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Fantasia Festival Reveals Animated Program, Satoshi Kon Doc's Debut


Montreal's Fantasia is one of North America's- and indeed the world's- leading genre film festivals, and will this year hold its 25th iteration. The festival has always been friendly to animation, particularly stuff outside of the Hollywood mainstream. They even hand out an award for the standout animated entry each year, an award named after the late, great Satoshi Kon, who was a festival regular.

The second wave of films has been announced for this year's edition- which for the second year in a row is to be an all-digital affair. A couple of animated films were announced in the first wave, but the majority have been revealed now, as they have revealed the line-up of Axis, Fantasia's dedicated animation strand.

This year Fantasia will be shining the spotlight on Japanese cinema, and so fittingly the majority of the selection for Axis this year hails from the land of the rising sun. 

Poupelle Of Chimney Town

Leading this year's selection will be the North American premiere of Poupelle of Chimney Town. Adapted from the children's picture book of the same name written by Japanese comedian Akihiro Nishino, it is a visually spectacular fantasy following a young boy who befriends a man made of garbage and embarks on a quest. The film is the latest from the acclaimed Studio 4°C (Children Of The Sea, Tekkon Kinkreet) and directed by veteran digital animator Yusuke Hirota (Batman Gotham Knight).  4°C will have a second film receiving its North American debut at Fantasia this year. Children Of The Sea's director Ayumu Watanabe follows that film up with Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko, a quirky comedy-drama adapted from the novel by Kanoki Nishi.

Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko

The last major anime feature receiving its continental premiere at Fantasia this year will be Pompo The Cinephile. Adapted from a popular manga, director Takayuki Hirao's film is set in a fictionalized version of the Hollywood film industry and is the first film produced by new anime studio CLAP.

Pompo The Cinephile

Produced single-handedly by Japanese stop-motion animator Takahide Hori, Junk Head was first shown to the world at Fantasia in 2017, going on to be a favourite among attendees. The film is returning this year in a new, tighter theatrical cut.

Junk Head

From beyond Japan, cult cartoonist Dash Shaw delivers his follow-up to indie feature My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea with Cryptozoo. In Shaw's sophomore feature, Cryptozookeepers watch over mythological creatures. Making its Canadian debut will be The Spine Of Night. A rotoscoped swords-and-sorcery epic for adults, the film comes from animator Morgan Galen King and filmmaker/comic scribe Philip Gelatt and features the voices of Lucy Lawless, Patton Oswalt and Richard E Grant.


The Spine Of Night

The new films join the previously announced Filipino soap-opera satire Hayop Ka: The Nimfa Dimaano Story and French family fantasy adventure The Little Vampire.

Outside of animation, Fantasia will also be the fitting home for the North American premiere of French filmmaker Pascal-Alex Vincent's new documentary Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist. Fantasia was home to the world premiere of Kon's debut Perfect Blue way back in 1997 and played a big part in growing his global reputation. So where could be better to debut this celebration of his work and his all-too-short career?

Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist

Fantasia 2021 will be available from August 5 to August 25 as a virtual event and will be restricted to viewers in Canada only. The third and final wave of programming will be revealed in July. Visit the Festival website for more details.