It’s now an international showcase for genre films from all over the world.
If you like genre films, you should know about the Fantasia International Film Festival. Now in its 19th year, Fantasia originally featured films from Asia (hence, a previous name of this festival was Fant-Asia); it’s now an international showcase for genre films from all over the world. It’s an important industry showcase, and also a popular event for the general public, with more than 100,000 people in attendance at the festival in 2015. And here’s the kicker: It’s held in Montreal, a great place to visit in the summertime, thanks to weather that’s much more pleasant than what we get here in steamy St. Louis, plus all the enjoyments of visiting a bilingual city with an international population.
The 2016 Fantasia program includes over 130 feature films as well as over 300 short films. Of the features, there will be 19 world premieres, 18 North American premieres, and 47 Canadian premieres. While there’s enough variety in the program to scratch almost any genre fan’s itch, festival organizers have also created several “spotlights” or tracks to help fans locate films based on their particular interests. The Action! track features, well, action films from around the world, including the Canadian premiere of Bloodfather, a Cannes selection directed by Jean-François Richet and starring Mel Gibson and William H. Macy. Animation is featured in the Axis track, which includes films from Turkey, Japan, Martinique, Canada, Spain, Mexico, and South Korea, and includes a screening of the 1945 Japanese propaganda Momotaro, Sacred Sailors, long thought to have been lost.
A track introduced in 2015, Camera Lucida, presents films that take their genres in new directions. Films in this track include the Swiss urban fable Aloys, directed by Tobias Nolle, Goran, from Croatian director Nevio Marasovic, and the Iranian film Under the Shadow, set during the Iran-Iraq conflict and featuring a djinn that comes to haunt an apartment building. Documentaries from the Edge features everything from an examination of an urban legend and its real-world consequences (Beware the Slenderman, directed by Irene Taylor Brodsky) to The Show of Shows, a visual history of circuses, freak shows, and boxing kangaroos, among other things, from Icelandic director Benedikt Erlingsson.
Two of the tracks feature French-language programming of older films. Doublages Insolites includes films not originally shot in French, including Michael Herz’s Toxic le ravageur (that’s The Toxic Avenger in the English speaking world) and René Cardona’s Santo et le trésor de Dracula (Santo and Dracula’s Treasure). Genres du Pays features films from Quebec, including Roger Cardinal’s L’apparition, Jean-Claud Lord’s Délivrez-nous du mal, and Gilles Richer’s Tout feu, tout femme. Finally, four films are included in the Polish Genre Cinema track (and I bet that’s a category you didn’t know existed): Marcin Wrona’s Demon, Petr Kazda’s I, Olga Hepnarova, Agnieszka Smoczynska’s The Lure, and Andrzej Zulawski’s On the Silver Globe.
Fantasia 2016 runs from July 14 to August 2, with most films screened at Concordia University. You can see the full film calendar here, see an alphabetical index of films here, download the official program here, and get information about tickets here. | Sarah Boslaugh