Fantasia 2022 ‘BORN OF WOMAN’ rules supreme, again.

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BORN OF WOMAN (2022)

born-of-woman-2023

One of the best shorts collections at the Fantasia International Film Festival is the annual Born Of Woman program. This year’s selections ran to a sold-out audience. The Born Of Woman selection is special because the films are bold genre stories created exclusively by female filmmakers. 2022’s iteration saw nine films from five countries and every single one blew me away. Each year, this is my personal favorite program. The films are fresh, vibrant, scary, relatable, and wildly intriguing.

Lily’s Mirror

A shocking opening leads to one of the sharpest takedowns of the patriarchy I’ve seen in quite some time. Lily receives a therapeutic mirror allowing her to take back the power so freely stolen by men. The depiction of the erasure of women is a comic and creative chef’s kiss. I didn’t think it was possible to make misogyny funny, but the script is carefully crafted. I found myself nodding, laughing, and exclaiming, “This is sheer perfection.” Highlighting women going to bat for other women and the fragility of the white man, Lily’s Mirror could easily be an entire series or feature film. This type of short drives audiences wild, and Fantasia 2022 knew what they were doing programming this film. A slow, celebratory clap for everyone involved. 

Everybody Goes to The Hospital

Everybody Goes to the HospitalThis haunting stop-motion animation speaks to the often barbaric side of medicine. Fear, misogyny, and the medical staff’s good complex are all in full view. While the story occurred in the 60s, its relevance does not wane. Writer-director Tiffany Kimmel does an excellent job capturing the terror of a child that undoubtedly attached itself to adulthood. The narration from Lucia Hadley Wheeler hits you square in the heart. The short was surprisingly personal for me. When I was 20, doctors at Saint Luke’s Roosevelt subjected me to a battery of invasive tests, unconvinced that I was a virgin. What I knew was appendicitis was treated as an STD. After 12 hrs and an emergency surgery later, my medical gaslighting experience still haunts me. Fantastic 2022 audiences will watch in awe of the artistry and storytelling style. Everybody Goes To The Hospital will make your blood run cold.

Wild Card

Writer-director Tipper Newton gives us a glorious, tongue-in-cheek, neo-noir throwback. Daniel makes a dating tape, and his first date brings nothing but good trouble. I’m not sure if Wild Card was shot on 16mm, but the combination of costumes, sets, and score gives the film’s overall aesthetic an era legit look. Fantasia 2022 viewers got an excellent treatment in Wild Card. When the credits rolled, I was left wanting to know what happened to Daniel. I needed to know what happened to Daniel! Billy Flynn and Newton give great performances. I cannot stress how perfect they are for these roles. The subtle nuance between them walks a fine line between serious and absurd. Overall, I’m beyond thrilled to follow Wild Card‘s journey.

Punch Drunk

A young woman recovering from surgery works the night shift as a bartender and contends with the memories of her surroundings. Horror doesn’t have to be a creature feature in the traditional sense. Punch Drunk is a creative declaration of power. Writers Cason Weiss and Emily Lerer (who also directs) bring a uniquely intimate short to Fantasia 2022. Danielle Argyros is stunning in the lead role. I would love to see this developed into something bigger. It has endless potential. Punch Drunk is a bold, fearless, funny, and relatable look at the trauma that sent a shiver down my spine. 

Stained Skin

A mesmerizing juxtaposition of live action and 2D animation, Stained Skin uses fable storytelling to ease the reality of women stuck in an endless work cycle. Attempting to combat their sadness, the story passes from Samy to Alba as a coping mechanism. As screenwriter Mirjam Khera’s narrative grows, so too does their sense of hope. Marisa Wojtkowiak and Safinaz Sattar are captivating in the eight minutes they share alongside beautifully drawn images from Andrei Ebîncā. Directors Adam Graf and Mandy Peterat understand the balance of dark and light. It’s films like these that bring Fantasia audiences to Born of Woman. Stained Skin is a gorgeous addition to 2022.

The Anteroom

Writer-director Elisa Puerto Aubel gives Fantasia 2022 audiences a heart-stopping short. In the near future, a refugee and her infant daughter must negotiate with a customs AI. As the seconds dwindle toward one of two options, tension is palpable. The sparse and ominous set adds to the suffocating feeling, and the desperation in actress Irene Anula’s voice against the callous echoes of the machine will take your breath away. 

Daughters of Witches

A young mother brings her baby Iris to participate in a traditional ritual. Generations of women trek into the forest, but Clara is unsettled and guilt-ridden, having missed her grandmother’s recent passing. Written by Karen Acosta, Naria Muñoz, and director Faride Schroeder, Daughters of Witches is another excellent example of the intrigue a short can generate. As night breaks into dawn and Clara finds Iris crying in another location, the final reveal left me emotionally invested in each character of this family lineage. Starring Yalitza Aparicio (ROMA), Daughters of Witches builds an engrossing world in ten minutes. 

Don’t Go Where I Can’t Find You

This intoxicating short film from writer-director Rioghnach Ni Ghrioghair teases every one of your senses. Margaret has lost her lover Freya to something she believed was haunting them inside the walls of their expansive Victorian mansion. Capturing Freya’s presence becomes an obsession, compromising her relationships with the living and the dead. Garrett Sholdice and Benedict Schlepper-Connolly’s score becomes a plot point. Truthfully, the sound design from Garret Farrell is one of the most impactful aspects of the story. The film’s audio consumes the viewer, placing them in the stranglehold of grief. Fantasia 2022 audiences will undoubtedly fall in love with this film, from its costumes to Allyn Quigley’s editing. It’s nothing short of sumptuous. 

Kin

Striking cinematography by Marc Patterson and a dissonant score from Jonathan Keith set the scene for director Sarah Gross’ Fantasia 2022 short film Kin. Three siblings must survive the western plains on their own. Eldest sister Ida takes the familial reigns to protect everyone. Madison Tebbutt’s screenplay subverts expectations bringing us an unusual creature feature that twists and turns from beginning to end. The final shot made me shudder.

 

More Fantasia coverage can be found here 🙂

The biting brilliance in ‘BORN OF WOMAN’ wows again.(Fantasia 2023)

Fantasia Festival 2023 logo

BORN OF WOMAN

Born of Woman 2023 banner

Fantasia’s top-tier showcase of intimate auteur genre visions returns with eight works from six countries that will leave you shaken and amazed. 


Sayani

A crashed pilot seeks a way out of her unfamiliar and harsh surroundings. As her hopes of rescue fade, memories become her saving grace and doom. This beautifully lit short takes advantage of its pace. A final reveal shocks.


Se Dit D’un Cerf Qui Quitte Son (Said of a Deer That Sheds Its Antlers)

A black comedy version of The Lottery, this film kills off its eldest family members, and everyone is cool with it. This laugh-out-loud absurdist short had me grinning uncontrollably. Salomé Crickx has a real winner here.


Only Yourself To Blame

In a sharp look at rape trauma and its eternal demons, filmmaker Noomi Yates‘ 8-minute short creates a powerful statement that speaks volumes.



Sweet Tooth poster 2023Les Dents Du Bonheur (Sweet Tooth)

What begins as a bring your daughter to work story quickly spirals to a darkly absurdist commentary on class. The production design and cinematography have you believe this short is a timeless French narrative drama. Director Joséphibe Darcy Hopkins takes us down the rabbit hole of deranged power structure, revenge, and respect.


The Taster

A near-future scenario plays the backdrop for director Sophia Bierend‘s Fantasia short. A young woman becomes the official taster for a high-ranking general. Learning about the recent demise of her predecessor, her insight into the fearmongering of her new environment grows clearer. Mandy Peterat‘s production design is top-notch. THE TASTER is one hell of a treatment for a feature. It screams franchise development.


Madeline Brewer in PRUNING
PRUNING


Nian

Racism and folklore come together for a sweet tongue-in-cheek revenge tale from Michelle Krusiec. It is a satisfyingly smirk-inducing addition to the program.


Mancha

Writer-director Nicole Mejia‘s visual metaphor for generational trauma comes to life through a beautiful combination of Seth Macmillian’s camerawork, Alain Emile’s music, and performances. Its inevitability haunts you.


For all other Fantasia coverage, click here!

 

You can find 2024’s Fantasia BORN OF WOMAN lineup right here

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Fantasia International Film Festival 2020 is here!!!

If you did not sing the title of this article, then shame, shame, I know your name. It is no secret that Fantasia International Film Festival is my favorite of the entire year. While this year the fest is strictly virtual (because that’s the responsible thing to do), there are a plethora of amazing films to check out from the comfort of your own couch. Fantasia is always a sure bet for the films that will be talked about nonstop all year. Since we’re all stuck inside we might as well escape the scary reality with some scary unreality. Throw in the weird and wonderful and you’ve got yourself an annual good time.

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Here are just a few titles that should pique your interest, people.

MORGANA

How does one woman go from lonely housewife to Feminist pornstar? Morgana is an extraordinary documentary about sex positivity, self-worth, mental illness, and new beginnings. Stunningly visual and creatively edited, Morgana will knock your socks off… and maybe more. *Wink, wink. You can find our coverage of the film here.

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MINOR PREMISE

Attempting to surpass his father’s legacy, a reclusive neuroscientist becomes entangled in his own experiment, pitting ten fragments of his consciousness against each other.

 

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THE BLOCK ISLAND SOUND

Something terrifying is happening off the coast of Block Island. A strange force is thriving, influencing residents and wildlife alike. Birds are dropping out of the sky. Some people have been dropping too, into inexplicable emotional collapse. Harry Lynch (Chris Sheffield, THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT) has always been a bit of an outsider in town. Now, he watches in dread as his father (Neville Archambault, 13 CAMERAS) grows increasingly forgetful and confused. And angry. Very, very angry. His sister Audry (Michaela McManus, THE VILLAGE), whose work in marine biology will soon prove invaluable, returns to town with her daughter and immediately sees what Harry sees. Her explorations into the increasingly grisly wildlife phenomena intersect with the triggers of her father’s actions, leading them all towards chilling revelations that no one is prepared for. Revelations that will affect her family in unimaginable ways.

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BLEED WITH ME

With BLEED WITH ME, her feature debut, director Amelia Moses invites us on an intimate cabin trip where boundaries and relationships collapse. Rowan (Lee Marshall), a shy and awkward young woman, struggles to integrate herself on a weekend getaway with her best friend, Emily (Lauren Beatty) and her unfriendly boyfriend, Brendan (Aris Tyros). Feeling like a third wheel, she drinks to calm her nerves, pushing her body and mind deep into a hazy trance, where she begins to witness nightmarish late-night visions that make her feel increasingly unwelcome, unsure and unstable. A slow-burn thriller with arresting visuals, BLEED WITH ME, captures a vulnerability and discomfort as it explores issues related to self-harm and social isolation. Set against a wintry backdrop, BLEED WITH ME uses the limits of a small budget to its full potential.

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YUMMY

The young woman wants a breast reduction. … Wandering through an abandoned ward the boyfriend stumbles upon a young woman, gagged and strapped to an operating table; she is the result of an experimental rejuvenation treatment.

 

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THE MORTUARY COLLECTION

A kid is being interviewed for a job at the local mortician’s office and is asked to tell his scariest stories. What results is a collection of 4 of the scariest stories ever told spanning into 4 decades starting from the 50s to the 80s.

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LUCKY

Luck doesn’t seem to be with self-help author May Ryer (Brea Grant) lately. Her books aren’t selling like they used to, and one night, a masked intruder breaks into the house she shares with her husband Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh). To make matters worse, Ted seems strangely unconcerned about the incident, talking about it in matter-of-fact terms as if it’s just something to be accepted, and an investigating cop actually says they’re lucky things didn’t go worse. Then things do become worse as the attacker appears again… and again… and again, continuing to terrorize May no matter how valiantly she fights back. He seems to have supernatural properties, and when May seeks help, she’s met with indifference and condescension. One of her books is called Problem Solving for Staying Alive, and now she’s faced with a dilemma that seems to have no solution, and that may indeed claim her life.

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Shorts Programs

Do not miss out on the amazing short film programs. I am always partial to the Born Of Woman section, myself.

 

Fantasia 2020 officially opened last night.
You can purchase tickets and check out the amazing lineup of films and events at https://fantasiafestival.com/en/

 

 

Fantasia International Film Festival 2018 starts this week! Here are 10 films that are getting us excited.

The Fantasia International Film Festival officially begins in two days. If you don’t already know about the fest, you are in for a cavalcade of horror, sci-fi, action and the out of this world twisted with the strange and unusual. How’s that for a description? Some of last year’s hits include LowlifeThe EndlessMohawkGood TimeSpoor, and Mayhem to name a few. If you haven’t seen any of these yet, do yourself a huge favor and seek them out. 2018’s lineup is no exception with films like Under The Silver Lake from David Robert Mitchell, which takes us into a neo-noir surreal romp and a complete 180 from It Follows. Nicholas Cage stars in Mandy, already being touted as a genre-bending blood fest of epic proportions. Hint, it’s already sold out. Let us not forget the enormously popular Fantasia Shorts Program. One, in particular, that was phenomenal last year was the Born of Woman section. As the title might suggest, these are shorts made exclusively by female filmmakers. They were as disturbing as they were profound and they are not to be missed. Fantasia has something for everyone. Cinephiles easily plan their year around this one festival and we don’t blame them. Here are a few titles we are stoked to check out over the next few weeks.
​​Blue My Mind
Blue. Of the bewildered spirit intermediating between child and sea. Blue is the colour of Mia (Luna Wedler), 15 years old, newly arrived in a town that looks like all the others. Breaking away from the sterile environment provided by her parents, she is drawn to the pack of popular kids, the ones who smoke, shoplift, mess around. Mia has everything, yet she suffocates. Then comes an odd thirst, an irresistible instinct that has her reaching out for air where there is none. In her head are the turbulent sounds of crashing water against the pebble beach. In her tortured flesh, the alienation of nature, the terrifying and unstoppable transformation of her body conflicting with the need for stillness, to press pause on the perfect breath.
Heavy Trip
Life has its downsides in a small, northern Finnish town. The local bros give long-haired, leather-clad Turo a tough time, and his job at the mental hospital is literally shitty. His crush on Miia at the flower shop is thwarted by the tacky lounge singer Jouni, and his band jams in the back of a reindeer slaughterhouse. In the plus column for Turo, well… there’s the band, even if these black-metal true-believers have never gigged in all their 12 years together (Turo’s concealed but crippling stage fright hasn’t helped). A miraculous crack at a major metal festival in Norway jumpstarts the quartet’s dreams, and Impaled Rektum set out on a metallic mission that will make them confront not only doubts, detours and difficulties, but also Vikings in longships (plus an elf), graverobbing, Swedish rocket launchers and wolverine-wrestling (dangerous… and awkward!).
Cold Skin
In the early years of the 20th century, a young man (David Oakes) takes over the responsibility of surveying the weather of a secluded island in the Antarctic. Hoping for isolation and time for self-reflection, he instead finds a crazed and weathered person named Gruner, played by genre favourite Ray Stevenson (DEXTERTHORDIVERGENT). Gruner quickly reveals that there is more to this island than meets the eye and that below the icy depths, a terrible scourge lurks. The extent of Gruner’s madness slowly becomes more and more pronounced as his bloodlust for the creatures becomes apparent. Struggling for survival, the surveyor must choose between a madman and a legion of creatures he does not fully understand.
Tokyo Vampire Hotel

Set in 2021 as the Dracula family and another family of vampires, the Corvins, prepare for the end of the world by getting into a massive rumble.

The Draculas wear billowy pirate blouses, are scared of crucifixes, and have retreated into an interdimensional salt mine beneath Transylvania. The Corvins are pop-idol hot and have retreated into a posh hotel located inside the interdimensional vagina of their leader. There, theyve invited a herd of humans they’ll force to breed at a “Special Coupling Party” to ensure an endless future supply of blood. Enter Manami (Ami Tomite), a girl looking to fit in someplace, who has special vampire blood, and suddenly everyone wants to shoot each other in the face to stash her in their apocalypse bunker first.

Tales from the Hood 2
Horror is back in the hood! The sequel to the groundbreaking original film TALES FROM THE HOOD reunites executive producer Spike Lee (Honorary Academy Award® winner) and writers/directors/producers Rusty Cundieff and Darin Scott for an all-new gripping, horrifying and oftentimes devilishly comical anthology. Keith David stars as a contemporary Mr. Simms to tell bloodcurdling stories about lust, greed, pride, and politics through tales with demonic dolls, possessed psychics, vengeful vixens, and historical ghosts. Mr. Simms’s haunting stories will make you laugh… while you scream.
Mega Time Squad
Johnny (Anton Tennet) lives an underwhelming life. He is a low-level drug dealer in Thames, New Zealand, he lives in his mother’s garage, his time is spent with a blundering friend Gaz (Arlo Gibson) at the local bowling alley and doing petty errands for the local kingpin Shelton (Johnny Brugh of WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS) and his henchmen (including Milo Cawthrone of DEATHGASM and ASH VS. EVIL DEAD). When a once-in-a-lifetime chance at a big score reveals itself, Johnny finds himself wondering, “Do I have what it takes to pull off a caper?” He quickly realizes no, he doesn’t. That is, not until he stumbles upon an ancient relic that allows him to travel across time. With the power to bend time in Johnny’s hands, a hodgepodge of hilarity ensues and the “bogans” (Kiwi for loser) sets his sights once again on the wealth just beyond his grasp. However, what are the consequences of this temporal insanity, and does Johnny have what it takes to face off against Shelton and his henchmen?
Nightmare Cinema
At a forgotten, haunted bijou, a group of strangers have assembled to watch a series of macabre vignettes unspooled by the mysterious Projectionist (Mickey Rourke). Like the best anthology films (DEAD OF NIGHTCREEPSHOWTRICK ‘R TREAT), the stories’ tones range from truly deep, dark, psychological, demented horror to ones with a lighter, satirical spin. Witness a ghost story that will chill you to the bone; an exorcism story guaranteed to make your head spin; a B&W descent into clinical madness; a plastic surgery gone horrifyingly awry; and a cabin-in-the-woods slasher ditty with a unique twist you’ll never see coming.
A Rough Draft
Over a mere handful of hours, successful Moscow video-game designer Kirill has watched his life vanish. There is no longer any official record of his existence. His colleagues, his loved ones, even his dog no longer recognize him. Homeless, heartbroken, battered and framed for murder, Kirill is at the mercy of a mysterious cabal, and they have a new life planned for him. He is now to reside in a dismal old tower near the Kremlin, and there he will serve as an interdimensional gatekeeper, opening the doors to a myriad of possible Moscows that could have been, would have been? or should never have been. Kirill discovers that he now has the power to manipulate the material world around him. But who is manipulating Kirill?
The Night Eats The World
Sam (Anders Danielsen Lie) is not legend, though he may be the last man on earth. After falling asleep in a back room of his ex-girlfriend’s apartment, he wakes up to discover that the world, or at least Paris, has been overrun by a zombified populace. Barricading himself inside the building, he faces life as the sole survivor of the plague, gathering the supplies he can as the ghouls stagger and slaver outside. He can sustain his body, but can he sustain his mind as the days alone in a world gone to hell stretch out endlessly before him? He finds “companionship” and a sounding board in a zombie (Denis Lavant) trapped in an elevator, while facing an existential crisis: “Being dead is the norm now. I’m the one who’s not normal.”
Summer of ’84
“The suburbs are where the craziest shit happens,” 15-year-old Davey Armstrong (Graham Verchere) tells us at the beginning of SUMMER OF ’84,, and he should know. It’s June of the eponymous year in Ipswich, Oregon, and Davey is spending his days and nights hanging out, talking about sex and the finer points of STAR WARS sequels, and playing “manhunt” with best friends Eats (Judah Lewis), Woody (Caleb Emery) and Curtis (Cory Gruter-Andrew). The innocent fun ends when Davey begins to suspect that his next-door neighbour, outwardly friendly cop Wayne Mackey (Rich Sommer), is the Cape May Slayer who has been preying on kids his age in the area. Davey recruits his pals to help investigate and expose Mackey, initiating an adventure that threatens to turn dangerous and deadly for the boys at any moment.

We could keep naming films but that would be a bit overkill, don’t you think? But seriously, see whatever you can. We’ll be bringing you reviews of everything we’re able to catch. You can find out more info about the full program and tickets at fantasiafestival.com
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The Fantasia International Film Festival, North America’s largest and longest-running genre film fest, will be celebrating its 22nd year in Montreal this summer, taking place from July 12 through August 2.