audiences breathless. Splendid and cerebral, EXIT
opens the door for a distinctive new voice in fantastic cinema. World premiere
hosted by director Polgar and screenwriter Martyn Pedler.
A LONELY PLACE TO DIE (UK, Dir. Julian Gilbey): This film
hits levels of intensity that are absolutely exhilarating. Think CLIFFHANGER
with characters you actually care about, fuelled with the adrenaline and panic
of THE DESCENT. BAFTA-nominated director Gilbey (RISE OF THE FOOTSOLDIER)
trained himself in rock climbing in preparation to shoot this film the right
way, and does it ever show. The imagery, stunts and staging he manages here
will suck the breath clean out of your lungs. Winner of Jury Awards for Best
Feature and Best Director when it launched at ActionFest earlier this year, it
stars Melissa George. Canadian premiere hosted by director/screenwriter/editor
LOVE (U.S., Dir. William Eubank): Opening this year’s
edition of Fantasia’s Camera Lucida section, LOVE is a marvel. Rebuking the
current conventions of science-fiction cinema coming from Hollywood with a
cerebral approach to the genre closer to Kubrick’s 2001, it questions Man’s
place in the universe through a fascinating tale that alternates between two
distinct epochs, a violent past and an uncertain future. Produced by Angels
& Airwaves (the alt-rock effort led by Blink-182’s Tom DeLonge), LOVE
conjures pictorial perfection, promising to be an unforgettable experience.
International premiere hosted by writer/director/cinematographer/production
designer Eubank, actor Gunner Wright and executive producer Mark Eaton.
MARIANNE (Sweden, Dir. Filip Tegstedt): In recent years,
Sweden has begun emerging as a country to watch when it comes to hypnotic,
adult genre filmmaking, and MARIANNE continues this pathway. A guilt-ridden father,
grieving over the death of a wife he had been cheating on, finds himself
haunted by more than his conscience in this eerie, character-driven
supernatural horror film. World premiere hosted by writer/director/producer
MONSTER BRAWL (Canada, Dir. Jesse T. Cook): Those of you
with equal love for monsters and wrestling are about to be slammed through the
mat by this outlandish creation that combines the two with glee. That’s right,
your favorite monsters bashing the unlife out of each other within a setup
designed to feel like a pay-per-view sporting event. Features Dave Foley, Jimmy
Hart, Art Hindle, Kevin Nash and…monsters! World premiere hosted by
writer/director/producer Cook, producers John Geddes and Matt Wiele, actors
R.J. City, Art Hindle, Robert Maillet and Rico Montana and many more members of
the cast and crew.
NINJA KIDS!!! (Japan, Dir. Takashi Miike): Japan’s maniacal
master of movie magic Miike has banged out about three films a year over the
last two decades, from ultraviolent yakuza pictures through off-kilter genre
pastiches to, well, possibly his most brutal, bash-’em-up work yet. That’s
right, maestro of mayhem Miike’s gone and made a kiddie flick again! It merits
its three exclamation points and rates five razor-sharp ninja stars out of
five! Canadian premiere hosted by distributor Shochiku.
RABIES (Israel, Dirs. Navot Papushado and Aharon Keshales): Israel’s first horror
feature is all about subverting expectations as a bloodsoaked black
comedy/horror/thriller that understands genre conventions and uses them as
sleight-of-hand to deliver one surprise after another like a twist-ripped
celluloid corkscrew ground into your skull. A major hit at the Tribeca Film
Festival, RABIES is heaps of misanthropic fun, with spikes of social commentary
and a surprisingly affecting sense of tragedy stabbed into the mix for maximum
potency. Canadian premiere hosted by writer/directors Papushado and Aharon
RETREAT (UK, Dir. Carl Tibbets): Cillian Murphy and Thandie
Newton star as a couple who journey to an island retreat in order to heal
recently opened wounds. They are completely isolated from the world. Alone.
That is, until a blood-spattered man (Jamie Bell) washes ashore with terrible
news of an airborne plague sweeping across Europe. A brilliantly staged
slow-burn thriller that builds to absolutely ferocious horror, RETREAT is one
of this year’s strongest discoveries. World premiere hosted by director
SAINT (Netherlands, Dir. Dick Maas): Santa Claus is coming to town, and that’s bad
news for everyone in this stylish Dutch oddity from the maker of THE LIFT.
SAINT is a very Dutch horror film, packed with many Christmas stockings full of
local flavor and bizarre terror sequences. Meanwhile, the moments with SAINT’s
teen protagonists have the feel of an ’80s Wes Craven film, making for a very
fun death dance in horror’s global melting pot! Canadian premiere.
UNDERWATER LOVE (Japan, Dir. Shinji Imaoka): An inspired
hybrid of musical comedy, classical fairy tale and pinku eiga (Japanese
softcore sex film), UNDERWATER LOVE may well be the most oddball entry in
Fantasia’s schedule this year (and that’s saying something!). Features gorgeous
cinematography by Wong Kar-Wai’s regular director of photography Christopher
Doyle. Sweet, kooky, sexy and completely feel-good, this UFO of a film is truly
something to be cherished. Canadian premiere.
URBAN EXPLORER (Germany, Dir. Andy Fetscher): Beneath the
city of Berlin is an extraordinary network of abandoned bunkers and tunnels,
shadowy remnants of the Nazi era. This film—one of the most unsettling that you
will find in our 2011 lineup—opens with four young urban explorers from
different countries meeting up at a Berlin nightclub, beneath which is rumored
to be a pathway of catacombs that lead to a legendary Third Reich bunker. They
descend into the tunnels and…we won’t reveal another beat! North American
VAMPIRE (Canada/USA, Dir. Shunji Iwai): The English-language
debut of the acclaimed director of SWALLOWTAIL BUTTERFLY and ALL ABOUT LILU
CHOU-CHOU is a haunting existential horror/drama. It will be making its
Canadian premiere at Fantasia after bowling audiences over at Sundance, Berlin
and the Hong Kong International Film Festival.
THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS (U.S., Dir. Sean Branney): You are
about to encounter what very well may be the single most successful H.P.
Lovecraft adaptation ever to lick fear across a screen. Shot with an aesthetic,
production design and performance style angled to emulate the feel of a
’30s/’40s Universal horror film—without falling into camp—WHISPERER arrives
like shadows out of time, a discovered relic from another dimension. A genuinely
scary film and a hellishly great time. Canadian premiere.
Keep your eyes on this site for the complete schedule, and
we’ll see you in Montreal!
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