Step aside John Hughes and relinquish your crown because coming-of-age, teen romance will never quite be the same after BABY, DON’T CRY! Directed by Jesse Dvorak and written, designed, and starring Zita Bai, this astoundingly unique and harrowingly sincere film follows Baby, a Chinese immigrant in suburban Seattle, as she makes sense of her troubled home life and outsider existence through her indie DIY films and animalistic visions of the world. When she meets Fox (Vas Provatakis), a Skid Row punk with questionable decision-making skills, a whirlwind of intensity, ferocity, and sexuality engulfs the pair. Teetering between Baby’s fantastical visions and Fox’s raw punk rock ethos the two dive into this powder keg romance headfirst with no-holds-barred. WORLD PREMIERE.
Are you ready for an orgy of blood? FRANK & ZED, one of the year’s goriest films, promises just that. In this bloodthirsty, bone-crunching, and strangely heartwarming movie, an odd-couple monster-duo Frank and Zed, a Frankenstein-type monster and his brain-eating companion, attempt to survive a medieval curse that has befallen a small village. And did we mention they’re all puppets? A true DIY passion project, conceived and made over 6 years, director Jesse Blanchard seizes an opportunity born from limitation to create an irresistible crowd-pleaser that embodies the resilience of thriving underground cinema. QUEBEC PREMIERE.
Welcome to GIVING BIRTH TO A BUTTERFLY, the strange, melodic, and haunting feature debut of Theodore Schaefer. After having her identity stolen, Diana (Annie Parisse) goes on a surreal road trip with her son’s pregnant girlfriend, Marlene (Gus Birney), to find the perpetrators. Shot on pastel-toned 16mm, the film’s dreamy quality lulls you into its unusual atmosphere. As the lines between waking and dreaming life fade, the movie blends its ironic sense of humour with a unique blend of American surrealism that explores kitsch and performance to unearth a deep sense of alienation and loneliness. WORLD PREMIERE.
In 1989, Stephen Sayadian, aka Rinse Dream, released one of the most iconic and fantastical works in American exploitation cinema. For the first time since its release, thanks to a new restoration, it will finally find its audience and retroactively be appreciated as the Underground masterpiece that it is. Bizarre, stunning, goofy, and unsettling, DR. CALIGARI embraces the avant-garde in its exquisite and hilarious exploitation of America’s repressed libido. As the film’s title might suggest, the feature is a loose remake of the German expressionist classic, centered on Mrs. Van Houten, a woman who seems to be losing touch with reality, and her treatment under Dr. Caligari, who diagnoses her with a “disease of the libido.”
MASTERCLASS WITH THE LEGENDARY STEPHEN SAYADIAN
In honour of the restoration of his seminal underground classic DR. CALIGARI, Stephen Sayadian will sit down and discuss his career; past, present, and future. The multi-talented artist got his start as the creative director for Larry Flynt Publications, designed some of the most iconic film posters of the 1980s (including DRESSED TO KILL, THE FUNHOUSE and THE FOG), and directed some of the most eye-popping and transgressive films of the era. Working under the pseudonym Rinse Dream, Sayadian’s films, including CAFÉ FLESH and NIGHTDREAMS II & III) blurred the line between smut and art. Working in both hard and softcore porn, his surreal films were consistently marked by a dark sense of humour, incredible production design, and hallucinatory imagery. For the first time at Fantasia, Sayadian will regale our audiences with the stories and legends from his incredible career and tease what might come next.
A virtual gallery of some of Sayadian’s best work will also be presented during the festival for amateur and veteran fans of his art. Presented in collaboration with BBAM! Gallery.
HACKS, DRUGS & PUNKS: BEYOND THE LINES OF REASON IN DOCS FROM THE EDGE FINAL THREE TITLES
Navigating through the lives of outsiders and exploring their fascinating minds, the Documentaries From The Edge section — curated by newly appointed section director Celia Pouzet and programmer Alyssia Duval-Nguon — disrupts the codes and breaks the frontiers of the (un)real
Alice’s webcam’s red light flashes. A hacker, a ghost, a god? She decides to expose the identity of the invader. DEAR HACKER, Alice Lenay’s debut documentary, is a patchwork of video calls that come together as a metaphysical reflection. Alice gleefully jumps down the rabbit hole and navigates the infinite universe of the web – our minds’ web – and our interconnectedness at a time when we’ve never been so distant. With her witty observations and sagacious imagination, Lenay writes a visual letter in the form of this film telling a story of perception, reality, and society. The loading circle spirals out, but Alice keeps going. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.
A high-spirited group of British bus drivers set their minds to launching a homemade stage play adaptation of Ridley Scott’s ALIEN in Lucy Harvey and Danielle Kummer’s debut documentary ALIEN ON STAGE. With a Christopher Guest-esque charisma that particularly recalls his community theatre classic WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, the film follows the ups and downs of the delightfully DIY production, with its second-hand costumes and cardboard sets, and the charming crew determined to make it succeed. QUEBEC PREMIERE.
A fiercely moving tribute to one of the most recognizable and unconventional figures in punk history, POLY STYRENE: I AM A CLICHÉ celebrates the life and legacy of Poly Styrene, famous frontwoman of X-Ray Spex and poster child for the UK’s Riot Grrrl and Afropunk movements. Featuring previously unseen archival footage and a succession of eloquent diary entries narrated by Oscar-nominated actress Ruth Negga and co-directed by the icon’s own daughter, Celeste Bell, and seasoned documentarian Paul Sng. QUEBEC PREMIERE.
Following the successful release of his breakthrough documentary REINDEERSPOTTING: ESCAPE FROM SANTALAND (2010), Finnish filmmaker Joonas Neuvonen, along with his friend Antti and the film’s star, Jani, traveled to Southeast Asia or a celebratory trip… Which ended tragically when Jani was found dead and Antti went missing. Co-directed by their longtime collaborator Sadri Centinkaya, LOST BOYS chronicles Neuvonen’s return to Bangkok and Phnom Penh, into an even deeper hellscape of drugs, prostitution, and wandering souls, as he seeks out the truth behind his friends’ demise while picking up the pieces of his own imperfect life. QUEBEC PREMIERE.
FANTASIA TO PRESENT VIRTUAL MASTERCLASS & CAREER ACHIEVEMENT AWARD TO SHUNJI IWAI
For its 25th anniversary, Fantasia is proud to honour writer, director and video artist Shunji Iwai with a Career Achievement Award and play host to a special masterclass led by the esteemed filmmaker. His latest film, THE 12 DAY TALE OF THE MONSTER THAT DIED IN 8, previously announced as part of the Camera Lucida slate – designed as a relief film for the Japanese film industry during the COVID-19 pandemic – perfectly captures the all-too-online moment in which we find ourselves. This is only the latest example of Iwai’s preternatural talent for capturing and sublimating the unspoken feelings that accompany pivotal moments in life, such as the end of elementary school, the beginning of university, the uncertainty of married life, or turn-of-the-millennium teen angst. He expertly communicates what it means to live in increasingly interconnected times, integrating the language of message boards, dating apps, and handwritten love letters into his work. A chronicler of changing hearts and changing times, Iwai’s filmography stands as one of the most unique and influential in all of Japanese cinema
Also screening as part of this tribute: FIREWORKS, SHOULD WE SEE IT FROM THE SIDE OR THE BOTTOM? (1995), APRIL STORY (1997), ALL ABOUT LILY CHOU-CHOU (2001).
A LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR STOP-MOTION TITAN PHIL TIPPETT
From the original STAR WARS trilogy to the millennial TWILIGHT SAGA, on top of ROBOCOP, JURASSIC PARK and STARSHIP TROOPERS, Phil Tippett’s inventive, innovative, iconic stop-motion creations have become universally familiar elements of our collective imagination. Fantasia is proud to honour the director and visual effects master with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2021 for his original vision and his contributions to the advancement of the craft.
This proud moment coincides with the long-awaited completion of Tippett’s personal masterwork— thirty years in the making, MAD GOD sees its North American Premiere at Fantasia this summer. Equal parts harrowing and hilarious, it’s a perpetual motion machine of biomechanical malevolence, a Dantean descent into the depths of Tippett’s imagination that cements him as an artist of the highest order.
Accompanying MAD GOD is the world premiere of the documentary short WORSE THAN THE DEMON, an intimate and insightful profile by the subject’s daughter, Maya Tippett. Fantasia will present Tippett with his Lifetime Achievement Award by way of a virtual ceremony, followed by a masterclass exploring the deeper roots of his art.
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