Sheer Mad­ness

NOW Magazine - TIFF - - FILM FESTIVAL PREVIEW - By JOHN SEM­LEY

TIFF cel­e­brates 25 years of Mid­night Mad­ness, the genre-fes­ti­val-within-the-fes­ti­val

COLIN GEDDES has been with Mid­night Mad­ness from the be­gin­ning. Be­fore he was brought on to quar­ter­back TIFF’s latenight genre movie mini-fes­ti­val, he was just another fan wait­ing in line to see Hell­bound: Hell­raiser II at TIFF in 1988. In 1997, MM pro­gram­mer Noah Cowan asked Geddes to come on as co-pro­gram­mer – after see­ing him run crowd con­trol on leg­endary giallo di­rec­tor Dario Ar­gento fol­low­ing a par­tic­u­larly hec­tic screen­ing.

“He was kind of swarmed in the lobby of the Bloor,” says Geddes. “I jumped into it and held peo­ple back, like, ‘Let him through! Let him through!’” No longer Mid­night Mad­ness’s vol­un­teer bouncer, Geddes has be­come its guid­ing in­tel­li­gence, mak­ing TIFF’s late-night slate per­haps the film event for hor­ror/sci-fi/ac­tion afi­ciona­dos.

“What I do is glo­ri­fied show-and-tell,” he says. “I find a cool movie, and then I try to share it with some­thing more than just the four peo­ple who could fit on my couch.” I talked to Geddes about some of the break­out hits (in chrono­log­i­cal or­der) that have helped de­fine Mid­night Mad­ness over its 25year his­tory. BRAIN­DEAD (1992) Be­fore Peter Jack­son helmed The Lord Of The Rings and Hob­bit fran­chises, ef­fec­tively be­com­ing the King of Movies, he was just a schlocky Kiwi genre film­maker. Jack­son’s third fea­ture, Brain­dead (re­leased in North Amer­ica as Dead Alive), found its foothold at Mid­night Mad­ness. “I’ve got an au­to­graph in one of my old pro­gram books from Peter Jack­son,” Geddes re­calls, “signed in the lobby of the Bloor.” CABIN FEVER (2002) For bet­ter or worse, Mid­night Mad­ness is re­spon­si­ble for break­ing Eli Roth’s ca­reer. “No­body knew who Eli Roth was,” says Geddes. “Roth talks a lot about how Mid­night Mad­ness made him and dis­cov­ered him.” Be­cause of that suc­cess, says Geddes, many film­mak­ers now try to make the types of films they think will land them a spot in the se­ries, in hopes of se­cur­ing the same break­out suc­cess. ONG-BAK: MUAY THAI WAR­RIOR (2003) Beyond splat­ter films, Mid­night Mad­ness also casts its net to other cor­ners of the globe. (Geddes has a par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est in Asian genre cin­ema.) With the premiere of Ong-Bak, he in­tro- duced au­di­ences to a whole new kind of mar­tial arts film and a whole new kind of ac­tion star. “Look: Thai cin­ema has been around for 100 years. And overnight we in­tro­duced the first ma­jor Thai film star to the world. No­body could even name a Thai film star at that point. Then, overnight, we birthed Tony Jaa.” BIG MAN JA­PAN (2007) Hi­toshi Mat­sumoto’s Ja­panese pop cul­ture send-up as cap­i­tal cri­tique packed in the crowds in at Mid­night Mad­ness de­spite his rel­a­tive anonymity. “I like to put curve­balls in there” says Geddes. “It’s about tak­ing smaller films and help­ing them get dis­cov­ered. No­body had heard of [Mat­sumoto]. Just based on the way we pitched it, we sold out the Ry­er­son. A few years later he did Sym­bol. Now, this year, three movies later, he’s fi­nally com­ing to the fes­ti­val with his lat­est film, R100.” THE RAID (2011) Gareth Evans’s lo­co­mo­tive mar­tial arts ac­tioner played Mid­night Mad­ness in 2011 and went on to win the cov­eted Peo­ple’s Choice Mid­night Mad­ness Award. “That was our open­ing-night film. I take pride in say­ing I as­sem­bled the largest group of peo­ple in North Amer­ica in one room to watch a film from In­done­sia. I’m pretty con­fi­dent no one else had done that.”

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