FanTasia 2011: Enough Films To Choke A Horse! With Wings!!!

Andrew Mack, Contributing Writer
Major announcements out of Montreal today as the fine and sexy [Yes, you Mitch] folks at FanTasia dealt a finishing blow to genre cinema everywhere and unveiled a large portion of this year's lineup! 

We start with the Occidental Lineup! After the break!
FANTASIA 2011 : OCCIDENTAL MOVIES
OFFICIAL CLOSING FILM - TROY NIXEY'S DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK
Fantasia's 15th edition will shriek to a close with the Canadian premiere of the Guillermo del Toro scripted & produced DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, a thrilling and frightening remake of the classic 1973 tv movie that traumatized a generation. DARK is the feature debut of director Troy Nixey, a Canadianilmmaker and graphic artist whose stunning short film THE LATCHKEY'S LAMENT made major waves on the international festival circuit several years ago. It stars Guy Pearce, Katie Holmes, Bailee Madison and some of the creepiest little beasts that cinema has seen in ages.

MEDICATED MONSTERS: THE CINEMA OF ADAM WINGARD
In 2007, with our screening of HOME SICK, Fantasia was the first festival in the world to screen a film from a then-19 year old filmmaker named Adam Wingard. Since that time, he's become a staple on the A-list fest circuit, from Tiff to AFI Fest, Stockholm and Rome, and with good reason. A true original, his dreamy, soulful approach to the genre can almost be described as Lynch by way of Van Sant. This year, we're doing a spotlight on his work, with screenings of POP SKULL, A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE and the world premiere of his eccentric latest, WHAT FUN WE WERE HAVING: 4 STORIES ABOUT DATE RAPE, starring AJ Bowen, Hannah Hughes and mumblecore icon Joe Swanberg. Each feature will be preceded by a Wingard short, and all screenings will be hosted by the filmmaker, with regular writing partner Simon Barrett joining him for the latter two titles.

PLAYBACK IN BLACK: THE NEXT WAVE
Several years ago, Fantasia did a spotlight on subjectively-shot horror films that we called PLAYBACK IN BLACK. Among other highlights, it featured the first North American screening of [REC]. In the ensuing years, the POV aesthetic has evolved into a commonly accepted storytelling approach, with filmmakers sing the style to tackle every kind of genre. To mark this evolution, we're mounting this special ancestral spotlight, packed with unconventional first-person surprises that reinvent conventions in inspired ways. Sweden's 100 YEARS OF EVIL (North American Premiere), co-directed by Erik Eger and Magnus Oliv, is a mad dose of alternative history that follows an increasingly paranoid documentarian as he discovers that Adolf Hitler not only survived the war, but fled to America and ultimately invented fast food and soap operas, among other things!

The UK brings us David Bryant's nerve-shredding VICTIMS (World premiere), a real-time, single-take thriller depicting a man abducted by vigilantes on his wedding day. They believe he once committed a terrible crime in his childhood and is now living under an assumed identity. The plan is to force an on camera onfession, then execute him and post the video online as a warning to predators. But do they have the right man?

Also from the UK, we have Michael Axelgaard's creepy-beyond-words HOLLOW (World premiere), which purports to be evidence seized by the police, the home videos that a group of thrirtysomethings shot of their trip to the countryside of the Suffolk area of England - a region steeped in numerous legends of lack magic in its past, and home to a mysterious tree whose branches have been host to numerous suicides over the decades.

Tearing out of Costa Rica, we've got Miguel Gómez's EL SANATORIO (Canadian premiere), horror/comedy moc-doc about filmmakers regretting their decision to document a legendary haunted asylum. The movie won an audience award at the Morbido Film Festival.

Last but not least, there is Norway's already-infamous and riotously entertaining TROLL HUNTER, directed by André Øvredal, making its long-awaited Canadian premiere after flooring audiences at Fantasticfest, Sundance and the Seattle International Film Festival.

WAKE IN FRIGHT - AN EVENING WITH TED KOTCHEFF
Expanding on Fantasia's salute to our national genre film heritage (see our tribute to John Dunning & Andre Link), esteemed Canadian filmmaker Ted Kotcheff (FIRST BLOOD, UNCOMMON VALOUR, THE APPRENTICESHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ) will visit the festival to screen a fully restored 35mm print of the confrontational - and controversial - 1971 Australian thriller WAKE IN FRIGHT (aka OUTBACK), widely regarded as one of the greatest Aussie films ever made. The award-winning, once-thought-lost film stars Gary Bond and Donald Pleasance and also features the legendary Jack Thompson in his first screen appearance - as fate would have it, Fantasia will also be showcasing Thompson's most recent screen appearance when we play DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK one week later!

COUNTRY BY COUNTRY, STATION TO STATION
(note: please also see last month's press release, which we are attaching at the end).
Argentina represents with Nicolás Goldbart's PHASE 7 (Canadian premiere), an unusual black comedy/horror film taking place among ragtag tenants in a quarantined apartment building. Ayar Blasco's animated freak-out EL SOL (North American premiere) plays like a cross between SOUTH PARK, Monty Python and Alejandro Jodorowsky, smashing all storytelling conventions while dripping with a special brand of acidic satire. Adrián García Bogliano's COLD SWEAT (Canadian premiere) is an outlandish and extreme horror comedy about a pair of senior citizen former political revolutionaries wreaking havoc against hapless 
teens in an enormous old house they've rigged to be a chamber of horrors. It left audiences speechless at SXSW.

From Australia, we have Andrew Traucki's THE REEF (Canadian premiere) is a tense-beyond-belief shark thriller that wrung audiences out at Sitges, Pi-Fan and Brussels. A teenage girl's life is torn to pieces in Ben C. Lucas's emotionally gutting and aesthetically dazzling WASTED ON THE YOUNG (Quebec premiere), a film which could be likened to an unusual cross between ELEPHANT and GOSSIP GIRL. 

Belgium Dominic Cooper stars in Lee Tamahori's THE DEVIL'S DOUBLE (Canadian premiere), a chilling vision of the House of Saddam Hussein comes to life through the eyes of the man who was forced to become the double of the dictator's sadistic son. It was a major standout at the Berlin and Hong Kong international film festivals. Michaël R. Roskam's BULLHEAD (North American premiere) is a tough, hardhitting drama set in the world of illegal agricultural hormone trading that was a megaton standout at the Berlin Film Festival several months ago. Its odyssey is a dark but rewarding one, and it is one of 2011's must-see productions. From the collective producers of MAN BITES DOG, CALVAIRE and A TOWN CALLED PANIC comes Olias Barco's KILL ME PLEASE (Quebec premiere), a blacker-than-black comedy about the lighter side of euthanasia that won a jury prize at the Rome Film Festival.

Canada brings it home with Xavier Gens's THE DIVIDE (Canadian premiere) sees the gifted helmer behind FRONTIER(S) and HITMAN tackling an even darker side of human nature in this tale of a group of American citizens forced into captivity with one another following a devastating nuclear attack on the country in the near future. It stars Michael Biehn, Laura German and Rosanna Arguette and it is very likely the most brutalizing film you will see this year. Dominic Laurence James's visually-stunning DIE (North American premiere) stars Emily Hampshire, Elias Koteas and Stephen McHattie in a character driven horror thriller involving forced games of chance, shot in a stylized Montreal that looks as if it were right out of a Chris Nolan film. Larry Kent's EXLEY (World premiere) is a loose, rough, sexual and violent neo-realist film about a skid row hustler trying to scam dollars to visit his dying mother. 100% improvised, this is a welcome return from Canada's first-ever underground filmmaker, director of such films as HIGH and THE HAMSTER CAGE, now in his '70s, yet clearly having lost none of his edge. Reggie Bannister, Andrew Roth and Caroline Williams star in Mike Klassen's theological horror drama ABOLITION (World premiere), about a man burdened with a single task that will ultimately decide the worlds' fate. Evan Kelly's brilliant THE CORRIDOR (Quebec premiere) plays like a character-driven TWILIGHT ZONE episode by way of Larry Fessenden, a science-fiction nightmare that shrewdly explores the horrors of group dynamics and machismo taken to distorted extremes. Call it an hallucinatory THE BIG CHILL with mass murder. Panos Cosmatos's hypnotic fever dream BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW (Quebec premiere) blew more than a few lids at Tribeca and could be likened to CRIMES OF THE FUTURE-era Cronenberg. Previously announced titles include the 7-filmmaker, 4-country anthology film THE THEATRE BIZARRE (World premiere), Jesse T. Cook's MONSTER BRAWL (World premiere) and Shunji Iwai's English language debut, VAMPIRE (Canadian premiere).

The Czech Republic / Slovakia bestows upon us the latest masterpiece from the one and only Jan Švankmajer, SURVIVING LIFE (THEORY & PRACTICE), screening here for its Quebec premiere, pitting Freud against Jung with derisive force.

Denmark exports one of the funniest films we've seen in years - Mikkel Nørgaard's CLOWN (North American Premiere). Imagine a KINGDOM-era Lars Von Trier-directed CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM film with amplified raunch and irony. Painfully hilarious and absolutely brilliant! 

Germany bring us Baran bo Odar's chilling THE SILENCE (Quebec premiere), a film about the killings of children whose chronology travels back and forth in time to dissect a police investigation, the struggle of a family that has lost a child and the events that led to a murder, to create an elegant mix of crime story, film noir and drama. Previously announced titles include Andy Fetscher's URBAN EXPLORER (North American premiere).

Finland brings us Dome Karukoski's hugely entertaining LAPLAND ODYSSEY (Quebec premiere), a ribald roadtrip comedy featuring the world's smartest idiots (or is the other way around?). A raunchy riot of laughs loaded with twists and turns. Jalmari Helander's RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE (Quebec premiere) is a "different" kind of Christmas film, a charming dark comedy / fantasy that's been winning hearts and minds worldwide across the festival circuit.

Italy carves the clock back with Raffaele Picchio's MORITURIS (International premiere) which sees centuries-old Roman gladiators rising from the grave to bash the hell out of a pack of unfortunates. Features show-stopping splatter FX by Sergio Stivaletti (OPERA, DEMONS, DELLAMORTE DALLAMORE...)!

Spain brings gold with the atmospheric EuroWestern BLACKTHORN (Canadian premiere), which stars Sam Shephard as an aged Butch Cassidy, directed by THESIS/OPEN YOUR EYES screenwriter Matteo Gill. Miguel Angel Vivas's utterly terrifying KIDNAPPED (Canadian premiere) is a harrowing home invasion thriller captured in just a dozen prolonged shots, throwing the viewer face-first into the panic and hysteria of a horrific ordeal. It won for Best Horror Feature at Fantastic fest.

Sweden: Stellan Skarsgård electrifies in Marius Holst's KING OF DEVIL'S ISLAND (Canadian premiere), a powerful drama set in a remote correctional facility for young male delinquents in the early 20th century. It was a standout at the Goteborg and Seattle international film festivals this year.

From the UK, we have the Canadian premiere of the psychosexual anthology film that shocked SXSW, LITTLE DEATHS, featuring segments directed by Simon Rumley (RED, WHITE & BLUE), Andrew Parkinson (DEAD CREATURES) and Sean Hogan (LIE STILL). Jonathan English's IRONCLAD (Canadian premiere) is a gritty, savage medieval action epic with a cast that includes Paul Giamatti, James Purefoy and the great Brian Cox. Robert Morgan's BOBBY YEAH (World premiere) is an astonishing and surrealistic 4-years-in the-making 24-minute stop-motion short that we adore so greatly we're announcing it here among the feature films. Previously announced titles include Robin hardy's THE WICKER TREE (World premiere), Carl Tibbetts's RETREAT (World Premiere), Julian Gilbey's A LONELY PLACE TO DIE (Canadian premiere), John Landis's BURKE & HARE (Canadian premiere) and Joe Cornish's ATTACK THE BLOCK (Quebec premiere).

The USA brings us ample loads of ingenuity and excitement: Mike Cahill's compelling science-fiction drama ANOTHER EARTH (International premiere) concerns the discovery of a duplicate version of our planet in the solar system. It deservedly won a grand jury prize when it premiered at Sundance earlier this year. Jed Stahm's paralyzing KNIFEPOINT (World premiere) is a ferocious home invasion nightmare about a remorseless pack of killers laying siege to the inhabitants of an upscale condo complex. Its levels of intensity may very well be too much for some. Existing some place between BLUE VALENTINE, METAL SKIN and ELEPHANT, there is Evan Glodell's scorching romantic blowout BELLFLOWER (Quebec premiere). Trent Haaga's off-the-hook CHOP (Canadian premiere) sees the DEADGIRL screenwriter jumping into the director's chair to deliver an outrageous comedy/horror film about a poor sap stalked by a mysterious figure out to punish him for an uncertain (to everyone!) crime. It was an audience favourite at the Boston Underground Film Festival. Music video genius and TORGUE director Joseph Kahn's charming mile-a-minute teen slasher/comedy/time travel blitzkrieg DETENTION (International premiere) lands someplace between John Carpenter and John Hughes on tons of speed and stars Shanley Caswell and Dane Cook. Scott Leberecht's haunting MIDNIGHT SON (Canadian premiere) is a beautifully scripted and staged existential take on vampirism that drained considerable blood when it launched at Cinequest a few months back. Taking a distinctly more physical and Grand Guignol approach to vampirism is Jim Mickle's throttling STAKELAND (Quebec premiere), which sees the brilliant MULBERRY STREET director amped up with a full-on spectacle film that will please anyone with or without a pulse. Lucky McKee's THE WOMAN (Quebec premiere) reteams the award-winning outlaw filmmaker with his MAY star Angela Bettis in this startling Jack Ketchum-scripted exploration of misogyny and patriarchal corruption that shocked Sundance to its core. Brandon & Jason Trost's mad, mad, mad THE FP is a hugely eccentric bizarro comedy set in a very American futureworld straight outta da Eighties where gangs of teen delinquents face off in Dance Dance Revolution death matches! It needs to be seen to be believed, and we'll be throwing a special arcade party after the screening where the audience can challenge cast members to dance-offs! Jack Perez's John Landis-produced SOME GUY WHO KILLS PEOPLE (Canadian premiere) is a disarmingly touching comedy/horror film about an alienated man on a vengeful killing spree bonding with a nerdy teen daughter he never knew he had. Its phenomenal cast is headlined by Kevin Corrigan, Barry Bostwick, Karen Black, Lucy Davis and Leo Fitzpatrick. Hands down the strangest and most  individualistic film of the year, and also one of the funniest and most introspective, Todd Rohal's THE CATACHISM CATACLISM (International premiere) stars Steve Little and Robert Longstreet, brought divinity to auds at Sundance and SXSW and will make your year when you see it here. Making a wonderfully comic counterpoint to the SUPERHEROES doc screening this year is James Gunn's phenomenal SUPER (Quebec premiere), the Tiff and Brussels smash starring Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page and Kevin Bacon, finally making its way to a Montreal screen.

Previously announced titles include Chris Sivertson's BRAWLER (World premiere), William Eubank's LOVE (International premiere), Kevin Smith's RED STATE (Canadian premiere), Mike Flanagan's ABSENTIA (Canadian premiere), and Sean Branney's THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS (Canadian premiere). Other previously announced international titles include Israel's RABIES (Canadian premiere), directed by Navot Papushado & Aharon KeshalesNew Zealand's THE DEVIL'S ROCK (North American premiere), directed by Paul Campion, and, from the Netherlands, Dick Mass's SAINT (Canadian premiere).
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