There is no analysing relationships, but when it works, it works. The average Canadian marriage lasts 14 years – but Fantasia (2021), Montreal’s odd coupling of genre and Asian cinema, is still going strong in its 25th year, in defiance of all marital statistics. Last year, Coronavirus forced the International Film Festival entirely online, locking it in along the way to an even broader audience – and this year, for its silver anniversary, there will be a hybrid of in-person, scheduled and on-demand screenings.
Fantasia opens on 4th August with James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, and closes on 25th August with Takashi Miike’s The Great Yokai Wars – Guardians – two films with practically nothing in common besides their status as sequels, but whose very differences (the one a ‘Dirty Dozen’ of DC supervillains, the other a children’s epic of Japanese myth) capture something of the festival’s characteristic breadth. In between, there are new world premières from Richard Bates (King Knight), Perry Blackshear (When I Consume You), the Adams family (H6llb6nd6r) and Ruth Platt (Martyrs Lane), Korean titles like Park Jung-bae’s long-con caper Collectors, Hong Eui-jeong’s bleak body-disposal buddy pic Voice of Silence and Kim Jong-kwan’s self-fictionalising romance Josée.
I can wholeheartedly recommend the single-take time-lagging convolutions of Junta Yamaguchi’s Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes, the spiralling madness of Higuchinsky’s Uzumaki (2000), the grieving conspiracy of Jacob Gentry’s Broadcast Signal Intrusion, the monstrous marionettes of Jesse Blanchard’s Frank & Zed, the damaged interiors of Stef Lernous’ Hotel Poseidon, the hypnotic pull of Robe Schroeder’s Ultrasound and the amateur dramatics of Danielle Kummer and Lucy Harvey’s Alien On Stage – but much of the fun at Fantasia comes from taking a chance, going in blind, and getting lost in the eclectic curatorship. They have been doing this for a quarter century now, so you know you’re in good hands.
Fantasia 2021 runs from 4th to 25th of August, Full details and the programme can be found here.
© Anton Bitel