A Memoir | Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2015
Prior To Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2015
I first came to know about the existence of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival during my visit to the FanExo Canada back in early September where they had a booth. With so much to see there, I may not have stopped by if not for the fact that they were giving away posters with the incredible artwork done by Stephen ‘Cryface’ Bunnell for this year’s edition of the festival. That led me to grab a flyer and more importantly, to buy a t-shirt from them with the aforementioned art inspired by the classic universal monster movies.
A couple of weeks passed by and when I was doing some cleaning on my desk I found the flyer I had taken with me at the Expo, so I went and checked out their website. By then, they had just announced the first ten films of this year’s lineup. I read the snippets of the films they published and watched the trailers while doing so I noticed they were selling All-Access Passes for the entire festival. By that point, I had decided I was going to attend at least five of the screenings taking advantage of the fact that they were selling the tickets through Cineplex‘s website and offering a discount when buying two or more.
Almost two weeks passed again when they announced the remaining nine films in the lineup, by then I had TAD on Facebook and was following their account on Twitter. In I went to their website again to decide what films I would be watching, as I started reading descriptions and watching trailers again, I realized I was interested in watching well over five, so my new limit became ten screenings.
By that point, my plan was to use my SCENE points to buy the tickets. I’ve accumulated a considerable amount this year that would allow me to get the ten I wanted. If anyone was wondering, no, you can’t buy tickets using scene points and since. I’ve never been to a film festival before but it has always been a kind of dream for me, after much consideration and not really knowing what I was getting myself into, I pulled the trigger on the All-Access Pass and hoped for the best when the time came.
In The Course Of Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2015
Things kicked off with the right foot on opening night with Tales of Halloween and especially The Hallow which turned out to be one of my favorite films in the festival. The vibe of the crowd attending was amazing and everyone seemed as enthused as me to be there. When I left that night I knew I would be trying for all nineteen screenings and not only my originally planned ten. Day 2 was the Sci-Fi night with screenings of the visually appealing and incredibly written time-travel film Synchronicity and the comedy Lazer Team. I was very skeptical about the latter, but it turned out to be a very pleasing and funny comedy reminiscent of the Sunday matinees I used to watch on TV as a kid.
On night 3, I was pleasantly surprised by the romantic comedy with zombies Night of the Living Deb followed by the much-anticipated anthology film A Christmas Horror Story. Day 4 was a Sunday and the only day that three films were screened, I almost didn’t make it to the first one, Shut In, but am glad that I did as it turned out to be my favorite of that day. Following it came the creepy and mysterious film The Hollow One and the dark revenge thriller The Demolisher. The next night I was stunned by an amazing plot twist on The Diabolical and pleased with the horror comedy The Interior.
Not surprisingly, on nights 6 and 7 there were a few tired looking faces among the crowd of All-Access Pass holders. I know I was one of them with exams for my post grad program and TAD on the same week, only coffee got me through. Still, both nights were a blast, with the ghost story Backtrack and the 80s style actioner Gridlocked screening on the first night. Followed by another of my festival favorites, the superb Nina Forever, and the atmospheric The Hexecutioners on the next.
Sion Sono night, of whom I’ve heard before but never actually gotten around to see a film of, turned out to be extremely interesting. The two films that were shown, Tag and Love and Peace, were completely different and it’s hardly believable that they were made by the same director. Both were great, but I enjoyed Tag more as it has most of the elements that I love about Japanese cinema including beautiful cinematography, a captivating soundtrack and lots of social commentary. They made a Sono fan out of me.
The closing night kicked my ass, the TAD team cleverly left the best for last as both Patchwork and Deathgasm turned out to be masterpieces destined to achieve cult status. The crowd on both, but especially on Dethgasm, went crazy with every kill and the packed theater just exuded a feeling of cheerfulness and total amusement. Both movies from closing night were among my 5 favorite films shown at the festival.
At The End Of Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2015
In the end, after breaking a personal all-time record and watching nineteen films in nine days, I’ve lived through one of the most exciting cinematic experiences of my life. TAD made me fall back in love with the theatrical experience – the act of going to a cinema to watch a movie in the big screen with a crowd – which is something I had grown almost completely disenchanted with in the past preferring to see movies at home. Granted, the whole festival was full of like-minded people that enjoy genre films, which obviously plays in favor to the experience and won’t be the same when going to a regular movie showing, but still.
As a bonus, I was able to approach directors and cast freely to say hello or ask a question, which is something I didn’t expect at all and was a pleasant surprise that added even more to the festival experience.
The programmers’ selection deserves a compliment because even though, as expected, opening and closing nights were particularly especial, every day of the festival had at least one film that I thoroughly enjoyed and there wasn’t a single one in the entire festival that made me want to walk out of the theater. As days progressed it became obvious that festival director and founder Adam Lopez and his team put their love for genre films before the business side, and that indeed TAD is a by fans for fans film festival. After this wonderful experience, you can count me in for 2016!
The 10th edition of Toronto After Dark Film Festival ran from Oct 15-23, 2015 at the Scotiabank Theatre located at 259 Richmond Street West.
Tags: comedy, filmfestival, horror, movies, scifi, screenings