Occidental Eruptions: Fantastic World Cinema

Fantasia’s 2010 occidental lineup of World Cinema is once again on fire with an astounding kaleidoscope of styles and sensibilities. Walk with us as we highlight by country-of-origin what we’re bringing to Montreal in July. Ready… steady… GO!

Montreal, June 29, 2010. From the US, we have a multitude of treats and feats: Edgar Wright’s hotly anticipated SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD (Canadian premiere) is a lunatic comedy/fantasy that sees Michael Cera battling an increasingly outrageous onslaught of his girlfriend’s evil ex’s. Steven R. Monoe’s I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (World premiere) updates Meir Zarchi’s seminal 1978 exploitation epic to contemporary times, sparing none of the original’s shock and ferocity while bringing extra helpings of rage to the proceedings. With THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE (Official Opening Film – Canadian premiere), Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Jon Turteltaub join forces again for a modern-day live-action (emphasis on action!) film that tips its hat to the most beloved sequence in Disney’s animated classic FANTASIA. Matt Osterman’s PHASMA EX MACHINA (World premiere) is an intelligent, emotionally moving chiller that sees a grieving young man build an electrical device that can bring back the dead. Daniel Stamm’s Eli Roth-produced THE LAST EXORCISM (Canadian premiere) is an eerie, subjectively-shot shocker concerning a celebrity priest famous for his (fake) skills as an exorcist, encountering an actual case of demonic possession.

John Stalberg Jr.’s HIGH SCHOOL (International premiere) is a radical, counter-culture stoner comedy featuring up-for-anything-cool Oscar-winner Adrian Brody that created all manor of buzz at Sundance. The Butcher Brothers’s demonically outrageous genre-twisting THE VIOLENT KIND (Canadian premiere) is another Fantasia pick that drew first blood at Sundance, leaving its audience in a daze. Also making its CDN bow after wowing audiences at Sundance is Nick Tomnay’s phenomenal reverse home invasion thriller THE PERFECT HOST, featuring David Hyde Pierce in the most against-type performance imaginable!

Kerry Prior’s delirious THE REVENANT is an inspired comedy/horror about an undead soldier that feels like Henenlotter fused with Gordon and has won countless awards on the international festival circuit. James Nguyen’s no-budget jaw-dropper BIRDEMIC (Montreal premiere), a “romantic thriller” allegedly shot in homage to Hitchcock, has become a so-bad-it’s-good phenomenon, with such mainstream outlets as BBC, CNN and the New York Times hailing it as the most entertainingly awful film ever made. Steven Calcote & Stuart J. Levy’s VAN VON HUNTER (Canadian premiere) is a mockumentary comedy about a crime fighter-cum-celebrity, starring cult voice actor Yuri Lowenthal in the titular role. Daniel Erickson’s EVE’S NECKLACE (Canadian premiere) reinvents the Film Noir thriller in a unique new light – with a cast of mannequins!

On the documentary front, we have HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS: THE GODFATHER OF GORE (World premiere) is an affectionate portrait of HG Lewis, pioneer of the gore film, co-directed by Frank Henenlotter (a genre film legend in his own right!) and Jimmy Maslon, and featuring appearances from the likes of John Waters, Bunny Yeagher and Joe Bob Briggs. Similarly, Greg Olliver & Wes Orshoski’s LEMMY (International premiere) is a pounding, rollicking profile of Motorhead’s one-of-a-kind frontman Lemmy Kilmister, featuring appearances by everyone from Metallica and The Damned to Dave Grohl, Joan Jett, Ozzy Osbourne and Billy Bob Thornton! A stunner of a different kind is Marc D. Levitz’s shattering and award-winning FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION: THE OTERO FAMILY MURDERS (Canadian premiere), a film about a man struggling to mend a life has been in pieces since the time that, at age 15, he came home to find his entire family murdered by a stranger who was later revealed to be the BTK killer. This is a film of extraordinary emotional force, and it will have you in tears.

France brings us a pair of genre oddities, both coming here fresh from their launches in Cannes. Part zombie film, part backwoods terror pic, Franck Richard’s LA MEUTE (North American premiere) is an atmospheric genre hybrid starring Émilie Dequenne, Philippe Nahon and Yolande Moreau. Spinning out from the warped mind of Quentin Dupieux (AKA electro house musician Mr Oizo), RUBBER (International premiere) is the story of Robert, who happens to be an angry, psychic…tire. An all season tire, to be specific. Yes.

Also from France, we have both of Jean-François Richet’s mass award-winning crime thrillers based on the law-smashing life of Jacques Mesrine: MESRINE: L’INSTINCT DE MORT and MESRINE: L’ENNEMI PUBLIC NO. 1, starring the great Vincent Cassel in the titular role. We will be screening both features back to back for en epic MESRINE soiree, to be hosted by co-star Roy Dupuis!

Mexico’s WE ARE WHAT WE ARE (North American premiere), directed by Jorge Michel Grau, is an innovative and savage cannibal drama that was one of the most buzzed-about films at Cannes this year.

Russia’s BLACK LIGHTNING (North American premiere), directed by Dmitriy Kiselev & Aleksandr Voytinskiy is a joyous, teen comedy/action film about a misfit who rises above his obstacles – literally – when he accidentally takes possession of a flying car and uses it to fight crime!

The UK edge of our lineup features some of this year’s strongest revelations: Christopher Smith’s BLACK DEATH (North American premiere), a medieval tale of plague and necromancy is one of the smartest and most frightening horror films of the year. Simon Rumley returns to Fantasia with his ingeniously executed, white hot vengeance thriller RED WHITE & BLUE, a huge critical success at Rotterdam and SXSW. Philip Ridley’s startling and poignant HEARTLESS (North American premiere) is a satanic urban fairytale that stars Jim Sturgess and marks the visionary REFLECTING SKIN filmmaker’s return to cinema after a 14-year absence. THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED (Montreal premiere) is a tense kidnapping thriller that had many hailing its young director as the most exciting British breakout since Danny Boyle when it screened at Tribeca a few months ago. Neil Marshall’s CENTURION (Canadian premiere) is a breathtaking medieval siege rollercoaster starring Michael Fassbender and Olga Kurylenko that will blow you out the back wall of the theatre – exactly what you were hoping for when you learned that the maker of THE DESCENT was undertaking a big budget action epic. Jake West’s splatstick DOGHOUSE (Canadian premiere) turns sexism on its head when a boorish group of men on a getaway weekend find themselves in a town populated by demonically possessed women ready to tear them limb from limb. DOWN TERRACE, the feature debut from acclaimed BBC comedy writer Ben Wheatley is a brilliantly black comedy/thriller about a family of criminals turning against each other while living under one roof.

Spain’s [REC] 2 (Montreal premiere) reunites the original film’s celebrated co-directing team of Paco Plaza and Jaume Balaguero to create an absolute nightmare onscreen, resuming immediately from the final moments of the first film.

From New Zealand we have David Blyth’s controversial WOUND (International premiere), a Lynchian BDSM-tinged fever dream that writhes with sweat and dread. Another kiwi curio, Sean Byrne’s much-buzzed-about THE LOVED ONES (Montreal premiere), is a teen coming of age horror/thriller/comedy from hell that won an audience award at Tiff and is sure to see mega love at the Fantasia prom.

Greece brings us the super kinetic screwball zombie actioneer EVIL: IN THE TME OF HEROES (North American premiere), a highly unusual detour in the realm of Greek film culture.

Belgium represents with Vincent Lannoo’s VAMPIRES (North American premiere), a wickedly droll mockumentary concerning a bourgeois family of vampires who find themselves excommunicated to Montreal, Quebec!

Scandinavia and Eastern Europe have birthed a strongly compelling crop of cinema in recent months. Behold:

From Denmark comes a trio of hugely unconventional gems: the outrageous action/comedy AT WORLD’S END (North American premiere), scripted by the great Anders Thomas Jensen (ADAM’S APPLES, AFTER THE WEDDING), directed by Tomas Villum Jensen and starring Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, is funny, funny stuff, about a flower named “Hedvig” that promises eternal life – and the many lives bloodily ended in search of it! Ole Bornedal’s multiple award-winning DELIVER US FROM EVIL (Montreal premiere) is a compelling, frightening thriller about small-town xenophobia and small-minded brutality that’s found itself upon many a top-ten list. INTO ETERNITY (Montreal premiere), directed by Michael Madsen (the other one!), is a poetic and hypnotic documentary about the dilemma of long-term storage of nuclear waste – precisely, how to prevent a population 10,000 years down the road from going near these toxic places – that plays in part like an unusual science fiction tale.

Norway’s FATSO (North American premiere), directed by Arild Fröhlich, is a surprising, hysterical grossout teen comedy that, markedly unlike its North American contemporaries, boasts as much heart and soul as it does tits and ass.

Hailing from the Netherlands, Tom Six’s HUMAN CENTIPEDE (Canadian premiere) is an already-legendary, scientifically accurate (!), award-winning Grand Guignol shocker with a premise too revolting to be described here. Just trust us on that.

Hungary’s ingenious “1” (North American premiere), directed by Pater Sparrow, details a bookshop whose shelves of rare editions are all replaced with mass copies of a mysterious almanac that describes what will happen to all of humanity over the course of one minute.

Serbia’s powerhouse new generation of filmmakers will be showcased with four unforgettable new selections (and 3 retro picks – more on that later!): Mladen Djordjevic’s blacker than black comedy THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A PORNO GANG is reminiscent of early Almodovar-by-way-of-Miike and is in ways the CLOCKWORK ORANGE of Serbia. Uros Stojanovic’s visually-sumptuous whimsical fantasy TEARS FOR SALE won raves everywhere from Tiff to Rotterdam in a highly reedited version, the original director’s cut having never been screened to audiences outside of Serbia…until now. Fantasia will be home to the international premiere of the film’s very different director’s cut! Srdjan Spasojevic’s politically-charged, DePalma-esque A SERBIAN FILM had heads spinning at its recent launch at SXSW, where it was greeted with startled accolades. Aleksa Gajic’s TECHNOTISE: EDIT & I (Montreal premiere) is Serbia’s first animated feature film, set in Belgrade, 2074, whose plot concerns a student implanting a memory chip in her head after failing one exam too many, with very unexpected consequences.

Canada delivers the goods in spades with a wealth of standouts: Jon Knautz’s THE SHRINE (World premiere) is an eerie supernatural thriller set in a forgotten Polish town – a major change of pace from the man behind the international cult sensation JACK BROOKS MONSTER SLAYER, who this time is playing his scares dead serious. A hit at Sundance and an audience prize winner at SXSW, Eli Craig’s outrageous TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL (Official Closing Film – Canadian premiere) is one of the best comedy/horrors in years, about a loveable pair of hillbillies accidentally mistaken for DELIVERANCE style killers by camping college kids. Chad Archibald’s NEVERLOST (World premiere) is an inspired thriller taking place largely inside an addict’s mind as he escapes from a toxic real-world to solve the crime that murdered his past. Chris Pickle’s disturbing SAVING GRACE (World premiere) sees a young mother kidnapped from her hospital bed and waking up in the hands of her captor, who insists to her that a nuclear disaster has rendered the outside world deadly. Frédérick Maheux’s startling THEORIE DE LA RELIGION (World premiere) is an experimental nightmare, a film of transgressive beauty that no synopsis could properly summarize. Jephté Bastien’s SORTIE 67 (special work-in-progress screening) is Quebec’s first-ever production to deal explicitly with local street gangs, and the results are equally smart and explosive. Steve Villeneuve’s UNDER THE SCARES (Canadian premiere) offers us a ground zero primer on the production and distribution of an independent horror film, with tips from the likes of Lloyd Kaufman, HG Lewis, Tony Timpone, Rodrigo Gudino, Maurice Devereaux and Debbie Rochon. Phillip Carrer’s IF A TREE FALLS (World premiere) takes ‘70s exploitation film aesthetics to glorious heights/depths in a modern-yet-retro reinvention of yesterday’s stalked-in-the-woods horror epics, with a freakish twist. Patrick Downing’s charming I HEART DOOMSDAY (Montreal premiere) is a romantic sci-fi comedy about love, loss and…robots. Blaine Thurier’s comedic slacker crime flick A GUN TO THE HEAD (Montreal premiere) finally makes it to Montreal after tearing up Tiff and the Calgary Underground, Whistler and Atlantic film festivals. FRANKENSTEIN UNLIMITED is an inventive indie anthology film presenting six eccentric tales inspired by Mary Shelley’s creation, coming from the minds of Matthew Saliba, King-Wei Chu, Matthew Forbes, Maude Michaud, Peter James and Martin Gauthier. Corey Adams & Alex Craig’s oddball skater comedy MACHOTAILDROP (Montreal premiere) kind of needs to be seen to be believed, and if you can believe it, you can be it. Rob Stefaniuk’s SUCK (Montreal premiere) is a slamming comedy/horror/musical about a rock band turning into vampires on tour, starring Stefaniuk and Jessica Paré, featuring appearances by Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, Moby and Henry Rollins. Dominique Adams’s TWISTED SEDUCTION (world premiere) is, as the title implies, a twisted romance with black humour where a would-be seducer traps a woman in an apartment, hoping to keep her captive until she falls in love with him.

On the retro side of the lineup, Fantasia will be doing big screen resurrections of numerous landmarks of the genre – Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS (newly restored with 25 minutes of previously lost footage, to be screened with live orchestral accompaniment performing a new score by Gabriel Thibaudeau – the first time it will ever be heard), Ken Russell’s THE DEVILS, Jean Cocteau’s LE SANG D’UN POETE (with live musical accompaniment by Siouxsie and the Banshees co-founder Steven Severin!), Stuart Gordon’s RE-ANIMATOR, HG Lewis’s BLOOD FEAST, Camil Adam’s MANETTE: LA FOLLE ET LES DIEUX DE CARTON, Don Bluth & Gary Goldman’s THE LAND BEFORE TIME and Jean-Claude Lord’s PARLEZ NOUS D’AMOUR. We’ll also be bringing in a string of retro Serbian genre films long overdue for discovery by a Western audience – Goran Markovic’s smallpox quarantine nightmare VARIOLA VERA, Dejan Zecevic’s revisionist slasher T.T. SYNDROME and Djordje Kadijevic’s daring and Bava-esque adaptation of Gogol’s “Viy”, A HOLY PLACE.

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