10 Films To See At Fantasia Festival 2021

Celebrating its 25th year, The Fantasia Film Festival will return from 5th August, running until the 25th August. While last year offered a wholly virtual experience, this year's festival will mix both in-person screenings and a digital platform. As a preview, here are 10 of my choices for films worth seeing at this year's festival.

1. Alien On Stage (Quebec Premiere)

A charming documentary following a merry bunch of Dorset bus drivers, who put on a homemade stage play of Ridley Scott's classic, Alien. Having viewed this at last year's Frightfest Film Festival, I can thoroughly recommend seeking out this joyous love-letter to DIY productions.

2. Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes (North American Premiere)

Living above the café he owns, Kato (Kazunori Tosa) feels his life isn't moving forward until somebody starts talking to him on his computer screen. The person talking is Kato from two minutes in the future, having stumbled upon a very limited time loop. As he draws in his friends and co-workers, they all have a blast while trying to profit from their two-minute insight into the future. Shot on an iPhone and presented as one-take, this inventive concoction is a must see.

3. Broadcast Signal Intrusion (Canadian Premiere)

Chicago, 1999. James (Harry Shum Jr.) is archiving tapes of old TV broadcasts when he stumbles upon an unnerving clip of a masked figure. Discovering this is just one of several "intrusions", he becomes driven to solve this mystery, potentially at the expense of his own sanity. A compelling premise combined with the talented work of FX guru Dan Martin (Possessor, Colour Out of Space) sounds promising.

4. The Devil's Deal (World Premiere)

Busan, 1992 - the city prepares for the next election. After 20 years of dedicating his life to politics, a congressional candidate is greatly confident with his campaign, but a visit from debt collectors changes all that. He's been ousted from the party, thanks to an influential businessman choosing an obedient successor. The humiliated congressman decides to run as an independent, enlisting the support of organized crime with secret information. Deeply in debt, he must win this election to stay alive, but his opponents are much more powerful. After directing the terrific The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil, Lee Won-tae's follow-up is highly anticipated.

5. Glasshouse (World Premiere)

To protect the occupants from a dementia-inducing toxin, the titular glass structure is completely sealed off from the outside world, holding within a mother and her three daughters. They each have responsibilities, including sentry duty, harvesting the crops, and the elder sisters tending to their previously exposed brother. When the rules are broken and an injured stranger is granted access, the dynamic of this sheltered family is forever shattered. A dystopian fairy-tail which brings to mind The Beguiled, it piques the interest.

6. King Knight (World Premiere)

Living the dream, Thorn (Matthew Gray Gubler) is the revered high priest of a modern-day Californian coven. When his wife discovers a deep-seated secret from his past, Thorn sets out on a soul-searching journey back to his hometown. After his exceptional work with Excision, Richard Bates Jr returns with another feature which hopes to be just as off-the-wall, humorous, and lasting in the mind.

7. Martyrs Lane (World Premiere)

Living with her family in a vicarage, young Leah (Kiera Thompson) is often awoken by her mother's screams, echoes of unspoken traumas which still reside within. One night, a ghostly child appears at her window, fragile and with feathered wings. They form a friendship over regular visits, and a game begins where Leah is given a nightly task, each one making her understand her mother a bit more. A ghost-story told through a child's eyes, what promises to be a heart-breaking fairy-tale could become a standout entry.

8. Opération Luchador (North American Premiere)

Think you know everything about World War II? Alain Vézina humorously says otherwise, with a mockumentary which blends Luchadores and Nazis. Such revelations within include 1940s Mexico being the home of the Eagle of the Reich, a famous fascist masked wrestler, and the American intelligence service recruiting masked wrestler, The Golden Angel, to infiltrate the ranks of the Führer. With such promises, this will hopefully be an outlandish and hilarious alternative history.

9. The Sadness (North American Premiere)

Fantasia has advised this film warrants all of the trigger warnings. Approach with caution.

Occurring in an alternate Taiwan, a rapidly spreading pandemic ignored by the government has mutated into a rabies-like affliction. The infected find themselves driven to enact their cruellest impulses, as the streets erupt in a sea of violence and depravity, where everything becomes a weapon or an orifice. In the midst of this escalating nightmare, a young couple tries to reunite amongst the chaos. Described as a return to the sensibilities of Hong Kong's Category III films, this sounds like a grisly feature which isn't messing about.

10. We're All Going To The World's Fair (Canadian Premiere)

In a typical American suburb, lonely teen Casey stares at her computer screen. She's decided to take the World's Fair challenge, a worrisome ritual at once banal and bizarre. Documenting every step of this viral challenge, Casey finds her body and mind are being taken hold of. A mixture of coming-of-age tale, found-footage horror, and amateur YouTube videos, this promises to be a quietly devastating look at loneliness.

Fantasia 2021 runs from August 5th to August 25th, tickets are on sale now.