While the Cannes Film Festival is getting all the press at the moment, one particular fest we look forward to around this time of year is Fantasia Fest, which hits this July in Montreal, Canada. This year, Fantasia will be celebrating its 15th anniversary in style. While the films in attendance won't be announced for a few weeks, we do have a preview and some goodies for you to whet your appetite:- The new artwork (see below). For the festival’s 2011 edition,, a painting by esteemed Montreal artist Donald Caron was commissioned. As of this year, the festival will be calling its main jury award “Le Cheval Noir” and it was desired that the event’s 15th-anniversary artwork would depict this in an imaginative way.
The poster art and award moniker are a nod to a wonderfully fantastical bit of 19th century Quebecois folklore, a story revolving around the construction of the parish of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges de Trois-Pistoles. This legend has many incarnations, the most popular being that of a priest desperate to finish building his church, calling out to the heavens for some kind of divine intervention. A supernatural higher power, in the form of a mysterious black horse, does indeed answer his call and helps the church get built. But it is generally thought that this higher power came from a place very much south of Heaven...
Maple Syrup Thrills: A tribute to John Dunning and André Link - This summer, Fantasia will pay tribute to the history and heritage of Canadian and Quebecois genre cinema by way of a special event honouring the maverick producing team of John Dunning and André Link, responsible for such genre film landmarks as SHIVERS, RABID, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, DEATH WEEKEND, MY BLOODY VALENTINE and the ILSA films, among many others. Over the spawn of their 40-year partnership, Dunning and Link founded the notorious Cinepix production company - which eventually became what we now know as Lionsgate - and helped launch the careers of some of Canada’s most celebrated independent film titans, including David Cronenberg, Denys Arcand, Ivan Reitman, Denis Héroux, George Mihalka, Larry Kent and Jean-Claude Lord.
Fantasia will award the trailblazing duo with a pair of Lifetime Achievement Awards at a ceremony that will feature reminiscences by a score of Canadian film industry players whose careers were shaped by their gutsiness and vision. Further, the filmmakers will be interviewed on stage by none other than Paul Corupe, acclaimed film journalist and founder of Canuxploitation.com.
A gala World Premiere for THE THEATRE BIZARRE - On the subject of Canada’s esteemed horror film culture, Fantasia will be the site of the world premiere of the partially-made-in-Quebec (as well as the USA, the UK, Germany and France) anthology film, THE THEATRE BIZARRE. One of the most hotly anticipated genre films of 2011, THEATRE showcases the combined talents of some of the world’s most exciting and iconoclastic fantastic film figures: Richard Stanley (HARDWARE, DUST DEVIL, THE SECRET GLORY), Karim Hussain (SUBCONSCIOUS CRUELTY, LA BELLE BETE, cinematographer of HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN), Douglas Buck (SISTERS, CUTTING MOMENTS), Buddy Giovinazzo (COMBAT SHOCK, LIFE IS HOT IN CRACKTOWN), David Gregory (PLAGUE TOWN, founder of the Severin video label) and Tom Savini (legendary FX artist – CREEPSHOW, DAWN OF THE DEAD, FRIDAY THE 13TH and countless others, director of the 1990 NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD remake and actor in such films as FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, KNIGHTRIDERS and MACHETE).
The Fantasia launch of this film will be a special kind of homecoming. The work of each filmmaker has been showcased at Fantasia over the past 15 years, and the project itself came together in large part at the festival. Further, two of the segments were shot in Montreal (Hussain and Buck are both Montrealers, the former also having been a Fantasia programmer from 1997 to 2001) and much of the post-production was done here as well.
Sounds pretty damn cool, doesn't it? Fantasia Fest runs from July 14th to August 7th, 2011; will you be there? I know we will...