Fantasia’s 23rd edition opened with North American premiere of Hideo Nakata’s Sadako

Fantasia open with horror icon Hideo Nakata's 'Sadako'.

The Fantasia International Film Festival has released its full lineup, featuring over 130 incredible features from across the globe. Of note, the festival will host the World Premieres of MYSTERY OF THE NIGHT, BLOOD ON HER NAME, STARE, 1BR, THE DEEPER YOU DIG, and HOMEWRECKER; the North American Premieres of VIVARIUM, DREADOUT, and LES PARTICULES; the Canadian Premieres of THE LODGE, PROMARE, ANOTHER CHILD, and SWALLOW; and Special Advance Screenings of READY OR NOT and A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND.

In addition, the festival is also very proud to announce a record number of repertory titles, its esteemed 2019 jury, a horror film location bus tour through Montreal, and exciting, one-of-a-kind live events featuring producer Edward R. Pressman, FIRST BLOOD director Ted Kotcheff, and iconic horror host Joe Bob Briggs.

Fantasia’s 2019 website, which has gone online today, details all films and events at this year’s festival.

JAPANESE HORROR ICON SADAKO WILL OPEN FANTASIA 2019

Twenty years ago, Fantasia celebrated the North American Premiere of Hideo Nakata’s RINGU and its sequel, which led to Dreamworks acquiring the franchise and is largely seen as having been the birth of J-Horror in the West. This summer, the festival proudly opened its 23rd edition with the series’ latest sequel, SADAKO (North American Premiere), which also marks the return of director Nakata to his beloved franchise. One of cinema’s scariest characters is back on the big screen, and you’d better prepare yourself in case she and her young acolyte decide to crawl out of it. SADAKO cleverly respects all of the elements that made Koji Suzuki’s novels so successful, but brings in a host of new elements that will revive J-horror for an all-new generation of terrified moviegoers.

READY OR NOT… FOR THE YEAR’S BEST HORROR RIDE!

Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin (V/H/S) and Tyler Gillett (DEVIL'S DUE), READY OR NOT follows a young bride (Samara Weaving of MAYHEM) as she joins her new husband’s (Mark O’Brien) rich, eccentric family (Adam Brody, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell) in a time-honored tradition that turns into a lethal game with everyone fighting for their survival. In this Special Screening from Fox Searchlight Pictures, the games that people play are the games where people slay!

FANTASIA 2019'S CLOSING FILM PROMARE BURNS THE HOUSE DOWN WITH ANIME INSANITY

Extreme heat never looked so cool! In the embers of the globe-engulfing great flame war, the maverick firefighters of Burning Rescue confront the fiery terrorists of Burnish Mad. Director Kazuki Nakashima and writer Hiroyuki Imaishi, who previously worked together on GURREN LAGANN and KILL LA KILL, are at the wheel for PROMARE (Canadian Premiere), the debut feature from edgy anime studio Trigger. A raging riot of bright colours, daring design, crazy characters, and whiplash action, this isn’t just the most thrilling anime of the year, it’s a genuine pop art masterpiece.

Preceding PROMARE is a special anime treasure - the World Premiere of Wit Studio’s short film THE GIRL FROM THE OTHER SIDE, the screen debut of manga artist Nagabe’s affecting gothic fairytale!

BLOOD ON HER NAME IS A SOUTHERN GOTHIC NEO-NOIR FOR THE AGES

A sad, soulful crime drama about choice, guilt and consequence, imbued with a creeping sense of damnation that will haunt you to your core, BLOOD ON HER NAME (World Premiere) is a scorching feature debut for director and co-writer Matthew Pope. It’s an intimately powerful film centered around an extraordinary performance from Bethany Anne Lind, who reveals herself to be one of the most remarkable actors working today. Through her character’s perspective, she and Pope deliver a compelling exploration of moral compromise steeped in a tone of defeated desperation that pulls us into its world without a single false move. Also starring Will Patton and Elisabeth Rohm, this film will mark you forever.

FEAR THE MYTHICAL ASWANG IN MYSTERY OF THE NIGHT

Adolfo Alix Jr. (DARK IS THE NIGHT, MANILA, PORNO) is one of most prolific independent filmmakers of the Philippines, whose multi-genre films have graced the screens of Cannes TIFF, Rotterdam and Locarno. With MYSTERY OF THE NIGHT (World Premiere), he gleefully turns to horror with a strange, impactful, 1900s-set adaptation of Rody Vera’s play “The First Aswang”. Making great use of the classic folklore of the Aswang, Alix Jr. addresses the multi-generational horrors of Spanish colonial rule in a classic fairy tale retold with a dash of eroticism and the weird. This special, unforgettable film achieves a unique and strange aesthetic that builds to great hypnotic effect, sinking its claws into its audience, and dragging them further into the night.

PREPARE TO BE TRAPPED BY THE NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE OF VIVARIUM

Following an acclaimed launch in Critics Week at Cannes, Irish filmmaker Lorcan Finnegan’s VIVARIUM will be making its North American debut at Fantasia 2019. It tells the story of a young couple, played with charm by Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg, who check out a potential new home in a Kafkaesque suburbia, only to later discover that they’re unable to escape from the endless, empty residential neighbourhood. Featuring stellar supporting performances by Eanna Hardwicke and Jonathan Aris, this fascinating paranoid thriller is in the vein of the greatest Twilight Zone episodes: a tense science fiction fable that will imprison you in its otherworldly hold and never let go.

COVER YOUR EYES FOR THE WORLD PREMIERE OF STARE

The dead are piling up at an alarming rate, and the state in which the victims are discovered is even more shocking. Everyone seems to have died from heart attacks, visibly provoked by extreme fear - and their eyes have literally exploded. Fans of RINGU’s Sadako and THE GRUDGE’s Kayako will be thrilled to experience STARE (World Premiere)… and meet Shirai-san, an unforgettable new Eastern apparition that will haunt festivalgoers’ nightmares forever. 2019 continues to deliver on cutting edge J-horror - and there is no doubt that director, screenwriter, and author Hirotaka Adachi’s STARE will be one of the year’s biggest highlights.

1BR LEASES THE APARTMENT COMPLEX OF YOUR NIGHTMARES

The feature debut of writer/director David Marmor, 1BR (World Premiere) joins a very select group of quality horror films - including Polanski’s THE TENANT and Argento's INFERNO - to successfully explore the terrors of apartment living, but what sets this film apart is its plausibility. It would be running into spoiler territory to divulge more, except to say it's probably not a coincidence the story is set in Los Angeles, a city where unsuspecting people, looking to make a change, all too often have that change forced upon them against their will. Marmor's smart script and solid cast of mostly unknowns make 1BR one of Fantasia 2019's top discoveries.

A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND, BUT THIS ONE MIGHT JUST END YOUR LIFE

Tense, well scripted, and terrifically performed, A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND (Special Advance Screening) is a compelling take on the tried-and-true “ordinary person caught in extraordinary circumstances” story. Repurposed through the prism of a vengeance thriller - and told through the perspective of a fiercely strong female lead (MAYAN MC’s Sarah Bolger) - it will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish, and deliver countless surprises along the way. The stylish sophomore feature of British filmmaker Abner Pastoll (ROAD GAMES) - and featuring a career-best performance from IFTA award-winning Bolger - the film (which co-stars Edward Hogg and Edward Simpson) takes hold with frighteningly desperate situations and unexpected bursts of violence.

AMERICAN FIGHTER PROMISES NO-HOLDS, BARE KNUCKLED ACTION

In Shaun Piccinino’s AMERICAN FIGHTER (World Premiere), a wrestling champ is desperate to get his mother safely out of Iran, but this can’t be done through conventional channels. And it can’t be done cheaply. The only answer? Head-to-head fights, any style goes, for cash. Producer Ali Afshar told his own inspiring story with the 2017 sports drama AMERICAN WRESTLER: THE WIZARD, and has his alter ego Ali Jahani (George Kosturos) follow a much darker path this time. A pinch of political thriller, a helping of California coming-of-age tale, and whole lotta bare-fisted battling in the bad part of town add up to a solid win.

IT’S ALMOST A MIRACLE THAT ANYONE CAN BE THIS KIND

Fantasia favourite Yuya Ishii (THE TOKYO NIGHT SKY IS ALWAYS THE DENSEST SHADE OF BLUE) returns to Fantasia with ALMOST A MIRACLE (North American Premiere), a big-budget adaptation of Yuki Ando’s beloved manga. Nerdy Hajime Machida would be typical high-school student, were it not for an almost pathological condition that prompts him to constantly help everyone around him, often to his own detriment – an ailment that leads to a myriad of comedic complications. In keeping with his interest for loners, iconoclasts, and unique protagonists, director Ishii provides audiences with an empathetic and heartwarming portrait of an unlikely hero, in what is already one of the most crowd-pleasing and heart-warming films of the year.

THE FATHER’S SHADOW UTILIZES THE FANTASTIC TO EXPRESS ANGUISH

After her first feature, FRIENDLY BEAST, a theatrical tale of blood, sex, and the battle between social classes which world-premiered at Fantasia 2017, Gabriela Amaral Almeida returns with a second, much darker film. THE FATHER’S SHADOW (North American Premiere) was a short film written and developed in 2014 through Sundance’s Director’s Lab program, which evolved into a feature. Inspired by virtually every great master of horror, and much like her zombie-obsessed young lead, Amaral uses her fantastic imagination and ability to create visceral, haunting images in order to express the anguish of Brazilian society in decline.

THE SHACKLES OF CANADIAN POLITENESS ARE FUEL FOR NIGHTMARES IN HOMEWRECKER

Michelle (Alex Essoe) meets Linda (Precious Chong) at a yoga class. Linda’s wide-eyed enthusiasm is clearly off-putting, but Michelle’s aversion to conflict makes it difficult for her to brush off the increasingly pushy woman. Things escalate once Linda asks Michelle to redecorate her home and refuses to let her leave. Written by director Zack Gayne and the film’s two stars, Chong and Essoe (who wowed audiences with her breakthrough performance in 2014’s STARRY EYES), HOMEWRECKER (World Premiere) embraces an unusual tone informed by late 1980s pop sensibilities. With the energy of a Jane Fonda workout tape, the movie escalates into the uncanny, especially as it deals with gendered expectations su

Recalling his fondest childhood memories - bonding with his workaholic dad over 8-bit victories in the earliest Final Fantasy games - Akio hatches a plan. He’ll convince his father to take up gaming, befriend him anonymously within the online world, and rebuild their connection. Directorial tag team of Teruo Noguchi and Kiyoshi Yamamoto have created something special with BRAVE FATHER ONLINE – OUR STORY OF FINAL FANTASY XIV (International Premiere), the former overseeing the film’s live-action scenes, the latter commanding a squad of online players in an inspired combination of virtual combat and animated melodrama. The two outdo themselves with a clever, thoughtful, and flat-out great-looking film that is not to be missed.

SATOR IS A TERRIFYING SUPERNATURAL CREATION

A malevolent spirit menaces a family already frayed at the edges in SATOR (World Premiere), an exercise in horror minimalism that draws you in, holds you captive, and then freezes your blood with freakish visions and unflinching violence. Basing the story on his own family’s experiences, Jordan Graham weaves a moody tale of physical and emotional isolation and dysfunction, exacerbated by the growing threat of the supernatural. As signaled by the handwritten opening credits, this was a true do-it-yourself project for Graham, who wrote, directed, produce

Kim Yoon-seok is one of South Korea’s most respected actors. Whether he’s a sympathetic antihero in THE CHASER or a terrifying antagonist in 1987: WHEN THE DAY COMES, he’s always managed to capture audiences’ attention with his immense talent. With ANOTHER CHILD (Canadian Premiere), Kim goes behind the camera as director and co-writer to impress us once again, this time by imbuing his fundamentally feminist directorial debut with a finesse and sensitivity that highlights its narrative richness. This delicately crafted coming of age film relies not only on a beautiful story, but on the absolutely mind-blowing performances of four majestic actresses.

BLOCKBUSTER DIRECTOR SHINSUKE SATO GOES TO WAR WITH KINGDOM

Fearless, headstrong, and furious, Shin is determined to avenge his friend and help the exiled monarch of the Qin Dynasty win back his throne, unaware of the larger than life opponents he will have to face. After having masterfully handled horror (I AM A HERO), the superhero film (INUYASHIKI), and many other genres, Shinsuke Sato (BLEACH) breathlessly takes us to China’s pre-imperial era of feuding warlords in KINGDOM (Canadian Premiere). This spectacular fantastic-historical epic bursts with gripping, carefully choreographed battles, while Sato mixes perfect amounts of action, humour, violence, and drama to create one of the best films of his career.

DREADOUT: THE VIDEO GAME ADAPTATION YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR

In an attempt to boost their online popularity, a group of friends obsessed with their social media exposure decide to broadcast their clandestine visit into an abandoned building that was last used by a cult, and end up opening a portal to an alternate dimension. Writer-director-producer Kimo Stamboel of the Mo Brothers (MACABRE) demonstrates impressive efficiency and creativity with his first solo feature DREADOUT (North American Premiere), adapted from the popular video game. If DETECTIVE PIKACHU gave gamers a cuteness overdose, DREADOUT is the remedy - an ample serving of the undead with a shot of demonic possession on the side.

THE CAMERA LUCIDA SECTION – DECICATED TO BOUNDARY-PUSHING, AUTEUR-DRIVEN GENRE WORKS – UNVEILS ITS FULL LINE-UP!

Blaise Harrison’s enigmatic LES PARTICULES – hot off its bow in the Director’s Fortnight in Cannes – joins the rich tradition of coming-of-age films tinged with the supernatural, mixing the tropes of science-fiction and adolescent drama to better insinuate the otherworldly. P.A., a shy teenager, finds his place with a tight-knit group of friends. One hundred metres below their feet, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) roars. A huge and spectacular machine with cosmic designs. As adolescence and life itself accelerates, one wonders: Is something strange

Nao Yoshigai, one of the most exciting Japanese filmmakers to emerge in recent years, has steadfastly developed a unique, personal, and remarkably coherent universe. Trained as a choreographer and dancer, her films function as fantastical microcosms of mounting intensity, in which the often violent, daring and surprising impulses of the human body and the natural world provide many surprises. NAO YOSHIGAI X 4: OF BLOOMING FLOWERS AND DEAD SKIN – the first retrospective program of her work anywhere in the world – will showcase “Hottamaru Days” (International Premiere), “The Pear and the Fang” (International Premiere), “Stories Floating in the Wind” (Canadian Premiere), and “Grand Bouquet” (Canadian Premiere).

—For much more info visit https://fantasiafestival.com/en/

—AB

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