Running a film festival can be a logistical headache at the best of times; running one during a global pandemic is practically unthinkable. But thanks to the wonders of modern technology and the incredible efforts of everyone involved, previously cancelled festivals like Canada’s Fantasia Festival have managed to carry on.
Originally slated to take place in Montreal later this month, the 2020 edition of Fantasia is instead an online affair. Their virtual programme will be available to the public August 20 to September 2, 2020 – although it’s important to note that it’ll be geo-locked to Canadian residents only.
The first and second waves of Fantasia’s lineup have already been released; with that in mind, we’ve put together a handy list of announced films that we’re anticipating will have you on the edge of your…couch. (Whether that’s because you’re scared, sad or about to run to the bathroom is up to you).
Our first pick is one you might not want to watch with your parents. Scratch that – you definitely don’t want to watch it with your parents.
Ben Hozie‘s PVT CHAT marks the welcome return of Julia Fox, whose feature film debut performance in 2019’s Uncut Gems was a key factor in its status as a modern masterpiece. (I will live and die on this particular hill.)
Peter Vack is Jack, a socially isolated New Yorker with a compulsive online gambling habit. His evenings are spent playing virtual blackjack and talking to Scarlet (Julia Fox), a cam-girl dominatrix who he has fallen head-over-heels for. After he unexpectedly spots her in public – despite having been lead to believe she lives on the other side of the country – he becomes obsessed with bringing his virtual fantasies into the real world. Darkly comedic, grimy and most certainly explicit, PVT CHAT looks like one hell of a ride.
Crazy Samurai Musashi
The set-up is simple: one samurai, and 588 bloodthirsty warriors who want him dead. Director Yûji Shimomura is set to blow even John Wick’s action out of the water, given that the entire film has been shot as a single 77-minute action sequence. Can’t wait to see how they’ve managed to pull it off!
Martial artist Tak Sakaguchi is the titular lead Musashi Miyamoto, and it’s safe to say plenty of blood will be spilled by his blade by the time the credits roll.
No film festival is truly complete without a speculative sci-fi flick with a fascinating premise, and Lapsis is the one to look for at Fantasia 2020.
It’s a step in a new direction for writer/director Noah Hutton, who previously produced documentaries Deep Time and Crude Independence.
Like any good speculative fiction, Lapsis looks to take on today’s exploitative gig economy with a healthy balance of wry satire and grim projection. In a desperate bid to fund medical treatment for his sickly younger brother, a delivery man signs on to a bizarre new Uber-esque service.
Contractors earn their pay by painstakingly connecting quantum computers; hauling electrical cables through the deep wilderness, he soon discovers there are more catches to the job than he could’ve possibly predicted.
This one caught my attention just by the name; after watching the trailer, it looks like it’ll absolutely live up to its title.
South African director Ryan Kruger is bringing us what looks like a wonderfully terrifying acid trip…if the acid came from another dimension. Gary Green’s disheveled, drug-addled protagonist becomes the physical host to an alien, who proceeds to embark on a ludicrous rampage through Cape Town.
It’s incredibly colourful and packed to the gills with all kinds of bizarre special effects which will make it a must-see for lovers of the weird and wonderful.
We’re ending our list with Fugitive Dreams, which looks to be one of the most visually striking and emotionally impactful films at Fantasia 2020.
Lead by April Mathis and Robbie Tann, Fugitive Dreams follows two homeless people whose physical and internal journeys intersect, resulting in a surreal adventure across middle America as they seek out refuge and a brighter future. It’s shot in black and white and appears to make wonderful use of shadow and contrast; it’ll be catnip for budding cinematographers.
It wasn’t easy to pick just five films from the Fantasia 2020 lineup; not only because we’re spoilt for choice with such a diverse selection, but because there’s still more to come when the final lineup arrives later this month.
We’ll be sure to round up those last few announcements, and our coverage of the festival itself will be rolling out in the coming weeks – including reviews and interviews for some of the titles we’ve listed above!
For more information regarding the festival, check out their official site.