TIFF ’12: Final days with Brian De Palma, ‘End of Watch’ and Don Coscarelli

by W. Andrew Powell
Director Brian De Palma on the set of Passion

This whole week has been kind of a blur at TIFF. It’s been hard just finding time to get to everything, let alone blog about it afterwards, so I’m a bit behind, but at the same time I’m trying to process videos and write up reviews and interviews.

That means that since Sunday, I have not been quite as busy at the festival, but there have been some great moments all the same.

Sunday, I screened two interesting films–Brian De Palma’s Passion, starring Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace, and director Stuart Blumberg’s Thanks For Sharing with Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Tim Robbins.

Then, on Monday, I was on hand for the End of Watch junket with director David Ayer, plus stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, Anna Kendrick and Natalie Martinez.

The hour-and-a-half interview session gave press lots of time with each person, with Kendrick and Martinez being the only two actors paired up. There were lots of “a-ha” moments, but the most interesting was finding out that a lot of the incidents in the film are based on actual police reports and photos, which makes some of the more gruesome moments in the film all the more hard to imagine.

Gyllenhaal and Pena also prepared for their roles for five months, and on top of that, the film was shot on location in the neighbourhood where Ayer grew up.

Tuesday morning I spoke with Blancanieves director Pablo Berger, who was brilliant and very passionate about his project, and he spoke about how long it took to make the film, and how excited he has been to finally have it debut at TIFF. As he explained, he had his choice to do a regular film, with just the normal struggles, or take on this black and white silent film, which meant fighting for financing, and he still chose to follow his dream of creating this striking, charming film.

After that, I interviewed Aftershock director Nicholas Lopez and writer/actor/producer Eli Roth, who described making the film in reference to the horrific 2010 Chilean earthquake that struck near Santiago. The two took a lot of the incidents from their film from real life events, much like End of Watch, but then moved into slasher and survival territory for the second half.

But the biggest moment so far at TIFF had to be finding myself sitting in on a roundtable interview with director and film legend Brian De Palma about his film Passion. Not only that, but the interview was almost thirty minutes long with De Palma talking about making Passion, and about his work in the film industry all these years.

He’s a remarkable man, and his stories about his career are fascinating to hear, and I was even stunned to hear how much he’s interested in video game development, taking those stories to the next level. He admitted he could not jump into that world at this stage in his career, but he thinks that industry could have powerful stories, given the right effort.

Beyond that, the festival is definitely winding down for me, but it’s been an incredible adventure. Other commitments are tearing me away from TIFF 12 now as the festival draws to a close, but I’m excited about one of the last things I’ll be doing on Saturday night.

For Midnight Madness, I’ll be seeing John Dies at the End Saturday at midnight, and then after the film ends I’ll be interviewing director Don Coscarelli and star Robert Mayes. The last time I had the chance to interview Coscarelli was for Bubba Ho-Tep, which was at TIFF in 2002, so I’m very curious to see what he has to say about the new film.

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