Montreal’s beloved genre fest, the Fantasia International Film Festival, has released its final wave of films for its unprecedented digital launch. The festival will span between August 20th and September 2nd. Hopeful attendees will still have to be in Canada to catch the festival’s screenings: their Festival Scope and Shift72 virtual screening platform will only be accessible to folks with Canadian IP addresses.
This last wave has some wonderful offerings for interested film fans, including some must-see documentaries, awesome thrillers, and a masterclass from a literal living horror legend. Here are seven can’t-miss titles from this final wave (you can catch must-see films in the first wave here, and here for the second wave), alongside one very notable masterclass.
John Carpenter Masterclass and Lifetime Achievement Award
Horror legend director/composer John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing, many more) will be presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s Fantasia festivities. The festival will also be hosting a John Carpenter masterclass, where he’ll discuss his influential career, most notable films, musicianship, and even play his newest single.
The festival has also announced a number of film premieres that, in keeping with the top-tier caliber of other waves this year, should be on a film fan’s radar, including:
Perdida (dir: Jorge Michel Grau)
Jorge Michel Grau’s gory, bleak, and excellent We Are What We Are (2010) set the director apart as one to watch (fun fact: it’s also a sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s debut feature Cronos). Perdida is a stylish thriller, remaking Andrés Baiz’s The Hidden Face (2011) to tell the story of the new conductor of the Mexico City Philharmonic, his mysteriously missing wife Carolina, and his new fling with an increasingly suspicious Fabiana—it’s a thriller you’ll want to see, and Fantasia is its international premiere.
Monster Seafood Wars (dir: Minoru Kawasaki)
This kaiju-comedy sees a disgraced scientist accidentally create massive building-sized seafood creations-a squid, an octopus, and a crab-that *surprise* rampage through Tokyo. It’s a throwback film using oldschool techniques and rubber-costumed monster attacks, and if you’re a fan of Godzilla, Gamera, and King Kong (you should be) this is your kind of film. It’s an international premiere, and an extremely fun time.
The Legend of Baron To’a (dir: Kiel McNaughton)
Closing out the festival is the North American premiere of a martial arts action comedy from New Zealand’s own Kiel McNaughton. The film is deeply rooted in its local context, sporting a talented Polynesian cast and sliding effortlessly between English and Tongan. It’s full of heart, a great work of international cinema, and the choreography draws from martial arts and professional wrestling—an absolutely recommended international feature.
Sheep Without A Shepherd (dir: Sam Quah)
Lee’s teenage daughter accidentally kills the classmate that’s been blackmailing her. What’s worse: the deceased’s mother is a merciless cop (played by Twin Peaks’ Joan Chen). It’s up to Lee, with his ample knowledge of detective film history, to save the day in a tight and intense thriller. This is the Quebec premiere of Sheep Without A Shepherd, but the film was 10th highest grossing film in China in 2019—you’ll want to see it.
You Cannot Kill David Arquette (dirs: David Darg and Price James)
David Arquette was a household name in the 1990s for his work in the Scream series, Never Been Kissed, and more. After filming the World Championship Wrestling film Ready to Rumble the actor started being increasingly brought into wrestling storylines, eventually and controversially becoming the WCW World Heavyweight Champion for a short period of time. In 2018, Arquette announced he was training to re-enter the world of wrestling to regain fans’ respect, but suffered a major wound to the neck in November 2018. You Cannot Kill David Arquette documents Arquette’s determination and journey in the wrestling world, a story you have to see to believe.
Hail to the Deadites (dir: Steve Villeneuve)
Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy and subsequent series has given horror fans decades of happiness as a perfect set of horror comedies, boasting a wide array of offshoot media and quotable one-liners. Steve Villeneuve’s Hail to the Deadites digs into The Evil Dead with cast, crew, and fan interviews. It’s a must-see deep dive into an iconic horror-comedy franchise, and it’s full to the brim with love for the series and the fan community around it.
Clapboard Jungle (dir: Justin McConnell)
Finally, don’t miss Clapboard Jungle, another excellent documentary this year, on what it is to be an indie filmmaker in today’s industry. The doc follows director McConnell’s own journey and incorporates interviews with genre film legends like Guillermo del Toro, Richard Stanley, Barbara Crampton, Paul Schrader, George A. Romero, Gigi Saul Guerrero, and more. It’s a thoughtful, interesting look into the struggles of an indie film career against a rapidly changing industry context, and the number of top-tier interviews they landed is mind-blowing. Check it out for a wealth of insight and an interesting filmmaker journey.
You can now check out all the offerings at the Fantasia Fest website (and don’t miss my other curated selections, above).