July 14, 2011

Fantasia Festival 2011

The world class and world-beating Fantasia International Film Festival opens its fifteenth anniversary edition in Montréal today, July 14, and runs an incredible three weeks through August 7.
You can begin to appreciate the scope of this event by scanning the jaw-dropping schedule of features and shorts on view, all wrapped up in panels, live events and parties. Some of the highly anticipated films this year include Finland’s Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale — you’ll never think of Santa Claus the same way ever again — and Norway’s The Troll Hunter ­—you’ll never think of trolls the same way ever again, either. Director John Landis will present Burke and Hare, whose cast includes Christopher Lee, Jenny Agutter, and Ray Harryhausen! Robin Hardy will also be on hand to present The Wicker Tree, also featuring Sir Christopher, evoking — 38 years later — the spirit of the classic The Wicker Man.
Among the major events of Fantasia 2011 will be the world premiere of The Theatre Bizarre, a Grand Guignol anthology, in the presence of its seven directors (including Tom Savini) and cult star Udo Kier, and the feverishly anticipated official closing film, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, produced by Guillermo del Toro. This last one, in fact, is already sold out!
The Festival’s penultimate event is a showing of The Phantom of the Opera, with Lon Chaney, quote the Festival program: “Special gala event featuring a pristine 35mm print screened with a live original score composed by Gabriel Thibaudeau and performed by a 30-piece orchestra at the prestigious Théâtre Maisonneuve concert hall at Place des Arts!
Frankenstein will pop up a few times through the festival. I’ll be reporting later this month on the Canadian-made Monster Brawl, a wrestling horror-comedy where our Monster goes up against a who’s who of horror creatures. Then there's a panel on “Hammer Film Mythology” followed by Terence Fisher’s Frankenstein Created Woman (1967).
An extended tribute honoring Canadian producers John Dunning and André Link will include a rare big-screen showing of Frankenstein 2000/The Vindicator (1986). Other Dunning & Link films shown include cult classics Shivers (1975), Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS (1975) and Les lèvres rouges/Daughters of Darkness (1971).
Too much to see — three weeks is too short a time! — but I’ll definitely get in line to catch the new documentary about director Jean Rollin, Le rêveur égaré (The Lost Dreamer). The screening includes a three-minute promo reel of Throat Sprockets, directed by the formidable Tim Lucas!
Time and sanity permitting, I’ll be reporting back on Fantasia 2011 in the days to come.
Wish you were here!

The Fantasia International Film Festival website carries the full schedule, film info and trailers.

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