There’s an apt dreamlike quality to Dreams On Fire from the very first few minutes, where protagonist Yume announces her wish to become a dancer only to be chased out of her rural Japanese home by her fiercely overbearing father, while her mother can only cry in the corner. Soon she’s relocated to Tokyo, packing her whole life into a tiny noisy apartment that’s barely bigger than her single floor mat, and the rest of the movie’s two-hour-plus runtime takes its time to show us every high and low of her journey.
What do you want in your documentaries? Sweeping views of Colombian jungles? An in-depth exploration of the habits of migrating monarch butterflies? Or a group of bus drivers from Dorset who decide to put on their stage version of the classic sci-fi horror, Alien? Well, good news, you can have all three, but if you’re looking for an almost unbelievable underdog story that leaves you misty-eyed at the end, then the latter is perfect for you.
This week on the podcast, we’re recapping some of our favourite films from this year’s Fantasia Festival! Join us!
The coming of age tale as a horror movie has been done before. Whether it’s vampirism, or lycanthropy, or witchcraft, the story of a young person discovering something new inside themselves and figuring out both who they are and who they want to be is a well-worn trope.
Hellbender manages to put a unique spin on things, not only by reimagining witchcraft through a hard rock lens but by being a family affair, both on and off-screen.
There has been a pandemic, as there has been a lot lately, and there probably will be for some time to come in the world that Glasshouse takes place in. Unlike the one in the real world, this one strips people of their memory, of the very essence of who they are. This plague, “the shred” as they call it, leaves a mother and her family in a hermetically sealed glass house to live out their days gardening, and also killing “forgetters” who stumble out of the woods into their lawn, until one of of the daughters brings in a wounded stranger.
The largest population of Japanese people outside of Japan is actually located in Brazil. São Paolo, to be exact. Of the roughly twelve million people who live there, more than a million and a half of them are Japanese or of Japanese descent; the legacy of a bilateral agreement between the two nations to promote migration in the late 1910s. This is, in a word, fascinating.
Yakuza Princess is set in this diaspora, the story of an orphaned girl with no knowledge of her past who was secreted away after her family was massacred. Now, of course, she is going to find out, and vengeance will be hers. Eventually.
Ghost stories are among the oldest we have, and they come in many forms. While often scary, they are also inherently sad, depicting a spirit tied to this realm and unable to move on to a peaceful afterlife, usually due to some trauma.
Martyr’s Lane is one of these films. Told from a child’s point of view and full of both dread and melancholy.
Crime films are a fun genre, and within that genre live some of the best character pieces ever made. Writer and director John Swab clearly knows this, as his film is made up of references to lots of other films in the genre, and while two good performances save this movie, there’s not much here you won’t have seen before.
2021 is turning out to be a big year for Sera-Lys McArthur. The alum of series such as Arctic Air and Burden of Truth is starring in two films at Fantasia Fest this year, a short (which she also produced) called Kwêskosîw (She Whistles) and the feature film Don’t Say Its Name, a horror film which had its world premiere this week at the festival.
I sat down with Sera-Lys on zoom this week to discuss both films and the state of indigenous filmmaking in Canada. I hope you enjoy it.
It begins with a hit and run. A young woman walking home alone at night, on the phone with her mother, is run down by a pickup truck. It growls like a wild animal as it races toward her, and it ends her life viciously. This is the opening scene to Don’t Say Its Name, the new film by director Rueben Martell, and the beginning of a story of blood and vengeance on a first nations reserve.
Earlier this week I was able to watch and review a number of short films, including Kwêskosîw (She Whistles), a story with a supernatural twist from Indigenous filmmaker Thirza Cuthand. I was able to speak with Thirza about the film as well, and here is the conversation I had with them. I hope you enjoy it!
Time loops are one of the most well-worn tropes in cinema today. From Groundhog Day to Palm Springs, the key to making it work is a unique twist. This is exactly what Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes has going for it, a story in which a cafe owner inadvertently ends up with a viewport to the future.
As we’ve previously established, Nicolas Cage is one of our most idiosyncratic performers and one of our last true movie stars. Sion Sono is a Japanese filmmaker known for his subversive and idiosyncratic sensibilities. So what do you get when these two meet? A bonkers film, that’s what.
We all go to film festivals for the exciting new features, but they’re also a showcase for short films. This year’s Fantasia Festival is no different, so here are five short films I’ve watched as part of the festival.
Grief and guilt are often intertwined but not necessarily in the ways we expect. In The Righteous, the first feature from Canadian actor and now writer and director Mark O’Brien, guilt is met with a crisis of faith, and the results are dire.