The 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival and its inaugural online edition officially reached its conclusion earlier this month and MMC! is so grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate. Scores of films were screened and new favourites were discovered. MMC! must thank Fantasia’s outstanding staff for their unbelievable work and their smoothly run festival. Shout-outs to Steven, Alyssia, Lorenzo, and Marie-Jade! Jusqu’à l’année prochaine!
This year’s Fantasia was full of very entertaining films and whittling them down to a selection of favourites wasn’t easy. Depite this challenge (and because I’m a consummate professional), here are MMC!’s
ten twelve favourite films from the 2020 FIFF!
Dinner in America (Adam Carter Rehmeier, 2020)
There was no film I more purely enjoyed than Adam Carter Rehmeier’s Dinner in America. A tribute to the director’s ’90s-era Nebraska punk scene, Rehmeier creates a wonderfully antagonistic, feel good rom-com that matches Simon, a drug-dealing, bio-pimping, stridently punk arsonist, with Patty, an overly sheltered, overly medicated, dim bulb fashion disaster. Their suburban Michigan environs are enjoyably flat, most frequently centred around cringe-inducing meals, but the pair bring out the nuances in each other that create fuller, even likeable, people. In true punk spirit, there are no engineered misunderstandings, no changes of heart, and no makeovers. Simon and Patty are just two unusual people who already adore each other (even if they didn’t already know it) and are happy to flip off the rest of the world in exchange for a few memorable days of hell-raising. And if that weren’t enough, Dinner in America brought Fantasia’s most magical single moment, a goosebump-raising original song that confirms the film’s brilliance on four-tracks. This is an aggressively adorkable romance and a surprising demand for punk rock’s antiestablishment voice during these tense times. (Where are you punk rock?) In a just world, there would be a generation of high schoolers and college kids that call Dinner in America a touchstone film. Bang your head and warm your heart, dum dum.
The 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival comes to a close today with a handful of screenings (including MMC! favourite, Gabriel Carrer and Reese Eveneshen’s For the Sake of Vicious, and its closing film, Keil McNaughton’s The Legend of Baron To’a)! Be sure to check out my Letterboxd list for the 2020 FIFF which has nearly 150 reviews and ratings of Fantasia features and shorts and which will continue to grow beyond the conclusion of the Festival.
MMC!’s round-up of its favourite feature films screened at Fantasia will be coming soon, as will individual posts imagining the Festival’s best titles for spine-numbered glory. In the meantime, MMC! celebrates its ten favourite short films screened at this inaugural online edition of North America’s greatest fantastic film festival. Here we go!
Who Goes There? (Astrid Thorvaldsen, 2020)
I often get cranky with horror shorts for cheating themselves by offering contexts rather than stories and passing off tone as plot. Who Goes There? is a case study in creating a proper horror short. Made by Norwegian-born, British filmmaker Astrid Thorvaldsen and shortlisted for the 2020 Student BAFTAs, the film is set on an 1880 Minnesota homestead where two sisters, one pious and fearful and the other assertive and irreligious, struggle to care for a third sister taken by a grave illness. The arrival of traveling doctor on the verge of death himself raises concerns that a supernatural force preys upon them and leads to a series of fearsome twists and revelations. The 24-minute film is purposefully paced and totally assured in its direction, avoiding the types of ostentatious visuals that too often plague such shorts. The result is a mini-masterpiece with a convincing period-setting, foreboding and dreadful tension, and a clever conclusion that keeps up the film’s “show, don’t tell” approach to character-driven storytelling. Who Goes There? is currently being developed by Thorvaldsen into a full feature and deservedly so.
This just in, kids! The 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival has reached its midpoint and there’s still a week of great films to come, with lots of premieres, panels, and online events still to come. And for those looking for some direction on what’s upcoming, check out this notice below provided by the good folks at Fantasia spotlighting some upcoming movies and Q&As!
MMC! continues to consume Fantasia titles voraciously in anticipation of naming our favourites and imagining some select titles for spine numbered glorification. MMC!’s Letterboxd list for Fantasia provides a comprehensive catalog of all the features and shorts programmed and capsule reviews are being added daily. If you’re an MMC! reader and you’re scouring the Festival’s library of titles looking for a random watch, why not go cine-slumming with Fried Barry (Ryan Kruger, 2020), visit the very Peter Strickland-like Climate of the Hunter (Mickey Reece, 2019), be unnerved by the police meta-dramedy Survival Skills (Quinn Armstrong, 2020), watch the Black Mirror-esque Lapsis (Noah Hutton, 2020), or check out recent Japanese favourites like Fuku-chan of Fukufuku Flats (Yosuke Fujita, 2014) and Fly Me to the Saitama (Hideki Takeuchi, 2019) or the forthcoming Arrow Video title Sting of Death (William Grefe, 1966)?
FANTASIA 24TH EDITION
A TALK WITH FINN WOLFHARD
in conversation with Jay Baruchel
THROUGH THE CLAPBOARD JUNGLE
Justin McConnell in conversation with Vincenzo Natali
JUMBO, LUCKY AND THE DARK & THE WICKED
ONLINE UNTIL SEPTEMBER 2ND
Montreal, August 27th – The 24th edition of Fantasia will screen several premieres and panels over the coming days: including a talk between actor and musician Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) and Canadian actor and director Jay Baruchel (Random Acts of Violence) and, on closing day, a talk between Justin McConnell (CLAPBOARD JUNGLE) and Vincenzo Natali (Cube, The Tall Grass).
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Bait.
Martin (Edward Rowe) is a cove fisherman without a boat. His brother has repurposed their father’s vessel as a tourist tripper catering to vacationers and stag parties. Their childhood home has been sold for London money and transformed into a summer getaway, displacing Martin to public housing above the harbor. As Martin resists the erosion of local traditions and industries, the summer season brings increasing tensions between the locals and newcomers to a boiling point, leading to tragic consequences. Stunningly shot on a vintage 16mm camera using monochrome Kodak stock, Mark Jenkin’s Bait is a timely and funny, yet poignant film that gets to the heart of a community facing up to unwelcome change.
- 4K digital master, approved by director Mark Jenkin, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio Soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- Alternate score performed by Cornish musician Gwenno, with introduction by Jenkin and Gwenno
- Audio commentary with Jenkin and critic Mark Kermode
- Bait Q&A with director Mark Jenkin, a conversation with Jenkin and Kermode recorded at the BFI Southbank in London
- New interviews with Jenkin and star Ed Rowe
- A behind-the-scenes film shot by students of Falmouth University’s School of Film & Television
- Dear Marianne, Jenkin’s 2016 short film about a Cornishman’s travels in Ireland
- The Essential Cornishman, Jenkin’s 2016 short film set in the mythical Cornish west and paying tribute to the spontaneous prose of the Beats
- The Road to Zennor, Jenkin’s 2017 short travelogue to a small coast near St. Ives
- Two archival short films set in the Cornwall region, Scenes on the Cornish Riviera (1912) and The Saving of Bill Blewitt (1936)
- PLUS: Jenkin’s Silent Landscape Dancing Grain 13 Manifesto and an essay by film critic Chloe Lizotte
The 24th edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival kicks off tomorrow! Opening the Fest is Neil Marshall’s much anticipated The Reckoning, a period thriller set among the 17th century’s Great Plague and witch hunts. Following Marshall’s film tomorrow is Shinichirou Ueda’s follow up to One Cut of the Dead, the adorable Special Actors. MMC!’s Fantasia coverage has already started over on Letterboxd – check out our Letterboxd list for the 2020 FIFF!
From the Fantasia International Film Festival:
FANTASIA’S 24th EDITION
BEGINS THIS THURSDAY!
ONLINE FROM AUGUST 20TH TO SEPTEMBER 2ND
Montreal, August 18th 2020 – The 24th edition of Fantasia International Film Festival will kick off this Thursday August 20th at 7:00pm online. This year the Festival will present a distinguished and virtual lineup of more than 100 features films and 180 short films accessible to movie lovers across Canada with a wild assortment of scheduled screenings, panels, and workshops taking place online from August 20 through September 2, 2020.
This 24th edition will open with a special screening of Neil Marshall’s recently completed cinematic powerhouse THE RECKONING. A poignant and horrific period thriller set in 1665 against the backdrop of the Great Plague and the subsequent witch hunts in England, THE RECKONING stars Charlotte Kirk (OCEAN’S 8, NO PANIC WITH A HINT OF HYSTERIA), Sean Pertwee (DOG SOLDIERS, DOOMSDAY), Joe Anderson (THE GREY, THE CRAZIES), Steven Waddington (THE IMITATION GAME, LAST OF THE MOHICANS), and Emma Campbell-Jones (DOCTOR WHO). A vivid, compelling and confrontational film whose themes are frighteningly pertinent to today’s concerns. This will mark the second time that a work from the esteemed British filmmaker has opened Fantasia, THE DESCENT having been the festival’s official Opening Film in 2005.
The cover art may not be revealed but Moonstruck is coming to Criterion Collection this November and MMC! is here to take all the credit, having previously proposed the Norman Jewison film as a quasi-valentine to my lovely wife who rightfully adores the movie. Our MMC! edition bears a strong resemblance to the actual Criterion release just announced. Both versions port over the current Blu-ray’s special features, each leaving out the lamentable cooking and food featurette, and both include an interview specifically considering the significance of opera to the film. And so, as always … you’re welcome, cinephiles.
The rest of November’s Criterion slate looks solid with an Essential Fellini box set (More weird packaging!), Jim Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Coolness!), Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman (Meh!), and Claudia Weill’s Girlfriends (An MMC! favourite discovery from last year!).
And for those waiting for MMC!’s next proposal, a new imagined Criterion edition will arrive before the end of this week and it’ll be British, recent, and widely celebrated!