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[TIFF ’13] Q&A: Programmer Colin Geddes talks the Midnight Madness

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Colin Geddes, the man behind the (Midnight) Madness at the Toronto International Film Festival has had a busy week to say the least. Coming directly from the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal to the TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre in Toronto, he hosted a special midnight announcement of the Midnight Madness programme for TIFF 2013 on Monday evening. This was followed by a free screening of Jonathan Levine’s ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE (which premiered at the festival in 2006) to kick off the 25th anniversary of Midnight Madness. After announcing the equally impressive Vanguard line-up Tuesday, Colin took a few minutes to chat with us over the phone about what we can expect at TIFF this year.

FANGORIA: Now that you’ve announced the Midnight Madness line-up, do you actually get a bit of a break until September?

COLIN GEDDES: I do have time to relax. At this point it’s just the logistics and making sure that we have the guests coming. The downside is I have to tell a number of filmmakers that their films didn’t get in, and that’s the hard part of the process. A lot of the films are good films, it’s nothing personal, it’s just that at the end of the day I can only pick ten films for the Midnight Madness selection and they just either weren’t special enough or they were just about there.

FANG: You programme both the Midnight Madness and the Vanguard selections, so how do you decide where a film will land?

GEDDES: Midnight Madness has more ruthless, mercenary criteria. For the audience this may be their first film, their second film or even their sixth film of the day so it’s my mission to wake that audience up. I’ve got to deliver something which kicks in and grabs their attention within the first 15 minutes and keeps their attention focused on the film until the end, which is at 1:30 or 2 in the morning. It also has to be something which is different. I’m not going to programme something just because it’s a zombie film. I don’t believe in the thought that “it’s so bad, it’s good”. No, it has got to be so good, it’s awesome! I try and pick films which have new, fresh genre conventions and films which might not be something that the audience is particularly aware of or comfortable with— where “I’ve never seen a film from France – oh my god HIGH TENSION is awesome” or “I’ve never seen a film from Indonesia – oh my god THE RAID just knocked my head off”. I try to bring in unknown commodities to the program.

FANG: Which film is that big unknown for you this year?

GEDDES: I will tell you that everyone has to watch out for ALMOST HUMAN (pictured, above) by Joe Begos. This is a first film for a young director, along with his actor/editor (Josh Ethier) and they are the producers. These two guys have been writing horror films, working and working trying to get something done. They did an entry for ABC’s OF DEATH which didn’t get in. Finally these guys said “We’ve got a script, let’s figure out how much we can put on our credit cards and let’s make this movie” and they just went out and did it. It’s a film with that vibe of some of the best 80s intense horror thrillers, which has that action element to it. It’s really fresh and fun. A guy gets abducted by aliens—or we assume aliens since he goes into a blue light.Ten years later his friend who has been accused of the murder finds out that he has come back, however he is not the same and now he likes to use shotguns, chainsaws and axes on people.

FANG: A previous unknown, Eli Roth will be back for his third TIFF this year…

GEDDES: Yeah, if we look at the history of Midnight Madness and how things have changed: no one knew who Eli Roth was in 2002 and we were able to totally introduce him to the world. He’s back for the third time as a director, fourth time as part of a film family. I can safely say that THE GREEN INFERNO has lots of the stuff that FANGORIA audiences live and breathe for!

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“THE GREEN INFERNO”

FANG: What about the film most likely to get under your skin?

GEDDES: OCULUS has got the INSIDIOUS factor. It’s going to be something where you go “this is weird, this is crazy.” You don’t really know what’s going on and it’s going to definitely permeate nightmares. For the director Mike Flanagan, his previous film ABSENTIA was a very small, subtle film. This is his next step. This really shows what he can do with more resources but at the same time, it’s a very small, two-hander horror film.

FANG: What will be the craziest, loudest screening at Midnight Madness this year?

GEDDES: That might be WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN HELL? It’s a nutty film about a passion for film and Japanese gangster warfare. It may not sound like a horror film but this has more blood than most of the other films at the festival. It’s got samurai swords, beheadings, Kung fu. I think we’re going to have a special team of cleaners just to sweep the jaws off the floor. It’s going to start hitting those “WTF” synapses in the brain, which people are going to love.

FANG: When can we expect to see the schedule and final film announcement?

GEDDES: Right now we are just trying to juggle to see where things are playing. We are opening with ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE by Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson, two names that are already familiar to FANGORIA readers. It’s going to be the first, and that one has a really great supernatural turn that you don’t see coming. We just have to negotiate attendance by cast and director, then we will be announcing the full order of the lineup in the next few weeks. Pay attention on twitter for the tease on the last film.

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“OCULUS”

FANG: For those of us who want to make it to all ten Midnight Madness films and still see others during the day, what are your tips for survival?

GEDDES: Make sure you are hydrated! Drink lots of water and stay away from energy drinks, they are your last minute booster pack. If you are drinking an energy drink on day two, you are going to crash hard! Really, the best advice I can give about surviving the festival is say hello to the people beside you in the line-up. You never know who you are going to meet. They might have tickets they don’t need or if you’re single you could meet your life partner. Who knows! I’ve met directors there and I’ve met some of my best friends. Two weeks ago I went to the wedding of a friend and I realized I met him at the Varsity back around 1991 in the line-up for a film.  You’re with likeminded people – you’re with film fans. If you want to find out what the gems are, you’re going to get your best insider racing tips from those line-ups.

For much more on the Toronto International Film Festival, see our looks at the full Midnight Madness and Vanguard lineups. 

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About the author
Cheryl Singleton
Cheryl Singleton joined the Fango team in 2012. She lives and writes just outside of Toronto, Canada.
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