For fans of fantastic and frightful fare, there is no bigger and better place to see into the future what films will be headed to theaters, video and streaming services than the Fantasia International Film Festival. Based in Montreal, Fantasia will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this summer, from July 14 – August 2, and has already announced an impressive list of guests and films with more to come. While other film festivals like Cannes and the Toronto International Film Festival offer a broader range of films, from comedies to dramas, what sets Fantasia apart from those fests is its concentration on sci-fi, fantasy and horror. It has premiered films from such acclaimed directors as Quentin Tarantino to Edgar Wright to Ryuhei Kitamura, along with installments of iconic horror franchises like Chucky and Final Destination. It’s where filmmakers, distributors and fans alike come together to share their love of imaginative films.
This year, Fantasia is set to honor Guillermo del Toro with its prestigious Cheval Noir Award. del Toro, director of such visionary cinema, Pan’s Labyrinth, the Hellboy films, Pacific Rim and the recent Crimson Peak, will be on hand to accept his award, as well as deliver a Master Class and present the Canadian premiere of Creature Designers: The Frankenstein Complex, which looks to be a fascinating documentary on the history of monster makers, del Toro included. Another genre legend, Takasha Miike, will be receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award. Miike, the notorious Japanese director of Audition, Dead or Alive and Ichi the Killer, will be hosting the North American premiere of his latest film, Terra Formars, based on a manga series in which genetically modified scientists battle humanoid cockroaches in an attempt to colonize the red planet. Sounds like a perfectly wild vehicle for Miike.
Over 130 films are set to be showcased at this year’s event, many of which will be seen for the first time. Rupture, by Steven Shainberg, has a stellar cast in Noomi Rapace, Peter Stormare and Michael Chiklis, and has Rapace playing a single mom, trying to escape the clutches of a shadowy group that has abducted her in this sci-fi, horror thriller. A film getting its world premiere is Realive, from renowned Spanish filmmaker, Mateo Gil, and offering up a futuristic take on Frankenstein. From Argentina comes the world premiere of White Coffin, a grisly supernatural shocker. Dee Wallace, of The Howling and E.T. fame, stars in the Australian horror comedy, Red Christmas, an over-the-top, slasher gorefest with sociopolitical undertones. Another film to be featured at Fantasia is the highly anticipated Lights Out (shown above), starring Teresa Palmer, Maria Bello and Billy Burke, where Palmer is haunted by a creature that only becomes visible when the lights are out. It’s set for U.S. release on July 22, along with a number of other countries, with more soon after. If you’ve seen the trailer, it looks to be quite creepy indeed.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but if that’s any indication, it looks to be a fantastic fest, and a great year ahead for genre fans. For more of the already announced films, and to stay up-to-date on future announcements, news and other info, check them out at their Fantasia International Film Festival website. And if you have time off during the hot summer weeks between July 14 and August 2, Montreal looks like the coolest place to be.