Just about everything has been canceled this year. But in the spirit of “The Show Must Go On”, Fantasia Film Festival (like so many others) is going virtual. This gives audiences a rare opportunity to watch these innovative and stunning cinematic works from the comfort of your own home. With so many options, how do you choose? Well, we have done the homework for you and listed the top 5 must-see films coming to Fantasia 2020.
- The Fourth Wall– Directed by Kelsey Bollig
Synopsis: Chloé is a serious actress who’s spent her life on the stages of Paris. The result? She has been chipped down into a product of the scrutiny and unfair politics that infest the entertainment industry. Doomed to star in one last performance of Shakespeare’s ‘A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream’ Chloé fights for her moment in the spotlight amongst the self-serving newcomers she is forced to share the stage with. How far will she go to be the star of the show?
Why You Need To See It: Bollig is an emerging star in her own right. Her previous film Asking for a Friend won 17 awards and several more nominations on the festival circuit. The ENTIRE film is only 6 takes. These predatorily lengthy shots create a lot of tension that builds to a climactic conclusion. The Fourth Wall stars Lizzie Brochere (American Horror Story: Asylum, 2011), Roby Schinasi (Gossip Girl, 2007), and Jean-Marc Barr (Le Grand Bleau 1988 and Nymphomaniac: Vol. II 2013)
2. The Reckoning– Directed by Neil Marshall
Synopsis: A poignant and horrific period thriller set in 1665 against the backdrop of the Great Plague and the subsequent witch hunts in England. The Reckoning boasts a stellar cast lead by Charlotte Kirk (Ocean’s 8) and Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers).
Why You Need To See It: With the COVID-19 pandemic still in full force, this film is culturally relevant and provides eerie parallels. The similarities with current events have earned The Reckoning a spot as one of the opening films for Fantasia. This is the second time in the festival’s history that one of Marshall’s films has opened the festival (after 2005’s The Descent), an honor shared only with the prolific Japanese auteur Takashi Miike.
3. Lucky– Directed by Natasha Kermani
Synopsis: Lucky follows May, a self-help book author with all the answers, who suddenly finds herself stalked by a threatening but elusive masked man, and caught in a struggle to get help from the people around her and maintain control on her own life.
Why You Need To See It: Kermani’s pervious film Imitation Grid was incredibly successful and found much praise on the 2017 film circut. Lucky was written by and stars Bea Grant, who recently played a supporting lead in Jeremy Gardner’s Something Else. The films creative team and storyline make this a dark feminist thriller strong representation of female cinema.
4. Unearth– Directed by John C. Lyons and Dorota Swies
Synopsis:Equal parts docu-drama and eco-horror, “Unearth” is a terrifying, and uniquely American story, which follows two neighboring farm families whose relationships are put to the test when one of them leases their land to a gas company and has it drilled using the controversial method, “fracking.”
Why You Need To See It: This is a horror story that finds its roots in the realities of current events. Lyons grew up on farms and in the woods of Pennsylvania. Spending his childhood in such a rural environment gave him a deeply personal insight into the complex relationship between the environment, people, and the essential nature of land. This understanding infuses Unearth with authentic terror and translates beautifully to the screen.
5. Fried Barry– Directed by Ryan Kruger
Synopsis: Barry is a drug-addled, abusive bastard who, after yet another bender, is abducted by aliens. Barry takes a backseat as an alien visitor assumes control of his body and takes it for a joyride through Cape Town. What follows is an onslaught of drugs, sex, and violence as our alien tourist enters the weird and wonderful world of humankind.
Why You Need To See It: Fried Barry is based on the short film of the same name which found wild popularity, earning 57 official selections and 12 awards on the festival circut. It is a film focused on aesthetic. Full of music and color (and blood), Kruger approached the film as an experiement and chose to direct without a script. This wild nature of the film showcases freeform cinema and how wildly beautiful it can be.
Fantasia 2020 begins Thursday, August 20, and concludes on Wednesday, September 2. For all the film bios, schedules, events, and everything else the festival has to offer check out Fantasia’s website. Now the top films picked out for you, all that’s left is to decide which pair of sweatpants to wear while watching!