Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival is back for its 23rd edition with an another unbelievably packed programme of recent genre hits. Once again Fantasia proves itself as a place to go for East Asian cinema with a wide ranging collection of indie and mainstream efforts from across the region.
- The Prey – Jimmy Henderson’s Jailbreak followup follows an undercover cop arrested during an operation who subsequently gets drawn into a corrupt prison warden’s sideline of sending prisoners out as targets for hunters.
- Shadow – Zhang Yimou returns to the world of period epics with a tale of proxy war as a great general (Deng Chao) makes use of a double to combat palace intrigue. Review.
- SHe – experimental stop motion animation in which an oppressed shoe disguises herself as a male in an attempt to escape the hellish factory world.
- White Snake – beautifully animated prequel to the classic legend in which a snake spirit loses her memory during an attempt to assassinate a tyrant and falls in love with the kindly snake catcher who rescues her.
- Boxer’s Omen – classic Kuei Chih-Hung kung fu in which a bewitched gangster must reinvent himself as a monk to defeat supernatural evil.
- Full Contact – Ringo Lam classic starring Chow Yun Fat as a bouncer trying to help out a friend in trouble with gangsters.
- G Affairs – gritty social drama in which a severed head exposes the unexpected connections between a disparate group of people.
- Master Z: Ip Man Legacy – sequel to the Ip Man series in which Cheung Tin Chi (Max Zhang) tries to make a martial arts free life for himself and his son in ’60s HK.
- Missbehavior – warmhhearted New Year comedy from Pang Ho-Cheung in which bickering friends unite in a quest for emergency breast milk. Review.
- Dreadout – video game adaptation in which a gang of YouTubers investigate an abandoned building last used by a cult.
- 21st Century Girl – omnibus film featuring shorts from some of Japan’s most interesting young female directors including A Crimson Star’s Aya Igashi and Amiko’s Yoko Yamanaka.
- Almost a Miracle – manga adaptation from Yuya Ishii in which an infinitely good young man’s world is turned upside-down by an unexpected act of kindness.
- And Your Bird Can Sing – three melancholy slackers struggle to accept love in Sho Miyake’s adaptation of the Yasushi Sato novel. Review.
- Brave Father Online – Our story of Final Fantasy XIV – big screen reboot of the hit TV drama in which a young man bonds with his emotionally distant retiree father through the medium of Final Fantasy XIV.
- Cencoroll Connect – anime in which high school students telepathically control shapeshifting monsters.
- Chiwawa – latest from Ken Ninomiya in which a young woman (Mugi Kadowaki) tries to solve the murder of her friend.
- Dance With Me – Shinobu Yaguchi returns with another feel good comedy in which an ambitious office worker is hypnotised to sing and dance like an old Hollywood musical whenever she hears music.
- Dare to Stop Us – drama set in the heyday of Wakamatsu Production. Review.
- Day and Night – a young man returns to the hometown where his whistleblower father was hounded into suicide.
- The Fable – an eccentric hitman’s mission to lay low for a year is undermined by yakuza politics in this surreal yet heartwarming manga adaptation starring Junichi Okada. Review.
- Fly Me to the Saitama – absurdist comedy in which the residents of Saitama have become an oppressed minority. Review.
- Garo – Under the Moonbow – latest in the long running Garo saga.
- Gintama 2: Rules are Made to Be Broken – sequel to Yuichi Fukuda’s enormously successful adaptation of the popular gag manga in which Edo has been taken over by aliens.
- Hard Core – slacker sci-fi drama in which a frustrated idealist befriends a rusty robot. Review.
- His Bad Blood – winner of the audience award at Yubari International Film Festival in which a father and son unwittingly seek refuge with the same priest.
- Human Lost – extremely loose, animated sci-fi take on Dazai’s classic novel scripted by Mardock Scramble’s Tow Ubukata and directed Fuminori Kizaki.
- The Island of Cats – The peaceful days of an old man and his cat are disrupted by the arrival of a pretty young woman from Tokyo (Kou Shibasaki) and her newly opened cafe in an adaptation of the manga by Nekomaki.
- It Comes – familial horror from Tetsuya Nakashima in which a father reaches out to an occult expert in fear that he is being threatened by a malevolent entity.
- Kingdom – Wuxia-esque manga adaptation from the big budget master Shinsuke Sato set in feudal China.
- The Legend of the Stardust Brothers – Long forgotten, Macoto Tezka’s anarchic cult comedy debut has been lovingly rediscovered and restored by Third Window Films. A tale of fame, corruption, and destiny, Stardust Brothers is a whimsical piece of absurdist Showa-era nostalgia. Review.
- Promare – first feature from anime studio Trigger (Kill la Kill) in which futuristic firefighters try to keep the peace.
- The Relative Worlds – parallel world anime romance.
- Ride Your Wave – latest from Masaaki Yuasa in which a firefighter and florist enjoy a fairytale romance until…
- Sadako – Hideo Nakata returns to the world of Ring with a brand new incarnation of the legendary vengeful spirit.
- Stare – J-horror thrills as a pair of students team up with a journalist to unravel the mystery of a terrible curse.
- Tokyo Ghoul ‘S’ – sequel to the popular live action adaptation of Sui Ishida’s manga in which a young man gets an organ transplant from a “ghoul” and finds himself craving human flesh.
- Twilight – Fukushima-set indie anime in which a young girl bonds with an artistic boy on a bus.
- We Are Little Zombies – madcap post-modern comedy in which four recently bereaved teens bond in their shared sense of alienation and eventually start a punk band! Review.
- The Wonderland – latest from Keiichi Hara (Colorful, Miss Hokusai) inspired by Sachiko Kashiwaba’s Strange Journey From the Basement in which a young girl discovers another world under her aunt’s shop.
- Mystery of the Night – festival favourite Adolfo Alix Jr presents an adaptation of Rody Vera’s play “Ang Unang Aswang” featuring the legendary vampiric monsters.
- Ode to Nothing – a lonely spinster struggles to keep her funeral business afloat until she ends up making friends with a corpse.
- Another Child – two very different teenage girls form an unlikely friendship when they discover their parents are having an affair.
- Door Lock – remake of Spanish film Sleep Tight in which a woman living alone suspects a stranger has been breaking in to her home. Review.
- The Dude in Me – A mean spirited businessman swaps bodies with a bullied overweight teenager.
- Extreme Job – bumbling police officers go undercover running a chicken restaurant to catch drug dealers but the restaurant ends up taking off. Review.
- The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil – Ma Dong-seok stars as a gangster who teams up with a violent cop to catch a serial killer.
- Hit-and-Run Squad – dogged cops defy demotion to take down an elitist chaebol who thinks he doesn’t have to pay for his crimes because he’s rich.
- House of Hummingbird – a young girl struggles to assert herself in the confusing world of the newly democratised South Korea but begins to find her voice thanks to an inspirational teacher in Kim Bora’s festival favourite.
- Idol – Han Gong-ju’s Lee Su-jin returns with a conspiracy thriller in which a politician’s son commits a hit and run.
- Maggie – a nurse intends to resign after coming to the conclusion she and her boyfriend have been captured in a compromising position in an x-ray but discovers everyone has called in sick. Meanwhile, her boyfriend is busy trying to fill in the mysterious sink holes appearing all over the country.
- Miss and Mrs Cops – a former top cop turned desk jockey, her bumbling rookie sister-in-law, and a female colleague team up to stop a gang of porn blackmailers!
- Money – Ryu Jun-yeol stars as a rookie stockbroker frustrated by Yoo Ji-tae’s sociopathic rival.
- The Moon in the Hidden Woods – animation in which Princess Navillera flees the castle into the wasteland with the musician Janggu and his band of outlaws.
- No Mercy – a woman recently released from prison tries desperately to save her little sister who has learning difficulties and has been dreadfully misused by those around her.
- The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale – hilariously zany comedy in which a weird family adopts a zombie and then tries to exploit it when it turns out that its bite has unexpectedly positive qualities (for a time at least). Review.
- The Wrath – joseon horror remake of the 1986 classic Woman’s Wail in which a wealthy family’s sons are killed on their wedding day.
The Fantasia International Film Festival takes place in Montreal, Canada from 11th July to 1st August. You can find full details for all the films as well as screening times and ticketing information on the official website, and you can also keep up with all the latest news via the festival’s official Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram, and Vimeo channels.