Zombie Girl

Toronto Scream Fest Celebrates the Art of Horror Filmmaking

As July turns to August, my routine browse through the local listings digs up a slew of major horror film events.

The gore and the camp abound for the next month or so, as the much-anticipated Toronto After Dark Film Festival rolls out its selections from August 14th to 21st. Later in the month, Rue Morgue is hosting the Festival of Fear fan expo and (admittedly, I may be the only one in line when) Rob Zombie's Halloween II hits the screens on August 28th. It all caps off with TIFF's Midnight Madness programme, a latenight creepfest on from September 10th to the 19th.

Warm up for Toronto's unofficial showcase of the weird and twisted at Scream Fest, a one night only showcase of horror movie-making on Thursday, August 6th at the Fox Theatre. Filmmakers and fans are invited to a marathon of scary-themed shorts and discussions, leading up to a screening of Zombie Girl: The Movie, fresh from this year's Hot Docs lineup.

"The Toronto Scream Fest was created so that film makers from all different areas and experiences could come together, network and show their films," Scream Fest co-creator Mike Klassen explains. "We are trying to connect film makers that are just starting out and haven't had much experience with other film makers that do have the experience."

A "First Time Film Makers" set launches the evening. It includes Casting Shadows, about the Shadow Cats group that regularly performs Repo! The Genetic Opera live on stage at the Bloor Cinema. The premise of Jason Goes To Work, in which "a down and out Jason Voorhees [from the Friday the 13th series] is forced to take a hiatus from his day job as a teen slasher to work as an office lackey," also sounds promising.

Scream Fest organizers found the perfect headlining film for this event in Zombie Girl: The Movie. "We wanted a to screen a film that has made some noise in the industry but also has a strong independent feel," says Klassen.

Zombie Girl: The Movie also fits the bill as it documents the behind-the-scenes trials of a first-time filmmaker. Emily Hagins struggles with casting, budgets, timelines, equipment, and so on, to piece together a feature-length zombie flick. The hook: Hagins is 12-years-old.

I enjoyed this film at Hot Docs a few months ago, with its feelgood moments when Hagins' perseverance pays off or when the community comes out to support her efforts. Fights between Hagins and her mom, who fills the role of most of the crew on Emily's film, are also entertaining. A Q&A with Justin Johnson, one of the directors who followed the Austin tween's project, will take place after the film.

Tickets $10 at the door or $8 in advance at the Fox Theatre, 2236 Queen St. East.

Still from Zombie Girl: The Movie courtesy of Hot Docs.

Zombie Girl: The Movie trailer:

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