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Fantasia Unveils All 2019 Films - Here are the Must Sees

Sadako

The 2019 edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival has now released its full lineup, featuring over 130 films from across the globe. This year the festival will host the world premieres of MYSTERY OF THE NIGHT, BLOOD ON HER NAME, STARE, 1BR, THE DEEPER YOU DIG, and HOMEWRECKER; the North American premieres of VIVARIUM, DREADOUT, and LES PARTICULES; the Canadian premieres of THE LODGE, PROMARE, ANOTHER CHILD, and SWALLOW; and Special advance screenings of READY OR NOT and A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND.

1. SADAKO

Hideo Nakata’s SADAKO (North American Premiere) is the latest in the RINGU series, which also marks the return of the director to his beloved franchise. 
2. PROMARE

Director Kazuki Nakashima and writer Hiroyuki Imaishi, who previously worked together on GURREN LAGANN and KILL LA KILL, are at the wheel for PROMARE (Canadian Premiere), the debut feature from edgy anime studio Trigger. A raging riot of bright colors, daring design, crazy characters, and whiplash action, this isn’t just the most thrilling anime of the year, it’s a genuine pop art masterpiece.

Preceding PROMARE is a special anime treasure - the World Premiere of Wit Studio’s short film THE GIRL FROM THE OTHER SIDE, the screen debut of manga artist Nagabe’s affecting gothic fairytale! 

3. MYSTERY OF THE NIGHT

Adolfo Alix Jr. (DARK IS THE NIGHT, MANILA, PORNO) is one of most prolific independent filmmakers of the Philippines, whose multi-genre films have graced the screens of Cannes TIFF, Rotterdam and Locarno. With MYSTERY OF THE NIGHT (World Premiere), he gleefully turns to horror with a strange, impactful, 1900s-set adaptation of Rody Vera’s play “The First Aswang”. Making great use of the classic folklore of the Aswang, Alix Jr. addresses the multi-generational horrors of Spanish colonial rule in a classic fairy tale retold with a dash of eroticism and the weird. This special, unforgettable film achieves a unique and strange aesthetic that builds to great hypnotic effect, sinking its claws into its audience, and dragging them further into the night.
4. VIVARIUM

Following an acclaimed launch in Critics Week at Cannes, Irish filmmaker Lorcan Finnegan’s VIVARIUM will be making its North American debut at Fantasia 2019. It tells the story of a young couple, played with charm by Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg, who check out a potential new home in a Kafkaesque suburbia, only to later discover that they’re unable to escape from the endless, empty residential neighbourhood. Featuring stellar supporting performances by Eanna Hardwicke and Jonathan Aris, this fascinating paranoid thriller is in the vein of the greatest Twilight Zone episodes: a tense science fiction fable that will imprison you in its otherworldly hold and never let go.
5. STARE

The dead are piling up at an alarming rate, and the state in which the victims are discovered is even more shocking. Everyone seems to have died from heart attacks, visibly provoked by extreme fear - and their eyes have literally exploded. Fans of RINGU’s Sadako and THE GRUDGE’s Kayako will be thrilled to experience STARE(World Premiere)… and meet Shirai-san, an unforgettable new Eastern apparition that will haunt festivalgoers’ nightmares forever. 2019 continues to deliver on cutting edge J-horror - and there is no doubt that director, screenwriter, and author Hirotaka Adachi’s STARE will be one of the year’s biggest highlights.
6. 1BR

The feature debut of writer/director David Marmor, 1BR (World Premiere) joins a very select group of quality horror films - including Polanski’s THE TENANT and Argento's INFERNO - to successfully explore the terrors of apartment living, but what sets this film apart is its plausibility. It would be running into spoiler territory to divulge more, except to say it's probably not a coincidence the story is set in Los Angeles, a city where unsuspecting people, looking to make a change, all too often have that change forced upon them against their will. Marmor's smart script and solid cast of mostly unknowns make 1BR one of Fantasia 2019's top discoveries.
7. A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND

Tense, well scripted, and terrifically performed, A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND (Special Advance Screening) is a compelling take on the tried-and-true “ordinary person caught in extraordinary circumstances” story. Repurposed through the prism of a vengeance thriller - and told through the perspective of a fiercely strong female lead (MAYAN MC’s Sarah Bolger) - it will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish, and deliver countless surprises along the way. The stylish sophomore feature of British filmmaker Abner Pastoll (ROAD GAMES) - and featuring a career-best performance from IFTA award-winning Bolger - the film (which co-stars Edward Hogg and Edward Simpson) takes hold with frighteningly desperate situations and unexpected bursts of violence.

8. ALMOST A MIRACLE

Fantasia favourite Yuya Ishii (THE TOKYO NIGHT SKY IS ALWAYS THE DENSEST SHADE OF BLUE) returns to Fantasia with ALMOST A MIRACLE (North American Premiere), a big-budget adaptation of Yuki Ando’s beloved manga. Nerdy Hajime Machida would be typical high-school student, were it not for an almost pathological condition that prompts him to constantly help everyone around him, often to his own detriment – an ailment that leads to a myriad of comedic complications. In keeping with his interest for loners, iconoclasts, and unique protagonists, director Ishii provides audiences with an empathetic and heartwarming portrait of an unlikely hero, in what is already one of the most crowd-pleasing and heart-warming films of the year.
9. THE FATHER’S SHADOW

After her first feature, FRIENDLY BEAST, a theatrical tale of blood, sex, and the battle between social classes which world-premiered at Fantasia 2017, Gabriela Amaral Almeida returns with a second, much darker film. THE FATHER’S SHADOW (North American Premiere) was a short film written and developed in 2014 through Sundance’s Director’s Lab program, which evolved into a feature. Inspired by virtually every great master of horror, and much like her zombie-obsessed young lead, Amaral uses her fantastic imagination and ability to create visceral, haunting images in order to express the anguish of Brazilian society in decline.
10. HOMEWRECKER

Michelle (Alex Essoe) meets Linda (Precious Chong) at a yoga class. Linda’s wide-eyed enthusiasm is clearly off-putting, but Michelle’s aversion to conflict makes it difficult for her to brush off the increasingly pushy woman. Things escalate once Linda asks Michelle to redecorate her home and refuses to let her leave. Written by director Zack Gayne and the film’s two stars, Chong and Essoe (who wowed audiences with her breakthrough performance in 2014’s STARRY EYES), HOMEWRECKER (World Premiere) embraces an unusual tone informed by late 1980s pop sensibilities. With the energy of a Jane Fonda workout tape, the movie escalates into the uncanny, especially as it deals with gendered expectations surrounding femininity and romance.

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