Interview with Tickled Director David Farrier

Tickled

This year, Hot Docs was rocked by an unconventional star; a documentary laced with conspiracy, intrigue, and tickling. The New Zealand doc, directed by David Farrier and Dylan Reeve, initially attempted to bring the unconventional sport of Competitive Endurance Tickling to the public’s attention. In so doing, Farrier and Reeve found themselves in a mess they weren’t prepared for. What started out as a fun exposé very quickly became a dangerous game of cat and mouse, with the directors chasing leads that lead to horrifying stories of manipulation, greed, extortion, identity theft, and harassment.

There isn’t much that can be said about the documentary. It unravels like a thriller, with each layer peeling back to reveal something new and shocking. But its impact lies in the element of surprise; the less you know going in, the better your experience with the material will be. I had the good fortune of being able to talk to Farrier about the doc, an interesting process in itself given how little can be said without spoiling ones viewing experience. The below information may seem cryptic to those who have yet to see the film. To those who have, they will be enlightening. But proceed with caution, and maybe read what follows after seeing the flick. Tickled is playing at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema until July 6th. Don’t miss out on this incredible documentary. Would you like to know more…?

Trailer: Cash Only

CashOnly

I fell pretty hard for Malik Bader’s Detroit set, ethnic Albanian crime drama Cash Only when I caught it at last years edition of Fantasia. It is gritty, high energy, and bleakly funny in a way that recalls Nicolas Winding Refn’s Pusher Trilogy (particularly the 1990s-shot first film).

Elvis Martini is in deep shit. His dilapidated Detroit apartment building is about to be foreclosed on by the bank, most of his tenants are behind on rent, and he’s in big debt to bookies in the dangerous Albanian underworld. The only light in his dark world is his nine-year-old daughter, Lena; he’s in debt to her school, too. Elvis finds some ill-gotten cash in an evicted tenant’s apartment and is able to briefly keeps the wolves at bay, but he soon learns that the money belonged to an even bigger wolf – one that wants his stolen money back. When Lena is kidnapped by the mysterious menace he’s accidentally messed with, Elvis has 24 hours to come up with $25,000 to save his daughter’s life: cash only.

Small distributor FilmBuff is giving the film a well deserved cinema and VOD release on May 13. The trailer is below.

Trailer: De Palma

depalma

“Being a director is being a watcher.” Indeed, in the decades of TIFF, it was not uncommon to see Brian DePalma in the regular public screenings at the festival taking in a variety of cinematic offerings. Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow shot filmed untold hours of conversation with Brian DePalma and edited it into a 107 minute documentary on the stylized, love/hate director of Sisters, Body Double, Carrie, Blow Out, The Untouchables, and so many more . The film is set to play HotDocs film festival in Toronto next week, and a trailer has landed. Not suprisingly, DePalma has a lot to say about the state and business of film-making today. Have a look.

A24 is releasing the film on June 10.

(If you are in Toronto, Hotdocs is playing the film in three festival screenings: Sunday May 1, Monday May 2 and Friday May 6)

After the Credits Episode 168: Interview with Ruba Nadda

OctoberGale

I‘ve been a fan of Ruba Nadda since I saw Cairo Time a couple of years ago and when the chance to speak to speak with the Canadian director about her new romantic thriller October Gale came up, I jumped at the opportunity.

I really liked October Gale when I saw it at VIFF last year. It’s not the darkest of thrillers but it’s a great story of the hardships of working through loss and features fantastic perfomrances from Patricia Clarkson, Scott Speedman and Tim Roth.

During our chat, Ms. Nadda and I talk about her recent fascination with thrillers, the art of on-screen chemistry and the difficulties, especially in today’s landscape, of romances that simmer just below the surface.

October Gale is currently available on VOD and opens theatrically on Friday, March 6th.

Would you like to know more…?

After the Credits Episode 158: VIFF Industry Interview with Bernie Su

VIFFBanner2014

When it comes to online media, it doesn’t get much bigger than Bernie Su. An executive producer at Pemberley Digital, Su and Hank Green have been the creative force behing a number of very successful web series including the Emmy winning “Lizzie Bennet Diaries“, “Emma Approved” and “Frankenstein MD“. We talked a little about how he got into developing web series, the success of “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” and what’s next!

Su is in Vancouver as for the VIFF Industry conference which kicks off today and runs through to October 4th at the Vancity Theatre. This year’s conference includes a great assortment of speakers including “Archer” creator Adam Reed, the lead writer of “Assassin’s Creed” Corey May, Dallas Buyers Club screen writer Craig Borten, director Jay Duplass and Snowpiercer screenwriter Kelly Masterson among many others.

Conference highlights include “Specific Voices – Episodic TV” which features Chris Collins, Executive Producer and head writer of “Sons of Anarchy,” and Jack Amiel, co-creator of “The Knick,” discussing how to keep their vision intact on TV, “Meet the Gatekeepers,” a panel which includes network and cable executives speaking about their approach to trends in programming and “Totally Indie Day” on Oct. 4, which features an entire day of programming designed specifically for aspiring creators.

For tickets and additional program information, check out the VIFF Industry site.

Hot Docs 2014: Grant Baldwin and Jenny Rustemeyer Talk About Food Waste and Just Eat It

Hot Docs 2014: Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story

Halfway through Hot Docs 2014, I had the great pleasure to sit down with filmmakers Grant Baldwin and Jenny Rustemeyer to discuss their call to arms Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story. Number fourteen of the top twenty audience favourites this year, and winner of the Emerging Canadian Filmmaker Award, it’s an eye-opening demonstration of just how much we’re blindly discarding.

I met them at the Park Hyatt, and we quickly ventured up a small flight of stairs adjacent to the lobby where a quiet, secluded room with a fireplace sat waiting for us. “We’re really tired,” Grant needlessly apologizes. It’s no wonder: asides from the exhaustion of the festival circuit, Grant and Jenn have a newborn baby boy in tow.

With a young child to care for, the question of food waste immediately springs to mind. This is of little concern, as Jenn deftly adds, “people always say there’s so much more waste when you have children. I think it depends on the way that you raise them. In our family, we used to serve food family style so that the food was in the middle of the table. You would take what you want, and then you had to eat everything on your plate.”

“[I]t’s interesting now, having a child,” Jenn continues, “because people [ask] ‘what about food waste? Do you think it’s safe?’ Absolutely. I would feed the food waste that we found to our son. It’s perfectly safe. [I]t’s not garbage food; it’s just surplus.” Would you like to know more…?

Hot Docs 2014: A Chat With Kris Kaczor and David Regos of Divide in Concord

Hot Docs 2014

It was a sunny afternoon, and the temperature was finally starting to inch upwards of ten degrees when I met Kris Kaczor and David Regos. Director and Producer respectively of Hot Docs 2014 feature Divide in Concord, they met me at TIFF Bell Lightbox for a quick chat before the second screening of their film. Taken with the distinct Twin Peaks vibe of the LUMA Lounge on the second floor, we sat down in a set of plush seats at the back of the empty room.

“The New York Times article is where I first heard about Jean Hill,” Kaczor tells me. “I reached out to her and I feared, when I first read it, that this interesting story would be lost to history.” Originally intending to make a short video on the subject, following up on a piece the New York Times had published the year prior by Abby Goodnough, the project slowly grew. “Jean said ‘why don’t you film a feature documentary on it instead,” Kaczor continued, “because we’re going back and trying again,’ since they’d lost the year prior. And that was about it.”

This was the perfect time to focus on Jean and her crusade. This was the third, and potentially final, time she and her colleagues were attempting to ban plastic water bottles from Concord, Massachusetts. Their goal was to pass a bill that would ban personal-sized plastic water bottles from the town. Specifically, the bill would ban polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles less than 1 liter (34 oz) in size that contained water – sparkling and flavoured water need not apply. Not to be sold in cases or vending machines, although the sale of the same sized bottles of different materials would be allowed. Baby steps. Would you like to know more…?

A Few More Words with Don Thacker of MOTIVATIONAL GROWTH – Part II

Motivational Growth

Following my roundtable interview with Don Thacker during Toronto After Dark, and after seeing Motivational Growth, I had a few follow up questions for the delightfully verbose director. Sitting on a Starbucks patio at Queen St West and John, Thacker was kind enough to answer my questions. The result was an in depth discussion on what makes his film tick, the problems with contemporary auteurship, the obsession over cult films, and the cynicism with which films are being made today. Motivational Growth

A: Were you aiming for a nihilistic tone with the film?

D: No. Absolutely not. Nope.

A: So what were you aiming for?

D: It’s a love story! He gets the girl! At the end of Inception, […] you don’t know if the top falls. That’s the thing. You shouldn’t care. If you’re arguing over whether or not the top fell, you missed the point. The movie is about whether or not he’s going to get home to his kids. Whether or not it was a dream doesn’t matter. The whole point of the film is that this guy has lost so much connection to reality – in Inception – […] that it doesn’t matter anymore whether or not it’s real. He needs to get home to his kids. […]

A: So if you’re arguing whether or not he died, you missed the point?

D: Yeah! […] Something of him left that apartment, you know? And that’s a beautiful thing. […] Imagine this statement. As opposed to a nihilistic “oh my god, everything sucks, he just died,” imagine a scenario in which I’d said “yeah, he died, but he got a chance to make everything right and fix it!” That’s a beautiful ending. Would you like to know more…?

A Few Words with Don Thacker on MOTIVATIONAL GROWTH – Part I

During the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, I had the great pleasure of sitting down with Don Thacker, writer and director of the inventive, absurdist film with the talking mould: Motivational Growth. Now, Don’s a wonderful guy. But to say that I spoke at all would not only be an understatement, but it’d be a downright lie. Neither myself, nor my two fellow interviewers, got a word in edgewise save for asking all of five questions. The beautiful thing is that we didn’t have to. In spite of the months he’s been doing his festival tour, Thacker was just as excited to sit down and chat with us, as I’m sure he was on his first interview.

Don Thacker of Motivational GrowthI don’t even think we had a chance to ask how he came up with the concept for Motivational Growth before he started his story. “I was living in LA,” he began. “I did this foolish thing when I was 19 where I was like ‘I’m gonna save up $3000! I’m gonna go out to LA! And then I’ll be famous, and make all the movies! It’ll be great!’ I went to LA, and found that there’s a giant wall. […] [A]nd it’s built on broken dreams. It’s forded with hell tears, and it’s made metal by the aspirations of the young. […]And at the top is this giant line of networking that you have to get through to even get near the wall.

“At 19 you don’t know this,” he continues. “[…] And L.A. […] can be like a giant meat grinder from hell that destroys souls. My soul was one of those souls! I got into a bunch of bad business, worked with people who were shifty. And at one point I was living in this Australian lady’s apartment, but I was living in just one room of it. I didn’t have access to the common areas. […] And in the middle of the night […] I’d wake up, sneak out of the room, and I’d walk over to the couch and quietly turn the television on. And I sat there depressed. It was the only thing I had in my whole life. I couldn’t afford rent. […] I had no money. […]So I’m sitting there in my underwear, flipping through channels, and every time something went bad or I didn’t like something I’d just [change the channel]. And I just thought ‘wouldn’t it be great if I could just click and change to a different life?’ And then I [thought] ‘if this TV went away, I would fucking kill myself.’ That’s where I was. […] I was a kid, I didn’t know shit. Everything’s melodramatic when you’re 19, right?” Would you like to know more…?

Jeremy Gardner and Adam Cronheim discuss THE BATTERY

The Battery

Far and away one of the best films at Toronto After Dark this year, The Battery has been taking not only Toronto, but the international festival circuit by storm. Winner of three audience award prizes, and official selection of over 20 international film festivals, it’s living up to expectations as one of the best zombie films in years.

I had the opportunity to sit down with writer, director, producer and star Jeremy Gardner, and costar and producer Adam Cronheim to discuss the zombie-less zombie film. Though it is an originally executed film, in many ways, it’s still the same concept. “It’s still zombies,” says Gardner, “and all the rules apply. Even some of the tropes are there. But the seed of it was trying to focus on the way an apocalypse would affect the psychology and the psyche of the human rather than the macro scale that a lot of zombie movies try to do.”

Reportedly made for a meager $6,000, much of the concept of a two-man film was based on budgetary restraints. “Even as a fan of the genre, it forces you to refocus,” Gardner added on the impact of their budget. “It’s hard to splatter a head on screen when you have no money. So it forces you to be creative in what you show and what you don’t show. But I always like things like that, where it’s a little off screen. It’s like Texas Chainsaw Massacre where they always say that it’s one of the most violent movies ever, but you really don’t see anything. It’s all about mood, and tone, and terror.” Would you like to know more…?

Hitchcock-Truffaut Interview Recordings Resurface Online

Anyone who is a fan of either Alfred Hitchcock or François Truffaut will have at one point at least heard of the legendary series of interviews that took place between the two in 1962. Truffaut, a great admirer of Hitchcock’s work, sat down with the master and conducted half-hour interview sessions that covered nearly the entirety of his films and his filmmaking strategies. Helen Scott of New York’s French Film Office acted as a translator between the two, as Truffaut’s English skills were limited. She would become a great friend to the French filmmaker and assisted him with his only English language film, 1966’s Fahrenheit 451.

The result of those interview sessions was the book simply titled Hitchcock, with Truffaut credited as its author (Scott assisted in the publication of the American edition). It has been available since 1967 and revised to include Hitchcock’s later films following the interviews, but the audio recordings themselves have been less accessible to current film buffs – until recently. The blog If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger, There’d Be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats, run by Tom Sutpen, first made the recordings available for download starting in 2006. Earlier this past week, they unexpectedly re-surfaced online, and now the entirety of the sessions can be downloaded in one zip file – provided here for your convenience.

As for the recordings themselves? Well, in terms of pure content, there’s nothing new if you’ve already read the book. But (judging from the first few segments I’ve listened to so far) it’s wonderful to actually hear Hitchcock, Truffaut and Scott conversing and sharing the occasional burst of laughter from humorous anecdotes and jokes that arise throughout the discussion. Hitchcock speaks in his patented slow, almost leisurely manner, while it is quite easy to hear some enthusiasm in Truffaut’s voice as he asks his questions and provides his own observations – let’s not forget Truffaut was, first and foremost, a film geek like so many others who hold that particular torch high today. Hopefully, some of them will draw some delight from discovering this treasure of film history for themselves.

Story info and links to audio recordings courtesy of FilmDetail.