Monday, 24 October 2011

Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2011 Day 3: Saturday October 22, 2011

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Day 3 at Toronto After Dark Film Festival is often a battle of the wills being a long day of 4 screenings and then it's also battle of the braaaaaaaaaaaaaains as it's the Zombie Appreciation Day with an evening of back-to-back zombie films which this year included the zombie buddy comedy DeadHeads and the World Premiere WWII action/zombie film War of the Dead. It was really exciting as both zombie features had cast & crew at the screenings, plus the International Shorts Programme which I always look forward to every year and the big crowd-pleaser afternoon screening of Japanese animated racing film Redline which had the audience cheering at the loud, fast, racing goodness. I'm in for another long one at the festival today and then we are back to 2-a-night screening. Wish me luck!

Rather watch than read? Check out my Day 3 Vlog! See also videos from festival Intros and Q&A's over at the Movie Moxie Facebook FanPage.

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Peter Kuplowsky introduces the International Shorts Programme

Shorts After Dark - International Shorts Programme

I look forward to the shorts every year, be they the Canadian ones in front of the features or the block of International Shorts on as an afternoon delight. This year’s international slate held 9 short films from around the world, let's look at a selection of the shorts from the International Shorts Programme:

Dirty Silverware
This was a clever and inventive short giving by taking the everyday and making it extraordinary. I loved the creativity in the story, the use of humour and the ability to make something so normal feel so creepy. It does get a little long and a little strange, but I'd be worried if I saw something that wasn't strange!

Nursery Crimes
Deliciously and delightfully dark take of familiar tales by mixing and mashing them up to a bloody brilliant and perfectly brief short. I loved it.

ROSA
I saw ROSA a bit back for the Worldwide Short Film Festival and although it clearly feels like a demo reel for a video game, it's also absolutely gorgeous and has a story to boot. I was quite taken in more by it this time and enjoyed the beautiful colours, impeccable visuals, immersive environments and nicely sculpted body movements.

The Dungeon Master
Wow, The Dungeon Master sure hits a lot of unusually spots together from relaxed nostalgia to RPGing to bullying to the fantastical. I was actually surprized by some of the harshness interlaced with underdog characters and the complexity of seeing someone become what you think they hate. All that and it had a lot of laughs too that I'm sure any gamer could appreciate, although it went at times darker than I expected. I actually would have loved to see more on different aspects it only touched on, I think there is a lot of material there and would been great as a series of shorts.

Martha's Birthday
I absolutely love when the program ends on a brief, but completely twisted short that makes you laugh and that's exactly what Martha's Birthday does. Taking easily accessible ideas from birthday parties and grumpy siblings it runs with some crazy ideas that had me in stitches. Hilarious & brilliant.

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Paso Doble
Canada, 2 minutes

Ah, ballroom dancing! It's not often enough that it crosses over to genre film goodness, and it was exciting to see this rich and intense animated short explore the energy of paso doble. I really enjoyed this one.

Lost For Words
Canada, 10 minutes

Adventurous and inquisitive energy on this short that explored concepts of words as actions as 2 kids make their way though the big outdoors away from the familiar. I really enjoyed the straight-up practical kid responses that challenged almost everything he was presented with and the curious dream like world it was set it.

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Redline
Dir: Takeshi Koike
Voices: Takuya Kimura, Yû Aoi
Japan

Redline was one of the few films at the festival that people seemed to have already seen, yet they were also stoked to see it on the big screen with big sound. It's a Japanese animated film centred on car races in the future which gives it an oddly nostalgic for current-ness vibe to it, as although they've progressed beyond there is still joy for the oldskool ride and racing of race cars. I think one of the strongest things I took from the film was realizing how rarely I watch anything animated, which made it suprizingly refreshing and engaging as I was less familiar with the patterns of the genre and/or style and could only just keep the characters straight but had no idea where the story would go. Given that it's a far-future set film it felt like it could, and did, go anywhere and everywhere across the galaxy and beyond so much so I most of the time had no clue where it was or if the characters where human (dogs? robots? aliens? all of the above?) or not, or if that even mattered. The awesome thing is, it was completely fun to watch even with only being able to barely cobble together what was going on. I could have done without the cartoon nudity (although I'm likely in the minority with this crowd!) but I adored the sheer audacity of the racing sequences that were completely intensive & immersive. I'm already looking forward to seeing it again, Redline was a fantastic spectacle that has to be seen and experienced. Highly recommend.

See Redline's Official Film Site, Trailer, IMDb Page

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Play Dead
Dirs: Andres & Diego Meza-Valdes
USA, 15 minutes

I wasn't quite sure what to expect with a pet-themed zombie short, and what we get is a hilarious tale that shows that storytelling can be showcased just as well with words as it can be with barks. It's a phenomenal feat as we follow a flurry of four legged friends as they do their best amidst a zombie apocalypse. Charming, delightful as well as very furry and bloody. Very inventive and well executed.

DeadHeads
Writer/Dir: Brett Pierce & Drew T. Pierce
Cast: Michael McKiddy, Ross Kidder, Markus Taylor, Natalie Victoria
USA

I think it's wild to see undead buddy comedy movies emerge as a micro genre, but I guess when you are going through the transition of life to death to...death, it's better to do it with a friend, even if they are someone you don't even know you can still connect with your inner undead-ness. DeadHeads' takes the great new spin on the buddy comedy which an undead turn and threading in both a love story with the craziness of a road movie which makes it a fun ride from start to finish. There are lots of nods to film and pop culture references spattered throughout that are great to point out and laugh along with and many hilarious side story characters to follow along the way. I really enjoyed the earnestness that is showcased with the new-friends finding their friendship feet along with the overall zombie tale and relationships drama to boot. A fun-filled genre mash up that will leave you laughing & cheering, DeadHeads is a refreshing hopeful tale while still being a delightfully undead watch.

See DeadHeads' Official Film Site, Trailer, IMDb Page

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2011.10.22 TADFF11 Day 3 Deadheads screening actors Markus Taylor & Natalie Victoria, director Brett Pierce and Adam Lopez

You Are So Undead
Dir: Alex Epstein
Canada, 6 minutes

You Are So Undead is a charming supernatural short with a unique and transparent take on coming of age all set in a girl’s washroom. I really enjoyed it but the joy is very much in the reveal so I'll leave that for folks to enjoy as they see it. Fans of Being Human (North American) will be delighted to see Meghan Rath here in yet another supernatural tale.

War of the Dead (2011) **World Premiere**
Dir: Marko Mäkilaakso
Cast: Andrew Tiernan, Mikko Leppilampi, Samuli Vauramo, Jouko Ahola, Mark Wingett, Andreas Wilson, Antti Reini, Magdalena Górska
Lithuania/USA/Italy

War of the Dead was one of my most anticipated films of the festival this as it's a Lithuanian co-production and any Baltic connection to film warms my Latvian heart. My excitement over that totally pushed aside the acknowledgement of its WWII setting which is a period that's not my fave, in fact any war films are hard for me to watch, but given that it's also a zombie film, an action film and starts with a premise of events that actually took place it’s got a plethora of source material and themes that makes it have something to appeal to virtually any movie goes. It is one heck of a recipe in awesome, and the screening at Toronto After Dark was the films World Premiere which added to the excitement of the night. I loved the weight of War of the Dead, how it felt drenched in dirt from the analogous tertiary colour story of browns to the explosions of dirt that lay heavy on the soldiers. The contrast of the open space exteriors to the imposing and constrictive confines of the bunker, showcasing the challenges all situations added to the tension and continual, oppressive tone that matches the war setting so very well. I also really loved the action in the film which is all-out, knock-down, freaking fantastic with great energy and style making it a huge highlight of the film. Overall I really enjoyed War of the Dead and given the horror stories of production hell the film went though that was shared during the Q&A of the film it’s impressive how seamlessly the film plays out. The production values in the film are great, the look and feel of it is fantastic, you'd truly have no idea the that it took years and many challenges to pull it all together. A unique genre blend with drive and a lot of machismo, War of the Dead definitely was a fantastic watch and welcome addition to world of zombie film.

See War of the Dead's Trailer, IMDb Page

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War of the Dead World Premiere Introduction with director Marko Mäkilaakso, Toronto After Dark programmer Christian Burgess and Toronto After Dark Film Festival Director & Founder Adam Lopez

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War of the Dead Q&A DOP Hannu-Pekka Vitikainen, actor Jouko Ahola, director Marko Mäkilaakso and Toronto After Dark Programmer Christian Burgess

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War of the Dead Q&A DOP Hannu-Pekka Vitikainen, actor Jouko Ahola, director Marko Mäkilaakso and Toronto After Dark Programmer Christian Burgess

The 6th Annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival runs for 8 Nights of Horror, Sci-Fi, Action and Cult Movies at the Toronto Underground Cinema in Toronto, Ontario, Canada from October 20-27, 2011.

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It was a day of full line ups all around, and a lot of zombies in the house to boot. Actually, don't boot zombies... they have enough to deal with being undead!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Shannon
Thank you for the review and the kind words regarding my short film "Dirty Silverware"
Steve Daniels

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

You're welcome Steve! I really enjoyed it :)

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