Fantasporto 2021: new location, new dates, same festival
Fantasporto 2021 happens on a new date and a new venue, but the changes stop there. The festival remains true to its essence amid a pandemic.
There was a time, I confess, when I didn’t believe there would be a 41st edition of the Porto International Film Festival. The ongoing pandemic (season 3, is it?) was far from being under control in Portugal. Every single event was either postponed, canceled, or moved online.
And although moving the festival online was what everyone expected, everyone is also exhausted with being online all the time by now.
I won’t be able to attend this year. Still, I support their decision to keep the festival going with an audience, even if they had to change dates and venues. Because, as I’ve written in previous years, there’s a Fantasporto magic that can only happen in Porto, on a big screen, and among horror and fantasy genre fans who live there or who traveled for the festival (like I hope to in 2022).
“Fantasporto barely escaped the effects of the pandemic in 2020 which was starting at the time in Portugal, and was able to celebrate its 40th anniversary. Unfortunately, for the 2021 edition, the festival was postponed, unable to start on the scheduled dates due to the pandemic and the long period of lockdown that followed, with all theatres and cinemas closed to the public. Fantasporto was forced to adapt. And it did, exceptionally, with new dates and a new theatre, offering again the city of Oporto the opportunity to have the best of the best of the cinema of today.
We are very proud to announce that the 41st Fantasporto will be held from April 26th till May 4th not at the Rivoli Theatre as usual, but in the iconic market building in iron and glass built in the 1880s, now totally modernized and hosting a cultural centre, called Hard Club.”
– Fantasporto press release
Fantasporto 2021 competing films
Fantasporto selects films to screen and compete in three different areas: Portuguese Cinema, Directors’ Week, and Fantasy Cinema.
Because I’m a fan of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy, I’m only listing the films (features and shorts) competing in that specific section. Those are the ones I’d be seeing at the festival.
Fantasy, horror, and sci-fi feature films
“La Funeraria” (The Funeral Home), Mauro Iván Ojeda (Argentina)
First feature film by writer/director Mauro Iván Ojeda.
Bernardo is an undertaker. He runs his mortuary business in the same house where he resides. In the front he has his clients. And in the back, his dysfunctional family lives among coffins, wreaths and mischievous supernatural entities that visit on a daily basis. They attribute the paranormal manifestations to the dead bodies from their mortuary work. Find the real source of all this madness will be their quest, but they might find a terrifying truth. A new film showing the vitality of Argentinean Cinema, always original and inventive. Selected by the prestigious Frightfest, Sitges and Fantasia Film festivals.
“Tin Can”, Seth A. Smith (Canada)
Filmmaker and visual artist, in 2012 Seth A. Smith completed his first film, “Lowlife”. In 2017 “The Crescent” took awards for best score, screenwriting, and actress at the Atlantic International Film Festival, and was given a nomination for the 2017 Directors Guild of Canada Discovery Award.
In a world dominated by a plague, a front-line parasitologist makes an important discovery. Soon she finds herself in a life-sustaining chamber. In order to escape, she must destroy the last of her kind and build a new race. Selected for the 2020 Sitges Film Festival.
“Suicide Forest Village”, Takashi Shimizu (Japan)
Takashi Shimizu was born in Japan in 1972 and it is known for “Ju-on” (2002), “The Grudge” (2004), the American remake of “Ju-on”, “ The Grudge 2” (2006) and “Howling Village” (2019), selected for the Sitges and Neuchatel Film Festivals and presented in Fantasporto 2020.
Two little girls are rescued near the suicide forest. Years later, under the house where they live, a strange box is found that seems to be the cause for the death of all who come in contact with it. Hibiki and her sister are going to find the reasons that took their mother to suicide and find out the meaning of that box. The answer is in the forest. A tale of horrors in which the legends of the past come to the present.
“Marionette”, Elbert van Strien (Holland/UK/Luxembourg)
Elbert van Strien was born in the Netherlands in 1964. His career has been divided by short films (with his short “The Hidden Face” awarded in the Brussels and Dresden Festivals) and several TV series. He won in Fantasporto 2011, Best Fantasy Film and Best Screenplay with his first feature “Two Staring Eyes” (a.k.a “Two Eyes Staring”). “Marionette” is his second feature.
From Dutch director Elbert Van Strien, a past winner of the Best Fantasy Film Award of Fantasporto 2011 with his “Two Staring Eyes”, (also known as “Two Eyes Staring”), his next feature is about a psychiatrist who travels to Scotland to work at a mental hospital. One of her patients, an enigmatic young boy who draws violent images of things to come, may be the explanation for what has happened to her. The question is, is he really God? A fascinating story with fine acting by Peter Mullan, one of the most awarded British actors, known for “Braveheart”, “Children of Man”, “Warhorse” and, most recently, for the TV series “Westworld”. Also with Thekla Reuten (“Lost”) in the role of the doctor and young Elijah Wolf (“Trainspotting 2”).
“Get The Hell Out”, I-Fan Wang (Taiwan)
First feature by the director, after his win at the Taipei Film Festival with his short “02-06”
A woman is elected as a member of Parliament whose fame is to have massive scenes of fighting among its members. All she wants is to prevent the construction of a chemical plant in her city. However, after another fight, she is dismissed. She turns then to the office guard as her substitute. Soon enough, he is one of the corrupt. When a virus appears transforming the politicians in zombies, hell breaks loose. They are the only ones who can prevent total disaster. A totally chaotic and satirical feature, much like Japanese manga. Selected by the Sitges and Philadelphia festivals.
“Post Mortem”, Péter Bergendy (Hungary)
Péter Bergendy was born in 1964. Graduated in Psychology with a thesis about horror films, he was the Hungarian editor of the German Cinema Magazine and worked as a researcher at the Hungarian Film Institute. As a film-meker he directed several award-winning commercials. His first feature was the comedy “Stop Mom Teresa!” in 2004. It was followed by “The Exam”, awarded at the Chicago Film festival 2012 and “Trezor” (2018), the first Hungarian TV film ever nominated for the Emmy’s. “Post Mortem” (2020) is the first ever horror Hungarian Feature.
A photographer, an ex-soldier of the 1st World War, goes to a small village to capture the images of dead family members with the live relatives as it was frequent at the time. In a place that had many deaths because of the Spanish Flu and unable to bury their dead due to the frozen land, the village is in the hands of unfriendly ghosts. The man is going to try to help them. This is the first Hungarian horror feature, that easily compares to major American productions, and reminding us of great classics such as the soviet “Viyi”. Selection of the Trieste Film Festival.
“The Reckoning”, Neil Marshall (UK)
Neil Marshall was born in England in 1970. Already known in Fantasporto for “The Descent” and for “Dog Soldiers”, his first feature, he returns after an awarded career. His previous feature was “Hellboy” (2019) and before that he worked in TV series such as “ Game of Thrones”, “WestWorld” or “Hannibal”. He got an Emmy nomination in 2014 for the episode “The Watchers on the Wall” of “Game of Thrones”.
In the 17th century, without being able to explain the plague and other evils, society blames women calling them witches. After her husband’s death, Grace and her baby fall in the hands of the lord of the manor and is accused of witchcraft. With 22 international awards, “The Reckoning” was granted Best Film, Director and Actors awards in the Los Angeles Film Awards and in the New York International Film Awards.
“Ten Minutes to Midnight”, Erik Bloomquist (USA)
Erik Bloomquist is a former Top 200 Director on HBO’s Project Greenlight (2001) known for his work as series creator, executive producer, writer, director, editor, and lead actor on “The Cobblestone Corridor “ (2016). He received an Emmy in 2017 as a director and as a writer for this series. “Ten to Midnight” is his first feature.
A late-night radio host, Amy Marlow, is trapped inside the station with her work colleagues and boss by a violent storm, shortly after being bitten by a rabid bat. To make things worse, she is being replaced after 30 years in the station. Sienna, her substitute fights with her and is bitten. The security guard seems to be waiting for the rabid symptoms. Amy begins to doubt what she sees, thinks or does. With Caroline Williams (“Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2”).
LX 2048, Guy Moshe (USA / Lithuania)
Guy Moshe is a director and screenwriter, known for “Holly” (2006), “Bunraku” (2010) and “The Man Who Was Thursday” (2016).
The future presents new challenges to humanity. The sun is toxic and only few people face daylight. Among them is Adam, a man searching to guarantee the safety of his family. In spite of being in bad terms with his wife. He must understand that he may be quickly replaced by a being like him. Or better.
“O Cemitério das Almas Perdidas”, Rodrigo Aragão (Brazil)
Known as director and screenwriter of “A Mata Negra/The Black Forest”, winner of the Best Screenplay award in Fantasporto 2020, Rodrigo Aragão was influenced by his father, a magician and cinema theatre owner, and the world of visual tricks and effects. He is also known for “Mud Zombies” (2008) and “A Noite do Chupacabras” (2011).
A ship in the middle of the storm is saved by the invocation of a man called Cyprian. The sailors reach firm land where they kill the natives. But a woman survives. In the meantime, a circus of horrors arrives in the village. The artists, first, scare the villagers and, seeing their reaction, try to soften their performance. Unsuccessfully. They decide to leave but before that, they are killed by some hooded men. And, to make things worse, the Indian cannibals arrive.
“The Trouble with Being Born”, Sandra Wollner (Austria/ Germany)
Sandra Wollner received the German Critics Award and won the Gotenburg Film festival for her first feature with “The Impossible Picture” (2017). “The Trouble of Being Born” is her second feature, selected for many festival such as Berlin, Bergen or Diagonale (Austria).
Elli is an android with the shape of a child whose memories are worth a lot to its owner but nothing at all to her. This is the story of a machine but much more about what humans think about loss, death, loneliness or human relationships. Presented with some controversy, mostly due to the relationship between the android and her “father”, the film won the Special Jury Award at the Belin Film Festival – Encounters, and was, among others, for the San Sebastian Film Festival.
Fantasy, horror, and sci-fi short films
“Dar-Dar”, Paul Urkijo Alijo (Spain)
In a remote village in the mountains, a woman abuses her child making her sweep the ground of the haunted hut. A monster comes down the chimney.
“No Podrás Volver Nunca”, Mónica Mateo (Spain)
A woman gets trapped in a corridor outside her apartment. What expects her is not at all normal.
“Zealandia”, Bruno Du Bois (New Zealand/ Belgium)
The only virus free territory is Zealandia. Refugees flock there hoping for a better lif, that is if the can get past the oppressive border controls.
“Pandora”, Matthias Lerch (Germany)
From chaos, a child is born. The organic and the mechanic, both in search of Life. Pandora
“Regarde Ce Que Tu As Fait!”, Monica de Almeida (Switzerland)
A man kills his girlfriend. He is interrogated by a psychologist. He says “I didn’t kill her. He did”.
“Conversations with a monkey”, Grojo (Spain)
A man talks to his robot partner about creative thinking and the problems of the future universe.
“[Out of Sync]”, Sasuke Sayama (Japan)
Technology doesn’ t solve everything. But it may certainly complicate.
“3 Murs & Un Toit”, Mathilde Dugardin, Orane Laffra, Hugo de Magalhães, Wassim El Hammami (France)
A doll house and a few characters inside. A little girl has to enter its world of wonder so that she can decipher a mystery.
“Tongue with Capers”, David Mataró (Spain)
Outside, the world is dominated by zombies. But a woman seems not to be afraid of them.
“Carmentis”, Antony Webb (Australia)
In a mining facility, one of the workers falls from a great height. A game of survival witnessed by strange gentle creatures.
“Abracitos”, Tony Morales (Spain)
Abracitos is in my room, says the crying little girl to her sister. “Abracitos doesn’t exist” says her sister. From the diretor of “Hada” and “Black Eyed Child”, both screened in competition.
“Rutina: La prohibición”, Sam Orti (Spain)
Who has access to oxygen? Who can live? A story of money, power and corruption. Animation.
“Out At Night”, Christopher Hewitt (UK)
A man gives a lift to another one who walks the streets. To have a private moment they stop in a not very adequate place.