Fantasia Festival 2020: Premier Genre Film Festival is what you need to beat the heat

There are many unanswered questions in these uncertain times. This was the case when the city of Montreal decided to postpone their summer festivals, forcing many festival organizers to return to the drawing board. This is to say that I am happy that the 24th edition of the Fantasia Film Festival, the premier genre festival, will be taking place virtually, with the titles being accessible online. Even though I am going to miss the atmosphere of the Concordia theatre halls filled with the audience alongside the CJLO DJ’s, the meows, and the experience of Montreal’s downtown scene, the cinephile in me can’t wait for this year's Fantasia Film Festival happening from August 20th to September 2nd. Here are some films that I can’t wait to see at this year's festival.
First, the matters of the festival’s opening and closing films. The opening film The Reckoning is a horror from British director Neil Marshall. The closing film is one making its North American debut - The Legend of Baron To’a: an action-packed comedy from New Zealand director Kiel McNaughton that “draws inspiration from pro wrestling and martial arts movies”.   
One of my favourite sections from the festival is Documentaries from the Edge. The content is far from the dull educational subject matter you studied in school; rather, Fantasia always gathers some of the most entertaining and engaging documentaries to put in the spotlight. Cinephiles like myself may seek out the behind the scenes challenges of making and selling movies in the documentary Clapboard Jungle (dir. Justin McConnell). Missing the summer adventures at the waterpark? Class Action Park from directors Seth Porges and Chris Charles Scott focuses on the notorious Action Park, a water park that New Yorkers visited every summer in the 80’s and 90’s, infamous for the chaos surrounding the attractions. Coming from the Sundance Festival, SXSW, and Hot Docs, Feels Good Man (dir. Arthur Jones) tells the story of comic book artist Matt Furie. Referred to as “one of the most influential artists of our time (although you wouldn’t know it)”, the documentary follows Furie and the evolving symbolism of his character Pepe The Frog. 
The Camera Lucida section focuses on more experimental genre filmmakers. Think of filmmakers like David Robert Mitchell (Under The Silver Lake, It Follows) and Ari Aster (Hereditary, Midsommar) that are inside the competition to win awards. The one film that intrigues me the most from this section this year would be the American horror gothic film Sanzaru (dir. Xia Magnus), coming off the trails of the Slamdance Film Festival. Dealing with "issues of alienation and isolation of displaced workers", Mangus is sure to be a director to follow after the film makes its international premiere at this year's festival. 
The films from the Cheval Noir section that are in competition to win awards can be described as ambitious and daring. Two films in this category that have generated buzz are the horror/comedy/thriller 12 Hour Shift (written and directed by Brea Grant), and Kriya (dir. Sidharth Srinivasan), a horror film making its worldwide premiere at this year’s festival. The one film from this section that I can’t wait to catch up with is Marygoround (dir. Daria Woszek); a comedy from Poland making its international premiere.
Here are some picks from At The Movies co-host Danny Aubry.
Among these trying times it would appear that within the year 2020 the Fantasia Festival is taking a different route. For Fantasia, this year I will not be venturing downtown. Instead, through the flip of my laptop, I’ll be streaming various movies. Here is what I can’t wait to watch. 
The Paper Tigers - Bao Tran makes his debut as director and writer. As a fan of Martial Arts and comedy, I naturally gravitated towards this action/comedy film. The film follows a group of washed up middle aged martial artists trained in Kung Fu seeking to avenge their Master’s death after he has been murdered.
The action doesn’t stop there within my movie picks. Yankee (dir. Stéphan Beaudoin) captured my attention. This film focuses on Skylar, a young woman who flees from the United States in order to escape tensions from her family. She arrives in Drummondville, Quebec, where she meets with her drug dealing cousin Kev. Forced by Kev to participate in an illegal street fight in order to earn money for herself, it is discovered that she has the ability to fight, but lacks the technique needed to win. Kev contacts his client Chuck, promising to forgive his debts if he can train Skylar well enough for her to win a fight. As Skylar’s fighting skills increase, so does a sense of hostility between the three of them.
For me, these trying times which we are living in within the present moment make me think of other people in similar situations. This led me to stumble upon the horror/fantasy film The Block Island Sound, directed by Kevin and Matthew McManus. This film takes place off the coast of Block Island. The main character of the film is Harry, a loner who observes strange things happening as people’s behaviour takes a turn for the worse. This eventually leads him to worry about his well-being, along with the well-being of his family.
Strange things happening have a tendency to make me think about sci-fi or anything related to outer space. Horror/comedy Fried Barry (dir. Ryan Kruger) is a space related story where protagonist Barry has his character flaws exacerbated when an alien entity takes over his mind.
Even in trying times, it is simply not healthy to think negative thoughts all the time. So in order to cheer myself up, I chose the comedy Cosmic Candy (dir. Rinio Dragasaki). Anna, a reclusive grocery store clerk with OCD addicted to something called “Cosmic Candy”, is forced to break out of her own little world in order to help her friend to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance.
As sad as I am that I will not be downtown for Fantasia this year, I do look on the bright side; at least this time I’ll have the opportunity to watch these wonderful films within the comfort of my own home. 
Other sections from the featured spotlight include an eye popping experimental animation category Axis, Underground (highlighting bold independent projects), Fantasia Classics, Fantasia Retro, and Les Fantastiques Week-Ends Du Cinéma Québécois. As well, be sure not to miss the Short Film Programs, including Fantasia Festival staple DJ XL5’s Cat’s Meow Viral Zappin’ Party. Tickets for this year's festival go on sale August 10th at 1 PM. As always, At The Movies will be covering the festival in weekly instalments for the CJLO online magazine.
As always, stay safe et Bon Cinéma.
Remi and Danny host At The Movies which features everything new and noteworthy in the world of cinema. The show goes live every Tuesday at 8:00 AM.