Running from July 8-28, Montréal’s Fantasia International Film Festival is arguably North America’s biggest and best genre film festival. Stretching over nearly three weeks, it’s an extremely tantalizing proposition for this film lover to embark on a weekend road trip, but unfortunately, it’s rather unlikely this year. It’s become even more tempting after I received the hefty catalogue in the mail yesterday. As always, the festival has included a DVD packed with more than three hours (!!) of trailers for films screening at the festival. And yes, I’ve watched the whole thing already.
The good news is that friends from some Toronto festivals like Reel Asian and After Dark are attending, and will be scouting for gems to bring to Toronto in the next few weeks and months. If they’re reading, here are some for the wish list:
- 1 (Hungary, Director: Pater Sparrow): A sci-fi film reminiscent of the work of Jose Saramago (Blindness). A bookstore’s books suddenly all transform into a book called 1, filled with random-seeming statistics. As scientists race to decrypt the book’s meaning, the store’s employees are confined to a mental hospital. Sounds completely unique.
- Chernaya Molniya (Black Lightning) (Russia, Directors: Alexandr Voytinskiy and Dmitriy Kiselev): A superhero film about a young man with a flying car. This looks better than something like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice though I expect it will have a pretty similar plot and character arc. And the car’s a Soviet-era Volga, so that’s awesome, right?
- First Squad: The Moment of Truth (Russia/Japan, Director: Yoshiharu Ashino): Anime based on a World War II battle between the Soviet 6th Army and the German Ahnenerbe, a secret occult division of the SS. Undead soldiers on both sides fight each other to the, er, well? Some alternate history elements make this interesting, and apparently the Ahnenerbe really existed.
- Golden Slumber (Japan, Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura): From the director who brought us Fish Story (a hit at last year’s Reel Asian festival, another story of intersecting lives and actions. This time, a “chance” meeting with an old college friend leads to a man’s unwitting involvement in an act of political terrorism.
- Rubber (France, Director: Quentin Dupieux): A satirical horror film about a murderous tire. Enough said.
- Sawako Decides (Japan, Director: Yuya Ishii): A coming-of-age-in-the-countryside film that the Fantasia catalogue also describes as “a grim feelgood movie.”
- Secret Reunion (South Korea, Director: Jang Hun): A sort of espionage buddy-cop movie with Song Kang-ho (The Host, Secret Sunshine, Thirst) as an older agent trying to catch a North Korean spy. From the director of last year’s excellent Rough Cut.
- Tears for Sale (Director’s Cut) (Serbia, Director: Uroš Stojanovic): I reviewed this when it played at TIFF in 2008, but it’s never appeared on DVD, and now Fantasia is showing an extended director’s cut with 14 additional minutes of eye-popping visuals. I’d love to introduce more people to this one-of-a-kind film.
- Technotise: Edit & I (Serbia, Director: Aleksa Gajic): Cyberpunk anime from Serbia, about an indestructible young woman. Yes please!
If you do have the opportunity to be in Montréal this month, don’t miss Fantasia. Though the city is welcoming and beautiful, treasures await you in its darkened cinemas.