elijah wood mike flanagan fantasia film festival montreal

Photo by Sela Shiloni (right)

Elijah Wood and Mike Flanagan are coming to Montreal for the Fantasia Film Festival

The iconic actor and acclaimed horror director will be special guests at the 28th annual genre extravaganza (July 18 to Aug. 4), whose complete program just dropped.

Christmas always comes in July for fans of genre and Asian cinema in Montreal. The 28th edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival announced their full programming today, unveiling an electrifying collection of over 300 features and shorts that will screen from July 18 through Aug. 4 at the Concordia Hall and J.A. De Sève cinemas, with additional screenings and events at Montreal’s Cinémathèque Québécoise, Cinéma du Musée, Théâtre Plaza and BBAM! Gallery. Fantasia has also announced special guests Elijah Wood and horror filmmaker (and showrunner for multiple fantastic Netflix series) Mike Flanagan, who will be coming to Montreal during the festival.

The festival will open with the world premiere of New Zealand filmmaker Ant Timpson’s (Come to Daddy) latest, Bookworm, which stars Elijah Wood and Nell Fisher. An adventure comedy, the movie follows bookish 12-year-old Mildred as she reunites with her estranged magician father after her mother ends up in the hospital. Together they go on a camping trip in the New Zealand wilderness on a quest to find the mythological beast known as the Canterbury Panther. Both Wood and Timpson will be in town to present the film.

bookworm elijah wood montreal
Elijah Wood will be in Montreal to present his new film Bookworm

The closing film will be the world premiere of André Forcier’s Ababouiné. Set in the 1950s, Forcier revisits Quebec’s past in a dark but funny examination of the historical abuses of the Catholic Church in the province and the hope offered by a society on the brink of radical change. The film stars Rémy Girard (Les invasions barbares), Gaston Lepage (Jésus de Montréal) and Mylène Mackay (Nelly). Forcier will also be the recipient of the Priz Denis-Héroux, in honour of his 50-plus year career injecting magic into his poetic visions of Quebec. Known for films like Au clair de la lune and A Wind From Wyoming, Forcier undoubtedly ranks among our greatest living filmmakers. 

Fantasia’s career-achievement award, the Cheval Noir, will be given to a director who only just seems to be hitting his stride. Just over 10 years ago, in 2011, Mike Flanagan made his feature debut with the haunting and unsettling indie horror film Absentia. Since then, he’s become one of the foremost horror filmmakers in the world with films and series like Oculus, The Haunting of Hill House, Midnight Mass and the upcoming The Life of Chuck. Flanagan will be present at the festival and offer a free masterclass to the public (Sunday July 21, 5 p.m., Cinéma du Musée). 

As for Canada, genre-cinema legend Vincenzo Natali will be awarded the Canadian Trailblazer award at the world premiere of a new 4k restoration of Cube. One of the most influential genre filmmakers of the Great White North, Natali has paved the way for other filmmakers to follow suit. While known for out-there Canadian films like Cube, Splice and In the Tall Glass, Natali has also made a name for himself as a director on series like NBC’s Hannibal, FX’s The Strain, HBO’s Westworld, Starz’s American Gods and the Netflix’s Locke & Key and Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities.

Hunter Schafer in Cuckoo

Among the most hotly anticipated films hitting the festival this year, Fantasia audiences will be able to catch up with Jackie Chan in A Legend, where he portrays a professor who dreams of his past life as a soldier in Ancient China are haunting him, causing him problems in his contemporary life; returning to Fantasia after his astonishing debut Luz, Tilman Singer’s Cuckoo stars Hunter Schafer as a seventeen-year-old-girl forced to move with her family to a resort where things are not what they seem; The Roundup: Punishment is fourth-instalment of the popular South-Korean series and brings back detective Ma Seok-Do (Don Lee) for another high-energy action thriller; Joe Potrykus (Buzzard) one of the greatest Michigan-based indie-filmmakers stays close to home as he reunites with frequent collaborator, Joshua Burge in Vulcanizadora about two friends who take a trip through a forest with the intent on carrying out a disturbing pact. Though early in its festival run, the movie has already picked up a number of awards. Straight from Cannes, Fantasia audiences will also be able to feast their eyes on the epic new adaptation of The Count of Monte-Cristo which stars Pierre Niney, Bastien Bouillon and Anaïs Demoustier. From Quebec, Hunting Daze had a critically ecstatic premiere at SXSW earlier this year and will finally screen at Fantasia. Nina (Nahéma Ricci of Antigone) stars as the sole woman stranded with a group of men in a northern forest. 

Peter Vack and Dasha Nekrasova in The Code

As always, Fantasia will also feature a rich collection of world premieres including the atmospheric werewolf thriller, The Beast Within, starring Kit Harington; a low-fi Portuguese homage to Evil Dead and Kamen rider shine in the meta-textual The Old Man and the Demon Sword; local cult icon Maurane teams up with Billy Pedlow for Me and My Victim, a micro-budget transgressive ode to love, lust and situationships; director of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Chuck Russell, returns to the big screen with Witchboard, a reimagining of the Canadian cult classic of the same name; YouTube Chris Stuckmann makes his feature debut with the haunting Shelby Oaks; Eugene Kotlyarenko brings together Peter Vack (Assholes) and Dasha Nekrasova (Red Scare) in The Code, a surveillance-heavy dark comedy about a sexless relationship on the brink; Elias Koteas stars in The Silent Planet, a sci-fi meditation about the world beyond our stars; in an homage to the western, blending action and comedy, Fantasia will present the future South-Korean cult-classic Mash Ville, an absurd story about a quest to recover poisonous bootleg liquor before it can claim any more lives. 

Important restorations include anime cult classic, Mononoke the Movie: The Phantom in the Rain, Sun Chung’s Avenging Eagle, A Chinese Ghost Story III, the 50th anniversary screening of Cockfighter, Hollywood 90028, a special screening of La loi du cochon in homage of Érik Canuel, Love and Pop, the first-live action film from Neon Genesis Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno and The Rubber Gun (among others).

Montreal genre film festival Fantasia is on from July 18 to Aug. 4

As always, Fantasia will also feature a wide range of special live events. Two of the most popular YouTubers specializing in film, Taylor Ramos and Tony Zhou, who run Every Frame a Painting, will present their short film and do an artist talk on their work (Saturday July 20, 4 p.m., Cinéma du Musée). In conjunction with a screening of FAQ, Fantasia and the Korean Cultural Centre of Canada will host two Makgeolli Workshops providing an introduction to makgeolli, a traditional Korean rice wine. The event will feature a tasting and participants will be able to learn to make their own (space is limited, Wednesday, July 24, 5–6:30 p.m., in French/ Thursday, July 25, 5–6:30 p.m., in English, at Pony BBQ Coréen, 1608 Ste-Catherine W.). There will also be a live podcast recording and discussion of Fangoria’s The Colors of the Dark Podcast with special guest Chuck Russell (Thursday July 25, 5:15 p.m., York Amphitheatre). An artist talk with artist Gary Pullin (Saturday July 27, 2 p.m.) York Amphitheatre) whose work you might recognize on covers of Mad Magazine and Fangoria, as well as for Mondo, Arrow and MGM film posters, as well as original vinyl soundtrack art.

As always, the festival will also feature hundreds of short films in dedicated programs, as well as screening before features. ■

For more on the Fantasia International Film Festival 2024, please visit their website. Ticket pre-sales open at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 5.

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