Fantasia Film Festival descends on Montreal again for its annual cinematic takeover, showcasing the best and brightest in indie and genre films. Beloved by fans and filmmakers alike – the likes of James Gunn cite it as one of their favourite festivals – the programmers always manage to find a perfect mix of foreign, documentary, fiction, feature and shorts from all across the globe. This year is no exception, the programme full to bursting with eye-catching projects. Here’s a round-up of the movies that have caught our eye.
TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID
THN caught Tigers Are Not Afraid earlier this year at Frightfest Glasgow and we simply loved it. It’s by no means an easy watch, but boy is it worth your time. Young girl Estrella finds herself on the dangerous streets of Mexico at odds with the local drug cartel and disturbing visions after her mother goes missing. Tigers Are Not Afraid is the ultimate urban fairy-tale, one that will haunt you for months to come. We summed it up best in our initial review – a truly emotional movie; put simply, you will struggle to find a more perfect film than this.
SUMMER OF ’84
In 2015 a debut feature called Turbo Kid took Fantasia festival by storm. The film was a gore-splattered throw-back to the apocalyptic wastelands of films like Mad Max, and introduced us to the joy of Gnome-Sticks. Now, three years later, the brilliant team are back at the festival with their latest venture – Summer of ’84. We haven’t been able to see the film yet, but from what we have seen so far, it looks like a fun trip back to eighties classics such as Fright Night, The Goonies and The Lost Boys as a group of teenagers start to believe that the neighbour of one of them is a serial killer. If there’s one thing we learned from Turbo Kid, its that Summer of ’84 is destined to be a LOT of fun.
Michael Ironside is one of modern cinema’s unsung icons. His CV includes classics such as Starship Troopers, Total Recall, Turbo Kid and Top Gun, meaning he’s beloved by many across the globe. To celebrate his long-standing career, Ironside will be appearing at Fantasia as a special guest and will take part in a ‘Live in Conversation’ where he’ll discuss all his most famous roles. If that’s not enough Michael Ironside for you, he also stars in one of the festival’s features – Knuckleball. Directed by Michael Peterson, Knuckleball is described as a twisted and nasty thriller. In it Ironside plays Jacob, a farmer in Western Canada whose bonding with his grandson is interrupted by his creepy next-door neighbour.
Need we say more than this is a film starring Nicolas Cage? We do? Okay, in addition to starring everyone’s favourite eccentric actor, Mandy has been described as a pounding, bleeding act of cinema. A surreal genre film that is driven by Cage’s performance, and looks set to take the title of being Nic Cage’s craziest movie ever, and that’s no mean feat.
Now July might seem like an odd time of year to be watching a Christmas movie, however, it was exactly this month in 1984 in which Gremlins was released in cinemas. It’s a really perfect film that embraces all elements of the black comedy. It also includes some entertaining monsters in the form of Gremlins, as well as one of the cutest creatures ever committed to cinema – Gizmo the Mogwai. The best reason though to catch Gremlins is that director Joe Dante will be in attendance for the whole festival.
WHAT KEEPS YOU ALIVE
Last year director Colin Minihan unveiled the unique zombie film It Stains the Sand Red, now just a few short months later he’s back at Fantasia with What Keeps You Alive. The film sees him reunite with his leading lady, Brittany Allen, which has us pretty excited. Her performance in It Stains the Sand Red was captivating and we can’t wait to see what she does with this new material. Full details for What Keeps You Alive are being kept under wraps, but we do known that it sees Allen star as one half of a female couple celebrating their one-year anniversary. Their festivities soon take a turn for the worse however, and a fight for survival ensues.
Searching first crossed our paths during this year’s Sydney Film Festival, and our writer couldn’t wait to get out of the cinema screen purely so she could implore everyone to go watch it. Starring John Cho, Searching is told entirely within the frame of digital devices. The story tells of a father who, upon realising his daughter is missing, takes to her laptop to try and unearth clues as to her whereabouts. An ambitious and energetic film that hits the mark in all the right places.
We keep with the cyber-world theme for our final choice – Cam. Written by Isa Mazzei, a former camgirl, Cam follows Alice, a fiercely private young woman trying to earn a living as a camgirl named Lola. Night after night she sits in front of her computer trying to entertain her chatroom of fans in a desperate bid to up her ranking. All appears to be going well until she suddenly finds herself locked out of her account. Stranger still, she’s been replaced by an exact duplicate of herself, one who appears to be camming live from Alice’s very home. Once the mystery kicks in you’ll be hooked to this tense and twisty thriller.
Catch all of these films as they screen during Fantasia Film Festival as it runs in Montreal from 12th July – 2nd August. Tickets can be found here.