The Montreal festival has become an increasingly important launch point for adventurous genre fare.
For the past six years, genre moviemakers and moneymen have congregated for long weekends at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival, taking part in the Frontières Co-Production Marketplace. Founded in 2012, the market was conceived as a place for horror/fantasy/action auteurs — both established names and newcomers — to pitch projects to potential backers and take part in various networking events.
A highlight of the Market is the opening-day pitch session, in which selected directors, writers, and producers offer multimedia presentations of their nascent features. At the very first Frontières, this event spawned Anouk Whissell, Francois Simard, and Yoann-Karl Whissell’s exuberant futuristic actioner “Turbo Kid”; subsequent movies that took their first steps to fruition there include Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie’s cult/monster horror film “The Void”; Caroline Labrèche and Steeve Léonard’s science-fiction thriller “Radius,” which premiered at this year’s Fantasia; and Jenn Wexler’s upcoming punk-slasher opus “The Ranger.” (Julia Ducournau’s celebrated “Raw” was similarly launched at a Frontières event in Brussels.)
This year, a record 20 features were previewed in the pitch rounds, running the gamut in terms of both subject matter and stylistics. Easily the most conspicuous was “Road of the Dead,” the new entry in George A. Romero’s classic zombie-film series, to be directed by his longtime stunt coordinator Matt Birman. There was a bittersweet feeling cast over the presentation due to Romero’s passing the Sunday before, and market director Lindsay Peters opened the event with a tribute to the horror master.
Birman and producer Matt Manjourides’ pitch included a brief proof-of-concept video demonstrating the premise of ghouls whose remembered behavior now includes the ability to operate…