August sees the return of the Fantasia International Film Festival, arguably the world’s premier screening event for science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other unusual genre cinema. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, this year’s festival is offering its Canadian audiences unprecedented online and in-person access to its films. For the rest of us around the world, it is a chance to hear about the independent and international genre films we should be looking for in the coming 12 months.
FictionMachine is pleased to have been granted press accreditation for Fantasia 2021, and we hope to bring you as many reviews of this year’s films as possible. Here are eight key films that we are already desperate to check out:
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
Japan, d. Junta Yamaguchi.
When COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions made it too difficult to shoot a standard kind of feature film, director Junta Yamaguchi and a team of talented actors worked to produce this one-of-a-kind science fiction comedy. Edited together into a single real-time shot, Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes sees a man find his apartment television is connected live to a computer monitor in the cafe downstairs – only two minutes into the future. The potential sounds enormous.
The Deep House
France, Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury.
Bustillo and Maury carved an indelible mark on horror in 2007 with their brutal home invasion thriller Inside. Their latest collaboration sounds fascinating: a found footage story of two urban explorers diving into an artificial lake – only to find a sunken old house beneath the surface. When done well, found footage films can offer a wonderfully visceral experience, and its directors’ reputation for confronting violence suggests an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride.
Don’t Say Its Name
Canada, d. Rueben Martell.
When a big mining operation is all set to carve into tribal land, the land itself elects to fight back. Everything I’ve read of this new Canadian thriller/horror sounds exciting: strong female leads, a snowbound atmospheric setting, and a featuring of First Nations people and culture.
The Great Yokai War: Guardians
Japan, d. Takashi Miike.
Japanese cult superstar Takashi Miike is well reknowned in international film circles for his confrontational and violent thrillers like Audition and Ichi the Killer. A second audience has come to appreciate his beautiful ‘jidai-geki’ remakes like 13 Assassins and Hara-Kiri. What he doesn’t seem well known for among global audiences is his children’s cinema – and that really needs to change. Guardians is the sequel to The Great Yokai War, a charming fantasy that had its international debut at Fantasia, and this second adventure is this year’s closing film.
USA, d. Phil Tippett.
Phil Tippet is an absolute legend of film visual effects, having provided revolutionary stop-motion and CGI animation for the likes of Star Wars, Robocop, Starship Troopers, and Jurassic Park. Mad God represents his directorial debut – a decades-in-the-making fantasy journey told through his exceptional stop-motion techniques. It is great to see such a talented artist finally take control of his own picture.
UK, d. Ruth Platt.
I adore a good ghost story on film, and this new British feature – the third from director Ruth Platt(The Lesson, The Black Forest) – really looks as if it has the goods. In an isolated vicarage, a young girl becomes aware of a supernatural presence thats gradually turns into a game. It sounds like the film is as much about human grief and broken families as it is about ghosts.
Midnight in a Perfect World
Philippines, d. Dodo Dayao.
I do not think I have ever seen a Filipino science fiction film before, and that is enough to get me interested in seeing Dodo Dayao’s film. That it appears to be a near future cyberpunk film with a blend of horror just makes it sound enormously fascinating. This sounds like the exact sort of movie for which festivals like Fantasia exist.
The 12 Day Tale of the Monster That Died…
Japan, d. Shunji Iwai.
Another Japanese film shot during the COVID pandemic, Shunji Iwai’s innovatively presented new feature combines lockdowns, social media and a world where ‘tokusatsu’ phenomena like giant monsters are part of real history. An unemployed actor (Takumi Saitoh) is encouraged to raise capsule toys to fight COVID-19, in what sounds like a brilliantly inventive take on both Japanese cinema and our current viral crisis.