I’ll do it by the numbers because they kind of blow my mind. Fantasia has 135 feature films and 300 short films from 36 countries. There are 22 world premieres, 13 international premieres, and 21 North American premieres. So, if you like genre films, your celluloid fantasy is about to begin.
Fantasia is one of the most hotly anticipated film festivals in the city with its wide variety of horror, science fiction, psychological thriller, anime, and all those other categories that your average person might find a little out there. Fantasia goes further than films, bringing directors and stars to introduce films, plenty of panels for film industry types. There’s even an event for podcast fans. Tales From Beyond the Pale, a podcast that sounds like radio dramas of old, will be performed live (Monday July 27, Yuk Yuks, 10 p.m.).
But let’s get back to the films. With the overwhelming number of good choices, I want to narrow down your selection to a few that I suspect will be too good to miss.
The Beat Takeshi (Kitano) film
Ryuzo and the Seven Henchmen (dir Takeshi Kitano)
If you love Takeshi Kitano, you really love Beat Takeshi. Whether acting or directing, his films about Yakuza gangsters and the police are some of the most well-known to come from Japan. In Ryuzo and the Seven Henchmen, a 74-year-old yazuka returns to gang life after an impostor tries to trick him out of five million yen. Graphic violence and vengeance are sure to ensue as the former boss of the streets tries to reclaim control of his city from younger gangs. July 27 7:20 p.m.
It Takes One to Know One
Turbo Kid (dir Francois Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell)
Post-apocalyptic action films of the ’80s (like Mad Max) had their heyday. Now, they’re the subject of loving recreation with Turbo Kid, where a solitary scavenger named The Kid and his helped, Apple, do battle against the leader of the Wasteland known as Zeus. They ride BMXs, hunt for water, and use turbocharged weapons. The film gets more fun the more you know the films its references. July 23 7 p.m.
Going for it with Gusto
Who Killed Captain Alex?: Uganda’s First Action Movie. (dir Nabwana IGG)
I laughed loudest and hardest at the press conference at this trailer for this underground diy commando film from Uganda’s newly christened movie making mecca of Wakaliwood. Vice did a video on this mix of Ugandan culture, Hollywood action films, and Chinese martial arts. Director Nabwana IGG is a self-taught man-of-all-things-film who created this viral sensation (viral in the Ugandan slums that is, and I suspect soon to be viral everywhere). Some cool facts to entice you to go. It was made for less than $200 ($200 goes a long way in Uganda, of course), they use real blood not fake stuff, there are a lot of Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris style martial arts kicks, the guns are real, it includes a pan flute version of Kiss from A Rose by Seal. July 17. 23:55.
Marshland (dir. Alberto Rodriguez)
Marshland took 20 awards including best actor, editor, cinematographer. This Spanish film has been hailed as a “masterpiece”. Set in the post franco-era, two teenage girls disappear into the town’s Guadalquivir Marhses. The two ideologically different cops who investigate find they’re on the tail of a serial killer. July 24 9:50 p.m. and Aug 3 5:15 p.m.
A Hard Day/Kkeutkkaji Ganda (dir Kim Seong Hun)
On the day of his mother’s funeral, detective Ko Gun Soo must rush off to handle an issue only to kill a man en route. He buries the man in his mother’s coffin, and then finds himself both blackmailed and trying to conceal his choices from the colleagues investigating the missing man. This film won best director and best actor a the PaekSang Arts Awards of 2015, as well as Best screenplay and other awards at the Blue Dragon Film Awards. July 19 5:15 p.m. and August 3 12:45 p.m.
The Shamer’s Daughter (dir Kenneth Kainz)
When guilty people won’t confess, the Shamer is called in. ONe look from The Shamer, and the guilty feel ashamed of all the things they have ever done. The Shamer’s daughter shares this gift. When a knight comes, the two Shamers get embroiled in an epic journey. July 18 4:40 p.m.
I Am Thor (dir. Ryan Wise)
Jon Mikl Thor not only has won Mr. Canada and Mr. USA as a boydybuilder. He also became a rock god, literally, with his band Thor. Though his rock has moved into obscurity, he keeps on rocking larger than life, putting on rock shows. As a one of a kind individual, Thor shows how to keep the flame burning and the big anvil going. July 19 9:45 p.m.
Coming of Age Anime
The Case of Hana and Alice (dir Shunji Iwai)
All About Lili Chou Chou is a rather dark commentary on coming of age in Japan. Director Shunji Iwai now turns to rotoscope animation instead. In this film, Alice transfers to a school and is bullied by her classmates. She ends up befriending Hana who lives in the Flower House and hasn’t attended school in a year. Hana may know something about the murder of a fellow student named Judas. The film is a prequel to the 2004 Hana and Alice. July 19 at 5 p.m.
Fantasia runs from July 14- August 4. Tickets or Fantasia are $10 a ticket, $90 for a book of 10.