Every year, Fantasia International Film Festival showcases some of the best and most unique genre films out there. Horror, thrillers, sci-fi, Fantasia has it all, and this year is no different. In anticipation of the festival, which lasts from July 11 to August 1 in Montreal, we’ve rounded up some of the films directed by women that will be shown throughout Fantasia.
Brazilian director’s Gabriela Amaral Almeida second film, My Father’s Shadow, will have its North American premiere at Fantasia 2019. The film follows Dalva, a young girl who is trying to summon her mother’s spirit to help quell her father’s depression. She’s inspired by George A. Romero and given a little encouragement by her aunt. Almeida mixes traditional horror with contemporary Brazilian issues to create a poignant story that reflects the horrific nature of our contemporary moment.
Perhaps one of my anticipated films of Fantasia is The Deeper You Dig, a film directed by John Adams, Toby Poser, and their daughter Zelda Adams. It is a DIY supernatural film that was directed, written, and scored by this family unit. They are also the film’s stars. It revolves around a daughter, a mother, and a stranger after a roadside accident. I’m excited to see the work of these three people and what art they created with their limited resources.
Still in the vein of horror, but with perhaps a more comedic tone, is the North American premiere of Jovanka Vuckovic’s Riot Girls, a film that takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where a plague has wiped out all of the adults. Scratch (Paloma Kwiatkowski) and her girlfriend Nat (Madison Iseman) fend for themselves and try to save their best friend in a world ruled by evil jocks. It is an addition to a reprise in punk rock horror that gives badass women agency, backed by a bumping soundtrack.
Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel’s Jessica Forever looks like a violent piece of French sci-fi full of blood and possibly eroticism. A young boy bursts through a window as he is chased by killer drones. But, he is saved by Jessica, who is collecting young boys in what is described as a version of Neverland. But I’m not sure anyone really wants to visit this version of Neverland.
Then there is Alien Crystal Palace, directed by Arielle Dombasle. It can only be described by the summary given by Fantasia:
“A crazy scientist is on a quest to create a new, immaculate, androgynous being. This transformation is only possible through the alchemy of two old souls: Dolorès (Arielle Dombasle), an avant-garde filmmaker, and her reincarnated lover Nicolas (Nicolas Ker), a confused rocker. The search won’t be easy, especially when so many odd and wild characters, among others the musician’s sister (Asia Argento) and an Egyptian god (Jean-Pierre Léaud), are thrown into this demented Platonistic disarray.”
There is a lot going on here, but it sounds like a delightful sci-fi adventure that only French cinema can deliver.
If you’re looking for a visually-stunning and strange film, Alice Waddington’s Paradise Hills might just quench your thirst. Paradise Hills is a place where bad girls are sent to be reformed, reformed meaning molded into gendered expectations of normalcy. It boasts a star-studded cast, with Milla Jovovich, Emma Roberts, and Awkwafina starring in this twisted dystopian world.
The Japanese anthology film, 21st Century Girl, includes a plethora of genres within its short films that are all directed by women. The film was organized by U-ki Yamato, who brought together 14 filmmakers to provide insight into the lives of 21st-century girls, what their lives look like, and what those lives could look like in the future. It is a project dedicated to intimate looks at everyday lives that give women a voice as both characters and filmmakers.
There are also two female-directed documentaries to look out for at Fantasia Fest. First is Annie Deniel’s Steampunk Connection, which chronicles the steampunk community across five countries over three years. She documents a community that is built around a futuristic Victorian aesthetic and how its members tap into this aesthetic for creativity and inspiration. The second documentary is Shooting the Mafia, directed by Kim Longinotto. It is Longinotto’s tribute to Sicilian photojournalist Letizia Battaglia and her battle with the mafia. For decades she has been photographing the subject to expose these crimes to the rest of the world and to give a voice to those affected by mafia violence. This film showcases Battaglia’s strength and dedication to helping others with her art.
Fantasia 2019 promises a lineup of badass, weird, and gorgeous storytelling from a diverse range of voices. For the full festival lineup, head to Fantasia’s website.