The 15th annual Fantasia Film Festival enveloped the city of Montreal in July of 2011. Among its 114-film lineup were gala world premieres of Robin Hardy's long-awaited THE WICKER TREE - a darkly humorous followup to his seminal 1974 Pagan masterwork THE WICKER MAN - and the Grand Guignol omnibus horror film THE THEATRE BIZARRE, featuring segments by Douglas Buck, Buddy Giovinazzo, David Gregory, Karim Hussain, Tom Savini and Richard Stanley, with flamboyant wraparound material directed by Jeremy Kasten.

As with Robin Hardy and THE WICKER TREE, Richard Stanley's segment in THE THEATRE BIZARRE, entitled MOTHER OF TOADS, marked the filmmaker's return to fiction filmmaking after a years-long absence - in his case, 15 years, in Robin's, a full 22.

While decades apart in age, both filmmakers share numerous distinctive qualities. An astute understanding of the occult, an encyclopedic knowledge of history and religion and a profoundly biting ability for dark satire and ironic poetry. Both are also master raconteurs, captivating speakers who can have any crowd hanging on their every word. Their films, usually made years apart from one to the other, are wholly singular visions, unique, unconventional and uncompromising works that challenge, amuse and startle. A conversation with either is no different, let alone one held *between* them.

To celebrate the dual return to filmmaking from two of Great Britain's most inspired genre minds, Fantasia held a one-hour event that saw Hardy and Stanley sit down for a fascinating discussion of faith, filmmaking and the occult. The event was held on the 20th of July, 2011.

What you will see here is the first 30-minutes of this conversation. Note: the event was shot with a 2-camera setup, but has yet to be fully edited. As we wanted to get this video online in time for the US theatrical releases of both THE WICKER TREE and THE THEATRE BIZARRE (which, as fate would have it, are opening against each other on the same forthcoming weekend!), we are presenting the raw footage from Camera One (Eric S. Boisvert), which framed the entire event in a master shot. In other words, expect to see a later version of this with close-ups. :)

Enjoy, and blessed be.

Mitch Davis
Co-Director, Fantasia Film Festival

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