The Fantasia International Film Festival will celebrate its 25th anniversary as almost a month-long virtual event composed of scheduled screenings, on-demand library, panels, and workshops, taking place from August 5 to August 25, 2021. The festival will be accessible across Canada - unfortunately geo-locked to the country. 

As part of its 25th anniversary celebration, the international film festival will be hosting a special event screening of the eagerly awaited Warner Bros. Pictures superhero action adventure THE SUICIDE SQUAD. The film will be in-person screening on August 4,2021 at Montreal’s historic Imperial Theater (birthplace of Fantasia) and tickets will be available to the public. The film releases in theaters two days later on August 6.

THE SUICIDE SQUAD is written and directed by long-time Fantasia friend James Gunn, who first attended the fest in 1997 and whose previous comic book blockbuster GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY made its Canadian Premiere at Fantasia in 2014.

On August 5, Fantasia will officially open with the world premiere of previously announced Québec production, Julien Knafo’s BRAIN FREEZE. The full details on other films below:


Makoto Kashiba, a dramatically introverted Tokyo elite bank clerk gets transferred to the middle of nowhere after impulsively insulting his boss in Yukinori Makabe's (I AM MONK) heartwarming and colorful J-pop musical manga adaption LOVE, LIFE AND GOLDFISH. The film follows as Makoto must learn to express himself in other ways to prevent future outbursts, and becomes a beautiful reminder of the importance of freeing ourselves from self-imposed barriers. This feature will surely leave an uncontrollable smile on your face. INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE.


In this haunting and poignant ghost story from British writer/director Ruth Platt (THE LESSON, THE BLACK FOREST), ten-year-old Leah (Kiera Thompson) lives in a large vicarage, full of lost souls and the needy. In the day the house is bustling with people; at night it is dark, empty, a space for Leah's nightmares to creep into. A small, nightly visitor (Sienna Sayer) brings her comfort, but soon she will realise that her little visitor offers knowledge that might be very, very dangerous. Tragic and unsettling with phenomenal performances and bottomless otherworldly atmosphere, MARTYRS LANE is a stunning, eerie triumph of a film. Co-starring Denise Gough (MONDAY) and Steven Cree (OUTLANDER). WORLD PREMIERE. 


Adapted from the picturebook by popular Japanese comedian Akihiro Nishino, POUPELLE OF CHIMNEY TOWN, the official closing film at IFFR this year, is a heartfelt rollercoaster ride through a nonstop cavalcade of eye-popping animated visual delights. Nishino’s tale – the celestial quest of a boy and his friend, a man made of garbage – is brought to life by veteran CG animator Yusuke Hirota and the cutting-edge talent at STUDIO4ºC (TEKKON KINKREET, MIND GAME, CHILDREN OF THE SEA). NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE. 


Following the wondrous, well-received CHILDREN OF THE SEA (2019), director Ayumu Watanabe returns with a quirky, candid, colourful anime comedy-drama. Based on a book by author Kanako Nishi, an astute observer of the human condition, FORTUNE FAVORS LADY NIKUKO demonstrates with precision and panache how the most ordinary people and places can be quite extraordinary! NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.  


Spiraling paranoia and gut-wrenching dread tear through #BLUE_WHALE, the feature debut from Russian writer/director Anna Zaytseva, whose shorts have won no less than 16 awards on the festival circuit. A provincial town is shaken by a wave of mysterious teen suicides. Researching the death of her younger sister, schoolgirl Dana (Anna Potebnya) comes across a sickening social media game that encourages youths to take horrific self-harm challenges. Aiming to hunt down those responsible for her sister’s death, she registers for the game, opening a doorway into the cruelest of hidden online worlds. Co-produced by Timur Bekmambetov and shot in the Screenlife storytelling format that he pioneered, #BLUE_WHALE taps into something insightfully disturbing about the ways that teens can find themselves manipulated online. WORLD PREMIERE.  


Few are left standing in YAKUZA PRINCESS, a stylish and violent action thriller starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers (VIKINGS) and Japanese American singer Masumi (POSSE). Directed by Vicente Amorim (MOTORRAD, GOOD) and adapted from Danilo Beyruth’s graphic novel Shiro, the film unfolds in the expansive Japanese community of Sao Paulo in Brazil and follows Akemi (Masumi), an orphan who discovers she is the heiress to half of the Yakuza crime syndicate. After forging an uneasy alliance with an amnesiac stranger (Meyers) the two must unleash war against the other half of the gang who wants her dead. Co-starring Tsuyoshi Ihara (LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA), Toshiji Takeshima (S.W.A.T.), and Eijiro Ozaki (THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE). WORLD PREMIERE. 


Barefoot (Marika Ito) is a consummate cinephile who dreams of making her own movies. When her high school club proves uninterested in samurai films, she pushes through the saccharine consensus, sword in hand, for a shoot far stranger than she bargained for. Soushi Matsumoto’s joyful debut IT’S A SUMMER FILM is, as the name suggests, the film of the summer– a pitcher-sized blend of high-spirited, high-school idealism with a sprinkling of genre delights: from the luminous tropes of the high school coming-of-age, to the nostalgic throwback of chambara, to the more unexpected detours into the realm of science-fiction. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE. 


Gloria (Stefania Tortorella) needs an orgasm. When was the last time she had one? She doesn’t know if she’s ever had one. So begins Marcela Matta and Mauro Sarser’s sophomore feature, following 2016’s LOS MODERNOS, GHOSTING GLORIA, a charming and surprising genre-bender that switches between horror, fantasy, and offbeat comedy — all wrapped up in a whimsical and subversive romance. Gloria’s orgasm issue is easily solved when she finds the right man. There is just one issue: he’s a ghost. What brings real spark is the film’s sex-positive spin on the theme of finding Mr. Right, its boisterous moments of mindblowing (sometimes wholly inappropriate) erotic comedy, and Gloria’s rich, wider world. If you ever wanted to know what something like TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN! would look like if it was crossed with THE ENTITY, here is the place to find out. WORLD PREMIERE. 


Two anonymous crime-scene cleaners working for different gangs are assigned an unprecedented task that thrusts them both on a descent into hell: they must kidnap a child. With VOICE OF SILENCE, director and screenwriter Hong Eui-jeong delivers a hard-hitting, masterful, debut feature that has garnered critical and audience acclaim, including prestigious awards in her homeland. This is a daring thriller with a compelling story starring Yoo Ah-in (#ALIVE), one of South Korea's biggest stars, who delivers one of his best performances in a silent role. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.


Workplace drama goes too far in Kazuaki Seki’s JIGOKU-NO-HANAZONO ~ OFFICE ROYALE ~! where brutal gang wars are waged right next to the photocopier and on their lunch breaks. Screenwriter Bakarhythm delivers an engaging and smart story with hilarious meta narration that winks to manga conventions as comic-book battles roll out one after another. CANADIAN PREMIERE.


A keen absurdist sense of humour meets a wonderfully inventive production design in HOTEL POSEIDON, a Belgian feature debut from future cult favourite Stefan Lernous. The film unfolds in a giant rotting hotel as a series of tableaus and vignettes, its unique production design bolstered by an incredible soundscape and otherworldly camera movements. Deliciously nauseating and singular in tone and artistry, HOTEL POSEIDON stands among titans as a debut that seemingly emerged straight from the gooey mercurial swamplands where life on earth first appeared. With hints of David Lynch (especially his work as a painter) and flourishes reminiscent of the Brothers Quay, this is the kind of remarkable and iconoclastic vision that only arrives once in a blue moon. INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE.


Adapted from Kanako Nishi’s novel of the same name, SAKURA is a charming family chronicle with a nostalgic flavour, where the current narrative is regularly punctuated by flashbacks illustrating the childhood and adolescence of its characters. Directed with great tenderness and sensitivity by Hitoshi Yazaki (SWEET LITTLE LIES), it includes touches of humour, powerful melodramatic moments, and an adorable dog who keeps this dysfunctional family unit together. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE. 


Congratulations! You have been chosen from hundreds of millions of candidates to be the very first spectators to witness the debut feature from Canadian filmmaker Maxwell McCabe-Lokos, following his acclaimed shorts APE SODOM (2016) and MIDNIGHT CONFESSION (2017). In STANLEYVILLE, disillusioned office drone Maria Barbizan (Susanne Wuest, GOODNIGHT MOMMY) decides one day to do what we all dream of; she throws her purse and life away and joins an enigmatic contest to win a... car. A ‘competition to probe the very essence of mind-body articulation” lead by a curious host (Julian Richings, CUBE) in a mesmerizing puzzle à la Satre's No Exit that will keep you guessing until the very end. WORLD PREMIERE.


It has the body of a pig, the trunk of an elephant, the ears of a horse, and the feet of a rhinoceros, and at night it passes through sleeping villages and gobbles up people’s nightmares. When his family’s fishing boat is towed back into the village harbour without his father on it, eight-year-old Ah Keat seeks out the benevolent beast for help. Kethsvin Chee’s luminous, kind-hearted fantasy drama HELLO! TAPIR examines the realities of loss and grief through a lens tinted with magic and wonder. CANADIAN PREMIERE. 


After 15 years away, Song has returned home. Once the best student with his whole life radiantly ahead of him, he’s forced to leave town after accidentally killing a man in a fit of rage. Time passes, until his best friend, now a successful yet shady real-estate developer, becomes determined to upset the status quo. In BACK TO THE WHARF, festival favourite Li Xiaofeng (ASH) elevates the film noir with a superior script, tragic characters, and a sharp reflection on how China’s modernization can transform a family. CANADIAN PREMIERE.


In THE SLUG, Chun-hee (Kang Jin-ah, MICROHABITAT) has yet to come out of her shell. Struck by lightning, she begins manifesting her younger self (Park Hye-jin)– who awaits explanations for this sad state of affairs. Who do we become? Director Choi Jin-young spins a delightful fantasy yarn from this perennial question in a perceptive, structurally inventive character study that achieves– much like the lightning bolt at the heart of its plot– miracles within a simple framework. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.  


1987, in Alor Setar, at the foot of Mount Keriang in the Malaysian state of Kedah. Cheong, a devout believer in folk god Datuk, falls suddenly, violently ill. His wife Yan embarks on a journey to save his soul.  Based on the director’s lived childhood experience, Chong Keat Aun’s uncanny, autobiographical THE STORY OF SOUTHERN ISLET is a masterful, haunting debut, taking the viewer to the limits of the rational world. Winner of the Best New Director Award at the 57th Golden Horse Awards. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.


Not settling for public housing, Ah Been signs up to be a “Happiness Agent” at the TIONG BAHRU SOCIAL CLUB: an upstart, upscale housing estate running on a patented algorithm. “The happiest neighborhood in Singapore!” says the copy. A candy-colored satire of our increasingly Instagram-friendly, hyper-competitive social environments. A box-office success story in its local Singapore and a festival darling abroad, Tan Bee Thiam’s debut cuts through the grind, succeeding at being as fun as it is resonant. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.


“Casey here. Today I’m going to take the World’s Fair Challenge.” A lonely teen (Anna Cobb) stares at her computer screen, partaking in a viral game that soon takes hold of her increasingly dissociating mind. A disquieting take on the coming-of-age film, Jane Schoenbrun’s breakout Sundance hit WE’RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLD’S FAIR harnesses the potent aesthetics of found-footage horror and YouTube culture to craft a quietly devastating look at loneliness and despondency in the Internet age. CANADIAN PREMIERE. 



Winner of the Midnighter Audience Award at SXSW, Kier-La Janisse’s WOODLANDS DARK AND DAYS BEWITCHED: A HISTORY OF FOLK HORROR navigates through over 200 films and 50 interviewees, including Robert Eggers (THE VVITCH), Alice Lowe (PREVENGE), and Piers Haggard (BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW). Starting with British cult classics of the 70s, then travelling to all continents and beyond, and landing in our era alongside the films of Ari Aster and others. A groundbreaking, extensively researched work made over a span of many years, truly no stone is left unturned in this definitive documentary on the expansive genre of folk horror. CANADIAN PREMIERE.

“How do we make sense of things when we collapse the infinite fidelity of information down into pithy sentences laid over ominous imagery ?” asks filmmaker Hayley Garrigus, who, over the course of three years, from L.A. to the Nevada desert, took a deep dive into the many layers of our precarious belief system. In her debut “anti-documentary” Garrigus pushes the envelope, both stylistically and narratively, as she meets a multitude of enigmatic characters— pied pipers of the web, alt-right trolls, and “lightworkers”— who all believe themselves the new prophets of our time. YOU CAN’T KILL MEME is a pertinent depiction of humanity as we are forming new unstable myths. WORLD PREMIERE.



A love letter to the art and industry of filmmaking, Takayuki Hirao’s funny, fast-paced, and entirely sympathetic anime adaptation of the much-loved manga POMPO: THE CINÉPHILE is a convincing crash course on how movies get made, and what makes them work. It’s also an outstanding work of animation, using clever transitions and other tricks and techniques to make the most of the storytelling process. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.


Beginning with PERFECT BLUE and MILLENNIUM ACTRESS, which Fantasia world premiered in 1997 and 2001, respectively, the late director Satoshi Kon’s brief but monumental filmography proved a dramatic paradigm shift for Japanese anime, and indeed for world cinema. French documentarian Pascal-Alex Vincent unveils SATOSHI KON, THE ILLUSIONIST, a poignant, detailed portrait of this unique and transformative talent, after whom Fantasia named its prestigious animation award. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.


A painstaking labour of love from animator Morgan Galen King and filmmaker/comic scribe Philip Gelatt (featuring the voices of Richard E. Grant, Lucy Lawless, and Patton Oswalt), the rotoscoped epic THE SPINE OF NIGHT is no less than a new, essential, fully realized work in the canon of animated sword-and-sorcery adventure for adults, full of warriors, wizardry, elder gods and esoteric wisdom. CANADIAN PREMIERE.


Graphic novelist Dash Shaw’s debut animated feature, MY ENTIRE HIGH SCHOOL SINKING INTO THE SEA (2016), bore the hallmarks of a flourishing auteur. With CRYPTOZOO, Shaw paints a world in which cryptozookeepers strive to rescue creatures of legend and build a sanctuary for them. A melting pot of myths accompanied by strong social commentary. QUEBEC PREMIERE.


In 2017, Fantasia revealed to the world Takahide Hori’s one-man stop-motion project, the ambitious, existential, cyber-horror concoction JUNK HEAD. A surprise hit at the festival, it then vanished for five years. At last, this year, a tighter, meaner theatrical edit of JUNK HEAD has been produced, and Fantasia is proud to once again open this portal into Hori’s mind.

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