It’s the horror film that will actually make you want to turn off the lights. On today’s installment of “31 Days of Horror,” it’s the short, Japanese animated film, Kakurenbo: Hide & Seek.
This past summer, the world of professional wrestling lost one of its true icons – ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper. The Hot Rod. The Rowdy Scot.
Piper was one of the best talkers in the history of the business. Who put butts in seats by being one of the best villains the sport had ever witnessed. Because of his incredible rivalry with Hulk Hogan in 1984 and 1985, culminating with the very Wrestlemania at Madison Square Garden in New York City, pro wrestling as we know it today (or sports entertainment, if you want to go that way) simply wouldn’t exist.
That’s just how important Roddy Piper was to the business.
Outside of it, Piper also established a decent acting career, most notably with his role as John Nada in John Carpenter’s 1988 science-fiction classic, They Live. Thought he’d star in other films, it’s this one that the media rightfully gravitated towards when discussing his death.
Piper never stopped acting, though, and one of his final roles debuts this weekend at TIFF. Portal To Hell is a short film, just 11 minutes, and finds Piper starring as Jack, the weary superintendent of an apartment building that’s basement serves as a Lovecraftian portal to…well, hell.
The version I watched was unfinished, but I can safely say that its heart is in the right place. It’s one of the more thorough depictions of Lovecraft’s Old Ones; I even had a moment where I felt I was watching scenes that could fit in Alan Moore’s Necronomicon. Director Vivieno Caldinelli, working from a script by Matt Watts, gets it right.
And unsurprisingly, so does Piper. He brings conviction and humour to the role of Jack, and its genuinely sad to know we won’t see more from this pop culture icon. Thankfully, his memory and work will truly live forever.
Cue the bagpipes.
The World Premiere of Portal To Hell is tonight at 10 pm EST at Scotiabank Theatre as part of the Toronto International Film Festival, with public screenings this Sunday, Sept 13 @ 2:45pm @ Scotiabank Theatre abd Friday, Sept 18 @ 6:00pm @ Scotiabank Theatre. More details, including ticket info, here.
Last summer, when I was at the Twin Peaks Festival outside of Seattle, Washington, I met a woman named Gina Lee Ronhovde. It was very brief, on a bonus tour that her husband, Twin Peaks expert and filmmaker Josh Eisenstadt, took a few of us on. Through that, I became Facebook friends with them both, where I discovered that Gina herself is a filmmaker. On her page, she was often talking about her short film Boudoir, which stars Dominique Swain, who many of us know from Adrian Lyne’s outstanding mid-90s take on Nabokov’s Lolita. I asked Gina if I could see the film, which she graciously allowed and which, I’m happy to say, I really enjoyed. Boudoir has a cool, mysterious feel; there’s a definite David Lynch vibe throughout it, no surprise considering the filmmaker’s long love of Lynch’s work.
I was impressed with what my friend accomplished, and who she managed to have work on this writing and directorial effort that’s already been winning awards. I thought Gina would have a lot to talk about, and she did, as you can see from this email interview we did about Boudoir.
Andy Burns: When did you decide you wanted to make a short film?
Gina Lee Ronhovde: There wasn’t one moment (see below answers lol). I first learned filmmaking at the Los Angeles Film School and made short films while in school – one of them was a finalist for the Jay Leno show – and my graduating thesis short film Bereft Left went on to festivals and was nominated for awards. After graduation I worked at a variety of studios, management and production companies, and also on set – producing, writing, and script consulting. So, I had that background behind me already when I just suddenly decided to write something down one day.
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The Oscars are coming up, airing Sunday, February 22nd for over 40 million people. Yesterday I looked at one of the hardest to follow Academy categories, the award for best live action short. Today we’ll take up another short category, certainly the most fun, the Oscar for best animated short. TIFF in Toronto is showing these for at least the next week, as well, and if you’re in the States, you can find listings for the Academy Awards short programs here.
Every year at the Academy Awards, there’s a lull, one even more numbing than the Oscar for special effects or the latest garish train-wreck of a dance number. It’s when the awards for short films roll around, and it’s a damn shame. The winners are starstruck and elated and you have to feel thrilled for their tremendous spirited breakthrough, but nobody’s seen the film. Or any of them. Shorts have such restricted windows, watching them can be tough. They circulate on the festival circuit, which bars them from appearing on TV and often the internet. This year if you’re in or around Toronto, TIFF’s got you covered, with two separate programs, one for the Oscar-nominated live-action shorts, the other for the animated ones. If you’re in the States, you can also find screenings for the next few weeks all over the country here. They’re the cream of the crop, a handful on each side chosen from all over the world.
So Darren Aronofsky’s Noah with Russell Crowe was a huge hit, grossing over $350 million so far this year. Seems like people respond to the story of God pressing the reset button on a wicked old civilization, drowning every living thing on Earth in a forty-day deluge save for a faithful family and the animals they take aboard their ark. Clearly, Mr. Biblical God has no sense of proportion. Sol Friedman has his own take on the classic Noah story, in his scabrous animated short Day 40. Appearing at the Toronto International Film Festival in the Short Cuts Canada Programme 5, it’s a laugh-out-loud reimagining of the story loosely told from the animals’ perspective. Darkly comedic, Day 40 is sort of a pencil-sketch Animal Farm meets Robot Chicken, and boy does it go to some crazy places in its brief 6-minute runtime. Catch the sort-of-not-safe-for-work-but-not-really trailer and my interview with Friedman, after the jump.
In my continuing series on the Short Cuts Canada Programmes, today we look at one of the most visually striking films in the series, Amanda Strong’s Indigo. Filmed entirely in stop-motion, the hand-crafted figures in this dreamlike short are inspired by Native mythology. A confined woman finds herself liberated by grandmother spider, while her memories are projected in an effort to restore her spirit. Following its own archetypal images and logic, the film doesn’t conform to a straightforward narrative, but conveys a striking journey through several different coloured worlds in its nine-minute run-time. Strong has made several short films, each with an intense, dark visual style. Indigo was also selected for the 2014 Cannes Short Film Corner, and last year the National Post included her in its feature “Six emerging aboriginal artists in Canada who are inspiring change.” Catch my interview with her and the trailer for Indigo after the jump:
Sometimes a short film is its own thing. Sometimes it’s a calling card, a director’s notice that this great story could be even more as a feature. The Short Cuts Canada programmes at TIFF give lots of opportunity to check out cool films from up-and-coming directors. Andrew Cividino is one of them. A graduate of the Ryerson University film program in Toronto, he’s made four short films. Sleeping Giant is his first at the festival, and the short is already being made into a feature. Following a boy Adam and his misadventures with a pair of local boys on Lake Superior, their dynamic changes with the arrival of pretty young Taylor. The film captures the competitiveness of kids and the uneasiness of those awkward tween years. Catch the trailer and my interview with director Cividino after the jump.
Sometimes things are not what they seem. Sometimes you need to see both sides of a situation before knowing the truth. Such is the case in #TRUTHINJOURNALISM, a short film produced by Adi Shankar and Sam Balcomb, written and directed by Joe Lynch, and starring Ryan Kwanten of HBO’s “True Blood.”