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Fantasia Festival #1


(Part 1 / Part 2)

The official 2004 FANTASIA FESTIVAL schedule has been announced and despite the absence of two films that I was personally looking forward to seeing (SAW and OPEN WATER-- both of which were rumored to have been coming up North for the genre festival, but ultimately didn't...), it looks like a whole bunch of fun anyway, including 100 feature length films and 60 shorts from around the world, all congregating in Montreal between the dates of July 8 - Aug 1st.

This is the 8th annual festival for FANTASIA, which has quickly turned into one of the biggest (if not, best) genre festivals in North American with everything from horror to sci-fi to anime to classic monsters (yup, the original GODZILLA will be shown here) to Asian and International film premieres and more. In fact, they've also added a special COMIC BOOK AND MANGA WEEKEND EVENT (July 17-18), sponsored by McFarlane Toys, which will showcase movies related or adapted from comic books and the work of comic book artists (more details below). Basically, if you're a friggin' movie geek...you gotta be here! The tickets are also quite cheap at only $7.50CAN (which is about $5US) and even less if you buy them in a 10-pack. You can order the tickets by phone at (514) 528-2828 (Montreal) or 1-800-361-4595 or through www.admission.com.

Having attended the press conference for the festival's announcement on Tuesday, here is a good representation of what you have to expect from this year's line-up (more in PART 2). The entire list of movies hasn't been provided yet, but you can read about a slew of them below. It's a long-ass list, but if you have the time, check 'em all out.


GINGER SNAPS 3: THE BEGINNING (Grant Harvey, Canada, World Premiere): This third installment in the hugely popular GINGER SNAPS series is a prequel in the most extreme sense, taking place in 19th Century Canada! Actress Emily Perkins will be here for the screening.

ROMASANTA (Paco Plaza, Spain, North American Premiere): Hailed by Fangoria Magazine as one of the strongest werewolf films in the genre’s history, this classy, big budget Spanish production is sure to leave its mark at the festival.

WEREWOLF VS THE VAMPIRE WOMAN (Leon Klimovsky, Spain): Special retro screening of the film that kicked off Spain’s 70’s horror wave. More info on the following page.

ONE POINT 0 (Marteinn Thorssen, USA, Canadian Premiere): This atmospheric Kafka-esque sci-fi thriller see Jeremy Sisto as a paranoid tech programmer who keeps discovering anonymously-sent empty boxes in his livingroom and begins to wonder whether he himself might be infected with a computer virus. Also stars Deborah Unger, Udo Kier and Lance Henrikson. A hit at Sundance, this will be the film’s first Canadian screening.

GATE TO HEAVEN (Veit Helmer, Germany, Canadian Premiere): Veit Helmer’s follow-up to his acclaimed TUVALU is a charming, romantic fantasy taking place entirely in the corridors and catacombs beneath Frankfurt airport, which becomes its own strange city. A truly multicultural film, GTH stars well-known actors from ten countries, and was co-written by Gordan Mihic (BLACK CAT, WHITE CAT).

ROJO SANGRE (Christian Molina, Spain, North American Premiere) – This angry black comedy / horror has Naschy in the role of an aging former superstar  who now has trouble landing even the smallest roles. Disgusted by an industry tailored exclusively to the young and uncritical, he sets out to perform “reconstructive surgery” on the Spanish film world – namely, he embarks on a mission to slaughter talentless pop icons! This exceptional 2004 release is funny, gory and crowd-pleasing, while also functioning as a sincere and melancholic statement of artistic rage.

Audience unfamiliar with Naschy’s taboo-trashing 70’s work will get a witching hour crash course when we give them a midnight double-bill screening of DRACULA’S GREAT LOVE (a truly fetishistic vampire film that ventures into moments of macabre BDSM) and the legendary WEREWOLF VS THE VAMPIRE WOMAN.

THE CARD PLAYER (Dario Argento, Italy, North American Premiere): Policewoman Anna Mari is forced to play a dangerous game with the title serial killer. If she loses, she witnesses the maniac's tortured victims having their throats cut in explicit close-up detail via webcam. She teams up with British cop John Brennan to find out the identity of the murderer.

RIDING THE BULLET (Mick Garris, USA, World Premiere): Based on a work by Stephen King and set at the tail-end of the 60’s counter-culture scene, this period chiller details the unusual circumstances that befall a young 20-something man who recently attempted suicide, as he travels across the countryside. Stars David Arquette, Jonathon Jackson, Barbara Hershey and Cliff Robertson. Director Mick Garris will attend the screening.

A JOURNEY INTO BLISS (Wenzel Storch, Germany, International Premiere): Possibly the strangest thing we’ve ever screened at the fest. Imagine a certifiable madman shooting a Terry Gilliam-esque epic with a 60 year-old 35mm camera on a micro-budget, over 6 years (one was spent begging farmers for scraps to build their crazy sets, which took another two years to build), incorporating lecherous talking animals, knowledgeable snowmen, exploding everythings, a giant snail shell used as a ship and a bunny whose powerful ejaculation allows characters to travel through time are just the beginning. A mind-altering cross between BARON MUNCHAUSEN, CALIGULA and SESAME STREET. Director Wenzel Storch will be here for the screenings.

HAUTE TENSION (Alexandre Aja, France): This hyper-intense serial killer siege film from France has been blowing audiences to pieces overseas for the last year. Our screening will allow Montrealers to experience this horrific tour-de-force on the big screen many months before its early 2005 North American theatrical release. Stars staple Gaspar Noe actor Philippe Nahon.

KILLING WORDS (Laura Mana, Spain): A homicidal criminology professor (TALK TO HER’s Dario Grandinetti)  who dabbles in serial murder abducts his psychiatrist (AMORES PERROS’ Goya Toledo) and forces her to play complex games with him. If she wins, she gets to make a phone call. If she loses, he will scoop her eye out with a spoon. Intensely controlled direction and mesmerizing, textured performances, keep either character both victimized and empowered in the same instance. One of the few modern films that truly deserves to be described as “Hitchcockian” and a multiple award-winner at festivals across Europe.

NOTHING (Vincenzo Natali, Canada): A highly original, experimental comedy from Vincenzo (CUBE) Natali, NOTHING tracks the unusual events that transpire when two loners realize that they can somehow make the things they hate disappear. Before long, all that exists in the world is their house, their backyard, and…nothing.

THE TOOLBOX MURDERS (Tobe Hooper, USA, Canadian Premiere): From the man responsible for the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. Hooper’s Grand Guignol horrorshow ranks as his strongest work in well over a decade and was an audience favourite at the recent Philadelphia Film Festival. Stars Angela Bettis (MAY).

SHALLOW GROUND (Sheldon Wildon, USA, North American Premiere): This genuinely creepy film opens with a boy appearing at the door of a small town police station, naked, drenched head-to-toe in blood. His face is a combination of several missing people. Moody, stylish and bursting with grotesque supernatural surrealism, this inventive super16mm production came from nowhere and has been impressing everyone who gets near it. Director Sheldon Wilson will be present for the film’s screening.

THUNDERCRACK! (Curt MacDowell, USA): Fantasia-goers will be getting the rare chance to see this infamous 70’s underground epic on the big screen, in its rarely shown full 158 minute cut. The last attempted Montreal screening, at Cinema Parallel in the 70’s, had the police raiding the theater’s projection booth to stop to show. Thankfully, times have changed.


For this summer's edition, we have a SPECIAL COMIC BOOK AND MANGA WEEKEND (July 16-18), entitled KOMIKSTOK FANTASIA. For this occasion, we will be showing movies related to, or adapted, from comic books. We'll also organize an sales fair where the Fantasia crowd, comic and manga fans in general, and those who are simply curious will be able to meet with artists and discover specialized stores, publishers and distributors. The event aims to expose the variety and originality the comic-book medium has to offer, as well as building links to similar, sympathetic artforms.

With this event, we will showcase the work of certain major American publishers (such as DC Comics and Dark Horse), some North American alternative publishers (Slave Labor Graphics, Drawn & Quarterly, Oni, Fantagraphics Books), as well as local and European publishers (such as les Éditions de la Pastèque, l'Oie de Cravan and l'Association). You'll see animated adaptations of comic books and manga, live-action adaptations, shorts from American and European alternative comic artists and a showcase dedicated to super-hero shorts in live-action.

On July 17th and 18th, Fantasia will host a comic and manga convention on the mezzanine of the Hall Theatre Building, adjacent to the principal cinema of our festival. There, you'll be able to meet with retailers, comic-book artists and more, while admiring comic-book and cinema oriented displays.

During the course of this special event, you’ll be able to experience some feature films adapted or inspired by internationally acclaim comic book such as:

  • Bill Plymton’s Hair High,
  • Enki Bilal’s Immortel,
  • Jan Kounen’s Blueberry (adapted from the work of Moebius),
  • Moebius’s Arzak Rhapsody (adapted from the work of Moebius),
  • Pascal Morelli’s Corto Maltese (adapted from the work of Hugo Pratt).
  • Javier Fesser’s Mortadelo & Filemon: The Big Adventure  (based on the Spanish comice book from Francisco Ibáñez).



We will also presents films adapted from popular mangas such as:

  • Anno Hideaki’s Cutie Honey (live action movie based on the popular manga and anime) ,
  • Yudai Yamaguchi’s Battlefield Baseball,
  • Band of Ninja (Nina Bugeicho) from Nagisa Oshima, a newly remastered 35 mm print of the 1967 anime classic directed before In the Realm of the Senses and Merry Christmas Mister Lawrence.
  • Ghost in the shell (STAND ALONE COMPLEX),
  • Paranoia Agent from Satoshi Kon.

If a big bunch of superhero shorts directed by fanboys from all across the globe is more you cup of tea, then you’ll enjoy Square Jaw Theatre/Le Cinéma des Gros Bras. Programmed by Éric Lavoie, this special presentation will showcase the following shorts:


A series of shorts will serve to showcase certain American and European alternative Comic artists who have branched out into animation.  Rupert Bottenberg’s Comic Cartoons/Bandes Animées will showcase some of the industry most daring artists and productions such as:

  • Nosferatu (adaptes from. the psychedelic Works of Druillet)
  • Bird Bug Goat by Dave Cooper
  • Fetch! by Nina Paley
  • Whimgrinder by Jim Woodring
  • Maakies by Tony Millionaire
  • Kid Koala/"Basin Street Blues" by Monkmus
  • Nuzzle by Kaz
  • Histoires Muettes by Blanquet
  • Ramachan by Carle Bacha
  • Isaac Vs. Eli by Bernie Mireault
  • Goopy Spasms by Rick Trembles
  • Flaschko by Nicolas Mahler
  • Hollywood Superstar la biographie non autorisé de Monsieur Ferrailes by Winshluss & Cizo.

The Hôpital Brut / Mauvais Oeil / La Peau de chagrin are three adaptation of a variety of edgy comics and bizarre graphic projects from the talented members of Europe’s Dernier Cri collective, a loosely-structured assembly of unusual, non-conformist and even dangerous artists based in Marseille, France. Since 1993, Dernier Cri has published more than 150 titles, created numerous exhibitions and performances and of course produced two films. In addition, the program begins with a special bonus, La Peau de Chagrin, a gruesome fairy tale created entirely with paper cut-out silhouettes by French comic artist Stephane Blanquet. A special tribute to some of the wildest, weirdest talents in comics, animation and graphic design from the European punk-art underground

A large number of international guests have already confirmed their presence at the event:

  • Bill Plympton
  • Steve Bissette
  • Kim Deitch
  • Ho Che Anderson
  • John Holmstrom
  • Danny Hellman
  • Mike Kupperman
  • Marc Ngui
  • Brian Ralph
  • Josh Simmons
  • Cameron Stewart
  • Kagan Mcleod
  • Ben Shannon
  • Chip Zdarsky

Finally, The Ubisoft Fantasia Festival will pay an homage to this new pictorial art than represents the graffiti with a special program called Mundo Urbano: Graffiti and Beyond. A selection made by Pablo Aravena (director of the global graffiti documentary) among the better films concerning this urban art.

Four short films about graffiti and street art in the new millennium:

  • "Letter to the President" dir.: David Ellis (USA) featuring NYC’s Barnstormers collective
  • "Acces(s)" dir.: Eko (France) originally commissioned for Access festival, Pau, France
  • "Atlantis Phase 1" dir.: Sergio Aguilar (Spain) "Public Discourse" dir.: Darius and Downey (USA)  featuring Doze Green, Swoon and other major graffiti artists
  • plus: trailer for Next: A Primer on Urban Painting


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