Still Mine is a gentle and touching look at a couple facing their final years together. Embracing aging, memory loss and dying, the film proves that love is not only something sacred to the young.
Evil Dead is a remake of the Sam Raimi classic of the same name. While most remakes often suffer artistically from being confined to the original framework and audience expectation, this particular remake has the dubious problem of overcoming not only a classic, but one beloved by a pretty voracious fanbase.
Olympus Has Fallen is a sure fire action film that will have viewers rightfully comparing it to Die Hard. A lone gunman fights his way through the bad-guys to save the kidnapped, in this case, President and his staff. It’s been done and seen before elsewhere, including Air Force One, but now the action has landed in the White House.
The first annual Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival has come and gone. Hopefully this will be the first of many, as it came featuring the talents and visions of Canadian horror filmmakers. While Canadians have both influenced and excelled in the Hollywood, too often the small and independent filmmakers here are overlooked. This festival highlighted those homegrown Canadian horror films that both have a grindhouse bend to them and deserve to be seen on the big screen. Unique in planning and execution because of this particular emphasis on indie Canadian Horror, the festival offered a thrilling ride through the darker side of human existence and took the audience along with it.
Being the first of what promises to be many to come, the festival featured 6 full length films with accompanying shorts and one shorts program. The festival came together under the direction of director Kelly Michael Stewart, who regularly features horror films with the Fright Nights at Projection Booth screening series and was held at the Projection Booth East, the venue was perfect for this kind of genre bending, homegrown film festival which grew out of a desire to support Canada’s vibrant filmmakers and create an intimate and unique theatre going experience.
While the films didn’t always start on time, the theater doors were left shut until the last moment, the concession might or might not have popcorn, rather than being hindrances, these and other things actually lent itself to the grindhouse feel the event was designed around. Not everyone coming to a festival will like every film shown, doubly so when the films are of such an auteur nature. This event gave those that choose to view the entire event something uncommon in the modern world. A film festival that was every bit as much fun as going to the drive-in was years past. Actually, I would call this much more interesting, by not only being able to meet the filmmakers, but by being able to share the experience with those individuals who enjoy the same type of movies. Intimate and accessible, the event was more than its films and venue, it was the people savoring the films together.
With the festival done, there were awards chosen by non-partial volunteer film fans working the event. Given the relative closeness of the local film community, it was difficult to find volunteers not associated, but find them they did. The awards given were as follows.
Best Feature Film
In the House of Flies – (Director Gabriel Carrer. Producers Chad Archibald, Gabriel Carrer, Dave McLeod & Nathan Hawkins)
Honorable mention – Roachfar
Best Director Gabriel Carrer, In the House of Flies/Panos Cosmatos, Beyond the Black Rainbow (tie)
Honorable mention – Ryan M. Andrews, Sick
Best Actress Lindsay Smith, In the House of Flies
Honorable mention – Christina Aceto, Sick Best Actor Ryan Kotack, In the House of Flies
Honorable mention – Robert Nolan, Familiar
Best Cinematography Norm Li, Beyond the Black Rainbow
Honorable mention – Claudio Manni, In the House of Flies
Best Screenplay Angus McLellan, In the House of Flies
Honorable mention – Ryan M. Andrews and Chris Cull, Sick
Best Editing Nicholas T. Shepard, Beyond the Black Rainbow
Honorable mention – Chris Alexander, Blood for Irina
Best Music Score Chris Alexander, Blood for Irina
Honorable mention – Jeremy Schmidt, Beyond the Black Rainbow
Blood for Irina is a microbudget vampire film that aspires to be a surrealistic abstract film about longing, loss, and the weight of existence. Irina (Shauna Henry) is a vampire who’s existence has become a burden, the very act of being alive is now loathsome. Living in a rundown motel, she is cared for by the manager of the motel (David Goodfellow), who takes ‘manages’ the bodies once she has fed. Add to this a local prostitute (Carrie Gemmell) that Irina encounters while out on her nightly feed, which she both identifies with and pities. Within this trio of characters, as simple of a narrative as it may seem from the description, lie a much more interesting and formidable tale of loss, longing and the ultimate price of survival.
Visceral in both visual and audio, it bears no open dialogue between characters and only a scant voiceover. Wanting the viewer to experience the emotions of a life, the film focuses on what is felt, how the moment to moment reactions to past and current events combine in the here and now. The perception of what is experienced is clouded by her past, while the present can only viewed through this prism of longing for both a life that ended long ago, the sheer magnitude of loneliness, disgust for what she continues to be and the dawning understanding she has control over her continued existence. As we feel her move through the world, both of it and outside of it, living in the twilight of humanity, the other two characters are still human, but still rather unconnected in any meaningful way. Her caretaker would have more, but nothing is offered or wanted. The prostitute has seen Irina, but the two only pass as nighthawks, simply surviving. The film has a payoff in the end, though it may appear to be rather esoteric for many moviegoers, its surrealistic and abstract nature will be a delight for those open to the experience. The narrative isn’t about what happens in a linear progression, but rather what is felt on a base emotional level, being abandoned, solitude and the search for belonging.
Shauna Henry does a wonderful job of conveying the complex emotions demanded of her by writer/director Chris Alexander. Chris also handled the editing, most of the score and produced this film. Shot using as little effects as possible, no corrections were made to the prints as they were made. What appears onscreen is as it was shot on location. This gives the film an organic and living feel, coupled with the soundtrack it brings the emotions felt by the characters to the audience. Though the characters cannot connect, the way the film is constructed allows the viewer to experience, if briefly, the raw sadness of Irina. While repetitive in some areas, the bleak backdrop of the nearly abandoned motel (which was torn down not long after shooting) is perfect for reflecting the internal decay of Irina.
While certainly not for everyone, it is an excellent film for those that enjoy European Art-house horror and sleaze auteurs. Running at just 70 minutes, it fills much more than epic running at three times its length without leaving one feeling it should have been a longer film.