With the final wave of programming, the 2018 edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival has now released its full lineup of over 125 features and 220 shorts, featuring the premieres of more than 100 cutting-edge visions from across the world. Fantasia’s brand new website, which has just gone online, details all films and events at this year’s festival.
The Fantasia International Film Festival takes place in Montreal July 12 – August 2 2018, once again returning to the mammoth Concordia Hall Cinema as its main base, with additional screens at the Cinémathèque québécoise and the McCord Museum.
Many juicy Asian titles (including several Premieres) can be found within the rich programme of this Canadian Festival. Let’s have a look at them:
Donnie Yen will School you in “Big Brother” (World Premiere)
Mixed martial arts meet high-school intrigue, with Hong Kong superhero Donnie Yen at the blackboard! The closing night festivities of Fantasia 2018 will begin with the World Premiere of “Big Brother”, which sees Yen reuniting with action director Kenji Tanigaki (“God of War”, Fantasia 2017) and delivering an exhilarating, scholastic twist on the martial arts film. Having collaborated on the fight scenes in “Wu Xia” (aka “Dragon”, Fantasia 2011) and “Legend of the Fist: Return of Chen Zhen”, Yen and Tanigaki once again land a bone-breaking bull’s-eye with “Big Brother”.
Takashi Miike turns mathematics into witchcraft in the North American premiere of “Laplace’s Witch”
Everyone knows the tight bond that has united Takashi Miike and Fantasia for over two decades, and the festival is honoured to continue the tradition with the North American Premiere of his spellbinding new murder mystery “Laplace’s Witch”! Of course, in Miike’s hands, things quickly veer into the unexpected when a geochemistry professor investigating a double murder case meets a young mathematics genius with an almost supernatural level of knowledge. Crafting gorgeous imagery, stunning locations, and stellar special effects, Miike and his star-studded cast bring us down an unexpected path where the mystic and reality collide. Long-time Miike fans, as well as those just now learning of his work, will not be disappointed!
“Punk Samurai Slash Down” slices its way to a North American Premiere!
Japanese punk rocker Ko Machida’s 2004 maniacally meta novel rips up the silver screen in Gakuryu Ishii’s “Punk Samurai Slash Down” (North American Premiere). Loaded with loopy weirdness and jolts of anachronistic rock ’n’ roll energy, the cinematic adaptation by Ishii (formerly Sogo) is just as colourful, anarchic, and irreverent as you’d expect, given his bona fides as a key instigator of Japan’s punk film eruption of the 1980s. Collaborating here with screenwriter Kankuro Kudo (of “Too Young to Die! ” fame), the film’s all-star cast includes Go Ayano (Ajin: Demi Human ), Shota Sometani (Parasyte), Jun Kunimura (Attack on Titan), Etsushi Toyokawa (20th Century Boys), and Tadanobu Asano (Kasane).
Bring the best memories of your favourite pets – and plenty of tissues – for the World Premiere of “The Traveling Cat Chronicles”
Kind-hearted Satoru (Bleach’s Sota Fukushi) has been living happily with his cat Nana after rescuing it from a car accident. Despite the bond that unites them, Satoru’s new engagement forces them go on a road trip across Japan to find Nana a new owner. Following the Fantasia 2016 hit “If Cats Disappeared from the World”, Japan has provided a new, extremely efficient tear-jerker about man’s other best friend… with just a hint of fantasy. In “The Traveling Cat Chronicles” (World Premiere), we can hear animals talk, which brings on great humour, heart, and a whole lot of tears. A beautiful tale of friendship and faithfulness, “The Traveling Cat Chronicles” provides a heartfelt lesson in life for the whole family.
Meet an altogether new kind of exorcist in “Room Laundering”
In Japan, law requires landlords to divulge tragic passings to their next tenants – but that same law fails to specify just how many subsequent renters one needs to inform! Thus, Miko Yagumo (Elaiza Ikeda, of The Many Faces of Ito), a shy and antisocial young girl, is a “room launderer”: a transitory occupant, with the ability to see the spirits of the deceased. With “Room Laundering” (North American Premiere), first-time filmmaker Kenji Katagiri proves himself to be one to watch out for – perfectly juggling quirky comedy and supernatural drama. This gem co-stars veteran, fan-favourite actor Joe Odagiri (“Adrift in Tokyo”, “Mr. Go”, “Air Doll”) and Kiyohiko Shibukawa (“Lowlife Love” and “Punk Samurai Slash Down”).
China’s animated “Da Hu Fa” is a rambunctious, rebellious find!
A formidable fighter discovers a hidden town where dread, violence, and corruption pervade in Chinese animator Busifan’s “Da Hu Fa” (North American Premiere), presented in eye-popping 3D at Fantasia. A wonderfully unusual and defiant work of rambunctious, rebellious fantasy animation, this beautifully-animated adventure has been largely unseen outside of China until now.
It’s a literal face-off as “Kasane” comes to North America
Kasane must live with a face deformed by a giant scar, even though she is blessed with impressive performing skills. Nina is an arrogant actress who looks divine but is completely talentless. With the power of a magic tube of lipstick, they will change faces to create the ultimate actress. An adaptation of the popular manga, “Kasane” is a remarkably effective psychological thriller mixed with dark fantasy that forces us to confront our own superficiality regarding appearances – all without stuffing the lesson down our throat. A brilliant adaptation of mangaka Daruma Matsuura’s unique work, “Kasane” stars Kyoko Yoshine (the Princess Jellyfish series) and Tao Tsuchiya (Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno), while Tadanobu Asano (Thor) shines as the Machiavellian architect of their pact.
Tired of by the book rom-coms? the North American premiere of “Tornado Girl” will win you over immediately!
After vowing to copy the coolest man he knows – real-life grungy hipster pop star Tamio Okuda – Koroki wins the admiration of his colleagues, but attracts the attention of Akari (Kiko Mizuhara), the publicist for a fashion brand who’s turned her sex appeal into a weapon of mass-distraction. Director Hitoshi One (“Bakuman”), who already amazed audiences in the rom-com genre with the MTV style musical hybrid “Love Strikes!”, hits a bullseye again with “Tornado Girl” (North American Premiere), a cutting-edge romance that’s actually romantic, paired with surreal comedy that’s actually funny! With an amazing cast lead by the convincing duo Satoshi Tsumabuki (“For Love’s Sake”) and Kiko Mizuhara (“Attack On Titan”), this one is sure to win audiences’ hearts.
THE CAMERA LUCIDA SECTION
Fantasia’s Camera Lucida section is dedicated to experimental, boundary-pushing and auteur-driven works on the borders of genre cinema. Three are the Asian Korean titles in this section:
- “Being Natural”, dir. Tadashi Nagayama (International Premiere)
- “Hanagatami”, dir. Nobuhiko Obayashi (Québec Premiere)
- “Microhabitat”, dir. Jeon Go-woon (Canadian Premiere);
ADDITIONAL TITLES IN FANTASIA 2018’S FINAL WAVE INCLUDE:
“1987: When the Day Comes” – South Korea – Dir: Jang Joon-hwan
Based on true events leading to the establishment of South Korea’s democracy, “1987: When the Day Comes” is the logical follow-up to the impactful “A Taxi Driver”. With its enthralling narrative, masterful performances, the colossal power of its subject matter and the masterful approach to its direction, 1987 qualifies as one of the best features of the year. Black Dragon Audience Award, Udine Far East Film Festival 2018.
“Ajin: Demi-human” -Japan – Dir: Katsuyuki Motohiro
“Ajin: Demi-human” marks the first live-action adaptation of Gamon Sakurai’s popular manga series. Director Katsuyuki Motohiro (BAYSIDE SHAKEDOWN) gives us a rock solid adaptation that delivers on wild action but doesn’t forget to put its likeable characters in the forefront and give them something to fight for. Action fans will find much to like, while aficionados of the manga and anime it’s based upon will come out smiling. Official Selection: SXSW 2018. Canadian Premiere.
“Believer” – South Korea – Dir: Lee Hae-young
Six years ago, Johnnie To gave us the impressive “Drug War”. Now, Korean filmmaker Lee Hae-young (“Foxy Festival”) delivers a tense and effective remake, teaming up with the woman behind many of Park Chan-wook’s recent works, Chung Seo-kyung (“Thirst”). Together, they approach this re-imagining from a different angle, and manage to surpass the original material. The biggest difference between the two films is the way they develop their characters, allowing some of the strongest Korean actors to sink their teeth into the film’s deliciously over-the-top roles. “Believer” is remarkable and entertaining, beginning to end. Quebec Premiere.
“Champion” – South Korea – Dir: Kim Yong-wan
Mark, a Korean raised in the U.S, is a former arm-wrestling champion. When a friend with tendencies for scams brings him back to Korea for a tournament, he’s confronted with the family who gave him in adoption. Anyone thinking that producing an arm-wrestling sports drama is not a genius idea should wait until they experience funny, exciting, and poignant film. “Champion” succeeds at everything it does – and the phenomenal performance by Don Lee (“Train To Busan”) is the reason it wins at every level! Quebec Premiere.
“Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura” – Japan – Dir: Takashi Yamazaki
Ghosts, goblins… even a charming local death god? For newlywed Akiko, the town of Kamakura will take some time getting used to. “Destiny” is an enchanting, romantic fantasy adventure from director and visual effects wizard Takashi Yamazaki (“Parasyte”). Don’t miss the otherworldly night market that’s a treat tailor-made for fans of Guillermo del Toro! Official Selection: Hawaii International Film Festival. Quebec Premiere.
“Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings” – China/Hong Kong – Dir: Tsui Hark
Pop cinema potentate and HK master Tsui Hark returns with latest installment of the ever-popular Detective Dee series. Set in China’s Tang Dynasty era – a time of worldliness and wonders – “The Four Heavenly Kings” explodes with action, innovation, inspiration, and utter delirium. A series of mysterious incidents have disrupted the city and China’s most famous detective must prove his innocence from Empress Wu – played by award winning actress Carina Lau (“2046”, “Ashes Of Time”). Quebec Premiere.
“Five Fingers of Death” – Restored 35mm Print – Hong Kong – Dir: Walter Chung
“Five Fingers of Death” (aka “King Boxer”) is the classic action masterpiece that kick-started the kung fu craze in the West months before Enter The Dragon. A shameless favourite among aficionados (most notably Quentin Tarantino, who used one of the film’s most iconic musical cues in Kill Bill), this lovable, ridiculous actioner about two competing kung fu schools has been beautifully restored as a 35mm print just in time to celebrate its 45th anniversary!
“The Fortress” – South Korea – Dir: Hwang Dong-hyuk
Versatile award-winning director Hwang Dong-hyuk (“Miss Granny”) now tackles the epic tragedy, revisiting a major episode in Korean history. Flawlessly photographed and informed by rigorous attention to historical detail, Hwang’s “The Fortress” boasts numerous high-profile names, notably Kim Yoon-seok (“THE CHASER”) and Lee Byung-hun (“I SAW THE DEVIL”). Winner of the Best Screenplay, Blue Dragon Film Awards 2017.
“Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum” – South Korea – Dir: Jeong Beom-sik
When a YouTuber brings a group of young volunteers in for a livestream at Gonjiam‘s Namyang Mental Hospital (a real-life location, selected by CNN as “One of the Freakiest Places on the Planet”), they get way more than what his ad-based revenue stream was worth. The second-highest-grossing Korean horror movie of all time (right after “A Tale of Two Sisters “), this found-footage scare fest lives up to its immense hype! Quebec Premiere.
“Laughing under the Clouds” – Japan – Dir: Katsuyuki Motohiro
In Restoration-era Japan, the three Kumo brothers stand guard against the return of the mythical dragon Orochi. Whirlwind thrills, eye-popping art direction, poignant drama, and swashbuckling adventure abound in this manga adaptation! Audiences who adored “Rurouni Kenshin” won’t want to miss out this one! Quebec Premiere.
“Neomanila” – The Philippines – Dir. Mikhail Red
Following the award-winning “Birdshot”, director Mikhail Red unveils a neo-noir that brilliantly combines social realism and a dystopian reality to better comprehend the phenomenon of extrajudicial killings. Winner: Audience Choice Award and Best Artistic Achievement, Quezon City International Film Festival. Canadian Premiere.
“River’s Edge” – Japan – Dir. Isao Yukisada
Adapted from Kyoko Okazaki’s (“Helter Skelter”) cult manga of the same name, director Yukisada’s latest is a chilling 1990s-set coming-of-age drama, forged in the darkness of Tokyo’s industrial suburbs. Official Selection: Berlin International Film Festival. Canadian Premiere.
“Tokyo Vampire Hotel” – Japan – Dir: Sion Sono
Two vampire clans battle over mortal human livestock. Swerving from massive gun orgies to gaudy scenes of baroque excess, “Tokyo Vampire Hotel” is a confetti cannon full of blood squibs aimed at your face, courtesy of Fantasia fave Sion Sono. Imagine Sono in the style of Yoshihiro Nishimura, with massive bloodshed, wild colors, and sumptuous art direction. Are you in? Official Selection: Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival 2017, Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival 2017. Quebec Premiere.
“True Fiction” – South Korea – Dir: Kim Jin-mook
An arrogant aspiring mayor visits the second home of his in-laws to hide his corrupt congressman stepfather’s secret funds. Unfortunately, his encounter with wise locals – and the digging of his own hole – might just ruin his career. Starting like a hilarious black comedy and turning into a dark psychological thriller, “True Fiction” is a true gem filled with sharp dialogue delivered with surgical precision. With this impressive debut feature, writer/director Kim Jin-mook establishes himself as one of the most interesting new voices in Korean Cinema. Best Screenplay Award, Directors’ Week Program, Fantasporto International Film Festival 2018. Canadian Premiere.
“Unity of Heroes” – China/Hong Kong – Dir: Lin Zhen-Hao
Legendary Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-Hung strikes back with a vengeance after a 20-year hiatus – and is played once again by mainstay Vincent Zhao (“True Legend”)! “Unity of Heroes” keeps its action and plot moving at breakneck speed, all while retaining an irreverent humour in the spirit of the original “Once upon a Time in China” films. North American Premiere.
“V.I.P” -South Korea – Dir: Park Hoon-jung
After directing the swaggering gangster epic “New World” and the swaggering man-vs-beast epic “The Tiger”, the screenwriter behind Ryoo Seung-wan’s “The Unjust” and Kim Jee-woon’s “I Saw The Devil” abandons his swagger to go very, very dark. V.I.P. will keep audiences on the edge of their seats and on the tips of their toes! Official Selection: AFI Fest 2017 – Midnight London East Asia Film Festival 2017, Filmasia Film Festival 2017. Quebec Premiere.
“What a Man Wants” – South Korea – Dir: Lee Byeong-heon
From the get-go, the stellar jazz score of this edgy yet lively romantic comedy about cheating calls to mind the mood of Woody Allen. Throughout, the film delights in witty dialogue, unexpected plot twists and playful touches. With its stellar cast including Shin Ha-kyun (“The Villainess”), Lee Sung-min (“The Spy Gone North”), and Jang Young-nam (“I Have a Date with Spring”), “What a Man Wants” is a wonderful adult dramedy about eternal children. Official Selection: New York Asian Film Festival 2018. Quebec Premiere.
FANTASIA 2018’s JURIES
CHEVAL NOIR COMPETITION
Fantasia’s flagship juried competition, a 14-film global selection of varied genre works from new and established, groundbreaking and unconventional auteurs.
Fantasia’s 2018 Cheval Noir jury is comprised of:
Jury President: Tim Matheson
Actor, Director, Producer
Abraham Castillo Flores
Head Programmer, Morbido Film Festival
Phil Nobile Jr.
Editor-in-Chief, Fangoria magazine
Victoria Sanchez Mandryk
Actor, Screenwriter, Producer
Producer; Distribution Director, Métropole Films Distribution
FIRST FEATURE JURY FOR NEW FLESH AWARD
Jury President: Ségolène Roederer
General Manager, Québec Cinéma; Former Executive Director of the Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois
Founder, Chicago Cinema Society
Co-Founder, INIODYMUS, International Programming Associate, TIFF; Former Production Coordinator, Arrow Video
Co-Founder and Director of Programming, Cinema Politica
Co-President, Yellow Veil Pictures; Assistant Director of Festival and Non-Theatrical Bookings, Visit Films
INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM COMPETITION JURY
Jury President: Jacqueline Castel
Filmmaker, Curator, Archivist
Critic, Collider, Bloody Disgusting, Birth. Movies. Death, ComingSoon
Managing Partner, Raven Banner Entertainment
AXIS ANIMATION JURY FOR SATOSHI KON AWARD
Jury President: Torill Kove
Animation Director, Illustrator
Publisher, Writer, Photographer, Teacher
THE BARRY CONVEX AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN FEATURE
Administered by SPECTACULAR OPTICAL, with support from the Paul A. Ray Memorial Fund
2018 Barry Convex Jury
Author, Critic, Founder of Spectacular Optical
Critic, filmmaker, Festival Programmer (FrightFest)
Arrow Video, technical advisor for INIODYMUS