This is my tenth year attending the Fantasia Film Festival, though it is my first with a press pass. Gone are the days where I pay for tickets and try to snatch interview subjects for a blog no one really reads. This year’s line-up will certainly be keeping me busy. Here are five to which I’m particularly looking forward.
Welcome to New York
Written by Abel Ferrara and Chris Zois
Directed by Abel Ferrara
Ferrara’s work almost always comes with the pre-requisite of controversy, and here we find him back in his own personal playground: New York City. Granted, it’s been some time since the likes of Bad Lieutenant, and the city itself has changed a great deal from Koch to Giuliani environs. It has also been home to the unspeakable financial crimes of the past decade, which makes New York all the more interesting; has the city changed the man or is he just as vulgar and controversial as he was all those years ago? Not only will we get to find out, but Ferrara himself will be present to personally give the audience a giant middle finger if it doesn’t pan out. That in itself should be worth the price of admission.
Written by Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass
Directed by Patrick Brice
After accepting money to document a dying man’s daily life, mumblecore darling Mark Duplass soon realizes he got more than what he bargained for. Duplass and other mumblecore filmmakers have discovered their largely improvisational style has found a perfect niche in the horror genre, with spontaneous dialogue often blending perfectly with unexpected scares and humour grounded in character.
Written by Stephen Lancellotti
Directed by John McNaughton
Samantha Morton and Michael Shannon star as parents treating their chronically ill son from home, though Morton appears a tad too overprotective. John McNaughton set the horror genre ablaze in 1986 with Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, and has since made a career out of idiosyncratic gems like Wild Things. Also, Shannon, in the running to be this generation’s Christopher Walken, can be spooky in even the most generic of roles.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Written By James Gunn and Nicole Perlman
Directed by James Gunn
To wrap up Marvel’s ‘Phase Two’ as we head toward Avengers: Age of Ultron, the studio has chosen to see what it can do with one of its lesser-known properties. And for a studio whose ambition seems endless, Marvel head Kevin Fiege has chosen an equally offbeat director, James Gunn. Best known for Slither and his work with Troma, Gunn’s sense of humour might well be the perfect fit for a group of space outcasts trying to save the galaxy.
The Midnight Swim
Written and directed by Sarah Adina Smith
This may well be a long shot. Three sisters set out to investigate the unusually deep Spirit Lake, which took the life of their mother years earlier. Inadvertently, the sisters summon a malicious presence. The set-up sounds simple enough to be generic, but the trailer suggests enough hypnotically eerie visuals to pique interest.
— Kenny Hedges