Hot Docs 2013: Downloaded Review (Kirk Haviland)

Downloaded_2.470x264Downloaded

Director: Alex Winter

In 1998, teenage hacker Shawn Fanning cracked the code that enabled peer-to-peer file sharing online. In 1999, he partnered with his friend and fellow teen Sean Parker (later of Facebook fame) to launch a little service known as Napster. The music-sharing website transformed not only the music industry, but technology as a whole. It sparked a revolution and became the touchstone of a new, digital generation. Filmmaker Alex Winter is granted near unlimited access to Fanning and his collaborators, as well as to a roster of famous musicians including Henry Rollins, Snoop Lion, Beastie Boy Mike D and Public Enemy Chuck D, who are only too happy to give their opinions and insights on free downloading and copyright infringement.

It’s hard to imagine how much the music industry was affected and changed with the Napster technology, especially for the children of this digital age. The music store in the local mall used to be the busiest place to shop as it was the only way to get music. Director Winter takes us back to the ground-breaking first days of Napster through to the eventual demise and the impact the site has had on the industry as a whole. For once in music history, Napster tipped the scale in the favor of the consumer and has affected massive change. Fanning and Parker serve to be engaging subjects, and meeting the real Fanning will help you appreciate Justin Timberlake’s turn in the “Social Network” even more.

 Downloaded_3.470x264With a sharp and brilliant sense of humor, Downloaded dissects the story and the people behind it. With extremely fascinating material and one of the funniest final products of the festival, Downloaded is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Screens

Sat, Apr 27 9:00 PM
Isabel Bader Theatre
Rush Tickets
Sun, Apr 28 3:30 PM
Scotiabank 3
Buy Tickets
Fri, May 3 9:30 PM
Fox Theatre
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Blood In The Snow Film Festival 2012: In the House of Flies Review (Kirk Haviland)

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Blood In The Snow 2012

In the House of Flies Poster

In the House of Flies (2012)

Starring: Lindsay Smith, Ryan Kotack, Henry Rollins and Ryan Barrett

Written by Angus McLellan

Directed by Gabriel Carrer

Making its World Premiere as part of the Inaugural Fright Nights: Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival this past weekend at Toronto’s Projection Booth East cinema is the newest film from Canadian director Gabriel Carrer (Kill, If a Tree Falls), In the House of Flies. The micro budget indie makes use of a small cast and minimal settings to create a suspense thriller about abduction, suffering and sacrifice. But will In the House of Flies be the film to catapult Carrer onto the world stage?

Set in June of 1988 In the House of Flies tells the story of young lovers whose lives are inadvertently changed forever when the couple, Heather (Smith) and Steve (Kotack), suddenly find themselves abducted. Alone, isolated, locked in a basement with only a tiny window as contact to the outside world, Heather and Steve find themselves pawns in the twisted machinations of their diabolical hosts. Surrounded by several mysterious pad-locked suitcases, each containing valuable food and supplies, Heather and Steve must fight to keep their sanity and clutch with blistering hands the last shreds of hope if they want to escape from their abductors (Rollins and Barrett).

In the House of Flies 1

In the House of Flies uses its limited budget to its advantage in producing a grimy, sleazy and claustrophobic story mainly set in the confines of a completely walled in basement with a locked trap door as it only entrance and exit. The film lies solely on the shoulders of Smith and Kotack as they are in every frame of the film and for 90% of it they are the only ones on screen. Rollins is only heard in voice  and Barrett is only seen from the neck down, never close up. The good news is that Smith and Kotack are up to the task. Their performances are solid and they keep you invested throughout. Rollins’ voice is nearly unrecognizable as he serves as tormentor over a phone placed in the cell.

The script uses its surroundings aptly, keeping the action centered in the basement keeps the budget low and production value high. That said this film is not one of action set pieces and momentum. This is a slow methodical devaluing and deconstruction of these characters. This inevitably leaves us with lulls in areas and some stretches of the film do drag. But when these sequences happen, Carrer, McLellan and the cast manage to snap you back into the film with another well placed revelation. In the House of Flies is a film that will need and demand investment from its viewers, and if you are not prepared to give the alert attention required you may be lost along the way.

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One of the most pleasant highlights of the film is the excellent score and soundtrack. There is a screamingly obvious influence from last year’s Drive in the way the music is staged and used in the film, and the song choices follow those of Drive in tone and influence. That said Drive had one of the best soundtracks of the last decade so if you are going to use an influence like this, why not the best? The songs used are killer and would make an excellent companion to the Drive soundtrack on any MP3 player. Sadly I believe the filmmakers missed a great opportunity in not making the soundtrack available to the public after the screening, or if it was it wasn’t advertised strongly enough.

Is In the House of Flies the film that we have been waiting for to launch the ‘new wave’ of Canadian Horror and the careers of people like Carrer? Perhaps it will be, but it’s more than likely another stepping stone to get towards that goal. In the House of Flies is more likely to go down as a film that shows a burgeoning talent make giant steps towards the film that will eventually break him to the world. Either way In the House of Flies is a recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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Fright Nights: The Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival Preview (Nadia Sandhu)

There will be Blood in the Snow and on the big screen at Projection Booth (1035 Gerrard Street East) as the First Annual Fright Nights:  Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival scares up thrills this November 30 to December 2, 2012 in a weekend long celebration of the best in contemporary Canadian horror filmmaking.

Festival Director Kelly Michael Stewart has been a strong supporter of the national horror filmmaking scene, writing about it for Fangoria and Planet Fury, and regularly showcasing these talented filmmakers at the hugely successful Fright Nights at Projection Booth screening series.  “I have noticed an incredible renaissance of horror directors coming out of Canada in the past few years. Southern Ontario in particular has become a hotbed of horror talent. Now the scene has grown large enough and vibrant enough that it warrants a dedicated yearly festival and we’ve been able to pull together an impressive lineup including the world premieres of SICK featuring Canada’s own scream queen Debbie Rochon and In the House of Flies starring Henry Rollins.”

Blood in the Snow kicks off on Friday, November 30 with a zombie infection in SICK at 7pm and critical darling Beyond the Black Rainbow at 9:30pm, and closes on Sunday, December 2 with art house vampire film Blood for Irina at 7pm, a film that also marks the feature directorial debut of Fangoria Editor in Chief Chris Alexander.  

In true rep house style, Saturday will be a late night with psychological thriller In the House of Flies at 6:30pm, classic 80’s style slasher film Devil’s Night starring Danielle Harris at 9pm and old school grind house throwback Famine at 11:45pm.

A retrospective shorts program, Fright Nights: Class of 2012, on Saturday, December 1 at 3pm showcases some of the best genre shorts from the last year of Fright Nights programming, including a personal favorite when it played here as part of the Viscera Film Festival last winter- Doll Parts from Karen Lam.  The retrospective also features a bonus screening- fan fave Cinemall, which documents the yearly pilgrimage of zombie fans to the mall where Romero filmed Dawn of the Dead!

“With films like Hobo With a ShotgunThe CorridorPontypool, and really anything from the guys at Astron 6, the Canadian horror film scene is bursting with creative talent and we are proud to support Kelly and what we truly feel is a killer line up of the next wave of genre directors. These are the ones to watch,” enthuses Jonathan Hlibka, partner at Projection Booth Cinemas.

And I for one am relieved that in this case at least, blood in the snow does not refer to baby seals.

Festival passes and tickets are on sale now and while there won’t be any chick flicks, I won’t completely rule out finding a touchy feely angle to report back on.

You can show your support for Canadian Horror by downloading the Blood in the Snow banner and using it as your Facebook Cover this Black Friday!

Henry Rollins Wants You! – Grindhouse Edition of Fright Nights at the Projection Booth

Just check out this video message if you don’t believe me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVPToTIIfsE

Henry Rollins wants you to support the ‘Drop in the Bucket’ charity on Saturday, July 7, 2012 at Projection Booth with a special Grindhouse Edition of Fright Nights featuring “Kill” and “If a Tree Falls” from Black Fawn Distribution.  Tickets: http://guestlistapp.com/events/109065.

Info from the press release:

FANGORIA PRESENTS FRIGHT NIGHTS is giving genre fans two films for the price of one this Saturday, July 7, 2012 with home grown grindhouse flicks IF A TREE FALLS  and KILL from directors Gabriel Carrer (IN THE HOUSE OF FLIES starring Henry Rollins, Ryan Barrett) and Chad Archibald (NEVERLOST).  Half the proceeds collected from the evening will go to the Henry Rollins fronted international charity “Drop in the Bucket.”

This one night only event will mark the Toronto theatrical debuts of both films.  “This is the ONLY time the public will get to see this pair of films on the big screen, and they will be shown in the way they are meant to be seen: as a double bill at Projection Booth – a real grindhouse cinema!” says Archibald.

Both Gabriel Carrer and Chad Archibald will be in attendance alongside cast and crew. Hosted as always by Fangoria and Planet Fury scribe Kelly Michael Stewart and generously supported by Fangoria and Suspect Video, the evening promises prizes, beverages and lots and lots of blood.

Proceeds from the event will go directly to charity in support of efforts to bring safe drinking water to war ravaged countries. “Drop in the Bucket is a Los Angeles based water and sanitation charity with field offices in Uganda and South Sudan. I had the pleasure of directing their spokesperson Henry Rollins on my next feature “House of Flies” and I was really impressed by what they are accomplishing under very difficult circumstances,” explains Carrer.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at Projection Booth or online at:

http://guestlistapp.com/events/109065

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