Fantasia Festival has gone online for the 2020 edition (August 20th to September 2nd and geolocked to Canada) but there is definitely no cutting back on the line up. Two waves of titles have already been announced, with the full schedule due on August 6th. I am absolutely thrilled to be able to cover this festival and will be bringing as many reviews as I’m able to. Until then, here are a few of my picks from the first two waves of announcements which will likely be updated again after the final schedule is up.
THE CURSE OF AUDREY EARNSHAW
Also known as The Ballad of Audrey Earnshaw, my main excitement for this one comes from the brilliant Catherine Walker in the cast as Agatha Earnshaw . Her performance in A Dark Song was incredible and I can’t wait to see more of her work. Starring Jessica Reynolds as the titular Audrey, The Curse concerns a mother and daughter accused of witchcraft by their rural community. With comparisons to Hereditary, I’m already on board.
Promising hallucinatory imagery and subversive rituals, Indian film Kriya has potential to be an impactful experience as a young DJ (Noble Luke) is approached by Sitara (Navjot Randhawa), a beautiful woman who needs his help to fulfil her duties to her father. Rituals offer an exciting opportunity to unleash fantastic imagery onto the screen and I’m excited to see what unfolds.
The exploration of nightmares and the kind of imagery that can provide is undoubtedly one of my favourite things in the horror genre. Come True features Sarah (Julia Sarah Stone) entering a University sleep study to try and gain control over her nightmares. With big names like Vincenzo Natali involved in producing and whispers of ‘elevated genre’ (I know, I know) being thrown around, we could be hearing a lot about this one.
After the huge success of One Cut of the Dead Shin’ichirô Ueda’s next film was always going to be one to watch. Focused on a young actor who faints at the first sign of stress who joins an agency for stand-ins at important events. Soon he is called to infiltrate a cult and things spiral from there. Hopefully, Ueda brings the same playful tone and meta production of One Cut to this new story.
The first Brea Grant-involved entry on this list, I feel like I’ve been waiting to see Lucky for years. With Grant taking on writing and acting duties and Natasha Kermani directing, this female-focused film about a woman who takes matters into her own hands when she is stalked is one of my most anticipated films. Early publicity shots featuring Grant, a lot of blood and a roll of packaging tape hint at a suitably grisly affair.
12 HOUR SHIFT
Another of my eagerly anticipated films is 12 Hour Shift. Brea Grant takes on writing and directing duties in a story of organ-harvesting at a hospital. Starring indie-genre favourite Angela Bettis, accompanied by performers like David Arquette and Mick Foley this dark comedy is definitely one to take to heart, before it takes yours.
A MERMAID IN PARIS
Based on a book written by director and writer Mathias Malzieu, A Mermaid in Paris is one of my softer picks. The imagery looks rich and certainly fantastic around a central romance between a man and a mermaid. To be honest, a mermaid-based musical needs attention, even if it doesn’t appear to be one of the darker entries to the festival.
Films adapted from video games are a mixed bag, but this Taiwanese film set in 1962 surrounding the limits placed on free speech and banned books sounds like a fascinating exploration of a regime that enforces restrictions. A feature debut for director John Hsu, this feels like an important film.
A dark comedy, The Columnist features a columnist (Katja Herbers), who is bombarded with death threats and other unpleasant messages through social media. Finally, having hit her limit, she starts to move from behind the keyboard to face her tormentors. Another film with early publicity shots featuring the protagonist covered in (presumably) someone else’s blood, that has caught my attention.
These are just a handful of the fantastic lineup being offered by Fantasia this year. Check out their website for more information: https://fantasiafestival.com/en/festival-2020