John Dies at the End
What do Judge Dredd, a remake of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Pusher, Michel Gondry, Rob Zombie, and Finding Nemo 3D have in common? They will all be a part of TIFF this September. Yesterday the festival announced the films that will make up the Midnight Madness, Vanguard, TIFF Kids, TIFF Docs and City to City programmes. While the full list of films announced can be found on the TIFF website, here are a few of the titles from each program that caught my eye:
Aftershock Nicolás López, USA/Chile. World Premiere
In Chile, an American tourist’s vacation goes from good to great when he meets some beautiful women travellers. But when an earthquake ravages the underground nightclub they’re in, a fun night quickly turns to terror. Escaping to the surface is just the beginning as they face nightmarish chaos above ground. Starring Eli Roth and Selena Gomez.
Come Out and Play Makinov, Mexico. World Premiere
Beth and Francis vacation before the birth of their child. Francis insists on venturing to a more serene island, Beth hesitantly agrees. They set out to a beautiful island, but soon discover it’s mysteriously abandoned, and the only people on the island are children. Beth and Francis are left to uncover the mystery of the disappearances, and a day in paradise quickly turns into a struggle for survival. Cast includes Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Vinessa Shaw and Daniel Gimenez Cacho.
Dredd Pete Travis, USA/United Kingdom/India. World Premiere
The endlessly inventive mind of writer Alex Garland (28 Days Later) and director Pete Travis bring the iconic masked police officer Dredd to life in this futuristic neo-noir action film. Filmed in 3D with stunning slow-motion photography sequences, the film returns the celebrated comic book anti-hero to his dark, violent and visceral roots. Starring Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby and Lena Headey.
John Dies at the End Don Coscarelli, USA. Canadian Premiere
In John Dies at the End, it’s all about the Soy Sauce, a drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. Users drift across time and dimensions. But some who come back are no longer human. Suddenly, a silent otherworldly invasion is underway, and mankind needs a hero. What it gets instead is John (Rob Mayes) and David (Chase Williamson), a pair of college dropouts who can barely hold down jobs. Can these two stop the oncoming horror in time to save humanity? No. No, they can't. Adapted from David Wong's audacious trans-genre horror novel, John Dies at the End is written and directed by Don Coscarelli (Bubba Ho-Tep) and also stars Clancy Brown and Paul Giamatti.
The Lords of Salem Rob Zombie, USA/United Kingdom/Canada. World Premiere
Heidi, a radio station DJ, receives a wooden box containing a record. Heidi listens and the bizarre sounds within the grooves immediately trigger flashbacks of Salem's violent past. Is Heidi going mad or are the Lords of Salem returning for revenge on modern day Salem?
Seven Psychopaths Martin McDonagh, USA/United Kingdom. World Festival Premiere
Written and Directed by Academy Award® winner Martin McDonagh, the comedy Seven Psychopaths follows a struggling screenwriter (Colin Farrell) who inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends (Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell) kidnap a gangster’s (Woody Harrelson) beloved Shih Tzu. Co-starring Abbie Cornish, Tom Waits, Olga Kurylenko and Zeljko Ivanek.
Blondie Jesper Ganslandt, Sweden North American Premiere
Three sisters, all adrift and in crisis, reunite at their childhood home as their domineering mother arranges a big birthday. But as the festivities come to an end, repressed conflicts rise to the surface. Old wounds are opened and a new family is born.
Here Comes the Devil Adrian Garcia Bogliano, Mexico/Argentina. World Premiere
On a family vacation, a couple’s son and daughter disappear while exploring a cave-riddled mountainside. The children eventually return home seemingly unharmed, but are withdrawn and devoid of emotion. The parents fear they have fallen prey to something inhuman — and that this dark evil has come home with them.
iLL Manors Ben Drew, United Kingdom. International Premiere
iLL Manors is the highly anticipated directorial debut by pioneering British music artist Ben Drew (a.k.a. Plan B). A unique crime thriller set on the unforgiving streets of London, iLL Manors follows six disparate lives, all struggling to survive the circles of violence that engulf them. Narratively linked through original music from Plan B, the film is a visually stunning and emotionally impactful experience laced with street-wise humour. The film’s soundtrack just topped the U.K.’s album chart.
Motorway Soi Cheang, Hong Kong North American Premiere
A cocky young cop on the city's top-secret, high-speed pursuit squad must learn the tricks of the trade from a grizzled veteran (Hong Kong action star Anthony Wong) as he prepares to take down a getaway driver in this super-charged, high-octane thriller from Hong Kong action auteur Soi Cheang (Accident) and legendary producer Johnnie To.
Pusher Luis Prieto, United Kingdom. North American Premiere
As edgy and explosive as Nicolas Winding Refn’s (Drive) 1996 cult classic, this English language remake tells the story of a week in the life of Frank, a big time drug pusher in London. Frank’s life is a fun-filled rollercoaster ride that spins out of control. Friendships start to vanish, there is no longer room for love within his life, and violence takes over. Danger and chaos ensue, and eventually Frank is left with no one to turn to and nowhere to go.
Thale Aleksander Nordaas, Norway. Canadian Premiere
Two crime-scene cleaners discover a mythical, tailed female creature in a concealed cellar. She never utters a word, unable to tell her story, but the pieces of the puzzle soon come together: she's been held captive for decades for reasons soon to surface.
The We and the I Michel Gondry, USA. North American Premiere
It’s the last day of the year at a high school in the Bronx, and students pile on to the usual bus home. The raucous bunch of aggressive and superficial teens — the bullies and the bullied — develops and is transformed as the bus empties. Relationships become closer and more personal between students with absolutely nothing in common.
Ernest & Célestine Benjamin Renner, Vincent Patar, Stéphane Aubier, France/Belgium/Luxembourg North American Premiere
Giant bears and tiny mice don’t tend to mingle much, but when Ernest and Célestine cross paths, the two become inseparable friends and embark on an adventure of a lifetime.
Finding Nemo 3D Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich, USA/Australia. World Premiere
Academy Award-winning film Finding Nemo returns to the big screen in thrilling Disney Digital 3D™ for the first time ever. Teeming with memorable comedic characters and heartfelt emotion, this stunning underwater adventure follows the momentous journey of an overprotective clownfish named Marlin (Albert Brooks) and his young son Nemo (Alexander Gould) –– who become separated in the Great Barrier Reef when Nemo is unexpectedly taken far from his ocean home to a fish tank in a dentist’s office. Buoyed by the companionship of Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a friendly-but-forgetful blue tang fish, Marlin embarks on a dangerous trek and finds himself the unlikely hero of an epic effort to rescue his son –– who hatches a few daring plans of his own to return safely home.
Hotel Transylvania Genndy Tartakovsky, USA. World Premiere
Welcome to the Hotel Transylvania, Dracula’s lavish five-stake resort, where monsters and their families can live it up, free to be the monsters they are without humans to bother them. On one special weekend, Dracula has invited some of the world’s most famous monsters — Frankenstein and his wife, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, a family of werewolves, and more — to celebrate his daughter Mavis’ 118th birthday. For Drac, catering to all of these legendary monsters is no problem — but his world could come crashing down when one ordinary guy stumbles on the hotel and takes a shine to Mavis. A considerable portion of animation on Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania was completed out of the newly-expanded Sony Pictures Imageworks’ offices in Vancouver.
9.79* Daniel Gordon, United Kingdom World Premiere
Daniel Gordon’s 9.79* looks at the legacy of the 100-metre men’s final at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, when gold medalist Ben Johnson tested positive for anabolic steroids and scandal reigned. For the first time ever, the eight athletes who ran that infamous race tell their story.
The Central Park Five Ken Burns, David McMahon and Sarah Burns, USA North American Premiere
The Central Park Five tells the story of how five black and Latino teenagers were wrongly convicted of raping the Central Park Jogger and how a rush to judgment by the police, media clamoring for sensational stories, and an outraged public contributed to that miscarriage of justice.
How to Make Money Selling Drugs Matthew Cooke, USA World Premiere
How To Make Money Selling Drugs offers a provocative glimpse into the lives of those on both sides of the “war on drugs,” delivering a diverse and unique perspective on the subject through interviews with 50 Cent, Eminem, The Wire producer David Simon, Arianna Huffington, Woody Harrelson, Eminem, Susan Sarandon and infamous drug kingpin “Freeway” Rick Ross.
Shepard & Dark Treva Wurmfeld, USA World Premiere
Remember when close friends corresponded by letters? When intimate thoughts about life, family and mortality were hand-written or typed on the page, with full thought given to every word? This is the kind of friendship that Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark had.
The Walls of Dakar Abdoul Aziz Cissé, Senegal. International Premiere
A rare documentary that chronicles Dakar’s unplanned, spontaneous mural frescos, produced by marginal painters, rappers and taggers, that functioned, until the city’s insurgency, as one of its rare sites for free, uncensored expression and the crucible for articulating citizenship. Visually captivating, an elegy of Dakar's unrepentant insurgent spirit of its everyday artists.
City To City: Mumbai
The Bright Day Mohit Takalkar, India World Premiere
Yearning for meaning in his life, a coddled young man abandons his girlfriend and family to set out on a spiritual quest across India. Shot with sophisticated DSLR cameras and reflecting a new passion for personal filmmaking, The Bright Day finds images to chart a soul’s progress.
Gangs of Wasseypur – Part One Anurag Kashyap, India North American Premiere
Part One of Anurag Kashyap’s decade-spanning gangster epic chronicles the bloody turf war between two competing criminal families during the tumultuous era of Indian independence and industrialization. Starring Manoj Bajpayee, Richa Chadda and Reema Sen.
Gangs of Wasseypur – Part Two Anurag Kashyap, India North American Premiere
Part Two of Anurag Kashyap’s stylish Indian gangster epic amps up the adrenaline as the irresistibly amoral criminal clans of Wasseypur careen towards their bloody date with destiny. Starring Manoj Bajpayee, Richa Chadda and Reema Sen.
Peddlers Vasan Bala, India North American Premiere
The lives of a rookie cop, a streetwise orphan and a beautiful young ex-teacher collide explosively in the drug underworld of Mumbai in this edgy, powerhouse thriller that exemplifies the verve and excitement of India's new independent cinema. Starring Gulshan Devaiah and Siddharth Mennon.
Shanghai Dibakar Banerjee, India. North American Premiere
From the director of Love Sex aur Dhokla comes a searing political drama. Abhay Deol plays an investigator seeking the cause behind the assassination of a firebrand politician, complicated by the actions of the politician’s lover, played by Kalki Koechlin.
Ship of Theseus Anand Gandhi, India. World Premiere
In the first feature film from acclaimed Indian playwright Anand Gandhi, three disparate people — a devout monk stricken by illness, a blind woman whose sight is suddenly restored, and a stockbroker who sets out to combat the illegal international trade in human organs — are linked by an unknown connection as they follow their individual paths through the kaleidoscopic streets of Mumbai.