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Fantasia’s 21st Edition To Feature Numerous World Premieres, Cannes Sensations, And North American Debuts!

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The Fantasia Film Festival is the highlight of the summer for Montreal, especially if you are a massive film nerd. The three-week extravaganza showcases some of the best in genre cinema from across the globe and in the 20 years since the festival first began, Fantasia has become famous for screening some of the biggest World Premieres and introducing the world to hundreds of genre films that have gone on to develop huge cult followings. The ‘first wave’ of this year’s programming announcements hit the web earlier today, and by the looks of things, Fantasia may deliver their best lineup yet, which is saying a lot given their impressive track record. The festival’s First Wave announcements includes the North American Premiere of Cannes Sensation The Villainess, the World Premiere of new work from Géla Babluani, the North American Premiere of Takashi Miike’s Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable, a special screening of Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, a pair of dazzling new creations from Masaaki Yuasa, and a lifetime achievement award for the legendary Larry Cohen, to name just a few. Check out the full announcement below.

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Montreal, June 13, 2017 – The Fantasia International Film Festival celebrates its 21st Anniversary in Montreal this summer, taking place from July 13-August 2, with its Frontières International Co-Production Market and Industry Rendez-Vous Weekend being held July 20-23. The full lineup of over 130 feature films will be announced July 5. In the meantime, the festival is excited to reveal a selected First Wave of titles, along with several special happenings.

Villainess_JojoA POWERFUL OPENING NIGHT WITH JUNG BYUNG-GIL’S THE VILLAINESS and TAKASHI MIIKE’S JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE: DIAMOND IS UNBREAKABLE

Fantasia 2017 will start with a thunderous smash! After leaving the Cannes audience absolutely mesmerized with its groundbreaking and spectacular fight scenes and Kim Ok-vin’s ferocious, yet poignant interpretation, Jung Byung-gil’s action thriller THE VILLAINESS (North American Premiere) will be the Opening Film of this year’s edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival.

Following this astonishing jolt of raw adrenaline, who else than the Grand Maestro of international genre cinema could keep the pace? Fantasia favorite Takashi Miike, who received a well deserved Lifetime Achievement Award last year, will once again please his hordes of Montreal fans with the exuberant JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE: DIAMOND IS UNBREAKABLE (North American Premiere), masterfully adapted from Hirohiko Kitakubo’s cult manga and featuring a stellar cast led by Kento Yamazaki.

King_Cohen

A LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR LARRY COHEN

This Summer, Fantasia will be saluting the groundbreaking work of independent American filmmaker Larry Cohen. Widely recognized as one of the godfathers of progressive, socially conscious genre cinema with such individualistic landmarks as the IT’S ALIVE films, BLACK CASEAR, Q, and THE STUFF, in addition to his distinctive screenwriting work for a plethora of other filmmakers, Cohen’s output has always been smart, character-driven, and boldly confrontational.

Larry Cohen will be awarded before the World Premiere of Steve Mitchell’s KING COHEN, a phenomenal documentary about the filmmaker’s extraordinary history and work, that features appearances by Martin Scorsese, John Landis, Yaphet Kotto, J.J. Abrams, Fred Williamson, Rick Baker, Joe Dante, and Eric Bogosian, among many others.

Celebrated actor Michael Moriarty, who has appeared in no fewer than seven features for Cohen, and appears prominently in KING COHEN, will be in attendance at the award ceremony.

In addition, the festival will be teaming up with the Cinémathèque Québécoise to screen 35mm archival prints of IT’S ALIVE, GOD TOLD ME TO, and Q.

Man_Who_LaughsA GLORIOUS CINEMATOGRAPHIC CONCERT: THE MAN WHO LAUGHS

Following our past live performance events of METROPOLIS and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, Gabriel Thibaudeau and Fantasia are re-teaming for a presentation of a unique cinematographic concert of Paul Leni’s 1928 classic THE MAN WHO LAUGHS, rightfully recognized as an early masterpiece of horror cinema. Thibaudeau’s original score for the film, which has been performed worldwide over the past 20 years, from Paris to São Paulo, Tokyo to New York, will be interpreted live by a nine-piece orchestra under the direction of the composer, featuring the Quatuor Molinari. Do not miss this true homage to silent cinema’s golden age!

Moneys_MoneyTHRILL TO THE RETURN OF GELA BABLUANI AT THE WORLD PREMIERE OF MONEY’S MONEY

Georgian-born French filmmaker Géla Babluani created one of the most significant thrillers of the last 15 years with his enthralling debut, the classic 13 TZAMETI. Now, after a seven-year hiatus following that film’s 2010 US remake, he has returned with MONEY’S MONEY – a taut robbery thriller whose stellar cast includes Benoît Magimel, Olivier Rabourdin, Vincent Rottiers, and Féodor Atkine. Fantasia will proudly be showcasing the film’s World Premiere.

Night_is_ShortMIND GAME MASTERMIND MASAAKI YUASA RETURNS WITH NOT ONE BUT TWO NEW FEATURES

Fantasia’s Axis Section presents two new animated films by Japan’s Yuasa Masaaki, who will attend the festival in person. Masaaki’s 2004 opus MIND GAME, showcasing his free-spirited sensibility, remains an all-time animated highlight of the festival’s programming history. First up, a wild jumble of characters and events that come together on one strange night in Kyoto, in the madcap, musical romantic comedy NIGHT IS SHORT, WALK ON GIRL (International Premiere). And then there’s LU OVER THE WALL (North American Premiere) – boy meets mermaid in this manic anime mash-up of Gothic folklore, wild fantasy, and feelgood teenage J-pop jams!

Film Title: Valerian and the City of a Thousand PlanetsA SPECIAL SCREENING OF LUC BESSON’S VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS

Fantasia will be presenting a special screening of Luc Besson’s hotly anticipated fantasy spectacular VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS. Based on the adored French comic series by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières, the film stars Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, and Rihanna – and promises to be one of the most visually extravagant genre works the screen has ever seen.

LowlifeLIKE NOTHING YOU’VE SEEN BEFORE: THE WORLD PREMIERE OF LOWLIFE

The lives of an addict, a Luchador, a cartel organ smuggler, and an ex-con collide in this wildly original crime/drama/blacker-than-black comedy/thriller that’s as informed by Mexican subcultures as it is by American cinema. A ferocious feature debut by Ryan Prows, LOWLIFE is one of the most gobsmacking crime film discoveries that we’ve come across in years. Beg, cheat, or steal to be at our World Premiere and witness the birth of an unforgettable instant classic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA BRAND NEW TALENT FROM SOUTH KOREA WILL BLOW YOUR MIND WITH THE INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE OF A DAY

Director Cho Sun-ho amazes with his masterfully crafted first feature film A DAY (International Premiere), which tells the story of a famous doctor stuck in a time loop where he must try to save his daughter from a fatal car accident over and over again. Going far beyond the GROUNDHOG DAY concept in terms of emotional implication and unpredictable twists, this riveting thriller will keep you on the very edge of your seat! Cho Sun-ho is definitely a name to remember!

Friendly_BeastINSTINCT AND TRANSGRESSION: THE WORLD PREMIERE OF FRIENDLY BEAST

Fantasia is proud to be presenting the World Premiere of FRIENDLY BEAST, a bold and brilliant feature debut from Brazilian writer/director Gabriela Amaral Almeida. Easily one of the most provocative works you’ll encounter this year, the film concerns a restaurant owner going over the edge when an armed robbery is attempted at his establishment. He holds everyone captive at gunpoint – criminals and customers alike – and situations corrode into a nightmare state, guided by manipulation and raw compulsion.

MohawkSCALPS WILL BLEED AT THE WORLD PREMIERE OF MOHAWK

Ted Geoghegan’s sophomore feature, following 2015’s acclaimed WE ARE STILL HERE, confronts audiences with a very different kind of horror: our collective history.  Set in 1814, MOHAWK tells the white-knuckle tale of two young Mohawk warriors and their British lover pursued by murderous American military renegades Hell-bent on blind revenge, and features a striking ensemble cast that includes Kaniehtiio Horn, Eamon Farren, Ezra Buzzington, Jonathan Huber (WWE Superstar Luke Harper), and Noah Segan. History often hurts, but sometimes it hits hard enough to kill.

Laplaces_DemonCAMERA LUCIDA UNVEILS THE LAPLACE’S DEMON AND MORE!

The CAMERA LUCIDA Section is back at Fantasia for its eighth consecutive year! Opening with the Québec Premiere of David Lowery’s A GHOST STORY, a metaphysical exploration of love, longing, destiny and mortality that reunites the PETE’S DRAGON’s director with actors Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck, the section will once again showcase some of world cinema’s boldest and most innovative voices, at the very edge of genre cinema.

World premiering at Fantasia, Giordano Giulivi’s THE LAPLACE’S DEMON unfolds like an all-time great TWILIGHT ZONE episode directed by the three-headed offspring of Guy Maddin, Mario Bava, and Val Lewton! It will send you right over the edge with its unique mix of faux-vintage aesthetics, probabilistic science-fiction, and Gothic style. A total discovery, it beautifully balances pastiche, homage, and invention!

Also in the section, Yuya Ishii’s THE TOKYO NIGHT SKY IS ALWAYS THE DENSEST SHADE OF BLUE (Canadian Premiere) is an offbeat rom-com, a slacker dramedy, and a poetic ode to the Big City, all rolled into one virtuosic film from the director of THE GREAT PASSAGE, and based on the poetry of Tahi Saihate.

Geng Jun’s FREE AND EASY (also a Canadian Premiere) sees a soap salesman, a monk, and some lazy cops collide in a factory town in the Northeast of China. Putting the “dead” firmly back in deadpan, Geng’s comedy unfolds as an absurdist caper of Beckettian proportions, making for a great portrait of small-town crime in the wake of China’s rapid industrialization. The rest of this year’s Camera Lucida lineup will be revealed on July 5.

JailbreakDISCOVER CAMBODIAN ACTION CINEMA AT THE NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE OF JAILBREAK

Years ago, Thailand gave the world ONG BAK. Then Indonesia surprised us with THE RAID. This year, it’s Cambodia’s turn to redefine the limits of action cinema with spectacular stunts and breathtaking fights at an unrelenting, frenetic pace. Explosively directed by Jimmy Henderson, JAILBREAK highlights the beauty and the know-how of a national cinema worth discovering. Don’t miss this!

You_Only_Live_Once
YOLO! FANTASIA EXPLODES WITH THE INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE OF YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE

YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE, the hilarious feature debut of Spanish stunt coordinator Federico Cueva, who has worked extensively on the films of Alex de la Iglesia and Santiago Segura, is an explosive action/comedy that sees a framed con man (Peter Lanzani) having to impersonate an orthodox Jew in order to escape ruthless killers – played by Segura, Gerard Depardieu, and Hugo Silva! Fantasia offers you the chance to be the first to see this incredible actioner outside its home country!

GintamaA BLAST WHICHEVER WAY YOU SLICE IT: GINTAMA MAKES ITS NORTH AMERICAN DEBUT!

Fantasia favorite Yuichi Fukuda (HK: FORBIDDEN SUPERHERO) is back, with his biggest film yet: GINTAMA, based on Hideaki Sorachi’s long-running, best-selling shonen manga series – adapted to the big screen in all its comedic, swashbuckling, fourth-wall-breaking glory! Fukuda runs completely wild with the manga’s many sight gags and extravagant costumes, in what proves to be at once a must for diehard fans and a treat for manga enthusiasts in general; a crash-course in live-action done right!

Cold_HellSTRONGER THAN PRAYERS: THE NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE OF STEFAN RUZOWITZKY’S COLD HELL

From the Oscar-winning director of THE COUNTERFEITERS and the ANATOMIE films comes the crushingly intense COLD HELL – a film that crackles with elements of Giallo, horror, thriller, and full-throttle action cinema, anchored with powerful doses of socio-political confrontation. A tough-as-nails Turkish taxi driver (Violetta Schurawlow) in Vienna witnesses a murder and finds herself stalked by a fundamentalist serial killer inspired by Islam. After a lifetime of being under siege, she’s not about to run from anyone.  What follows is anything but the usual cat and mouse formula, as ideology and hate clash up against ferocious, end-of-the-rope anger.

Dan_DreamGET ELECTRIFIED BY THE INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE OF DAN DREAM

Danish madmen Casper Christensen and Frank Hvam became a comedy team for the ages in the unforgettable KLOWN series – the first film having won a Cheval Noir at Fantasia, where it had its North American Premiere.  Now, they’re together again, as co-writers and stars, in Jesper Rofelt’s DAN DREAM, an ‘80s-set comedy about a group of eccentric men striving to make an electric car. Fantasia’s audience will be the very first to see the film outside of Denmark. Get excited!

Teiichi_Battle_of_the_Supreme_HighPOLITICS GET FUNNY WITH TEIICHI: BATTLE OF THE SUPREME HIGH

If Nicolas Machiavelli would’ve written a comic book with an edgy sense of humor, it would look like Usamaru Furuya’s manga Teiichi no Kuni. Akira Nagai, director of the Fantasia 2016 success IF CATS DISAPPEARED FROM THE WORLD, adapts this witty mix of political satire and coming of age story without falling one second into outrageous cynicism. With a dynamic performance from actor Masaki Suda who bring just enough humanity to his aspiring politician character, TEIICHI: BATTLE OF THE SUPREME HIGH (North American Premiere) is the perfect film to maintain a bit of sanity in today’s political context.

Brigsby_BearBRIGSBY BEAR COMES TO CANADA

After celebrating its World Premiere at Sundance and its European launch at Cannes (Critic’s Week), Dave McCary’s extraordinary BRIGSBY BEAR will have its Canadian bow at Fantasia. Brigsby Bear Adventures is a children’s TV show produced for an audience of one: James (Kyle Mooney). When the show abruptly ends, James’s life changes forever, and he sets out to finish the story himself. Co-starring Mark Hamill, Claire Danes, and Greg Kinnear, BRIGSBY BEAR is an inventive and touching outsider comedy about the power of storytelling that easily ranks among the most charming films you’ll encounter this year.

Have_A_Nice_DayCHINA’S FIRST WORLD-CLASS INDIE ANIMATOR, LIU JIAN, WANTS YOU TO HAVE A NICE DAY

Liu Jian’s award-winning 2010 debut, PIERCING 1, marked him as China’s first world-class independent animator, and established an austere, understated visual style and caustic social commentary that has carried through to his latest. Making its Canadian Premiere at Fantasia 2017, Liu’s bold second feature, the Berlinale breakout HAVE A NICE DAY is a bitter, bitingly funny slice of low-key neo-noir, in which a memorable bunch of nobodies chase a bag of cash and strike hopeless bargains with fate.

ADDITIONAL FIRST WAVE TITLES INCLUDE:

68 KILL
USA – Dir: Trent Haaga

Matthew Gray Gubler and AnnaLynne McCord incinerate the screen in this crazy scumbag thrill-ride of white-trash crime and kink that manages to subversively play with gender and be a toxic anti-romantic bloodbath of a comedy in the same breathless blow. Winner: Audience Award (Midnighters), SXSW 2017. Canadian Premiere.

BAD GENIUS
Thailand – Dir: Nattawut Poonpiriya

When Lynn (Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying) discovers that her academic skills can bring her thousands of baht if she helps her wealthy friends cheat at exams, she elaborates a complex scheme. What if OCEAN’S ELEVEN would somehow meet THE BREAKFAST CLUB? Well, it happened! A breathtaking coming-of-age thriller that is way smarter than anything you can expect! Official Selection: New York Asian Film Festival. Canadian Premiere.

BASTARD SWORDSMAN
Hong Kong – Dir: Tony Liu

Who will truly master the silkworm technique and bring balance to the martial world? The last surviving 35mm copy of the Shaw Brothers gem will blast you with its avalanche of unfettered lunacy. First Canadian screening in 30 years!

BITCH
USA – Dir: Marianna Palka

The provocative tale of a woman (Palka) who snaps under crushing life pressures and assumes the psyche of a vicious dog.  A sharp, feminist satire that’s alternately uncomfortably funny and confrontational with a warrior soul, BITCH is a stunning achievement in every sense. Official Selection: Sundance 2017, Chicago Critics Film Festival 2017. Canadian Premiere.

DEAD MAN TELLS HIS OWN TALE
Argentina – Dir: Fabián Forte

Misogynist alpha male Angel has it all – money, power, family, sex. His only problem is, he’s dead. Gender politics are unpacked in Fabián Forte’s subversive black comedy dosed with unexpected terror. Official Selection: Morbido 2016, Fantasporto 2017. Canadian Premiere.

DEAD SHACK
Canada – Dir: Peter Ricq

A rural Canadian mix of DEAD ALIVE, SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, and ’80s kids’ movies! Director Peter Ricq (creator of the animated series FREAKTOWN) keeps things fast, light, and full of fight. Official Selection: Neuchetal Fantastic Film Festival 2017, Lund 2017. North American Premiere.

THE ENDLESS
USA – Dir: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead

Two brothers return to the cult they fled from years ago to discover that the group’s beliefs may be more sane than they once thought. SPRING and RESOLUTION announced Benson and Moorehead as unconventional genre forces to be reckoned with. THE ENDLESS – in which the gifted filmmaking duo also star – confirms their brilliance beyond any question.  Official Selection: Tribeca 2017. Canadian Premiere.

GAME OF DEATH
Canada – Dir: Sebastien Landry and Laurence Baz Morias

A hard-partying pack of teens are forced into a desperate game of kill-or-be-killed after playing the wrong retro game in this high-energy, blood-spattered brainchild of Montreal filmmakers Sebastien Landry and Laurence Baz Morais. Official Selection: SXSW 2017, Jeonju International Film Festival 2017. Canadian Premiere.

KILLING GROUND
Australia – Dir: Damien Power

A young couple (Harriet Dyer; Ian Medows) on a romantic getaway in the Australian wilderness encounter a dangerous pair of locals (Aaron Pedersen; Aaron Glenane) and a make deadly discovery in this inventively intense thriller that brings audiences back to the glory days of Aussie genre cinema and sun-drenched outback horror. Official Selection: Sundance Film Festival. Canadian Premiere.

KODOKU MEATBALL MACHINE
Japan – Dir: Yoshihiro Nishimura

People are turning into bizarre organic/mechanical creatures who terrorize the last survivors of a decimated, dome-covered Tokyo. Yoshihiro Nishimura (TOKYO GORE POLICE), Japan’s master of extreme make-up effects, is back with more of his gory creativity and his formidable capacity to create hellish – but funny – monsters. Official Selection: SXSW 2017, Night Visions 2017, The Overlook Film Festival 2017. Canadian Premiere.

MAYHEM
USA – Dir: Joe Lynch

Amid a frightening viral outbreak that leaves the infected temporarily unable to control their impulses – and subsequently not criminally responsible for their behaviour – a lawyer (THE WALKING DEAD’s Steven Yeun) and shafted homeowner (Samara Weaving) fight to confront the top executives who wronged them. A cheerfully ferocious middle finger salute to cutthroat corporate culture. Official Selection: SXSW 2017. Canadian Premiere.

M.F.A.
USA – Dir: Natalia Leite

After being sexually assaulted by a fellow classmate, an art student (Francesca Eastwood) becomes an avenging vigilante, refusing the vulnerability of victimization and exacting cold-blooded – and bloody – revenge. Official Selection SXSW 2017, Galway Film Fleadh 2017. Canadian Premiere.

MON MON MON MONSTERS
Taiwan – Dir: Giddens Ko

In a shabby Taipei neighborhood plagued by nocturnal killings, four teenage boys find trouble… and trouble finds them. A twisted coming-of-age film from the writer of MACHI ACTION and an impressive blend of genres, bouncing from comedy to horror in matters of seconds without ever making a mess. Official selection: Hong Kong International Film Festival 2017, Udine Far East Film Festival 2017, New York Asian Film Festival 2017. Canadian Premiere.

MUSEUM
Japan – Dir: Keishi Ohtomo

Fantasia favorite Keishi Ohtomo (the RUROUNI KENSHIN trilogy) is back with MUSEUM, based on Ryosuke Tomoe’s 2013 manga of the same name. It’s overworked cop vs. sadistic, frog-headed killer in this gruesome and deranged, horror-tinged thriller in the tradition of David Fincher’s SE7EN! Official Selection: Sitges 2016, Busan 2016. Canadian Premiere.

MY FRIEND DAHMER
USA – Dir: Marc Meyers

Ross Lynch stars in the haunting, sad, funny, and true story of Jeffrey Dahmer in high school, based on Derf Backderf’s critically acclaimed 2012 graphic novel of the same name and Meyers’s own 2014 Black List script. Also starring Anne Heche, Dallas Roberts, and Vincent Kartheiser. Official Selection: Tribeca 2017. Canadian Premiere.

NAPPING PRINCESS
Japan – Dir: Kenji Kamiyama

The divide between teenage Kokone’s fanciful reveries and the real world is crumbling in NAPPING PRINCESS, a sleek Japanese anime that blends steampunk fantasy and plugged-in techno-thrillers. From acclaimed director Kenji Kamiyama (GHOST IN THE SHELL: SAC, CYBORG 009, and EDEN OF THE EAST). Canadian Premiere.

NIGHT OF THE VIRGIN
Spain – Dir: Roberto San Sebastián

The first time is often clumsy and awkward, but for Nico the virgin, it’s the beginning of an endless nightmare. An unmissable comedy/horror rollercoaster of blood and lust that features some of the most grotesquely imaginative grossouts we’ve seen in years. Official Selection: Fantaspoa 2017, FrightFest 2017. Canadian Premiere.

PORK PIE
New Zealand – Dir: Matt Murphy

A trio of young misfits in pursuit of lost love race the length of the country in a stolen Mini Cooper S. Avoiding the law and with nothing to lose, they become folk heroes and most wanted criminals as they find themselves caught in the crosshairs of a media frenzy and escalating police operation. North American Premiere.

REPLACE
Germany/Canada – Dir: Norbert Keil

Afflicted with a dermatological disease, young and beautiful Kira discovers she can replace her skin with that of other girls. REPLACE is a visually sumptuous and grotesque horror/science-fiction creation, co-scripted by Richard Stanley and co-starring genre legend Barbara Crampton. Canadian Premiere.

RON GOOSSENS, LOW-BUDGET STUNTMAN
Netherlands – Dir: Steffen Haars and Flip Van der Kuil

A failed stunt makes Ron Goossens an overnight national celebrity in Holland, in the incendiary new comedy from the team who gave you the insane NEW KIDS films! Official Selection: Fantaspoa 2017, Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival 2017. North American Premiere.

SEQUENCE BREAK
USA – Dir: Graham Skipper
A loner’s budding romance is menaced by a mysterious arcade game that’s a portal to the cosmos in this masterful melding of retro ’80s horror nostalgia and Lovecraftian doom. The directorial debut of actor Graham Skipper (THE MIND’S EYE), SEQUENCE BREAK won Best Feature Film at the 2017 Chattanooga Film Festival. International Premiere.

SPLIT
South Korea – Dir: Choi Kook-hee

A fallen bowling champion (OLDBOY’s Yoo Ji-tae) attempts to team up with an autistic prodigy (POETRY’s David Lee) to rack big money with underground bowling gambles. Built like a genuine sports drama, SPLIT has way more to offer than the traditional competition story… but it will still make you cheer for the protagonists until the end credits! Official Selection: New York Asian Film Festival 2017. Canadian Premiere.

SUPER DARK TIMES
USA – Dir: Kevin Phillips

An emotionally incinerating and strangely dream-like gaze into the shadowy crevices of teenage psychology, directed with vivid imagination, telling a powerful story about adolescence’s end and the darkening of innocence, friendship, loyalty… and murder. Official Selection: Rotterdam Film Festival 2017. Canadian Premiere.

THOUSAND CUTS
France – Dir: Eric Valette

From the maker of MALEFIQUE and ONE MISSED CALL comes a compelling story about wine, drugs, neighbors, neophobia, and politics, in which a hitman seeks a place to hide. Starring Tomer Sisley (SLEEPLESS NIGHT). Official Selection: Rotterdam Film Festival 2017. North American Premiere.

TOKYO IDOLS
UK/Canada/Japan  – Dir: Kyoko Miyake

“Idols”, girl bands and their pop music, permeate every moment of Japanese life. TOKYO IDOLS peeks behind the curtains of this industry, explores a cultural phenomenon driven by an obsession with young female sexuality, and the growing disconnect between men and women in hyper-modern societies. Official Selection: Sundance 2017, Hot Docs 2017, DOXA 2017, Japan Cuts 2017. Québec Premiere.

TOM OF FINLAND
Finland – Dir: Dome Karukoski

Award-winning filmmaker Dome Karukoski (LAPLAND ODYSSEY) brings the life and work of one of the most influential and celebrated figures of twentieth century gay culture to the screen in this extraordinary story of revolution and acceptance through counter-cultural art. Official Selection: Goteborg Film Festival 2017, Edinburgh International Film Festival 2017, Tribeca 2017. Canadian Premiere.

VAMPIRE CLEANUP DEPARTMENT
Hong Kong – Dir: Yan Pak-Wing and Chiu Sin-Hang

A motley crew of misfits tackle the bloodthirsty hopping vampires descending on Hong Kong! Laughter, kung fu, horror, and insanity, with a gallery of HK icons! Official Selection: Udine Far East Film Festival 2017, Bucheon International Film Festival 2017. Canadian Premiere.

WHAT A WONDERFUL FAMILY! 2
Japan – Dir: Yoji Yamada

The Hirata family is back, and Grandpa is acting up again! This sequel reunites legendary director Yoji Yamada (of the TORA-SAN series) with the exceptional cast of the first film for another round of hilarious, multi-generational slapstick comedy! Official Selection: Beijing International Film Festival 2017, Shanghai International Film Festival 2017. Canadian Premiere.

WU KONG
China/Hong Kong – Dir: Derek Kwok

Award-winning director Derek Kwok (GALLANTS) reboots the famous Monkey King legend from the popular novel, with fresh vigour of epic proportions that you’ll love for 10,000 years. To be released during the same week in China and North America. Québec Premiere.

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The full 2017 lineup will be announced on July 5, 2017. Stay tuned!

The Fantasia International Film Festival takes place in Montreal July 13  – August 2, 2017, once again returning to the mammoth Concordia Hall Cinema as its main base.

For more information, visit us on the web at www.fantasiafestival.com

Some people take my heart, others take my shoes, and some take me home. I write, I blog, I podcast, I edit, and I design websites. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Goomba Stomp and the NXpress Nintendo Podcast. Former Editor-In-Chief of Sound On Sight, and host of several podcasts including the Game of Thrones and Walking Dead podcasts, as well as the Sound On Sight and Sordid Cinema shows. There is nothing I like more than basketball, travelling, and animals. You can find me online writing about anime, TV, movies, games and so much more.

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Let’s Discuss the Revamped Sonic the Hedgehog Design

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The internet has breathed a collective sigh of relief following the release of a new trailer for the upcoming Sonic The Hedgehog movie. Some leaks a few weeks back that turned out to be correct showed the design that we see but the trailer shows a lot more of the new redesign of the world renowned video game character. The movie has been the subject of much attention-mostly negative- after the initial trailer was released six months ago. The first trailer (which initially announced a release date of November 2019) was incredibly poorly received due to the odd design choice for the titular character. With small eyes, a tiny snout and human teeth, the original design was weirdly realistic and resembled an odd humanoid rather than the blue cartoon hedgehog that we all know and love.

The first design for Sonic looked a bit like a child in a Sonic the Hedgehog suit. Creepy to say the least.

The new trailer shows off a brand new look for Sonic which is far more in sync with what we already know for the character. He is definitely an animated character, with the exaggerated features that he has always had in every other iteration. The movie itself still looks cheesy as hell but it looks like a tolerable, even kind of enjoyable sort of cheesy.  The controversy surrounding the terribly received first Sonic design has been so prolific that some even argued that the whole thing has been a marketing ploy and that the character was never meant to look as bad as he originally did. Whatever the case may be in terms of what went down behind the scenes of the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, it is clear that even if the film is terrible it will attract a substantial audience of people just curious as to how the whole thing is going to turn out. As a fan of Sonic since the 90’s when I was little, I’m probably going to be one of those people.

Sonic is now appropriately cute, fluffy and more in line with his usual style.

I’m still kind of hoping it can break the curse of the video game movie-like Detective Pikachu did- but alongside the aforementioned cheesiness, it looks like a pretty generic movie aimed at kids rather than diehard fans of the Sonic franchise. Flop or not, at least Sonic is looking far more adorable and less like he might murder you in your sleep. It also shows how the filmmakers were willing to listen to their audience and implement changes following feedback. Incredibly vocal feedback at that.

The comparison between the two designs shows just how much the animators have worked to create a brand new Sonic. Their hard work has certainly paid off.

Sonic the Hedgehog is due for theatrical release on February 14th, 2020.

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Anamanaguchi – [USA] (Album Review)

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Few acts boast such renown amongst uber-nerdy video game enthusiasts as Anamanaguchi. Unveiling their debut EP ‘Power Supply’ in 2009, the Chiptune pioneers have pushed their unique brand of 8-bit powered Rock and Pop across various releases, including 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game soundtrack, and 2013’s Kickstarter funded 22 track LP ‘Endless Fantasy’. And with ‘Endless Fantasy’ being their last LP (excluding their stuffed to the brim ‘Capsule Silence XXIV’ compilations), to say fans have anticipated ‘[USA]’ is an almighty understatement.

Six years is a while, so has Anamanaguchi’s latest batch of tracks been worth the wait? Seasoned fans Harry and Kyle are on the scene to offer their takes, from how ‘[USA]’ stacks up against the band’s other offerings, to its effectiveness as an artistic whole.

Background With Anamanaguchi

I first heard Anamanaguchi around 2010. At the time I was neck deep in my Slipknot phase (a phase I’ve yet to grow out of judging by how much I replayed ‘We Are Not Your Kind’ this year), so their goofy electronic schtick didn’t tick my boxes. But as time passed I developed a stronger fondness of them, so much so that I enthusiastically backed their 2013 LP ‘Endless Fantasy’ on Kickstarter. Now I’ve seen them live twice, followed their progress over the years, and can proudly proclaim my superfan status. – Harry

The late 2000s saw a shift in pop culture: suddenly, geek chic was all the rage. G4 was at the height of its popularity, pixel art infested countless pieces of media, and video games were undeniably cool. Few other pieces of media encapsulate this cultural zeitgeist more than Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game. Based on the popular comic by Bryan Lee O’Malley, the Scott Pilgrim game featured Anamanaguchi’s crunchy pixelated Rock sound, which melded perfectly with the colorful 16-bit beat-em’-up gameplay. Older Anamanaguchi albums are more than just music: they’re a trip back in time to a brighter, more innocent era of pop culture and gaming. – Kyle

Introducing [USA]

I was excited for ‘[USA]’, but that’s stating the obvious based on my prior words. The LP kicks off with its titular track, introducing affairs with an amalgamation of predictably glitchy bleeps ‘n’ bloops. It’s straight up Anamanaguchi, their Chiptune flair intact. This is good, as Anamanaguchi sans Chiptune is like spaghetti sans sauce (still awesome, but lacking a key ingredient). “USA” is chanted as instrumentation morphs stylistically, crescendoing in dynamics and tempo, and setting the stage for the lead single.

“Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” is an LP highlight. Stepping out the gate with Vocaloid-y singing, an aesthetic of grandiose gorgeousness is speedily cemented. This later juxtaposes with the rapid-fire rhythms of Luke’s drumming and manic synthesizer arpeggios that run around like an 8-bit-ified (Sega Master System) Sonic the Hedgehog. This mental meld of melody, Drum and bass, and all manner of other musical magic finally sinks into a sea of atmospheric spookiness, concluding in an out of left field (yet utterly engaging) way. “Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” avoids predictability through each and every beat of its journey, but nails catchy accessibility to a tee. A masterclass in creative songwriting, it sets ‘[USA]’s’ bar sky high. – Harry

The weeks to ‘[USA]’ releasing were positive ones, marked by enticing singles like “Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” and “Air On Line”. Anamanaguchi’s distinct Rock-flavored Chiptune style had undergone a stylistic shift in the band’s 2013 release ‘Endless Fantasy’, where the band shed off some of its punk flair in favor of dreamier synth tones. In the six years between LP releases, Anamanaguchi experimented with singles and EPs featuring sonic palettes characteristic of modern J-Pop (“Pop It”, “Miku”). While the band stretched its legs with poppier beats, it did mark a further departure from the traditional Rock-oriented sound that had defined much of their earlier work.

‘[USA]’ in many respects displays a return to Anamanaguchi’s roots. Tracks like “On My Own (feat. HANA)” and “Air On Line” boast driving guitar riffs, thumping drums, and fluidly complex intricacies. Yet, it’s more than clear that Anamanaguchi has evolved beyond their geeky beginnings to cultivate an airy soundscape of bright pastel colors and crystal clear tones. It doesn’t always hit the mark, but the highs that ‘[USA]’ can reach prove that the guys have still got it. – Kyle

Negative Bits

Unfortunately, said sky high bar is scarcely met again throughout the rest of ‘[USA]’. Plenty of tracks, like “The C R T Woods” and “Overwriting Incorporate”, are serviceable, but fall short of the laser focused compositional direction and melodic magnificence that Anamanaguchi are so super slick at. ‘[USA]’ suffers from banality, with tracks like “Tear” and “We Die” meandering noisily without focus, and big chunks (particularly the interlude-like tracks “Speak To You [Memory Messengers]” and “Apophenia Light [Name Eaters]”) feeling akin to ‘Capsule Silence XXIV’ cuts (i.e. decent demos, but not kickass LP standouts). – Harry

Much like Harry, I found a large chunk of the album rather dull to get through. Admittedly, Anamanaguchi has an undeniable talent for their synth instrumentation. However, what pushes their work beyond generic electronic music is their ability to anchor that instrumentation to a melodic through line built on catchy hooks and unexpected turns. “Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” is one of the few tracks that manages to pull off this floaty, ethereal sound because it moves forward with purpose and constantly engages your curiosity. The same can’t be said for several of the other synth-heavy tracks, too lost in their own sound to offer anything truly engaging. – Kyle

Positive Bits

Nevertheless, there are flashes of brilliance here. “Sunset By Plane (feat. Caroline Lufkin)” is Anamanaguchi firing on all cylinders, delivering energetic poppy bombast in spades. Porter Robinson’s co production is evident in “Air On Line”, resulting in a smooth stomper of happy hooks. “B S X (feat. Hatsune Miku)” incorporates choppily glitched-out singing from the iconic Vocaloid, serving as a pseudo-sequel to the 2016 single “Miku”. “On My Own (feat. HANA)” sees Anamanaguchi’s Chiptune/Pop/Rock melting pot bubbling away again. And speaking of Chiptune, it’s wonderful to hear mountains of 8-bit eccentricity throughout ‘[USA]’, proving even as their sound matures, Anamanaguchi still celebrate where they came from with beaming pixelated smiles. – Harry

As a whole, ‘[USA]’ still deserves a place worthy of praise in Anamanaguchi’s discography. Porter Robinson only collaborated with the band for “Air On Line”, but his style bleeds wonderfully into tracks like “Up to You (feat. meesh)” and “Sunset By Plane (feat. Caroline Lufkin)”. The kawaii-infused J-Pop rhythms and hooks are infectiously catchy, but don’t let that fool you: Anamanaguchi haven’t lost their edge. “B S X (feat. Hatsune Miku)” and “On My Own (feat. HANA)” show that the band can reach back into their deep musical pockets and bring out their signature hard Chiptune Rock to surprise you with something intimately familiar. – Kyle

Final Thoughts

In typical Anamanaguchi fashion, ‘[USA]’ is ambitious from start to finish. ‘Endless Fantasy’ is bloated, but stylistically spot on, whereas ‘[USA]’ trims the fat, but gets a little lost in its journey. Glistening gold sits alongside stale pies, and that description is a fitting metaphor for elements of ‘[USA]’: it’s odd, and doesn’t make much sense (and perhaps that in itself is a metaphor for the real life USA?).

Still, when Anamanaguchi’s latest is good, it’s really good, and there’s bundles of genius in the 8-bit boys yet!

Check out, stream, buy or consume ‘[USA]’ in your preferred capacity by clicking HERE!

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Star Wars Fan Films Embrace the Essence of A Galaxy Far, Far Away

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There is no doubt that dedicated fans are capable of creating brilliant, fan-made content, but the Star Wars fan base has a habit of going above and beyond in making incredible works of art that often surpass official entries in the franchise. Two relatively recent short fan films — one released last week, the other released in March of this year — are great examples of this.

The first is a 1970s/80s-style cartoon from YouTuber Wilkins Animation called Dark Empire Episode One: The Destiny of a Jedi. This animated short is incredibly reminiscent of classic cartoons — so much so that it is difficult not to feel a pang of nostalgia upon watching it. The style gives off a He-Man vibe due to the quirky animation, stellar voice work, and vibrant colour scheme. The story is set after The Return of The Jedi as Han, Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO embark on a mission to save Luke and Lando, who are stranded on war-torn Coruscant. I won’t spoil anything in case you want to check it out for yourself, but the story is engaging, and I couldn’t help but feel that I wanted to see more when it came to an end.

Have a watch below if you want to see more, and to check out Wilkins Animation’s Patreon to support their work, click here.

The second fan made film is a slightly older (from March 2019) one called Battle of the Dreadnoughts, by YouTuber EckhartsLadder. The film is significantly shorter than the 12-minute Dark Empire cartoon, clocking in at about three and a half minutes. It depicts a space battle between the New Republic’s Viscount Class Star Defender and the Empire’s most dangerous of all its weapons, the Eclipse Super Star Destroyer. Battle of the Dreadnoughts may be short, but it is astounding in quality. Upon my first viewing, I was certain I had accidentally clicked on a scene from the movies rather than a fan-made project. The accuracy, attention to detail, and sheer scale blew my mind and — as with the Dark Empire animation — left me wanting more from the content creators involved.

Check out EckhartsLadder’s Patreon here and their Twitch account here.

There is no doubting the talent of the Star Wars fan base, but these two films in particular are incredible works of art both in their own right and as Star Wars fan projects.

For more Star Wars, have a read of our Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer breakdown.

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