Sunday was my fullest day at Toronto After Dark Film Festival by far, fitting in all screenings which included 16 shorts and 3 features. This was a tough decision as it means I missed seeing the zombie walk. Luckily not all was lost and the zombies were tromping around the Bloor and Bathurst area all night. In fact, upon exiting the theatre after Audience of One, I was faced with multitude of zombies, many of which were in line for the next film, Automation Trnasfusion. At one point I nearly crashed into a zombie and then had the quick & friendly "Sorry!" and "It's OK!" exchange. Good zombie!
Cutting Edge Fantasy
The day started with a collection of SciFi and Fantasy shorts which were introduced as "All the cool stuff". I would have to agree, they weren't all pigeon holed into the genre identification as SciFi/Fantasy but I think there could all be appreciated by SciFi/Fantasy fans. Here are the stand outs:
Agnieshka: A Dark Symphony of 2039
This was the most polished film of the bunch and had an electric like energy to it that drew you in the world it created. Highly stylized with amazing sound and ideas brought to life, it was my favorite of the bunch.
Trionyx (Soft-Shelled Turtle)
This brilliant short revolving around the preparation for a fight against Godzilla. Hilarious.
Clocking in at 4 minutes this is the essence of short film. Enough visual information is provided for everything to mesh together perfectly but also leaves enough to keep you thinking.
Creepy tale of a sounds that overwhelms humans, told in an unnerving visual style bridging the familiar with the unthinkable. One to watch.
One of the great things about seeing SciFi/Fantasy is it opens up to fascinating ideas as well as new and inventive ways to tell stories. Fantastic ideas are the back bone of Ambassador's Day and The Un-Gone, and visual inventiveness is dominant in Hairlady and An Introduction to Lucid Dream Experience.
One of the exciting things about today was that it was the annual zombie walk. Although I didn't attend myself, the zombies were everywhere!!! Here is Thea Faulds, Zombie Walk Coordinator looking fabulously ghoulish with Adam Lopez as they hand out prize packs before the screening of Automaton Transfusion:
Terror on the 3918
Dir: Mathieu Fontaine
Impressions: Ironically after viewing all the shorts in the fantasy selection, I find my favourite short so far directly after it. Canadian and in French to boot this film brilliantly pairs known scifi culture to every day home devices. Absolutely brilliant.
Audience of One
Dir: Mike Jacobs
Impressions: This film was by far the one I heard that most people in being interested to see it, possible because it is a documentary. I wonder if it falls over 'horror' or 'fantasy'. I'm thinking they were going for fantasy. The documentary follows a pastor set out to direct a biblical film of Star Wars scale with zero experience and the continual refrain that 'the funding will come through'. Although there were many great moments ranging from hilarious to unbelievable the continual thought ran through me of why we think it is funny? Is it because of the religious element? The ineptitude? The main focus is really about one man's dream and going for it even if it is big and crazy idea - and that is something I can be totally for! Although it's more about him getting people to follow his dream, as oppose to everyone having their own. I would also be curious as to why he agreed to be filmed throughout, and if he has seen the film. It is entertaining on many levels, so for that I give it credit.
(Adam Lopez and Steve Miller before Zombie Jesus)
Dir: Steve Miller
Impressions: Wonderful, zom-com merging the ideas of religion to current day life with a twist of zombieness. Very well received and stellar zombie film.
Q&A Highlights: Parts of the film were filmed during the 2006 Zombie Walk, and numerous zombies from this year were in the audience! Cool!
Dir: Steven C. Miller
Cast: Garrett Jones, Juliet Reeves, William Howard Bowman
Impressions: Introduced as a film that will be the first in a trilogy, this bloody as hell zombie film is entertaining but didn't quite meet the mark for me. I think it is the bloodiest of the films so far (excluding the possibility of Blood Car which I didn't see), and surely had lots of cheers from the audience. There are promising young actors but I felt some aspects of the film didn't quite hold up including that some of story is 'told' instead of 'shown', as well as some continuity issues. It was entertaining and the crowd loved it, but in terms of zombie feature films I found Mulberry Street from Day One of the festival to be a much more satisfying.
(Adam Lopez and Jason Zukowski before Eat the Parents)
Eat the Parents
Dir: Jason Zukowski
Impressions: Very rowdy crowd gave this short about a average couple meeting the parent's dinner to a ritual zombiemaking process a welcoming response.
(Adam Lopez with Lloyd Kaufman and the Troma crew)
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead
Dir: Lloyd Kaufman
Cast: Jason Yachanin, Kate Graham, Lloyd Kaufman
Impressions: Where to begin. My impression going into it was a zombie-chicken-musical. I thought, ok that sounds interesting. This is my second D'oh! moment of not reading the description carefully enough. This satire with the theme of protesting against the fast food business on an ancient burial ground, with the most visible protesters being girls who for some reason remove their shirts. Right. Add to that bathroom humour, bodily fluids, solids and parts all flying around going into things or being cut off or multiple other possibilities. I haven't even gotten to the whole chicken thing, or zombie thing, or satire thing. I think I'll leave it at that. I would think you would be able to know by now if the film was meant for you.
Q&A Highlights: The film did us mostly old school special effects as opposed to CGI, the soundtrack has karaoke delights, and it was good to hear that independent film is still kicking and that a lot of people volunteered from all over the world to help put this film together.
Highlight of the Day: Walking into zombies all day and night.
The Toronto After Dark Film Festival runs October 19-25/07 at the Bloor Cinema, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.