Fantasia Montreal film festival

Sadako DX

How to maximize your Fantasia Film Festival experience

Fantasia promises new and exciting genre cinema on the big screen from July 14 to Aug. 3.

It was already dark out and a line twisted around the block. I had never been to a film festival before and had no idea what to expect. The crowd at Fantasia was like nothing else I’d ever experienced; it was like a collective possession where people knew to laugh, scream and meow at just the right moment. It could have been an incoming storm that sometimes hit unpredictably during Montreal mid-summer, but the energy was electric, and I was hooked.

For the past two years, Fantasia has been crippled (like many other events) by the pandemic. First, in 2020, they presented a fully online festival and then, last year, a hybrid. While there are obvious reasons why some people might still want to hold off on in-person events, for a lot of Montrealers, Fantasia is a massive part of what makes Montreal such an incredible summer city. It captures a snapshot of a city in all its sensuous, sweaty glory. 

Detectives vs. Sleuths

Whether it’s your first time at a festival or not, there are ways to optimize your festival experience. Some quick tips? Stay hydrated, open-minded and don’t be afraid to ask questions. How often do you get to be in the same room as a Korean director presenting their film for the first time internationally? It’s a unique experience that most film fans don’t get the chance to experience. Cherish it. 

The complete program reveals a wide range of movies from big names like A24’s Bodies, Bodies, Bodies and the return of the Ringu wraith in Sadako DX. Other big names include new films by Dario Argento, Wai Ka-Fai and Michel Hazanavicius. Quebec legend Denis Côté will be presenting a film at the festival for the first time with the North American premiere of That Kind of Summer, a movie about three women being treated for their hypersexuality in the Quebec countryside.

that kind of summer Fantasia festival
That Kind of Summer

For all the big names, though, if you’re planning on attending Fantasia (or any other festival for that matter), my advice is to pick out titles you’ve never heard of. As someone who has participated in the festival for over a decade, many of my favourite Fantasia experiences were movies I knew nothing about before I sat down in the Hall or De Seve. While I personally discovered niche favourites like The Laplace’s Demon or Resolution, Fantasia was also where much of North America first got to watch movies like [rec] that exploded into internationally recognized franchises. 

On that note, one of the most under-appreciated sections at the festival is the spotlight on local film, with Les Fantastiques week-ends du cinéma québécois. Featuring a handful of feature films and a number of short film collections, Les fantastiques week-ends celebrate local genre filmmakers. For people looking to meet new friends in the city who share the same interests or discover the next Denis Villeneuve, it’s a great opportunity to see something on the cutting edge with a little Quebec twist. 


Film festivals are always far more than just screenings and feature a wide range of free events. This year’s festival will feature artist talks with the legendary John Woo (Face-Off), critic/writer Kier-La Janisse (House of Psychotic Women) and Korean animator Kim Kangmin, offering a masterclass on stop-motion. There will also be a panel called “Stop F*%#king up the planet: Concrete steps the film industry can take to reduce our carbon and waste footprint.” All these events are open and free to the public. 

Whether it’s your first time attending Fantasia or your 26th, returning the festival to our big screens is a welcome dose of normality. For festivalgoers who usually only check out Jazz Fest or Just for Laughs, this is a great year to explore the new frontiers of genre cinema with one of the world’s most celebrated film festivals. ■

For the complete program and to buy tickets, please visit the Fantasia Festival website.

For more film and TV coverage, please visit our Film & TV section.