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Fantasia Film Festival announces first wave of 2014 programming

Jun. 19, 2014by: Kevin Woods

It's almost that time again! The 18th annual Fantasia International Film Festival is gearing up to take Montreal by storm with three weeks of inspiration and excitement starting July 17 until August 5, 2014. The full 2014 lineup of programming and special events will be revealed shortly, but in the meantime, here’s an early First Wave Announcement of several selected genre highlights and info to whet your appetite.

AMONG THE LIVING  France   Dir: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury

Leave it to the makers of INSIDE and LIVID to rework STAND BY ME as the horror film Stephen King always knew it could be. A tribute to ’80s cinema turned completely on its head, then decapitated. A standout at SXSW and the Brussels Fantastic Film Festival. Canadian Premiere

THE HARVEST USA Dir: John McNaughton

A surprising story told in twists, tears and blood, maverick HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER / WILD THINGS filmmaker John McNaughton’s long-awaited return stars Samantha Morton, Michael Shannon, Charlie Tahan and Peter Fonda and exists in a disquieting median space between sinister fairy tale and shattering human horror. International Premiere

INTO THE STORM  USA  Dir: Steven Quayle

In the span of a single day, the town of Silverton is ravaged by an unprecedented onslaught of tornadoes. The entire town is at the mercy of the erratic and deadly cyclones, even as storm trackers predict the worst is yet to come. Most people seek shelter, while others run towards the vortex, testing how far a storm chaser will go for that once-in-a-lifetime shot. Quebec Premiere

KILLERS  Indonesia/Japan  Dir: The Mo Brothers

Two serial killers. One likes to kill, the other seeks justice. The problem is, the first one is mentoring the latter... Social media will bring a storm of blood over both Tokyo and Jakarta in this shocking yet incredibly smart horror thriller in the vein of THE CHASER and COLD FISH that floored audiences at Sundance. Canadian Premiere
 

LIVE  Japan  Dir: Noboru Iguchi

When his mother is kidnapped and a stranger calls, Naoto is thrust into a public triathlon of death. DEAD SUSHI director Noboru Iguchi’s running go at the survival-race genre is loveably lurid, super-sanguinary fun. North American Premiere

THE MAN IN THE ORANGE JACKET   Latvia   Dir: Aik Karapetian

A laid-off worker kills his ex-boss in cold blood, and assumes his lifestyle. The good times will be short-lived, however as things are about to take an unexpected turn. In a similar vein than Polanski:s THE TENANT, Armenian filmmaker Aik Karapetian’s audacious slasher is this year’s most groundbreaking work of dramatic horror.  World Premiere

THE MIDNIGHT SWIM   USA Dir: Sarah Adina Smith

Spirit Lake is unusually deep. No diver has ever managed to find the bottom. When Dr. Amelia Brooks disappears during a deep-water dive, her three daughters travel home. They find themselves unable to let go and become drawn into the mysteries of the lake. A phantasmagoric atmosphere reminiscent of PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK emanates from this brilliant debut feature debut. World Premiere

MONSTERZ  Japan  Dir: Hideo Nakata

A sinister sociopath with psychic powers squares off against a cheerful everyman with a secret of his own. The 2010 South Korean superhero/horror hybrid HAUNTERS, remade by Japanese cult director Hideo Nakata (RINGU), with stars Tatsuya Fujiwara (SHIELD OF STRAW) and Takayuki Yamada (CROWS ZERO). Canadian Premiere

PREDESTINATION  Australia Dirs:  Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig

Time, place and identity get folded, spindled and mutilated in the mind-bending new film from Australia’s Spierig Bros (UNDEAD, DAYBREAKERS),  a noir-tinted sci-fi thriller with a soul, starring Ethan Hawke, Noah Taylor and Sarah Snook. Canadian Premiere

PUZZLE  Japan  Dir: Eisuke Naito

The staff and students at Noriaki Hill High School have been given a game to play, one in which mistakes can be fatal. A giddy, gory brain-twister of a teen survival thriller, in which vengeance is as much a first step as a final solution. North American Premiere

THE RECONSTRUCTION OF WILLIAM ZERO  USA Dir: Dan Bush

A scientist awakens from a coma in the care of his twin brother, but neither may be exactly who they first appear to be. A cinematic jigsaw puzzle that delves into the darker side of science fiction, THE RECONSTRUCTION… marks the return of Dan Bush (2008’s THE SIGNAL) and stars Conal Byrne, Amy Seimetz and A.J. Bowen. World Premiere

SUBURBAN GOTHIC  USA Dir: Richard Bates Jr

EXCISION director Richard Bates Jr is back with an eccentric comedy/horror that stars Matthew Gray Gubler, Kat Dennings, Ray Wise, Sally Kirkland, Jeffrey Combs and John Waters and riffs on everything from classic supernatural horror and outsider teen comedies to the Hardy Boys and Scooby-Doo. World Premiere

The one that really caught my eye is THE HARVEST. It's good to see John McNaughton back in the genre. His HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER remains one of the most disturbing films I've ever seen.

Other first wave announcements for FanTasia 2014 include:

ANGRY VIDEO GAME NERD: THE MOVIE
USA  Dir: Kevin Finn, James D. Rolfe
He is the enemy of the weak and wasteful, of garbage gameplay and lousy graphics, the one and only Angry Video Game Nerd! James D. Rolfe’s longstanding hit web series powers up to its big-screen debut! International Premiere
 
BOYHOOD
USA  Dir: Richard Linklater
Over a decade ago, Richard Linklater assembled a cast he would film over a dozen years, to tell an utterly authentic tale of American childhood and adolescence.  Many critics already call it one of the year’s best films, and so will you. Winner of the Silver Bear at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival and the Lone Star Award at SXSW 2014, this unique coming of age drama will launch the fifth edition of Fantasia’s Camera Lucida section. Quebec Premiere
 
BROS BEFORE HOS
Netherlands Dir: Steffen Haars, Flip Van der Kuil
Following the awful breakup of their parents’ marriage, two brothers seal a pact that neither shall ever enter into a serious relationship with a woman. The Netherland’s renegade NEW KIDS team returns, still riotous and right on the edge of good taste. International Premiere
 
CYBERNATURAL
USA Dir: Leo Gabriadze 
On the anniversary of a teen’s suicide, the six cyberbullies responsible meet online for a group chat. A seventh, anonymous participant joins them. Told entirely way of a character's computer screen, CYBERNATURAL brilliantly nails the ways in which we communicate and present ourselves online, hitting hard with a new kind of horror for an increasingly connected-yet-disconnected world. Produced by Timur Bekmambetov (WANTED, NIGHTWATCH). World Premiere
 
CROWS EXPLODE
Japan  Dir: Toshiaki Toyoda
Fists will fly and beatings will abound, but the greatest battles are always in the hearts of the sneering, delinquent punks of the notorious Suzuran All-Boys High School. After Takashi Miike, it's now BLUE SPRING director Toshiaki Toyoda's turn to make a knuckle mark on the CROWS ZERO franchise. North American Premiere
 
DEALER
France  Dir: Jean Luc Herbulot
Directed with volcanic energy, DEALER is a sturdy thriller that drags its audience full-steam ahead through a Parisian underbelly filled with hoods and thugs, marking the powerful arrival of one of the most promising new voices in French genre cinema. A feature-film baptism filled with noise and fury.  World Premiere
 
GIOVANNI'S ISLAND
Japan  Dir: Mizuho Nishikubo
A gracefully executed anime from Production I.G, examining the struggles of the Japanese in the immediate aftermath of World War II, from the perspective of a child. As beautiful as it is devastating, GIOVANNI'S ISLAND received a Jury Mention at the prestigious Annecy International Animation Film Festival. Canadian Premiere
 
HAN GONG-JU
South Korea  Dir: Lee Su-jin
A troubled teenage girl flees her past — is she guilty or a victim? A multiple prize winner, notably attaining the Silver Tiger Award at this year's Rotterdam International Film Festival, HAN GONG-JU is a magnificent yet devastating debut feature of incredible narrative virtuosity. Canadian Premiere
 
THE HUNTRESSES
South Korea  Dir: Park Jae-hyun
A trio of daring and dangerous bounty-hunting beauties find themselves in a high-risk, high-stakes game of subterfuge and swordplay in medieval Korea. A rousing and fast-paced action-adventure with a dash of romance and a barge-load of slapstick laughs! International Premiere
 
I ORIGINS
USA  Dir: Mike Cahill
From the director and star (Brit Marling) of ANOTHER EARTH comes another science fiction drama about a molecular biologist and his partner whose unique experiments may change the nature of society itself. Canadian Premiere
 
KITE
USA/Mexico  Dir: Ralph Ziman
The controversial and influential anime finally sees a live-action adaptation, stylishly directed by award-winning South African filmmaker Ralph Ziman (JERUSALEMA) and backed by a cast that features Samuel L. Jackson, Callan McAuliffe, and India Eisley. The film succeeds brilliantly in blending the elements that made the original material a mythical piece of art. International Premiere
 
MISS GRANNY
South Korea  Dir: Hwang Dong-hyeuk
74-year-old grandmother Oh Mal-soon has been magically transported into the body of her 20-year-old self. Seizing the opportunity to relive a youth she sacrificed in the name of her child, she sets out to explore a world of new possibilities. And it includes K-Pop... Canadian Premiere
 
ONCE UPON A TIME IN SHANGHAI
Hong Kong  Dir: Wong Ching-Po
Opium and kung fu! The glory days of old Shanghai — or are they? Two generations of true kung fu experts collide in the spectacular martial arts feast, with breathtaking choreography by Yuen Woo-Ping and Yuen Cheung-Yan! Canadian Premiere
 
THE RUN
Malaysia  Dir: Ahmad Idham
A former soldier sets out to avenge his family in this slam-bang Malaysian effort, bursting with spectacular stunts and fights, showcasing Aaron Aziz. THE RUN is an action-packed gem that wants only one thing: to blow your face off. International Premiere
 
THE SEARCH FOR WENG WENG
Australia/Philippines  Dir: Andrew Leavold
Andrew Leavold documents his unrelenting six-year quest to discover ever more about the extraordinary 2ft 9in tall actor-stuntman Weng Weng, and the weird and wonderful world of 1970s Filipino cinema. North American Premiere
 
SWEET POOLSIDE
Japan  Dir: Daigo Matsui
Two swim-team members, a hairless boy and a hirsute girl, discover the pangs and tangles of first love in SWEET POOLSIDE, one of the most astute examination of adolescence to screen in a long time. North American Premiere
 
THE WHITE STORM
Hong Kong  Dir: Benny Chan
Hopping from Hong Kong to Thailand to Macau, blending hard-hitting action with powerful drama, Benny Chan’s vividly stylish THE WHITE STORM is a sprawling, absorbing crime flick in the classic Hong Kong tradition. Canadian Premiere
 
YASMINE
Brunei Darussalam  Dir: Siti Kamaluddin
YASMINE is a one-two combo of sports drama and coming of age story in the vein of THE KARATE KID. First time director Siti Kamaluddin, newcomer actress Liyana Yus and veteran action choreographer Chan Man Ching form a winning team in this dynamic feel good film. The cinema of Brunei Darussalam makes a regal entry at Fantasia! North American Premiere

FanTasia 2014's Opening Film will be Riad Sattouf's JACKY IN THE KINGDOM OF WOMEN, and the Centerpiece Presentation will be a special screening of James Gunn's GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. There will also be a Lifetime Achievement Award presentation to director Mamoru Oshii.

Below you will see the 2014 poster art, which pays tribute to Ray Harryhausen, Ray Bradbury, and Forrest J. Ackerman, three figures who have inspired many of the leading figures of genre cinema in recent decades.

The Fantasia International Film Festival takes place in Montreal July 17 – August 5, 2014. For this year’s edition and onwards, Fantasia will be returning to the freshly renovated Concordia Hall Cinema as its main base, which now features an even larger screen, new seating and upgraded projection and sound.

The festival’s full lineup of screenings and events will be announced on July 10.

Extra Tidbit: Which of these first wave announcements are you most looking forward to checking out?

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