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Fantasia International Film Festival 2023 Curtain Raiser
14th July 2023 // Matt Hudson

Spanning 20th July to 9th August 2023, Fantasia International Film Festival once again promises to deliver another fantastic selection of genre offerings covering horror, sci-fi, drama, comedy, and more.


This year marks the 27th edition of the festival that began in 1996 in Montreal, and it's a festival that can count Guillermo del Toro, James Gunn, and Quentin Tarantino amongst its legions of admirers. Since its beginnings, the Fantasia International Film Festival has explored the diverse realms of genre cinema, creating bridges between the cutting-edge and the mainstream, and providing a festive but professional environment where emerging artists are given exposure alongside their more established counterparts, both locally and internationally. They showcase the best in Canadian and world cinema, discovering and nurturing exciting new talents and offering a platform through which artists and audiences can connect.


Fantasia’s definition of genre cinema is broad and continually evolving; aligned with the European tradition of ‘genre’ as a challenging and elegant stream of cinema, the festival juxtaposes pop culture with alternative culture, and its distinct programming has enabled Montreal to radiate in the international film community.


I had the pleasure of covering the festival back in 2020 alongside my Bloody Awesome Movie Podcast co-host Jon Berk and was immediately impressed by the curated range of movies, including iWeirDO, The Dark and the Wicked, A Mermaid in Paris and Dinner in America. The overall quality was high and I have no doubt that the 2023 edition will deliver on those same standards.


To celebrate the imminent opening of Fantasia International Film Festival 2023, Jon Berk and I have selected five movies each that piqued our interest ahead of their respective screenings…


Matt’s choices: Deep Sea, A Disturbance in the Force, Killing Romance, Les Chambres Rouges (Red Rooms), Where the Devil Roams


Jon’s picks: Birth/Rebirth, Late Night with the Devil, Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls, Talk to Me, It Lives Inside

Our Fantasia Preview episode of Bloody Awesome Movie Podcast covered our full reasonings behind each choice, but below is a taster:


Deep Sea: "When the story and visuals combine at the same level, Deep Sea really takes off and provides some sensational sequences that dazzle and delight. Laced with emotion and a salient message, the delicious and dazzling animation really steals the show here."


A Disturbance in the Force: "The opportunity to go behind the scenes of one of the most famous, or infamous, productions of all time is so intriguing - especially one that feels like it was made with the right attitude, warmth, and passion."


Killing Romance: "The bonkers premise caught my eye immediately, and seeing the talent attached to it sealed the deal. Fantasia has delivered excellent comedies previously so I'm expecting this to be up there with them."


Les Chambres Rouges: "Apparently evokes the movies of Brian de Palma and David Fincher, and that's enough for me to hear. Has the potential to be a cloying, tension-filled thriller that dives headfirst into tough territories as well as the honour of opening the festival." 


Where the Devil Roams: "The Adams Family have proven themselves to be critical darlings in recent years, and the grimy-sounding synopsis caught my imagination immediately. I have high hopes for a nightmarish fever dream with this one."


What Jon said...


Birth/Rebirth: "A complex horror film that deals with several themes that make you think while managing to simultaneously terrify you to the core."


Late Night with The Devil: "A movie where you come for the premise but stay for the performance of David Dastmalchian."

Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls: "Features writer, director, and star Andrew Bowser and his character Onyx, with his odd speech pattern, eccentric qualities, and inherently childlike wonder that really worked for me."


Talk to Me: "The buzz around Talk to Me is not just hype and definitely deserves a watch with a crowd who appreciates horror."


It Lives Inside: "It Lives Inside’s director’s horror influences are present throughout the film and yet it offers something that feels very personal and original."

For more on Jon's thoughts, check out his article here.

Now, it goes without saying, that some of these movies MAY not live up to our expectations, but from what we have heard, there’s a high chance they will. Additionally, picking just five each was a genuine challenge as this year's slate looks stacked. Honourable nods go out to ROMI, The Becomers, Insomniacs After School, and Restore Point, all of which were close to taking a place in the final five.


Aside from the movies on offer, this year's edition will also see Nicolas Cage receiving the Cheval Noir Career Award in honour of his wild, eclectic, and impressive career.

As the clocks ticks ever closer to the opening of the festival, my personal hype levels are high in anticipation for what promises to be one of the best Fantasia's in years!


For further Fantasia International Film Festival 2023 coverage, check back to What I Watched Tonight, Berk Reviews, and Bloody Awesome Movie Podcasts.

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