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June 27, 2011 7:25 AM
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"Red State" to Open Montreal's Fantasia IFF, Lifetime Achievement Award for John Landis

Robin Hardy's "The Wicker Tree"

Montreal's Fantasia International Film Festival has announced that Kevin Smith's "Red State" will open this year's edition, which takes place July 14 to August 7. John Landis will receive a lifetime achievement award and "The Wicker Tree," sequel to "The Wicker Man," will have its world premiere along with the launch of the book by the same title. Gabriel Thibaudeau will conduct a 30-person orchestra through his original score for a screening of the 1925 silent classic, "Phantom of the Opera."

For more info, go to the festival's site.

Full press release below:

FANTASIA 2011 FIRST WAVE OF ANNOUNCEMENTS!

Montreal, June 27, 2011 - While less than two weeks away from announcing the full line-up of its 15th edition, Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival has revealed a first wave of titles and happenings. The full 130-feature array of titles will be announced at our press conference on July 7.

OPENING FILM – KEVIN SMITH’S RED STATE
Fantasia is proud to open the 2011 edition of the festival with the Canadian Premiere of Kevin Smith's acclaimed Sundance hit RED STATE. The director of CLERKS and ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO has made a jump to an entirely new genre with tremendous success. RED STATE is a powerhouse film featuring fantastic performances by Michael Parks, Academy Award® winner Melissa Leo and John Goodman. This adrenaline rush is quite simply one of the best horror works of the year and The Hollywood Reporter noted that "young audiences will eat it up for its unmistakable rebel attitude." RED STATE is distributed by Phase 4 Films which plans on releasing the film in theatres this August.

2011 ARTWORK
For the festival's 2011 edition, a painting by esteemed Montreal artist Donald Caron was commissioned. As of this year, the festival will be calling its main jury award "Le Cheval noir" and it was desired that the event's 15th-anniversary artwork would depict this in an imaginative way.
The poster art and award moniker are a nod to a wonderfully fantastical bit of 19th century Quebecois folklore, a story revolving around the construction of the parish of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges de Trois-Pistoles. This legend has many incarnations, the most popular being that of a priest desperate to finish building his church, calling out to the heavens for some kind of divine intervention. A supernatural higher power, in the form of a mysterious black horse, does indeed answer his call and helps the church get built. But it is generally thought that this higher power came from a place very much south of Heaven...

MAPLE SYRUP THRILLS – A TRIBUTE TO JOHN DUNNING & ANDRE LINK

This summer, Fantasia will pay tribute to the history and heritage of Canadian and Quebecois genre cinema by way of a special event honouring the maverick producing team of John Dunning and André Link, responsible for such genre film landmarks as SHIVERS, RABID, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, DEATH WEEKEND, MY BLOODY VALENTINE and the ILSA films, among many others. Over the spawn of their 40-year partnership, Dunning and Link founded the notorious Cinepix production company - which eventually became what we now know as Lionsgate - and helped launch the careers of some of Canada's most celebrated independent film titans, including David Cronenberg, Denys Arcand, Ivan Reitman, Denis Héroux, George Mihalka, Larry Kent and Jean-Claude Lord.

Fantasia will award the trailblazing duo with a pair of Lifetime Achievement Awards at a ceremony that will feature reminiscences by a score of Canadian film industry players whose careers were shaped by their gutsiness and vision. Further, the filmmakers will be interviewed on stage by none other than Paul Corupe, acclaimed film journalist and founder of Canuxploitation.com.

But that's not all! Fantasia will also mount a special Dunning/Link retrospective series in collaboration with the Cinémathèque québécoise, in order to allow a new generation of film lovers a chance to see some of Canada's most outlandish genre productions of yesterday resurrected on the big screen, in many cases with their makers or stars on hand to introduce the screening.

"There was a time when genre and exploitation filmmaking was the backbone of Canada's film industry, and a great deal of the most influential forces behind this scene came tearing out of Quebec" said Fantasia Co-Director Mitch Davis. "What better way to celebrate our 15th anniversary than by championing an aspect of our national film history that makes every one of us proud?"

A LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR JOHN LANDIS
In celebration of the 30th anniversary of AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON and to celebrate his return to feature filmmaking after a 12-year sabbatical, Fantasia will honour the career of director John Landis with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Landis’ impressive filmography includes such classics as THE BLUES BROTHERS, ANIMAL HOUSE, TRADING PLACES, KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE and Michael Jackson’s trailblazing THRILLER video.
Following the award presentation, Fantasia will screen the Canadian Premiere of Landis’ comeback film, the black comedy BURKE & HARE, which stars Simon Pegg, Tom Wilkinson, Andy Serkis and Tim Curry.

WORLD PREMIERE OF ROBIN HARDY’S THE WICKER TREE + BOOK LAUNCH
38 years after directing THE WICKER MAN, a film widely hailed as the CITIZEN KANE of genre cinema, Robin Hardy has reteamed with producer Peter Snell and British Lion to make THE WICKER TREE. This hugely eccentric “spiritual sequel”, based on Hardy’s novel COWBOYS FOR CHRIST and featuring performances by Graham McTavish and Christopher Lee, is one of the most hotly anticipated genre films of the decade. Fantasia will be unveiling the world premiere of this Pagan phantasmagoria, in the presence of Hardy and Snell.

The screening night will be a double birthing as it will also feature a book launch for Hardy’s THE WICKER TREE novel, being published in North America for the first time this July!

Furthermore, Fantasia will host a special event that will feature Robin Hardy in conversation with fellow UK filmmaker Richard Stanley (HARDWARE, DUST DEVIL, THE THEATRE BIZARRE – the latter also having its world premiere at the festival), in discussion on the occult, mysticism and moviemaking.

GABRIEL THIBAUDEAU’S ORIGINAL LIVE SCORE TO ACCOMPANY RARE PRINT OF THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

In collaboration with the Cinémathèque québécoise, and following the huge success of last year’s METROPOLIS event, a special presentation of a rare, pristine 35mm print of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA will take place at Montreal’s premiere concert hall, Place des Arts, where Gabriel Thibaudeau will lead a 30 person orchestra through his original score to the 1925 silent classic, directed by Rupert Julian and starring Lon Chaney.

A GALA WORLD PREMIERE FOR THE THEATRE BIZARRE
On the subject of Canada’s esteemed horror film culture, Fantasia will be the site of the world premiere of the partially-made-in-Quebec (as well as the USA, the UK, Germany and France) anthology film, THE THEATRE BIZARRE. One of the most hotly anticipated genre films of 2011, THEATRE showcases the combined talents of some of the world’s most exciting and iconoclastic fantastic film figures: Richard Stanley (HARDWARE, DUST DEVIL, THE SECRET GLORY), Karim Hussain (SUBCONSCIOUS CRUELTY, LA BELLE BETE, cinematographer of HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN), Douglas Buck (SISTERS, CUTTING MOMENTS), Buddy Giovinazzo (COMBAT SHOCK, LIFE IS HOT IN CRACKTOWN), David Gregory (PLAGUE TOWN, founder of the Severin video label) and Tom Savini (legendary FX artist – CREEPSHOW, DAWN OF THE DEAD, FRIDAY THE 13th and countless others, director of the 1990 NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD remake and actor in such films as FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, KNIGHTRIDERS and MACHETE). The wraparound segment stars Udo Kier and was directed by Jeremy Kasten (THE WIZARD OF GORE).

The Fantasia launch will be a special kind of homecoming. The work of each filmmaker has been showcased at Fantasia over the past 15 years, and the project itself came together in large part at the festival. Further, two of the segments were shot in Montreal (Hussain and Buck are both Montrealers, the former also having been a Fantasia programmer from 1997-2001) and much of the post-production was done here as well.

“Fantasia certainly brought us together and, in my opinion, it remains the finest festival of its kind” said Richard Stanley. Karim Hussain adds “Fantasia is an extremely important part of the process and also to my career. I think it’s safe to say that Theatre Bizarre, with the team that currently is in place, could never exist without Fantasia!”

The premiere will be attended by all seven directors, as well as actors Lynn Lowry and Udo Kier and many members of the film’s team.

A MASTER CLASS WITH RYOO SEUNG-WAN AND THE CANADIAN PREMIERE OF THE UNJUST
South Korean auteur filmmaker Ryoo Seung-wan (CRYING FIST, CITY OF VIOLENCE, ARAHAN) will be returning to Fantasia for the Canadian Premiere of his ingenious new thriller
THE UNJUST (Official Selection, Berlin Film Festival 2011). While in town, he will also host a master class on action film staging and choreography.
Other highlights include:
ATTACK THE BLOCK – UK – Dir: Joe Cornish
This insane laughfest depicting a British teen street gang defending their block against an alien invasion became an overnight sensation after its launch at SXSW in April. Co-produced by Edgar Wright, starring Nick Frost and featuring some of the funniest moments you’ll encounter anywhere this year – on or off this planet. Quebec Premiere.
BRAWLER – USA – Dir: Chris Sivertson
Fantasia veteran Sivertson (THE LOST, I KNOW WHO KILLED ME), will be returning to Montreal for the World Premiere of his latest knockout, BRAWLER, set in the world of extreme fighting, starring and co-produced by Marc Senter (RED WHITE & BLUE, THE LOST). World Premiere hosted by Director Chris Sivertson and Actors/Co-producers Nathan Grubbs and Marc Senter.
DEADBALL –Japan – Dir: Yudai Yamaguchi
From the cult director of such bizarre greats as MEATBALL MACHINE and BATTLEFIELD BASEBALL comes… something best experience without spoilers! World Premiere hosted by Director Yudai Yamaguchi, Producer Yoshinori Chiba and Actor Tak Sakaguchi.
THE DEVIL’S ROCK - New Zealand – Dir: Paul Campion
The feature directorial debut from gifted New Zealand visual effects artist Campion (the LORD OF THE RINGS and NARNIA films, CLASH OF THE TITANS remake) is an intense occult thriller taking place in WW2 on the eve of D-Day, with a single soldier uncovering a Nazi plot to conjure supernatural forces with which to win the war. A satanic Nazi chamber piece featuring three characters and bottomless tension. North American Premiere hosted by Director, Screewriter and Executive Producer Paul Campion and Actors Matt Sunderland and Karlos Drinkwater.
DON’T GO BREAKING MY HEART - Hong Kong - Dir: Johnnie To
The working relationship of longtime collaborators To & Ka-Fai is best known internationally for their gonzo action thrillers (RUNNING ON KARMA) and more taut, character-based work (MAD DETECTIVE), but this time out, they tackle the romantic comedy, with surprising results. Opening film of the 2011 Hong Kong International Film Festival. North American Premiere.
EXIT – Australia – Dir: Marek Polgar
Taking place in a labyrinthine city where many individuals are looking for a mystical door that could lead them to a better world, this promising genre film from a visionary director explores the theme of urban alienation while remaining a poignant piece of cinema that will audiences breathless. Splendid and cerebral, EXIT opens the door for a distinctive new voice in fantastic cinema. World Premiere, hosted by Director Marek Polgar and Screenwriter Martyn Pedler.
A LONELY PLACE TO DIE – UK – Dir: Julian Gilbey
This film hits levels of intensity that are absolutely exhilarating. Think CLIFFHANGER with characters you actually care about, fuelled with the adrenaline and panic of THE DESCENT. Bafta-nominated director Gilbey (RISE OF THE FOOTSOLDIER) trained himself in rock climbing in preparation to shoot this film the right way, and does it ever show. The imagery, stunts and staging he manages here will suck the breath clean out of your lungs. Winner of Jury Awards for Best Feature and Best Director when it launched at ActionFest earlier this year, it stars Melissa George. Canadian Premiere, hosted by Director, Screenwriter and Editor Julian Gilbey.
LOVE – USA – Dir: William Eubank
Opening this year’s edition of Fantasia’s Camera Lucida section, LOVE is a marvel. Rebuking the current conventions of science-fiction cinema coming from Hollywood with a cerebral approach to the genre closer to Kubrick’s 2001, it questions Man’s place in the universe through a fascinating tale that alternate between two distinct epochs, a violent past and an uncertain future. Produced by Angels & Airwaves (the alt-rock effort led by Blink-182’s Tom DeLonge) LOVE conjures pictorial perfection, promising to be an unforgettable experience. International Premiere, hosted by Director, Writer, Cinematographer and Production Designer William Eubank, Actor Gunner Wright and Executive Producer Mark Eaton.
MARIANNE – Sweden – Dir: Filip Tegstedt
In recent years, Sweden has begun emerging as a country to watch when it comes to hypnotic, adult genre filmmaking, and MARIANNE continues this pathway. A guilt-ridden father, grieving over the death of a wife he had been cheating on, finds himself haunted by more than his conscience in this eerie, character-driven supernatural horror film. World Premiere hosted by Director, Screenwriter and Producer Filip Tegstedt.
MONSTER BRAWL – Canada – Dir: Jesse T. Cook
Those of you with equal love for monsters and wrestling are about to be slammed through the mat by this outlandish creation that combines the two with glee. That’s right, your favorite monsters bashing the unlife out of each other within a setup designed to feel like a pay-per-view sporting event. Features Dave Folley, Jimmy Hart, Art Hindle, Kevin Nash and… monsters! World Premiere hosted by Director, Screenwriter and Producer Jesse T. Cook, Producers John Geddes and Matt Wiele, Actors R. J. City, Art Hindle, Robert Maillet and Rico Montana, and many more members of the cast and crew.
NINJA KIDS!!! – Japan – Dir: Takashi Miike
Japan’s maniacal master of movie magic Takashi Miike has banged out about three films a year over the last two decades, from ultraviolent yakuza pictures through off-kilter genre pastiches to, well, possibly his most brutal, bash-’em-up work yet. That’s right, maestro of mayhem Miike’s gone and made a kiddie flick again! It merits its three exclamation points and rates five razor-sharp ninja stars out of five! Canadian Premiere. Hosted by Distributor Shochiku.
RABIES – Israel – Dir: Navot Papushado & Aharon Keshales
Israel’s first horror feature is all about subverting expectations as a blood-soaked black comedy/horror/thriller that understands the genre conventions and uses them as sleight-of-hand to deliver one surprise after another like a twist-ripped celluloid corkscrew ground into your skull. A major hit at the Tribeca Film Festival, RABIES is heaps of misanthropic fun, with spikes of social commentary and a surprisingly affecting sense of tragedy stabbed into the mix for maximum potency. Canadian Premiere. Hosted by Co-Directors and Screenwriters Navot Papushado & Aharon Keshales
RETREAT – UK – Dir: Carl Tibbets
Cillian Murphy and Thandie Newton star as a couple who journey to an island retreat in order to heal recently-opened wounds. They are completely isolated from the world. Alone. That is, until a blood-spattered man (Jamie Bell) washes ashore with terrible news of an airborne plague sweeping across Europe. A brilliantly-staged slow-burn thriller that builds to absolutely ferocious horror, RETREAT is one of this year’s strongest discoveries. World Premiere hosted by Director Carl Tibbetts.
SAINT – Netherlands – Dir: Dick Maas
Santa Claus is coming to town, and that’s bad news for everyone in this stylish Dutch oddity from the maker of THE LIFT. SAINT is a very Dutch horror film, packed with many Christmas stockings full of local flavor and bizarre terror sequences. Meanwhile, the moments with SAINT’s teen protagonists have the feel of an ’80s Wes Craven film, making for a very fun death dance in horror’s global melting pot! Canadian Premiere.
UNDERWATER LOVE – Japan – Dir: Shinji Imaoka
An inspired hybrid of musical comedy, classical fairy tale and pinku eiga (Japanese softcore sex film), UNDERWATER LOVE may well be the most oddball entry in Fantasia’s schedule this year (and that’s saying something!). Features gorgeous cinematography by Wong Kar-Wai’s regular Director of Photography Christopher Doyle. Sweet, kooky, sexy and completely feel good, this UFO of a film is truly something to be cherished. Canadian Premiere.
URBAN EXPLORER – Germany – Dir: Andy Fetscher
Beneath the city of Berlin is an extraordinary network of abandoned bunkers and tunnels, shadowy remnants of the Nazi era. This film – one of the most unsettling that you will find in our 2011 lineup – opens with four young urban explorers from different countries meeting up at a Berlin nightclub, beneath which is rumored to be a pathway of catacombs that lead to a legendary Third Reich bunker. They descend into the tunnels and…. We won’t reveal another beat! North American Premiere.
VAMPIRE – Canada/USA – Dir: Shunji Iwai
The English-language debut from the acclaimed director of SWALLOWTAIL BUTTERFLY and ALL ABOUT LILU CHOU-CHOU is a haunting existential horror/drama. It will be making its Canadian launch at Fantasia after bowling audiences over at Sundance, Berlin and the Hong Kong International Film Festival. Canadian Premiere.
THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS – USA – Dir: Sean Branney
You are about to encounter what very well may be the single most successful H.P. Lovecraft adaptation ever to lick fear across a screen. Shot with an aesthetic, production design and performance style angled to emulate the feel of a ’30s/’40s Universal horror film - without falling into camp - WHISPERER arrives like shadows out of time, a discovered relic from another dimension. A genuinely scary film and a hellishly great time. Canadian Premiere.
This is just the beginning, people. Stay tuned for more titles will be announced in less than two weeks!

The 15th edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival hits Montreal July 14th to August 7th, 2011.

For more information, please visit www.fantasiafestival.com.

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