16 films to check out during the Fantasia International Film Festival 2022.

For the third year in a row, Elements of Madness will be remotely covering the Fantasia International Film Festival. In the run-up to the event, we wanted to highlight 16 films screening during the festival that we’re either most excited to see *or* can’t wait for others to see.

The Fantasia International Film Festival runs from Thursday, July 14th, through Wednesday, August 3rd, in Montreal, Quebec. For more information on their full program, head to the official 2022 schedule.


Anime Supremacy!

Why I Recommend It:

When it comes to films about movie-making, I’m typically all-in as the stories typically evoke the magic and collaboration that such artistic creation requires. Idyllic, sure, but I love movies, so that kind of storytelling really speaks to me. In this case, Anime Supremacy! appears to mix the drama and ferocity of creativity with a dash of comedy in a field of animation that’s known to get a little wilder than its American counterparts. For that alone, I’m in.

Official Synopsis:

The anime industry of Japan is enormous, with 200 new TV shows and two trillion yen in revenue each year. For seven years, soft-spoken yet strong-willed Hitomi Saito has climbed the ranks, and is set to direct a series for the first time. At the same moment, the difficult but undeniably brilliant director Chiharu Oji is set to make his big comeback after almost a decade. The hit series that made Oji famous is what inspired Saito to jump into the anime field, and her goal is to match, and even surpass, his success and relevance. Her chance has arrived. Their two programs are both scheduled to debut in the same prime-time Saturday slot, and after Saito challenges her rival on stage at an anime convention, the two production teams each set out to outdo one another, because there can only be one number-one!

Screening Sunday, July 24th, 2022.


Baby Assassins

Why I Recommend It:

I *love* Baby Assassins and have been singing its praises since Fantastic Fest 2021. It not only landed on my Favorite Films List for 2021 in the #27 spot, it got a special shout-out in my end of year annual Sticky List. This film possesses not only a touching story about friendship brought to life by two top-notch leads (Akari Takaishi and Saori Izawa), but the stunt work is some of the best I’d seen in 2021. If you love a good action comedy, don’t miss Baby Assassins in its Montreal premiere.

Official Synopsis:

Working the cash register at a convenience store? Cooking food at a nondescript diner? Serving up sweets and smiles at a maid café? For cheerful Chisato and mopey Mahiro, two teenage girls with opposing personalities, the options for the part-time work they seek aren’t all that appealing. After all, they’re already making good money as a pair of ruthlessly efficient killers for hire. The policy of their shadowy employer, however, requires that upon graduation from high school, they each develop a cover story. That means sharing an apartment and finding menial jobs. At the same time, they’ve run afoul of a psychopathic yakuza boss and his bratty son and daughter. As the conflict escalates and the blood starts to flow, will Chisato and Mahiro get the job done?

Screening Saturday, July 16th, 2022.


Coupez! (Final Cut)

Why I Recommend It:

While covering Sundance 2022, I’d hoped to see Coupez! (it was titled Z at the time), but the move to full-virtual snatched that away. Instead, the film premiered at Cannes 2022 and this French imagining of Shinichiro Ueda’s exquisite One Cut of the Dead was received quite positively. As someone who loves movies about movie-making, the concept of One Cut struck me quite soundly and the opportunity to see how a country adapts another’s story, through their specific culture’s lens, is quite exciting.

Official Synopsis:

Stop us if you’ve heard this before: A tiny film crew is shooting in an abandoned warehouse when, suddenly, zombies appear. The crew runs from the few extremely slow zombie invaders and never stops filming, resulting in the first-ever one-take zombie movie. End of act one. Then we learn of the history of this would-be zombie epic and the director (Romain Duris) who just wants a chance to prove himself and his small, loyal family and crew who support his vision, proving that getting any movie made is not just a minor miracle but a group effort of the highest order. One that makes you feel like part of something special, no matter how it may turn out.

Screening Friday, July 15th, 2022.

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The Fifth Thoracic Vertebra

Why I Recommend It:

The trailer for The Fifth Thoracic Vertebra is unsettling on its own, totally unclear as to whom the story revolves around, but then the synopsis clarifies that the perspective is “the story of mold left behind on a mattress after a couple splits.” The questions this raises on its own is enough to increase one’s curiosity. Could be horrifying, could be endearing; either way, it’s bound to be memorable.

Official Synopsis:

Long classified as merely a sub-species of plants, molds and fungi have captured the imagination of scientists in recent years. Far more sophisticated and far-reaching than ever imagined, fungi not only stand out as nearly indestructible but are possibly the absolute rulers of our planet. In his feature debut, The Fifth Thoracic Vertebra, South Korean filmmaker Park Syeyoung tells the story of mold left behind on a mattress after a couple splits. Structured around a countdown to a mysterious birth, the film follows the life of the mold as it slowly grows into a creature that steals the vertebrae of humans who inhabit the bed. A movie filled with deep longing and even deeper loneliness, it captures the wistfulness of young love lost and the monster of despair that emerges from that sense of abandonment.

Screening Friday, July 22nd and Tuesday, July 26th, 2022.


Freaks Out

Why I Recommend It:

Any story that sees outcasts take on and possible absolutely destroy Nazis (in any era) immediately piques my interest. Fuck Nazis. Punch any one you see. Give no quarter. Taking who’s often the darkest part of any circus’s history and making them the heroes, heroes who hunt Nazis — gimmie.

Official Synopsis:

1943. War-torn Rome. Occupying Nazis are increasing their explorations into harnessing occult forces for weaponry. Their searches lead them to the sideshow attractions of the Mezza Piotta Circus—Fulvio (an unrecognizable Claudio Santamaria, appearing as a towering, werewolf-like being), Matilde (Aurora Giovinazzo), Cencio (Pietro Castellitto) and Mario (Giancarlo Martini). With powers beyond the explanations of science, all are outsiders of a sort, formed into a troupe that’s become family. Soon, they will be fighting for their lives, as well as everyone else’s, in the most unusual superhero film you will ever see.

Screening Thursday, July 28th, 2022.

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Inu-Oh

Why I Recommend It:

GKids Films has distributed some of my favorite films in recent memory — Promare (2019), Marona’s Fantastic Tale (2020), BELLE (2021), Pompo: The Cinephile (2022) — so any new project immediately catches my attention. In the case of Masaaki Yuasa’s Inu-Oh, it appears to be both a treat for the senses visually and musically, all while traveling through time and possibly dealing with a serial killer. Sounds wild. I’m in.

Official Synopsis:

From visionary director Masaaki Yuasa, hailed by IndieWire as “one of the most creatively unbridled minds in all of modern animation,” comes a revisionist rock opera about a 14th-century superstar whose dance moves take Japan by storm.

Born to an esteemed family, Inu-oh is afflicted with an ancient curse that has left him on the margins of society. When he meets the blind musician Tomona, a young biwa priest haunted by his past, Inu-oh discovers a captivating ability to dance. The pair quickly become business partners and inseparable friends as crowds flock to their electric, larger-than-life concerts. But when those in power threaten to break up the band, Inu-oh and Tomona must dance and sing to uncover the truth behind their creative gifts.

Featuring character creation by Taiyo Matsumoto (Tekkonkinkreet, “Ping Pong the Animation”) and awe-inspiring vocals by Avu-chan (Queen Bee) and Mirai Moriyama, INU-OH is a glam-rock ode to the power of music and a forceful statement on artistic freedom from one of animation’s singular talents.

Screening Wednesday, July 27th, 2022.


The Killer

Why I Recommend It:

Between the trailer and the summary, this sounds like The Man From Nowhere (2010), a film which came highly recommended and I came to late. Films like this rely on tight action choreography to wow and an even tighter narrative to maintain tension. Based solely on what we know from the available materials, The Killer is going to destroy.

Official Synopsis:

Against his will, Eui-kang (Jang Hyuk) is forced to take in a 17-year-old girl, Yoon-ji (Anne of the K-pop group GWSN), for three weeks while his wife goes on a trip with the girl’s mother. On the first night, the young woman goes out with friends and becomes the target of a human-trafficking ring that gets rich from child prostitution. But what this sordid criminal organization doesn’t know is that Eui-kang is actually a retired assassin, an expert in martial arts, knives, and ballistics. When Yoon-ji is kidnapped, he quickly reverts to his murderous instincts, setting the city on fire to find her.

Screening Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022.


Missing

Why I Recommend It:

The adult-in-search-of-a-child narrative has been done quite a bit (see above entry on this list), but it’s rare to see it turned around like it is in Shinzo Katayama’s Missing. This horror/thriller aims to offer the same kind of chills but with a twist that could keep tension high and the conclusion haunting.

Official Synopsis:

Depressed and in debt following the death of his wife, Santoshi (Jiro Sato, Fable) tells his young daughter he has found a way out. Pointing to the reward note, he vows to find infamous serial killer “No Name” (Hiroya Shimizu, Tokyo Revengers), claiming he saw the man in the flesh a few days earlier. Kaeda (Aoi Ito, Blank) cannot believe her aloof, goofy father. But when he goes missing without a trace, she starts fearing the worst—and begins looking for him.

Screening Saturday, July 30th, and Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022.

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Next Exit

Why I Recommend It:

I had the great fortune to check out Mali Elfman’s debut feature-length debut film, Next Exit, when it premiered at Tribeca, and it rules. Not only does it offer a heady concept that walks the line between genres very well, it offers an a hauntingly beautiful performance from scene partners and film leads Katie Parker and Rahul Kohli. Don’t miss this road trip sci-fi dramedy.

Official Synopsis:

When a research scientist makes national news proving she can track people into the afterlife, Rose sees a way out and Teddy sees his chance to finally make it. These two strangers, both harboring dark secrets, race to join the doctor’s contentious study and leave this life behind. While Rose is haunted by a ghostly presence that she can’t outrun, Teddy is forced to confront his past. As these two misfits humorously quarrel their way across the country, they meet people along the way who force them to reckon with what is really driving them.

Screening Monday, July 18th, 2022.


Popran

Why I Recommend It:

From writer/director Shinichiro Ueda of One Cut of the Dead comes a film in which a man discovers he’s lost his manhood and goes in search to recover it. I was sold from the moment I heard there’s a new Ueda movie coming, but this concept: sold!

Official Synopsis:

Tokyo is in the midst of a mysterious “skyfish” invasion. But Tagami Tatsuya (Yoji Minagawa, Melancholic) pays that no mind. He has found great success as the CEO of an online manga-reading platform—built on the back of creators, mind you—and is busy basking in his accomplishments. He forgoes not being a colossal dick to everyone around him… until a fantastical twist of fate takes that away. Indeed, one morning, he discovers his genitals have spontaneously disappeared. Poof! Gone! Presented with a straw-sized hole where his junk used to be—and myriad opportunities to embarrass his arrogant self over it—he soon discovers, however, he is not alone in this peculiar condition. The “Popran Club” clues him into what happened to his member. Thus begins a six-day quest to retrieve his thing before it withers and dies for good. Gasp!

Screening Saturday, July 16th, 2022.


Relax, I’m From the Future

Why I Recommend It:

Ordinarily, I’m hit-or-miss with actor Rhys Darby’s work due to his vocal delivery, but with a premise like this one, I can’t help but be curious. Plus, the summary makes it very clear that he’s not someone with a loose grip on reality, so it up-front dismisses the possibility that Darby’s Casper is actually full of it, making it up as he goes. There’s potential for some real surprises to drop by the conclusion. Compelling.

Official Synopsis:

The world’s fate lies in the hand of a well-meaning time traveller from the future named Casper (Rhys Darby, Our Flag Means Death, What We Do In The Shadows). Armed with only a form-fitting time-travel suit and his wit, Casper must find his way around the past since he can’t make it back to the future. As he acclimates to our times, he meets Holly (Gabrielle Graham, Possessor, In The Shadow Of The Moon), a queer, disillusioned punk who takes a liking to Casper. He reveals he’s from the future, things get better, and he’ll save the world. To prove it, Casper shows her a would-be cartoonist, Percy (Julian Richings, Orphan Black, Supernatural, Ejecta), who becomes a key element when things get messy with Casper’s plan. When Doris (Janine Theriault), an agent who rids the present of random time-travellers, gets wind of this, she’s determined to eliminate Casper, and the chaos created.

Screening Wednesday, July 20th, 2022.

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Resurrection

Why I Recommend It:

Each festival I’ve covered that’s had Resurrection, I haven’t been able to cover it and it’s pained me to no end. Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth in a psychological thriller together? Watching this is a no-brainer in my book as Hall has developed quite the filmography demonstrating her abilities to captivate and terrify, and Roth in any film always increases the quality. Everything I’ve heard about Resurrection from colleagues who have seen it say to go in as blind as possible. Take that as you will.

Official Synopsis:

Margaret (Rebecca Hall), a pharmaceutical executive raising her teenage daughter Abbie (Grace Kaufman) alone, seems to have a well-ordered life. Then one day, the mere sight of a familiar face causes her to freak out. David (Tim Roth) doesn’t do anything overtly menacing—he simply shows up at the places she goes, throwing her sense of safety completely out of whack. Clearly, David had a damaging, destabilizing role in Margaret’s past, and as it is revealed, he worms his way into Margaret’s headspace all over again—preying particularly on her motherly instincts in truly disturbing ways. Her life is no longer her own, and her downward spiral will lead Margaret to the darkest depths a human soul can go.

Screening Tuesday, July 26th, 2022.


Special Delivery

Why I Recommend It:

I’m not familiar with director Park Dae-min’s past work, but the premise of his latest project, Special Delivery, reads a little like Louis Leterrier and Corey Yuen’s The Transporter (2002), bringing to mind a high-octane thrill-ride that continues to be badass 20 years later. More often than not, Korean cinema delivers the goods with its action films, offering a least a few memorable moments by its conclusion.

Official Synopsis:

If you need to get a package from one place to another, and the postal service won’t touch it, who do you turn to? To Jang Eun-ha and her sketchy boss Baek, that’s who. As a sideline to Baek’s junkyard business, he brokers special deliveries—anything, anywhere, any which way. Getting there is the task of Jang, an ace driver of unmatched sangfroid. She may not be as cold-blooded as she likes to think, though. When a former baseball player lands himself in hot water with gangsters, she finds his son Seo-won in the backseat of her car, with the key to a corrupt cop’s illicit funds in his pocket and a swarm of murderous henchmen on his tail. Getting herself and the kid out of this mess—alive—will mean pushing her vehicular skills to the max, and more!

Screening Thursday, July 14th, 2022.

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What To Do With The Dead Kaiju?

Why I Recommend It:

As much fun as it can be to watch a superhero flick, an action adventure, or a kaiju movie, the audience is never shown what comes next. We’re either swept off to a location away from the carnage or we jump ahead in time past the cleanup. Audiences never get to see what happens next, that is, until writer/director Satoshi Miki’s sci-fi dramedy What to Do with the Dead Kaiju? tackles that very specific problem and my curiosity is piqued.

Official Synopsis:

The battle is over, and a brittle sense of relief settles over Japan. It has been ten days since the cataclysmic defeat of the gigantic monster that had wreaked havoc in Tokyo. The public alarms have ceased and the conscripted army is demobilizing. The mysterious force that slayed the beast, where no human military technology could, remains an enigma, but right now the main task is to pick up the pieces in the aftermath. There’s one piece, though, that presents a challenge—the enormous, rapidly decomposing carcass of the creature. Officer Arata of the Japan Special Force is assigned to the clean-up task force, an assignment made all the more complicated by political opportunism and romantic entanglements.

Screening Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022.


We Might As Well Be Dead

Why I Recommend It:

I was able to see director/co-writer Natalia Sinelnikova’s We Might As Well Be Dead when it held its international premiere at Tribeca Film Festival 2022 and it’s a resounding work. With a deft hand, Sinelnikova and co-writer Viktor Gallandi explore issues of class and race using a reclusive and exclusive housing property as an enclosed eco-system. It’s funny and sweet, while also absolutely terrifying in broad daylight. Whether individuals are ready to acknowledge and explore the ingrained nature of imperialism and social bias that exists within all peoples today or not, We Might As Well Be Dead asks audiences to confront these notions head on.

Official Synopsis:

Two parents and their young child are seen crossing the German countryside—bog-eyed, weapons in hand, sweaty yet dressed to the nines. They move fast towards the high-rise that sticks out of the edge of the landscape like a godsend. If the interview goes well, the apartment will be theirs. Few know this feeling better than Anna (Ioana Iacob), the complex’s security officer (as well as tour guide and daily weather report dispatcher). She is a useful, beloved member of this “curated” utilitarian community but she soon finds herself in the midst of an imbroglio. Her daughter grows convinced she harbours an ancient evil—and refuses to leave the bathroom. Worse yet, a dog’s disappearance creates a panic that spreads across the building like wildfire.

Screening Tuesday, July 19th, 2022.


The Witch 2: The Other One

Why I Recommend It:

Why do I recommend The Witch 2? Simply put: 2020’s The Witch: Subversion is an utterly surprising work, seamlessly blending familial drama with thrilling intrigue and supernatural action. The film rules hard and the ending not only opened the door for a continuation, it left audiences begging for one. I am audiences. I want to see how this story continues.

Official Synopsis:

In this sequel to the popular Korean sci-fi action thriller “The Witch: Subversion,” the story moves away from a confined secret lab and out into the real world.

After a mysterious girl emerges as the sole survivor of a bloody raid on the research facility behind the top-secret Witch Program, she is rescued by a pair of civilians who soon realize the girl is both very powerful and in very grave danger. However, as the assassins tasked with locating and silencing the girl move ever closer, the lives of everyone around her fall under increasingly great peril.

Screening Friday, July 29th, 2022.


About the Fantasia International Film Festival

In August 2022, the Fantasia International Film Festival will celebrate its 25th edition. Located in the heart of beautiful Montreal, Fantasia is a cultural and professional destination point, and since its first edition, the festival’s ever-growing popularity has attracted the attention of the international film industry alongside a legion of attendees from across the world. Every facet of the filmmaking chain is increasingly represented with in-person delegates at the festival: directors, actors, producers, studio representatives, distributors and festival programmers, who get to experience the legendarily enthusiastic, taste-making audience of Fantasia.

Fantasia 2022 Poster



Categories: Coming Soon, Films To Watch, Recommendation

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