Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Toronto After Dark Film Festival Day 6 - Tuesday October 25, 2011

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It's amazing that Day 6 started of as a grey, wet and dismal looking day and then turned into the most exciting and awesome day of Toronto After Dark so far. I won't lie it is a lot in part to the fact that after seeing The Divide I had a chance to interview two of the stars: Michael Biehn (Bereavement, The Terminator, Aliens) & Michael Eklund ('Intelligence', Hunt to Kill, Tactical Force) and I am huge fans of both of them. I had also been really looking forward to the lo-fi awesome energy of Manborg from Astron-6 and it delivered on every front and played to an amazingly enthusiastic crowd. All and all, the day was so wonderful that I barely even noticed being rained on during my way home.

Rather watch than listen? Check out my Day 6 Vlog! See also videos from festival Intros and Q&A's over at the Movie Moxie Facebook FanPage.

Blind Spot
Dir: Matthew Nayman
Canada, 6 minutes

Dark and comedic look on the odd juxtaposition of priorities, convenience, customer services and a greater whole of the world. Explores and exposes the chaos of the individual experience and the ability to completely black out the bigger picture. Really great thematic pairing to have this screened with The Divide.

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The Divide
Dir: Xavier Gens (Frontier(s), Hitman)
Cast: Michael Biehn, Milo Ventimiglia, Michael Eklund, Lauren German, Rosanna Arquette, Ashton Holmes, Courtney B. Vance, Iván González
Canada/USA/Germany

The Divide is a post apocalyptic thriller that delves deeply and darkly in the demise of the human spirit as it follows a group of people thrown together in the bowels of an apartment building sealed in against the unknown catastrophe that looms outside. I often have a hard time with post-apocalyptic films being a sunny side of the street kind of person, and in general will avoid them as they upset me but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see likely the highest profiled film at this years festival which has many guests in attendance including Michael Biehn (Bereavement, The Terminator, Aliens) & Michael Eklund ('Intelligence', Hunt to Kill, Tactical Force), Milo Ventimiglia, Jennifer Blanc-Biehn and director Xavier Gens (Frontier(s), Hitman) and it played to a completely sold out house. The energy in the room was electric and it's such a unique experience to see a film that is so focused on the power people can have over each other when you are literally surrounded by so many people. Who would step up and take charge? Would anyone challenge them, and if so - how much and how hard? When, or does, the human spirit crumble and is it inevitable that people will succumb to live in and live on the horror of the situation. I actually found the film quite a challenge to watch but what makes it work so very well are the performances by an astounding group of actors that went pretty method here shooting in chronological order and even going through similar limitations to their characters. I was particularly impressed by the connection and chemistry between the characters played by Michael Eklund & Milo Ventimiglia who had an electric bond on the screen, plus Lauren German who plays a very subtle character who carefully and subtly tries to stay out of the power struggles that are inevitable. I also was very impressed with Michael Biehn who walks a fine, gray line with the power of the inadvertent caretaker to the group. It certainly wasn't an easy watch, but it was a hell of a powerful film and will stay with me for a very long time.

See also
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The Divide Q&A with actors Michael Eklund, Milo Ventimiglia, Jennifer Blanc-Biehn, Michael Biehn and director Xavier Gens

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The Divide Q&A with actors Michael Eklund, Milo Ventimiglia, Jennifer Blanc-Biehn, Michael Biehn and director Xavier Gens

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The Divide Q&A with actors Michael Eklund, Milo Ventimiglia, Jennifer Blanc-Biehn, Michael Biehn and director Xavier Gens

Ethereal Chrysalis
Dir: Syl Disjonk
Canada, 10 minutes

Visually powerful short film that the filmmaker introduced as being inspired by his dreams, which must be vivid, transformative and torturous as the films flows and shifts through many transitions of entities, bodies, creatures and essences. Gorgeous visual styling paired with menacing creatures and confines will have this one etched in my brain & heart for quite a while. Absolutely stunning.

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Manborg
Dir: Steven Kostanski
Cast: Matthew Kennedy, Adam Brooks, Jeremy Gillespie, Andrea Karr
Canada

Manborg was easily one of my most anticipated films of this year’s festival with its crazy-fun spirit and blatant love of VHS-era action and/or sci-fi films. It takes that nostalgia and pipes it back on to the big screen for full-on, non-stop fun bringing (literally) to life from the beyond a crazy half-man, half-Borg who is thrown into a war between... well... humans and borgs. What's a Manborg to do? Oh, the conflict! It's absolutely fantastic, full of crazy effect, easy to identify stock characters with awesome one-liners, 2-dimensional dilemmas and of course the fight of good versus evil. I love how the film played strongly on ideas and themes from familiar tales from Robocop to The Terminator (which make it awesome pairing to have with The Divide), but still creates and maintains its own story, which gets a little crazier the further we go along in the film. I also loved the oddly entertaining, conflicting and bizarre love stories along with bad voice-overs and accents which all work because they are completely intentional. Although it's lo-fi, schlock goodness full of comedy and lunacy, it's also a completely well thought out brilliant film with awesome visuals. Manborg proves that a low budget feel can still be high flying fun. I loved every minute it.

See more at the Manborg Official Film Site, Trailer, IMDb Page

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Manborg screening with Astron-6 folk, Manborg director Stephen Kostanski and Toronto After Dark programmer Peter Kuplowsky

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Manborg screening with Astron-6 folk, Manborg director Stephen Kostanski and Toronto After Dark programmer Peter Kuplowsky

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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