The Fantasia International Film Festival returns for its 26th edition, which will run from July 14 – August 3. Some of my favorite movies of the last two years — films like Labyrinth of Cinema, Mad God, and We’re All Going to the World’s Fair — played Fantasia. And I anticipate being pleasantly surprised by a few films this year, as well. To preview the fest, here’s a quick sample of what this year’s program has on offer.
All Jacked Up and Full of Worms (d. Alex Phillips)
The title of Alex Phillips feature debut sort of says it all. The Fantasia program claims All Jacked Up and Full of Worms is inspired by both Frank Hennenloter and John Cassavetes. This combination could not sound more musical to these ears. An arthouse, underground Brain Damage, perhaps? Killing of a Chinese Bookie meets Tremors? I don’t know. But I’m ready to find out.
Country Gold (d. Mickey Reece)
Country Gold marks three years running where Mickey Reece has a feature playing Fantasia. The man doesn’t stop working, apparently. And while Climate of the Hunter was not for me, I cannot deny that Reece is adept at taking familiar genre trappings and doing something distinct and different with them. Agnes takes a possession movie and then abruptly left-turns into something totally different. It makes for a lopsided film, but one that is no doubt unique. I can only imagine Country Gold will bring another surprising effort from Reece.
Coupez! (d. Michel Hazanavicius)
Shinichiro Ueda’s One Cut of the Dead was an immensely pleasant surprise (more on Ueda in a bit). Now, Academy Award-winning Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) has remade One Cut. Hazanavicius is no stranger to comedic takes on genre tropes, but his being drawn to a zombie meta-comedy is not something I would have expected. The combination of talent and source material here makes me curious.
Next Sohee (d. July Jung)
Next Sohee, the closing night film, recently played at Cannes to some acclaim. Based in part on the tragic true story of a suicide at a Korean call center, Jung’s film is told in two parts. The first part is inspired by the real-life event, and the second is a fictionalized account of an investigation into the incident. Expect Next Sohee to be heavy but powerful.
Please Baby Please (d. Amanda Kramer)
Amanda Kramer’s Please Baby Please is one of the films playing the fest which I know little about. But it immediately caught my eye for its Lynchian premise, stills that look like they were pulled from Anger’s Scorpio Rising, and its impressive cast that includes Andrea Riseborough and Demi Moore. It appears to be a film which explores the fluidity of sexuality and gender through subversive formal experimentation. I’m sold.
Popran (d. Shinichiro Ueda)
Shinichiro Ueda has quickly established himself as a distinct voice in genre-bending comedies. His much-loved One Cut of the Dead was followed up by Special Actors, a film I found very enjoyable (and which I believe still hasn’t received U.S. distribution). Popran bears an even more absurd premise than these two films, one in which male genitalia spontaneously disappear. Think King Missile’s “Detachable Penis.”
As always, thanks for reading!