Sunday, 15 August 2010

Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2010 Day 2 - Saturday August 14, 2010


Day 2 at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival was all about shorts & zombies, starting of with the Shorts After Dark, the international shorts program which is one I always look forward to as as we get to see crazy shorts from all over the world! Then we headed into the land of the undead with the zombie double bill.

Rather listen than read? Check out my Day 2 Vlog

Toronto After Dark Senior Programmer Peter Kuplowsky and Operations Director and Programmer Shelagh Rowan-Legg introduce the shorts program

Shorts After Dark - International Shorts Program
The shorts program this year consisted of 10 short films from around the world, and ranged from scifi to thrillers to the just plain weird. Animated or live action, most new to my eyes but I did have a chance to check out Pumzi (Dir: Wanuri Kahiu, South Africa/Kenya, 23 min) earlier in the year. Let's take a look at the rest of the international shorts program.

United Monster Talent Agency
Dir: Greg Nicotero
USA, 7 min

This short uses the clever idea of a Hollywood agency that keeps, tracks, and even creates monsters for use in film and has a fun look at monsters in classic monster films.

The Thomas Beale Cipher
Dir: Andrew Allen
USA, 13 min

I really digged the visual style of this short described as collage animation, which description really does give the vibe on it's look which is nicely layered and also used conventional 2D perspective very well which together made it an absolute treasure to watch. The short is centred on an actual cipher that is the key to a fortune, and those on the hunt to find and crack it. For more information on the film and also to see images of the fantastic visual style check out the films website.

See introduction to The Thomas Beale Cipher here.

Primer Contacte / First Contact
Dir: Pau Escribano
Spain, 9 min

Clever scifi take on first contact scenario that pulls together familiarity, unfamiliar and universal all in one. Had some really choice awkwardness and clever spin on the idea.

Frank DanCoolo: Paranormal Drug Dealer
Dir: Andrew Jones
USA, 8 min

I loved the visual style of this film as it was vivid, quick witted and easily established place, time and style without needing any preamble. I loved that it was in multiple languages and the protagonist Holly Malone, and just the idea of a paranormal drug dealer is enough to be in drawn in. Very successful in style and storytelling, the only confusion would be why it wasn't called Holly Malone: Ace Reporter as we follow her on the her journey to get a story.

Barcelona Venice
Dir: David Munoz
Spain, 5 min

Interesting conceptual scifi in modern day setting effectively using confusion and comedy in this brief short.

Off Season
Dir: Jonathan Van Tulleken
USA/UK, 13 min

Off Season is a very successful short thriller that manages to tell a simple yet fascinating tale in just 13 minutes, one that could could easily rival feature films of the same vein. Working with vast yet limited locations, the vastness of isolation and what happens during... the Off Season. It is one the the creepiest films I've seen at the festival so far and certainly was the big buzz around town after the shorts program.

DemiUrge Emesis
Dir: Aurelio Voltaire
USA, 3 min

Voltaire shorts are soooo short it's almost hard to put them into words, but the visceral style and messed up quirkiness brings again a consistent cleverness to the screen.

Deus Irae
Dir: Pedro Cristiani
Argentina, 13 min

And here be the goriest of the shorts in the program which I didn't expect from a short that started with creepy possession and demonic overtones, but perhaps they do go hand and hand. Visceral, creepy, gooey and gory this short brings an western feel to outlaw-inspired exorcism. Buckets of blood in this one, the effects are unbelievable.

The Library
Dir: Levi Macdougal & David Dineen Porter
Canada, 4 min

The Library was one of the most messed up shorts of the program, not because of gore or language but rather it's bizarre concept and hilarious use of repetition that make it walk to a completely different tune of weirdness.


Festival founder and director Adam Lopez with Zombie Coordinator Thea Munster and fellow zombies

After the shorts it was on to the zombie double bill of Doghouse and Evil in the Time of Heroes along with two zombie shorts Inferno of the Dead and They Shall Pay with Rivers of Blood. I think having They Shall Pay with Rivers of Blood with Evil in the Time of Heroes might be in the running for the most words used with two films programmed together, and possibly a long enough title to say to distract a zombie while you run away, at least if it's a slow-style zombie. To get the night started Zombie Coordinator Thea Munster (in an awesome mime zombie costume) and fellow zombies handed out some prize packs to the crowd.

Inferno of the Dead
Dir: Jeremy Gillespie
Canada, 8 min

Now this was a fun new take on the zombie genre, I got a real kick out of Inferno of the Dead. From the Astron-6 guys, this time playing on what if zombies ended up being not quite so sinister, yet still really annoying. Fun times.

See introduction to Inferno of the Dead here and watch Inferno of the Dead here.

Dir: Jake West (Evil Aliens)
Cast: Stephen Graham, Danny Dyer, Noel Clarke, Lee Ingleby, Emil Marwa, Keith-Lee Castle, Christina Cole

The nicest thing to say about Doghouse is that I'm not it's target market, which is pretty clear from it's completely non-PC stance and plot which centres on a bunch of blokes whom to help on buddy (Vince) get over his divorce set out to a high women-to-men radio town with plans to drink themselves silly and the like. But the women turn out to be zombies, it turns into the boys vs the zombie women with lots of blood, gore, torture, ineffectiveness and all around craziness. Although I did laugh on occasion, it was nowhere near enough to offset it's fully embraced sexist nature that was rampant throughout. Normally I'd be happy to say that it's good for it's targeted audience, but I can't really promote sexism even if it's through a comedy or zombie filter. It was awesome to see Lee Ingleby ("Stan Shunpike" from the Harry Potter films), I did enjoy his performance and his character, who was a more sweet-natured geek than the rest.


They Shall Pay with Rivers of Blood
Dir: Buck Anderson
Canada, 7 min

Frantic and flailing, this zombie short takes us on the run from the crazy undead. Really sweet effects on this one and it almost won me over but ended up losing me again. Surprized it wasn't put with Doghouse.

See introduction to They Shall Pay with Rivers of Blood here.

Evil in The Time of Heroes / To kako - Stin epohi ton iroon
Dir: Yorgos Noussias (Evil)
Cast: Dinos Avgoustidis, Orfeas Avgoustidis, Billy Zane

So, the pitch on Evil in The Time of Heroes is it's a zombie film from Greece, a sequel that doesn't require viewing of the first film and has a 'gratuitous' and inexplicable use of Billy Zane. I'd agree on almost all those marks, with the exception of the fact that I really enjoyed the use of Billy Zane, although at one part is really ... ridiculous, but other than that I though he kind of centred the film. As a zombie film it certainly has lots and lots and lots and then even some more over there zombies, and doesn't hold back on the blood, guts and gore on either the zombies or anyone else involved. I did feel that although we got an excess there, there was certainly a lack of cohesion in terms of the story line that bridges a 'the one' hero story with a 'now as well as then' time line. It's an interesting take, but I think would have been more successful if the film has more likable characters, especially the one who was suppose to be... the one. Although there were a few likable characters, and some surprizingly genuine chemistry and romance which I certainly did not expect to see in a zombie film, it still had some gender crap (although nowhere near that of Doghouse). Overall it felt like a bit of a mess in terms of story and continuity, but it had some good laughs and was clever at times, and it certainly didn't hold back on the zombies.

The Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2010 runs from August 13 - 20, 2010 at the Bloor Cinema, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How could Rivers of Blood lose you at the end? The end was the best part.

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