Celebrating 20 years of weird and wonderful films

Last week saw the launch of the 20th annual Fantasia Festival. What started as a niche film festival has expanded to become one of the biggest and best festivals for all kinds of weird and wonderful films. With a devoted audience and a massive selection of films of all genres, it’s one of Montreal’s favourite ways to beat the summer heat and escape into another world.

Plank’s involvement with the festival goes almost all the way back to the beginning, when founder Warren Wilansky designed the website while working with HBE software in 1998. Plank has been taking care of Fantasia’s online presence since 2003, making them one of Plank’s longest standing clients.

Fantasia’s 1998 website by HBE Software

We’re big supporters of arts and culture here at Plank, and we’re very proud to be a partner to Fantasia, one of North America’s most important and unique film festivals. Fantasia stands out in their incredibly diverse programming, and their audience’s sense of discovery and willingness to be challenged.

“From its very first screening in July of 1996, the audiences were unreal. In terms of size, passion, knowledge, engagement, everything, instantly flying in the face of what so many distributors liked to insist upon – that young audiences mostly weren’t interested in seeing films from cultures they didn’t immediately identify with, shot in languages they don’t speak. Like the most wonderful dream, this hasn’t wavered one bit in the two decades that ensued. The key has always been about making audiences aware of their options. People actually do want to see films with individualistic voices behind them, to be told stories that are “different”.

— Mitch Davis, Co-Director, Fantasia International Film Festival

With 3 jam-packed weeks of programming, the festival site has to be powerful and robust enough to handle tens of thousands of visitors, multiple editors, and hundreds of showtimes. This year, Plank improved the navigation, social media sharing and partnership section, and added more CMS control for the festival staff. In the fall, we’ll be working on making the site more responsive for mobile devices (we know, we know, it’s been a long time coming!)

Now that the site is up and running, the team at Plank can enjoy the festival!

Here are some of our top picks:

As the Gods Will

“This survival game movie from Takashi Miike (one of Fantasia’s most beloved directors, and recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award) is a pure gem of visually funny yet traumatizing gory death scenes. The protagonist, Shun Takahata, is caught in a giant game cube where he and his high school pals have to play deadly games with animated childhood toys to get out alive. I highly recommend this film if you like bloody movies with an absurdist and comedic twist.” — Debbie Rouleau

Bed of the Dead

“It was my first time at Fantasia, and I really enjoyed the first film I saw, Bed of the Dead. The story of a killer bed is perfect to watch just before going to sleep! I loved the gory scenes and the unexpected ending. I definitely recommend this film – even though it might make you want to check under the bed before you go to sleep.” — Jerome Devillers

International Science Fiction Short Film Showcase

“I’m a huge fan of sci-fi short films. You can be dropped into the most intense, abstract, out-there story — without the padding of a full story arc — and just enjoy the idea being presented. Bring them on!” — Steve Bissonnette

Celluloid Experiments & Fantasia: 20 Years of Art and Artists

“I’m a Fantasia Festival newbie, and I have to close my eyes for blood and guts. A short film program of visual and thematic experimentation sounds like a great introduction. And I’m a big fan of ephemera, so the survey of artwork from the festival’s history is a must-see.” — Erin Whitney

Yoga Hosers

“I love Kevin Smith’s movies, this film looks ridiculous (in the best way), and it’s about Canadians!” — Warren Wilansky

Fantasia is also hosting a VR space where you can check out a selection of 10 virtual reality experiences and vote for your favourite. The festival runs until August 3rd, check out the full schedule and don’t miss out on this summer’s hottest ticket in town!

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