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Showing posts from August, 2009

I Miss Toronto After Dark

I had a surprisingly good time at this year's Toronto After Dark Film Festival (TAD). I'd been to a couple of films last year, and I interviewed Festival Director, Adam Lopez when the festival first started, but I really didn't think this festival was for me. If you've been reading this blog, then you know that horror dramas are not for me. This year, the diversity of films on offer, and the quality of films on offer, aroused my curiosity enough for me to venture out, sometimes even by myself!

I didn't get a chance to see everything I wanted to because of scheduling conflicts, but I managed to see 7 of the 18 films on offer. (Last year I saw 2-Netherbeast Incorporated, which I loved and Mutant Chronicles which I did not.) If TAD keeps offering me choices of sci-fi, zombie comedies, martial arts epics and edgy action/fantasies, then I will be back for more next year, and I'll be bringing other scardy cats with me.

Now that TAD is done, I miss being in a theatre wh…

Toronto After Dark Award Winners

I was thrilled that two of my favourite films from the Toronto After Dark Film Festival are award winners: Dead Snow and Strigoi. Congratulations to the filmmakers, and thank you to all the audience members who took the time to vote. Awards like these mean a lot to the filmmakers in terms of promoting their existing work and getting funding for future projects.

Did any of your faves win?
Have a look at the press release below:

TORONTO AFTER DARK FILM FESTIVAL is thrilled to announce the Award Winners of its 2009 edition. A record over 3,700 votes were cast by festival-goers this year to determine this year’s Audience Award Winners.


VISION AWARDS, Best Independent Feature Film
The Vision Awards are given out by the Festival in recognition of outstanding independent genre feature filmmaking.

AUDIENCE AWARDS, Best Canadian Short Film

Toronto After Dark: Motherhood Scares Chris L. and donna g Says "It's A Wrap"

I really wanted to go to the closing night gala for the Toronto After Dark Film Festival (TAD), but no way could I bring myself to see a movie about a blood-craving baby and its devoted mother. Lucky for me, Chris L. was available. Thank you Chris for being my horror drama proxy, and being plucky enough to see GRACE.

Chris L.:I'd become rather blasé about horror films over the past few days, having seen more suspense and horror comedies than anything else at TAD (my schedule didn't always match TAD's screening of horror dramas) and then I saw GRACE. I will never underestimate the creepiness of the closing gala film any more. GRACE was... unsettling, or as one girl remarked on the way out, "a little nasty". (No wonder I couldn't convince donna g and many of my friends to come with me! They must have sensed something I didn't.)

Kudos to the filmmakers! The picture is actually fairly restrained in terms of violence and blood. Its effectiveness lies in the grad…

Toronto After Dark: Chris L. Goes Beyond The Forbidden Door

No way was this Scardy Cat going to see a movie called The Forbidden Door. Thanks to Chris L. for not only braving the storm last night to attend the Toronto After Dark Film Festival (TAD), but for finding out just what popular Indonesian sculptor, Gambir (Fachri Albar) and his beautiful wife (Marsha Timothy) are hiding behind that door.

Chris L.:I don't often hear of horror films from Indonesia- and so despite a crazy tornado storm last night, I appeared at the steps of the Bloor Cinema, looking as though I had just jumped into a swimming pool, ready to enter The Forbidden Door. The film starts off normally enough, except for a slightly weird (but hot) wife and some jarring creepy music, then things get a little strange as events of increasing bizarreness are layered on (I especially liked the choice of home decor), with some child abuse thrown in (which seems like something of a theme in this year's film fest), and you're not sure any more what kind of film you're in …

Toronto After Dark: Chris L. Gets Rough

What are you doing after dark? Well, Toronto After Dark Film Festival (TAD) fan, Chris L. took in some martial arts action on Day 6 of the festival. I asked Chris his opinion of director, Hun Jang's Rough Cut, since I couldn't make it to the screening.

Chris L.:I thought Rough Cut was a surprisingly well-thought out action drama. From the handful of Korean films I've seen make it to North America, I've noticed that the Koreans are pretty good at taking elements from seemingly different genres of film and merging them together into a coherent, even plausible whole. In Rough Cut, there are unexpected bright spots of comedy and the hint of romance or, at least, of tangled relationships. It's also a good gangster yarn with well-executed scenes of violence. There are times where betrayal and deception beg the ultimate martial arts movie question:how much can a man change if given a good enough beating?

Chris's Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.


Toronto After Dark: Chris L. Saves Scardy Cat, donna g from The Children

I've shared with you the fact that I can't watch scary films, but love the Toronto After Dark Film Festival (TAD) because it offers other genre films that I can watch (see my other posts). So, having been creeped out by some of the TAD movie trailers, I've asked Chris L. to help me out. Below Chris shares his reasons for going to TAD and his take on The Children.

donna g: How long have you going to TAD?

Chris L.:I discovered the fest last year and really enjoyed it, being also a fan
of the Midnight Madness venue at TIFF. TAD also turned out to be an interesting (although slightly unusual) event to take dates to.

donna g: Why do you go to TAD?

Chris L.:
1. For the thrills (much like why someone might ride a rollercoaster) and also to see something surreal
2. I like to comment/talk/make snide remarks/shout during movies, and at TAD, that's not (or at least less) annoying to people
3. There's a lot of innovation to be found in the horror genre (well, at least right now), unli…

SummerWorks 2009 Award-Winners

The results are in for 19th annual SummerWorks Theatre Festival.  Below is a list of theatrical award-winners as selected by a jury of professionals as well as the NOW Audience Choice award winner as selected by patron ballot. I have also listed my own Top 5 favourite performances.

SummerWorks Prize for Outstanding Production
The prize is a free trip back to the festival next year. All companies presenting new work were eligible.

"Greenland" by Nicolas Billon, directed by Ravi Jain

Contra Guys Award for Outstanding New Play
Generously supported by two SummerWorks founders, Benj Gallander and Ben Stadelmann, the cash award is presented to the playwright with the best new script in the festival. 

"Say Nothing Saw Wood" by Joel Thomas Hynes

Award for Direction (Sponsored by Crow’s Theatre)
Cash prize awarded for outstanding direction at the festival.

Alan Dilworth for "The Middle Place"

Honourable Mention: Rosa Laborde for "Melancholy Play"

The Spotlight Awar…

Toronto After Dark Film Festival: Zombies, Anyone? This Scardy Cat Soldiers Forth

The Zombies were out yesterday for the Toronto After Dark Film Festival (TAD). Showing its filial love of Zombies, TAD offered half-priced tickets to screenings of the Norweigan Nazi zombie film, Dead Snow, and the American zombie buddy comedy, The Revenant. Many Zombies accepted the offer and could be seen shuffling into the Bloor Cinema in pairs and groups.

As you know, I'm a self-confessed Scardy Cat, so I wasn't sure if I could make it through Dead Snow. Yes, I love zombies, and horror comedies, but I didn't want to embarrass myself in the midst of hard-core TAD-goers, so I was a bit aprehensive. Well, I didn't have to worry. Not only wasn't I the only Scardy Cat there, it was comfortingly cathartic to sit in a sold-out 800 plus seat theatre with people who really love their genre films.

Dead Snow is a Norweigian film about a group of med students who go to a remote cabin in the mountains for Easter break. Their cell phones don't work, they have hiked 45 min…

Toronto After Dark Film Festival: Filmmakers Navigate Racism in France

The French filmmakers of BLACK were surprised to discover how racist their country is when they tried to get funding for their film, which has a predominantly Black cast. They shared their new-found knowledge about their country's film industry with us last night at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival (TAD) screening.

Unfortunately, I was not as surprised as the filmmakers or the TAD audience, having heard the same story from director, François Dupeyron at the TIFF '08 screening of his film, Aide-toi, le ciel t'aidera/With A Little Help From Myself (Sept. 6/09 post). Like, Dupeyron, director, Pierre Laffargue and producer, Lauranne Bourrachot, had to contend with blatant racist comments that they were making a film for black people and that whites would not be interested. Parisian theatre owners feared masses of black people would attend screenings of Black and cause riots at their cinemas.

Laffargue did get his funding, and I'm glad he did because BLACK is a sensatio…

Toronto After Dark Film Festival: Confessions of a Scardy Cat

Confession time. I can't watch scary movies. I get so tense imagining what's going to happen on screen, that I scare myself before anything actually happens.  So why the heck, do I go to the Toronto After Dark Film Festival (TAD)? Well, in addition screening straight up horror films, TAD also includes such genres as sci-fi, action, cult, martial arts, and horror comedies (sometimes one film can encompass all of these elements). 

My favourite film from TAD 2008 was Netherbeast Incorporated, an office vampire movie that had me in stitches. I'd go to work and have humour flashbacks at my desk (very hard to explain).

For TAD 2009, this confessed scardy cat is looking forward to seeing the opening night gala, Black Dynamite, as well as Black, homages to '70's blaxploitation films. I also have on my list the sci-fi film The Dark Hour, the fantasy film, Franklyn (Ryan Phillippe and Eva Green), the horror comedy Strigoi and Zombie flicks Dead Snow and The Revenant (I can…

SummerWorks '09: More Reviews

Waiting for the Dawn
I interviewed Mathew Romantini in 2006 about his production of Gorey Story. I didn't get a chance to see that performance, so when I ran into him at the Factory Theatre and found out he had a play in SummerWorks, I knew I had to see it. Anyone who can adapt Edward Gorey's work to the stage is someone I need to follow up with. After committing,though, I wondered about liking the play. I'm almost always honest in my feedback and would have to tell Matthew the truth when I next saw him. Well, Matthew can rest easy. I was very impressed.

Dancing the role of Mr. Vain Imagination, Matthew's moves are sharp, staccato and strong with punctuations of curves and flows that question the nameless world he inhabits. Matthew's acting ability and comic timing makes us accept his transition from Mr. Vain Imagination into the red heels and hat wearing Ms. Idle Fancy. Don't mistake this for a drag show, Ms. Idle Fancy has some serious questions to ask God. We …

Summerworks '09: Picks and Pans so far...

I've had a chance to see a few plays since SummerWorks (Toronto's indie theatre and arts festival) kicked off on August 6th. Here is my opinion of what I've seen so far...

Hmm...Shadow puppetry, short films, political humour, silly/funny at times. Bob Wiseman plays accordion, guitar, piano and sings songs that are sometimes deemed "actionable" by those in the legal profession. The show is too loosely structured to reveal what the theme is, and the movement from one piece to the next is too disjointed. My favourite moment is the satirical piece featuring a silent film clip accompanied by Bob on accordion, but on a whole, this performance is too long.
Venue B: Factory Studio Theatre
Tues. Aug 11th 6:00pm, Thurs. Aug 13th 10:00pm
Sat. Aug 15th 4:00pm, Sun. Aug 16th 8:00pm

YES! When someone gets it right you know it and you feel it. d'bi young plays benu, from young girl in Jamaica with her "Granny" to young woman in Canada dealing with the p…

Summerworks Festival: "Crush of Beauty" is a must-see

If you're in or passing by St. Andrew's Playground and you hear a young woman screaming at a bunch of "morons", don't worry, it's Dora-nominated actress Tiffany Martin expressing her outrage at off-stage (off-park?) over-sexed grade nines. Martin is extraordinarily realistic in the role of Sara, a young woman raging against the unfairness of life, and the Old Woman (Gemini and Genie nominated Elva Mai Hoover) who has intruded upon her special place in the park, her bench.

In just six short scenes, seasoned writer/director, Laurel Smith, brings us into the world of these two women. Sitting in a draped section of the park, we eavesdrop on every bit of their conversations, following the passage of October days, and the sharing of details about their lives. Under Smith's direction, the pairing of Martin and Hoover is an equisite balance of acting and characterization, with both actors fully inhabiting their roles while the restrained, spare writing subtley re…