Calling all Nicolas Cage fanatics — the beloved actor will receive the Cheval Noir Career Achievement Award at the 27th annual Fantasia International Film Festival this summer.
The award is one of the highlights of the festival, one of the world’s premiere showcases for daring genre films, and he’ll receive it at a screening of his new film Sympathy for the Devil.
Taking place from July 20 to August 9, the festival will screen more than 120 features and 200 shorts in Montréal, Quebec. Venues include Concordia Hall Cinema, the J.A. DeSève Cinema, Cinémathèque québécoise, and Cinéma du Musée. Ticket pre-sale will begin on July 15.
The festival, which is one of our 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee, is known for daring, experimental, fun films — and for audiences that begin to meow as the lights go down at screenings. Fantasia’s reputation as a stellar source of new film discoveries was further secured last year by its premiere of Skinamarink, a horror film made by Canadian filmmaker Kyle Edward Bell for about $10,000 that went on to earn more than $2 million at the box office.
Cage won the Best Actor Oscar in 1996 for Leaving Las Vegas and has recently had a brilliant comeback with films like Pig, Mandy, and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Fantasia will mark the international premiere of Sympathy for the Devil, which is directed by Yuval Adler and stars Cage as a mysterious figure who forces a man (Joel Kinnaman) to drive at gunpoint in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse.
In our spring 2022 cover story, Cage talked about continuing to hone his craft, even during tough times in his career when he had to take on roles to pay off debts.
“The silver lining to that — Pig is the best example — is that I never stopped practicing. I got closer and closer to my instrument, I got closer and closer to my emotions, and how to access my emotions and my dreams and my imagination. The movies didn’t all work, but they never always work,” he says.
Fantasia 2023 Expected Highlights
The festival’s opening night film will be Pascal Plante’s psychological horror feature Red Rooms. The closing night film will be the horror-comedy WE ARE ZOMBIES from Quebecois cult collective RKSS, made up of François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell.
The return of RKSS is notable because the members of the collective attended the festival as fans before making shorts that quickly became Fantasia favorites. WE ARE ZOMBIES is set in a society where zombies, referred to as “living-impaired,” roam among the living with no urge to eat flesh. The film stars Megan Peta Hill (Riverdale), Alexandre Nachi (1991) and Derek Johns (The Boys). RKSS mainstay Jean-Philippe Bernier handles the cinematography and the electro soundtrack as part of his duo, Le Matos.
Other feature films screening this year include the world premieres of Lim Sun-ae’s Ms. Apocalypse; John Rosman’s New Life starring Hayley Erin and Sonya Walger; Mark H. Rapaport’s feature directorial debut Hippo, executive produced by Danny McBride, David Gordon Green and Jody Hill; and Lee Hae-young’s The Phantom.
Other highlights include Mary Dauterman’s feature debut, the dark comedy Booger, as well as Eight Eyes, the inaugural production from famed restoration label Vinegar Syndrome, and the debut feature from Hei Yau Lin, The Moon, The Sky and You.
The festival will also feature the North American premiere of Amanda Nell Eu’s Semaine de la Critique Grand Prize winner Tiger Stripes, Sam H. Freeman & Ng Choon Ping’s Berlinale sensationFemme, Yoshimi Itazu’s The Concierge, Quarxx’s Pandemonium, Lee Hae-young’s Phantom and Jimmy Laporal-Trésor’s Rascals.
The shorts collection this year will include Fidel Ruiz-Healy and Tyler Walker’s “Dead Enders,” Noomi Yates’ “Only Yourself to Blame,” and Andreas Nilsson’s “Claudio’s Song.”
Besides Skinarmarink, films at last year’s festival included All Jacked Up and Full of Worms, Country Gold, The Artifice Girl, Megalomaniac, Polaris and The Harbinger. Other highlights included artist talks with John Woo and Kier-La Janisse. Fantasia also hosts the international co-production market Frontières, where filmmakers deliver their best, most inventive pitches to potential investors.
Distributors on hand have included Sony, Amazon, Hulu, IFC, Mongrel Media, Shudder, XYZ and Arrow Films.
You can see the full lineup of shorts and features on the Fantasia International Film Festival website.
Main Image: Nicolas Cage courtesy of Fantasia International Film Festival