Fantasia highlights you won’t want to miss

We look at the pick of this year’s line-up

by Jennie Kermode

The 25th Fantasia International Film Festival opens this week, and there’s lots of great stuff to look forward to. We’ll be bringing you news, reviews and interviews with filmmakers and stars throughout. Today we’re looking at just five of the best feature-length films in the line-up. If you’re in Canada, catch them whilst you can. If not, keep your eyes open for them coming to a screen near you.

Glasshouse
Glasshouse

Glasshouse

At an indeterminate time in the future, when human civilisation has been shredded by a pandemic which destroys memories, a small family group holds out in a glasshouse. They see themselves as protectors of knowledge, of tradition, but everything is thrown into crisis when a stranger arrives. Kelsey Egan’s sweetly melancholic fable is subtle in the telling, its big dramatic notes disguising a host of smaller clues which tell a larger story. Its central theme is particularly resonant in the present age but there’s a lot more here besides as the carefully drawn characters explore – sometimes unknowingly – issues around identity and what it means to be human. Beautifully shot and scored, it’s a film you won’t forget.

Paul Dood's Deadly Lunch Break
Paul Dood's Deadly Lunch Break

Paul Dood's Deadly Lunch Break

Fortysomething charity shop worker Paul (Tom Meeten) lives quietly with his elderly mother, but where others might think life has passed him by, he’s still striving to achieve his dream – an all-singing, all-dancing dream of sequin-clad stardom. To get there, he plans to win a contest on talent app Trendladder. When the petty officiousness and cruelty of strangers makes him miss it, something snaps, and this mild-mannered man sets out in search of revenge. A comedy in the tradition of Four Lions and Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, this is beautifully observed and chock full of great supporting performances from the likes of Steve Oram, Mandeep Dhillon and Alice Lowe. Though occasionally gruesome, it’s full of heart, and you’ll want to watch it over and over again.

Woodlands Dark And Days Bewitched: A History Of Folk Horror
Woodlands Dark And Days Bewitched: A History Of Folk Horror

Woodlands Dark And Days Bewitched: A History Of Folk Horror

Where did the concept of folk horror originate? What does it mean and what does it encompass? Kier-La Janisse’s densely packed documentary cannot hope to cover everything, even at three hours, and it rejects reductive definitions at the outset, but it’s a marvellous guide for beginners to the subject and aficionados would be well advised to watch with a notebook in hand for jotting down the titles of everything they’ll want to find afterwards. Film clips and interviews – including archival ones with now deceased folk horror luminaries – are bound together with beautiful animated sequences which contribute to a sense of natural flow despite the scope of the project. It’s a masterclass in documentary work and set to become the go-to work on its subject.

Voice Of Silence
Voice Of Silence

Voice Of Silence

Tae-in (Yoo Ah-in) and Chang-bok (Yoo Jae-myung) have worked together for a long time, cleaning up crime scenes. Forget the impression you may have got from Pulp Fiction – this isn’t a glamorous job. Tae-in is deaf and has never had any support, so he lives in a shack with his little sister, struggling to make ends meet. One day, the two are asked to look after another young girl, Cho-hee (Moon Seung-ah), who is being held hostage until her father pays his debts. It’s the beginning of a relationship that will transform Tae-in’s life. Hong Eui-Jeong’s lyrical drama is by turns joyous and tragic. It goes to some very dark places but it’s the connection between the characters that makes it unforgettable.

The 12 Day Tale Of The Monster That Died In 8
The 12 Day Tale Of The Monster That Died In 8 Photo: Courtesy of Fantasia

The 12 Day Tale Of The Monster That Died In 8

It has killed over four million people to date and devastated the lives of many millions more. In anyone’s terms, Covid-19 is a monster. So if you’re a Japanese film star stuck in lockdown, how do you fight it? Shinji Higuchi co-wrote and stars in this largely Zoom-shot story of a man who buys kaiju eggs on the internet and lovingly raises tiny monsters in the hopes that one day they can take on the big one. Approached in an abstract way, mostly through conversation, it won’t satisfy those looking for giant kaiju battles but it’s an adept way of exploring the pandemic and what it has meant to people, as well as the importance of collective effort in working towards its eventual defeat.

Fantasia runs from 5 to 25 August.

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