Julien Knafo’s Frontières prospect, Brain Freeze, will be the opening presentation for the virtual 25th installment of the Fantasia International Film Festival this summer. The chiller, produced by Barbara Shrier (The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom, Mémoires Affectives), and starring leading Québécois Roy Dupuis (La Femme Nikita, The Rocket) – in his 50th feature with this role – alongside Iani Bédard (Mon Ami Walid), will have its world premiere on August 5 ahead of a Canadian release on August 13 from Filmoption International.
The film’s announcement a few weeks ago also brought in tow the latest look at the festival’s official 2021 poster, illustrated by Donald Caron. Fantasia is celebrating Caron’s work as a mark of inspiration from the likes of Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s beloved Lone Wolf And Cub – a symbolic homage to the role Japanese culture has played in the festival’s history, as well as a testament to the festival’s embrace of Japanese cinema as a core cinematic theme for this year’s event.
A major Québécois genre feature, Brain Freeze is billed as “a smart and stylish zombie comedy that slyly comments on social concerns both domestic and universal, telling the tale of an environmental disaster that leads to a fast-spreading virus ravaging a wealthy gated community off the island of Montreal.”
The festival also touts the film as an addition to the ranks of recently-released cinema that holds an eerie mirror up to our collective experience even though scripted and shot pre-pandemic. Production abruptly halted four days before completion following Quebec’s lockdown, and miraculously wrapped the following summer.
The cast of celebrated Québécois talents also includes Marianne Fortier (Aurore), Anne-Élisabeth Bossé (Laurence Anyways), Mylène Mackay (Nelly), Simon-Oliver Fecteau (Bluff), Stéphane Crête (Dans Une Galaxie Près De Chez Vous), Mahée Paiment (Les Boys), Louis-Georges Girard (Mafia Inc.), Claudia Ferri (Bad Blood), and Jean-Pierre Bergeron (Sur Le Seuil).
Equally gorgeous as it is bloody, BRAIN FREEZE presents a clever take on corporate greed, the growing rift between the haves and have-nots and a government in crisis that uses a zombie outbreak to express its truth and succeeds at being both a charming horror comedy, coming-of-age tale, and a story of unexpected friendship in hazardous times.
Fantasia’s virtual event this year follows suit with last year’s operations as the festival shifted gears to acclimate to quarantine status for most of the world. The festival’s programme will be accessible to audiences across Canada, with a dynamic roster screenings and premieres, panels, and workshops that will run through August 25, once again using the leading-edge platform created by Festival Scope and Shift72.
Last summer’s virtual edition was a phenomenal success, screening to 85000 spectators and amassing a record amount of media coverage, with 475 accredited journalists from around the world covering Fantasia and its titles. The lineup showcased 104 features, a quarter of which were World Premieres, with the majority securing distribution out of the festival, with highlights including THE BLOCK ISLAND SOUND selling to Netflix, COME TRUE to IFC, THE PAPER TIGERS to WellGo USA, ANYTHING FOR JACKSON to Shudder, PVT CHAT to Dark Star, and MINOR PREMISE to Utopia.