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
Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master has a huge amount of attention being thrust up on it. Everything looks great about it and it has done a masterful job of building buzz through various advanced Guerrilla screenings in the States. The Venice Film Festival had the World Premiere and below are the first reactions on the social sphere:
Continuing our ongoing coverag, I present to you the second half of my preview of the films to be featured in the City to City programme spotlight on Mumbai at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. Be sure to catch the first part as there I break down some fantastic films and show you their trailers.
The selection of films chosen for this Spotlight on Mumbai are diverse in genre, and showcase a range of artistry coming from cutting edge, leading filmmakers in India. All the filmmakers selected for this special City to City programme have been chosen because of their talent in the telling of new and different stories within Indian Cinema – all representing this emerging voice coming from Mumbai. Generally, the thought is that India’s films are all Bollywood films. Wrong. As stated before, Bollywood is just one of the main different and diverse film industries that come together to create the very large Indian Film Industry.
SHAHID dir – Hansal Mehta World Premiere
Hansal Mehta‘s Shahid is the remarkable true story of a human rights activist and lawyer, Shahid Azmi who is murdered by unknown members of his office. Shahid, which stars Raj Kumar, Prabhleen Sandhu and Baljinder Kaur closely looks at the awe-inspiring story of the personal journey of a young boy who become an unlikely hero for human rights, especially for the Muslim minorities in India. Wrongfully accused and imprisoned under draconian anti-terrorism law, the film looks at the story of a struggling individual looking to come to terms with the injustice and inequality that surrounds him.
MISS LOVELY dir – Ashim Ahluwalia North American Premiere
Sex has always been part of Bollywood cinema – it’s only now that more mainstream filmmakers are willing to explore its intensity on screen both in script and visually. Ashim Ahluwalia‘s film focuses on Mumbai’s sex film industry and stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Niharika Singh and Anil George. Miss Lovely, which also competed in the “Un Certain Regard” section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and was also screened at the 2012 Melbourne International Film Festival. It looks at the devastating story of two brothers who created sex-horror films in the 1980′s. The film takes a look at the what’s terms “the Bollywood underground” and looks into an industry and its filmmakers that have a lot to face.
MUMBAI’S KING dir – Manjeet Singh World Premiere
Manjeet Singh‘s Mumbai’s King stars Rahul Bairagi, Arbaaz Khan and Tejas Parvatkar. The film looks at the character of Rahul who roams the streets with Arbaaz who sells baloons. These two kids escape the grim realities of their lives by gambling, roasting stolen potatoes, stealing an auto rickshaw for a joyride, and chasing girls. Later, as the characters grow older, they are faced with difficult circumstances – Rahul is put into a situation where he must look after his father, whose violence and ill treatment forced Rahul into a life on the streets.
THE BRIGHT DAY dir – Mohit Takalkar World Premiere
We all ponder life and its significance at some point or another, and Mohit Takalkar‘s film explores just this. Pining away for the meaning in his life, The Bright Day tells the story of a young man named Shiv who leaves his current relationship, abandoning his girlfriend and family to embark on a spiritual journey across India – not know if he will return at all. Shiv yearns for meaning and looks for something that will provide important and significance to his existence, yet doesn’t know exactly what it is he is looking for. He faces his own insecurities, basks in adventure and freedom and learns about different philosophies about life that he finds exhilarating.
Yubari Fanta is short for The Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival. The town of Yubari had a coal mine in operation starting in the 1800′s, in 1990, it closed. To keep the city afloat, the local politicians chose to mount a film festival as a way to help revitalize the economy. In 2007, the city that had been paying for the event filed bankruptcy. As a result of this, the citizens sought to revive it through private financing and in 2008 the Festival reopened and continues on today. This particular program is a series of three shorts from the festival. Included are, Hole and Pole, The Student Wrestler and Mrs. Akko and Her Husband.
Hole and Pole is an amusing tale about alternative martial arts. A high school student conceives of a new type of martial arts. She recruits other students to train with her and plays silly word games with her best friend. Only, her and her friend are followed by a boy on a bike as they travel to and from school each day. All he wants is a date, but the girls aren’t interested.
The Student Wrestler is a mini documentary about, well, student wrestlers. These socially awkward boys have chosen to emulate pro style wrestling as an outlet for their frustration. It follows them as they train and put on matches, allowing them to express their thoughts on why they do it, as well as giving insight to the process.
Mrs. Akko and Her Husband is a tragic tale of a man caught in a marriage with a unkind woman. Lazy and thoughtless, Mrs. Akko treats her husband more as a servant than a partner. His attempt at infidelity is met with the same obstacles that the rest of his life seems to hold, bad luck mixed with bad timing. His resulting attempts to do something about the apathy in his marriage are as equally frustrating.
The three films are all well done, with Mrs. Akko and Her Husband standing out. Although different in tone and subject, they give fine examples of the quality and depth the festival in Yubari has. All three are adult oriented, and with the exception of Hole and Pole, contain nudity. Hole and Pole, on the other hand, contains strong adult sexual themes.