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Fantasia Reveals Animation Line-Up


Fantasia is North America's largest and longest running genre film festival. The line-up always includes a selection of animated films in the Axis strand, with the selections competing for the Satoshi Kon Award for Animation. And this year's line-up is as impressive as ever

The animated slate is headed up by Sandland, adapted from the 2000 manga by Dragon Ball's Akira Toriyama. It takes place in a mysterious desert world where water is the most precious resource and follows Satan's son Beelzebub and his comrades on a desperate, dangerous quest. The anime adaptation is directed by Toshihisa Yokoshima, whose short film Cocolors won a Satoshi Kon Award at Fantasia back in 2017.

Kurayukaba is described as "equal parts crazy cartoon caper, shadowy film noir, nostalgic escapade, and steampunk fantasy." Set in Japan's Taisho era, the Japanese equivalent of the Roaring Twenties, it follows private eye Sotaro, as he heads into The Dark, the notorious anarchic maze under the city. There he comes face to face with the subterranean denizens including the fearsome Laughing Masks Gang and the renegade police squad piloting the Demon 463 train. Kurayukaba is the long awaited personal project from director Shigeyoshi Tsukahara, whose credits include stage design for pop rock superstars Sekai no Owari. The screening is the film's world premiere and will be preceded by a pair of rare shorts by Tsukahara.

The Concierge follows Akino in her new job as a conciergesaleswoman at the elegant Arctic Department Store.  The twist is that the customers are all animals, and the most valued of all are the extinct species. Described as "clever, charming, and big-hearted," the movie is adapted from the manga by Tsuchika Nishimura. The animation is produced by Production IG, the script is by Satomi Ooshima (Fortune Favours Lady Nikuko) and Yoshimi Itazu makes his feature debut as director.

Making its Canadian Premiere at the festival is The First Slam Dunk. The first feature film in the franchise in over 28 years, the film was a major hit in Japan and elsewhere, going on to win the Japan Academy Prize for Animation Of The Year. Adapted from the manga by Takehiko Inoue, it was written and directed by the artist himself.

Created by Quebec-based Dominique Jolin, Toupie Et Binou started as a series of children's books, before being adapted into a successful animated TV series. Now comes the first feature film in the franchise Toupie Et Binou Le Film. The series is co-written/co-directed by Jolin alongside Raymond Lebrun. The pair use the jump to the big screen as a chance to make their universe more vibrant and richer than ever.

Mother Land is South Korea's first stop-motion film in almost 50 years. Park Jae-beom’s story is set in the Frozen Arctic tundra as Krisha follows the North Star to the Ancient Forest in the hopes of saving her mother.

Deep Sea, the new Chinese animated feature from Tian Xiaopeng uses a cutting edge digital particle animation technique to emulate traditional inkwash painting. The story follows Shenxiu on a quest to the heart of the ocean to try and rescue her mother. Along the way she'll meet a madman named Hanhe and a monster called The Red Phantom- can she make it?

Thirty years ago Japanese creatives collaborated with their opposite numbers in India to create a film called Ramayana :The Legend Of Prince Rama, drawn from the Ramayana, a foundation text of Hinduism, After a few limited cinema screenings the film disappeared, never making it to home video on any format. Now the film is finally back for the first time since original release, complete with a new 4K Restoration that is receiving its Quebec Premiere at the festival.

Feast Of Amrita is prequel to 2018's Aragne: Sign Of Vermillion from Japanese director, writer, composer, and animator Saku Sakamoto. Although a prequel, it's also designed to be able to stand alone,  The film screens alongside two other Asian animated horror shorts Ghost Of The Dark Path and Devil.

As always the festival also features an impressive array of animated shorts. The main event when it comes to shorts is Fantasia's annual Circo Animato showcase. Animated shorts also feature as part of Things That Go Bump In The East, and Fantasia Freestyle.

This year's Fantasia Festival runs from July 20 to August 9. In Montreal, Quebec. For more details and tickets, visit the festival's website here.