The Fantasia International Film Festival will be celebrating its 25th edition as a virtual event accessible to audiences across Canada, with a dynamic program of scheduled screenings and premieres, panels, and workshops running from August 5 through August 25, 2021, once again using the leading-edge platform created by Festival Scope and Shift72.
As the summer approaches, the festival will be following advice from local health authorities, with the possibility of also adding a range of flagship physical events to the lineup.
Last summer’s virtual edition was a phenomenal success, screening to 85,000 spectators and amassing a record amount of media coverage, with 475 accredited journalists from around the world covering Fantasia and its titles. The 2020 Fest showcased 104 features, a quarter of which were World Premieres, with the majority securing distribution out of the festival.
I was able to cover the fest virtually in both 2020 and 2019 (before going digital was a necessity), and personally, I loved every minute of it. They screened some fantastic films that I’m thrilled are now starting to see wider distribution, such as Lucky, Yummy, For the Sake of Vicious, The Dark and the Wicked, Anything For Jackson, and The Mortuary Collection.
For the creation of its 25th anniversary poster art, pictured below, Fantasia has once again turned to the talents of renowned illustrator Donald Caron. Taking inspiration from Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s beloved Lone Wolf and Cub, Caron has created a work that not only acknowledges the key role that Japanese culture has played across Fantasia’s history, but also one that hints and honors our upcoming edition’s embrace of Japanese cinema as a core cinematic theme.
Fantasia is proud to be opening its upcoming edition with the World Premiere of a major Québécois genre feature – Julien Knafo’s Brain Freeze. First pitched at Frontières, the festival’s world-renowned international co-production market, the film is a smart and stylish zombie comedy that slyly comments on social concerns both domestic and universal, telling the tale of an environmental disaster that leads to a fast-spreading virus ravaging a wealthy gated community off the island of Montreal. Brain Freeze joins the ranks of recently-released cinema that holds an eerie mirror up to our collective experience even though scripted and shot pre-pandemic. While production on the winter-set chiller was abruptly halted four days before completion following Quebec’s lockdown, shooting was miraculously able to wrap the following summer. There could not be a more perfect film for Fantasia 2021 to kick off with! Following the World Premiere on August 5th, Brain Freeze will see theatrical release throughout Canada on August 13th from Filmoption International.
Produced by Barbara Shrier (The Year Dolly Patron Was My Mom, Memoires Affectives), the film stars Roy Dupuis (La Femme Nikita, The Rocket), one of Quebec’s leading actors for the past three decades who celebrates his 50th feature with this role, alongside Iani Bédard (Mon Ami Walid). The impressive cast is rounded out by an array of acclaimed figures in Québec cinema, including Marianne Fortier (Aurore), Anne-Élisabeth Bossé (Laurence Anyways), Mylène Mackay (Nelly), Simon-Oliver Fecteau (Bluff), Stéphane Crête (Dans Une Galaxie Pres de Chez Vous), Mahée Paiment (Les Boys), Louis-Georges Girard (Mafia Inc), Claudia Ferri (Bad Blood), and Jean-Pierre Bergeron (Sur le Seuil).
Equally gorgeous as it is bloody, Brain Freeze presents a clever take on corporate greed, the growing rift between the haves and have-nots and a government in crisis that uses a zombie outbreak to express its truth and succeeds at being both a charming horror comedy, coming-of-age tale, and a story of unexpected friendship in hazardous times.
The 25th edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival will be presented by Videotron in collaboration with Desjardins, and will be made possible thanks to the financial assistance of the Government of Quebec, SODEC, Telefilm Canada, the City of Montreal, the Conseil des arts of Montreal and Tourisme Montréal.
Fantasia’s full programming lineup will be announced in several waves across the coming months.