Thursday, June 15, 2017

THE BAD BATCH: Premiere Interviews Ana Lily Amirpour, Jason Momoa, Suki Waterhouse, Yolonda Ross


Ana Lily Amirpour arrived on the scene with her first film A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night and has followed that picture with The Bad Batch, a film that many are describing as post-apocalyptic but which Ana Lily says is a film that takes place now. It is also a film that has quite a cast, Jason Momoa, Keanu Reeves, a unrecognizable Jim Carrey, Diego Luna Yolonda Ross, Giovanni Ribisi, and introducing Suki Waterhouse. Sarah and I were at the The Bad Batch premiere at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival and conducted these interviews on the red carpet. The Bad Batch opens June 23rd, 2017.

Monday, June 5, 2017

HEADSHOT: World Premiere Interviews Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle, Sunny Pang, Kimo Stamboel, Timo Tjahjanto


Headshot the martial arts extravaganza directed by Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto aka "The Mo Brothers" is now streaming on Netflix. The film stars Iko Uwais (The Raid, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Julie Estelle aka "Hammer Girl" from (The Raid 2) and Sunny Pang (The Collector). Here my interviews from the Headshot world premiere at Midnight Madness 2016.







And here is an amazing moment during the post-screening Q&A when Iko Uwais and Sunny Pang fight on stage!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

INAUGURATION DAY: THIS IS THE BEGINNING, WHERE DOES IT END?



 Inauguration Day: This Is The Beginning, Where Does It End?

Words, Photographs & Video By Robert Aaron Mitchell

 The days following the 2016 election, I was a swirling vortex of emotions. My emotions were a pendulum swinging from profound sadness to anger. I physically felt the schism and paradigm shift of the country. Through the great political divide, there was one feeling that united all of us: uncertainty. This country was drifting into unknown waters.

People began to gather in streets all over America. As much as I appreciate the cardboard signs and the hash tag #NotMyPresident that sentiment would go out the window as of noon on January 20th, 2017 when Donald Trump would place his hand on not one but two bibles and take the oath and become the 45th President of the United States of America.

My decision to head to Washington D.C. to attend the 58th inauguration of the United States of America was made at 3:30 in the morning while I was battling a cold. Once friends got word of this trip I started to field several texts and messages inquiring why I was going. Why indeed? First and foremost I felt compelled to stand on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol building to bear witness to this transfer of power. There was another pull more powerful. I wanted to stand in uncomfortable closeness with a large group of people that I one hundred percent disagreed with on this one major decision, the candidate they voted for. I also wanted a trip that would take me through the northern rustbelt aka the “blue curtain.” And finally, I wanted a trip that would kick my ass. The journey home to Bloomington, Indiana from D.C. on Greyhound would be over 35 hours. This inauguration trip would not disappoint all of these expectations.

Sunrise & Sirens

The morning began with the phone alarm belonging to one of the 6 people in the hostel room going off in seven-minute intervals. From my top bunk beside the window the sky was beginning to lighten. The constant sirens of law enforcement and motorcades moving through the city filled the room. There is a definite non-stop mojo in Washington D.C. By the 4th time the phone alarm went off, I decided I would get into a shower before everyone else in the hostel woke up. It was 5:30am. I then packed for the day, stashed my backpack in a locker, and headed out into the street in search for coffee. For a January day, the temperature was bearable. I wore a light jacket and T-shirt throughout the day and night.

Police drove by me on motorcycles, lights and sirens in full effect. By the coffee shop I saw the first of many military vehicles. Today was to be a peaceful transfer of power but make no mistake it would also be a show of force. The crowds of people and merchandise sellers began to appear as I approached Washington Union Station. I saw punks with “Fuck Trump” signs, a guy dressed as Captain America. I began to see many, many “Make America Great Again” red hats. More and more signs. “I Voted For Trump I Swear No Russian Told Me To” “Open The Valve, Drain That Swamp!” “Fight Racism Not Russia And China” “Hands Off My Pussy Donald.” I saw a giant pickup truck, which was covered in decals claiming it was the official Trump truck. As I passed by it, I remarked to a random guy walking nearing me, “This guy has his name branded on even more shit.” 



As I neared the gate I was supposed to enter, I was told to proceed to another entrance. It turns out protesters were being successful—at least at this one checkpoint—in stopping people from entering the Capitol grounds. I finally arrived at the spot my ticket gave me access to. People kept filling in. It became unbearably crowded. There was three hours before the inauguration was set to begin.

Dignitaries began to be announced signaling we were getting closer to the start.  George W. Bush received a grand ovation. Bill and Hillary Clinton did not. People around me began chanting, “Lock her up! Lock her up!” When the Trump children arrived, the crowd started chanting “Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump.” As we continued to wait, someone shouted out “Are we going to get tired of winning?” The response back, “Nooooo!” Every once in a while something would happen in the sea of people that would set off a round of boos clashing with the music of John Philip Sousa that filled the air. I assumed it was a protestor but I was never sure. The beginning of “Hail To The Chief” began. “Ladies and Gentlemen, The President of the United States, the Honorable Barack H. Obama.” A large round of cheers and clapping and an equal amount of boos. Then the chant of “Na, na, na, na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye” started. In the moments leading up to Donald Trump’s entrance, the crowd began shouting, “Trump! Trump! Trump!” “U! S! A! U! S! A! U! S! A!” Each letter shouted out, its own celebratory and vengeful roar. Let there be no doubt, we won! This is our country again.



The vibe was strange and made me feel sad. “Ladies and Gentlemen the President-elect Donald John Trump.” A wave of cheers and chants.

The most profound moment of Inauguration Day for me was Chuck Schumer’s speech:
“Today we celebrate our democracy and a peaceful transfer of power. And we stand up for democratic principles enshrined in the constitution. The rule of law, equal protections for all under law, freedom of speech, press, religion, the things that make America, America.”

Then Senator Schumer read from a civil war letter of Major Sullivan Ballou to his wife Sarah. The Major would die a week later in the first battle of Bull Run. What made the Senator’s speech remarkable were not the words he spoke; it was a good speech. No, what made these five minutes remarkable to me was the reaction of the crowd. The crowd had been showing their disdain anytime someone from the Democratic party was introduced, but now it was a full-on frenzy of antipathy. Here was a speech speaking of our differences and the extraordinariness of Americans during extremely difficult and divisive circumstances. The Inauguration crowd chanted over this call for unity with more chants of Trump and U-S-A. It was an ugly scene. One I will not forget. As the words of a civil war hero were read the crowd continued to jeer and then chants of “Drain The Swamp, Drain The Swamp!” “Get off the stage!” “We want Trump, We want Trump!” The crowd cheered when he was done—not for the speech but for his leaving the stage to the opening strains of “America, the Beautiful”. As the song finished, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was announced to administer the Presidential oath of office. 



As the oath was being said there was a small but loud contingent of detractors blowing whistles and yelling. It was not lost upon me that the Trump Hotel here in D.C. was 1.3 miles from where we were standing.

After Mr. Trump repeated the final words of the oath, “So help me God”, the first of the twenty-one cannon salute began. It was loud. I jumped. Then the rain started. It was a remarkable moment of pathetic fallacy. The person who should have never been President was now the leader of the free world. The cannons continued and the rain kicked up in intensity.

The 45th President of the United States then took to the podium and with great conviction began the most dire inauguration speech in this country’s history. When I heard the words “American Carnage,” it sent a chill down my spine. As he uttered the words, “America First,” I was extremely unsettled. The words and the tone of this speech were ominous, bleak, and sinister. What made it more intense and chilling for me was that it was met with thunderous applause and cheers. Then there were prayers.

As the first notes of the Star Spangled Banner stirred, I joined the crowd of people trying to leave the Capitol grounds. By this time my legs were very stiff. The sea of red hats began to intersperse with the protestors. I continued to walk and walk. I took photograph after photograph of the people all around me. Another profound moment for me was when the noise of a helicopter was roaring above me and I looked up and it was Marine One carrying the Obamas out of Washington D.C. Some in the larger crowd around me, once again, took up the refrain, “Na na na, hey hey, hey, goodbye!”

As the day waned and I continued to talk and walk on near empty streets among supporters and detractors of our new President, it struck me that we are all a part of this great human drama. Mostly everyone was peaceful. I witnessed only one act of a Trump supporter trying to shout over a woman holding a sign, “Queers Against Fascism” who was talking to a camera crew. 



The Journey Home

Just before midnight at Union Station, I boarded my first Greyhound coach bus home. By now, I was riding a wave of sheer exhaustion. I was very much looking forward to sleeping as we began to depart D.C. That was not going to happen. One of the last people to board was a woman who was talking loudly. She kept bouncing from seat to seat to seat and finally sat beside some guy. All the while she was talking and talking and talking. I put headphones on and cranked my music. I tried to drift off.

We arrived in Baltimore. Some people got off and some people got on. A woman sat beside me. We spoke briefly. She was bound for Detroit. The bus rumbled to life once again. The lights dimmed and we resumed our middle of the night trek through America.

We were somewhere in the middle of Pennsylvania when a prolonged shouting match began on the bus. The woman beside me yelled at the nonstop talking woman, “Shut the fuck up! People are trying to sleep!” I woke up and turned off my music. The nonstop talking woman responded, “Bitch, I just got of prison! I will fuck you up!” The woman beside me then said, “You can go back to prison." Try as I might I could not suppress my urge to laugh at this last comment. It was now on. The shouting and name-calling escalated. Finally the bus driver turned the bus to the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere and intervenes. He then seated the nonstop talking woman at the front of the bus. We then proceeded to a rest stop and the woman has now been kicked off the bus. Our fifteen minutes has turned into an hour. The police arrived and questioned the two women. America can be a rough room.

The bus finally rumbled to a start. My bleary eyes then continued to look out the giant window beside me into the darkness. My mind was processing and reflecting on what I had witnessed in these two days in D.C. My heart was indeed heavy. What I saw were a lot of good people taken in by an orange carnival barker of hate. A man who had promised to take on a system of which he had personally benefitted from enormously.

There are many people who do not care who the President is in any given year. A lot of folks are jaded and skeptical. They see no remarkable change in between elections. But apathy does not stave off effect. Invisible lives in tough circumstances will struggle to survive, as conditions only get tougher. I sense that this country is sliding into something insidious. The great fleecing of America has begun. We all lost and the greed-heads have taken over one hundred percent. I do not have much hope right now. The only solace I have is that there are millions of us fighting for justice. We must continue to fight the good fight. The people and ideals of this country are far too important to give up on. 


Saturday, March 18, 2017

THE DEVIL'S CANDY: Sean Byrne Interview


THE DEVIL'S CANDY: Interview with Director Sean Byrne

 

The Devil's Candy marks director Sean Byrne return to the Midnight Madness program. His first feature The Loved Ones was so beloved that it won the 2009 Midnight Madness People's Choice Winner. I recently spoke with Sean about his eagerly awaited sophomore film. -- Robert A. Mitchell

Your first film The Loved Ones had an amazing world premiere in 2009 at Midnight Madness. Could you share some of your memories from that night? How did that screening change your life?


It began as a blur of jet-lag and sleep deprivation and ended as one of the most vivid memories of my life. Making a film is a marathon. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is hopefully getting it in front of a big audience like at the Ryerson. The nerve-racking part is there’s no guarantee the audience will like it and all those thousands of hours that go into creating a film end up amounting to nothing more than egg on your face. So the way the audience embraced the film - screaming, cheering, wearing their heart on their sleeve - was so satisfying it’s hard to put into words. So much so I’ve been fighting to get back to Midnight Madness ever since.

As far as changing my life, the fact we won the Audience Choice award opened a lot of doors. It got me an Agent, countless meetings, and meant scripts were sent to me for the first time in my life. After flirting with various projects I ended up coming back to my own material because in the end I wanted to retain some sort of voice but thanks to Midnight Madness I suddenly had more than one avenue open to me.



I'm eagerly anticipating The Devil's Candy. What is the basic premise of the story? Where did the idea come from?


I don’t want to say too much because half the fun is in the not knowing! And The Devil’s Candy definitely has an air of mystery to it. I guess all I can say is it’s a haunted house movie about a father desperately trying to protect his daughter from the darkness in disguise. As for where the idea came from, I started wondering what’s the greatest disparity of power, the ultimate David versus Goliath battle in a horror context, and it seemed like child versus monster. After that the challenge became how to create a monster we haven’t seen before. There’s echoes of The Shining in terms of how a location can wreak havoc on the mind and also a hint of the Crossroads mythology: would you sell your soul for personal gain even if it meant jeopardizing the lives of those around you? 


What are some things you learned about film making from The Loved Ones? How did you apply this knowledge to your second film?


Prepare as much as you can then once the train leaves the station just hang on. Tackle one obstacle at a time and eventually you’ll reach the finish line. Surrounding yourself with the right producers and heads of department who not only share your sensibility but are also decent, passionate, supportive and great at what they do is also crucial. If you’ve got a good script or blue print, understand the tone of the film, do your best to communicate it clearly and work with the right people then you’ve at least got half a chance!



You have teamed up with producers Keith Calder and Jessica Wu of Snoot Films who  has a history with the Midnight Madness program producing You're Next and The Guest to name a few. How did their experience producing genre films aid the production of The Devil's Candy?

Keith and Jess have made sixteen films. I think The Devil’s Candy is their eighth film at TIFF. You can’t buy that kind of experience. You have to earn it and they have. So in a practical sense I felt in very safe hands. Everything is handled in a calm, methodical manner. But what was perhaps most rewarding was their ability to creatively align themselves with the film. We were all striving to make the same movie. As a writer/director I end up living with the material for an unhealthy length of time and to have producers who are able to remind you what was so exciting about the story in the first place is invaluable. They have strong commercial instincts but aren’t afraid to take risks because they understand horror, to avoid being predictable, sometimes needs to be dangerous, even taboo. And that’s where I live as a filmmaker so to share that ethos and have that kind of faith and support was incredibly helpful.


What kind of cinematic experience awaits the audience?


I wanted to pay homage to the classics of the supernatural genre - Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, The Omen, The Shining - but with a distinctly modern sensibility. Like The Loved Ones, metal plays its part. In a perfect world The Devil’s Candy would lift the underground into the mainstream. We’ve been calling it a Doom Opera. I hope it creeps like death, sends chills then attacks the throat. I hope it feels like hell has risen.


From Sean Byrne how how to see The Devil's Candy this weekend:

Horror fans and metal heads of the USA, THE DEVIL’S CANDY releases tomorrow. If you want to fully experience the wall of dread closing in on you then see it in these theaters:
3/17/17 Arena Cinelounge - Hollywood, CA
3/17/17 IFC Center - New York, NY
3/24/17 Coolidge Corner Theatre - Brookline (Boston), MA
3/24/17 Gateway Film Center - Columbus, OH
3/24/17 SIE Film Center - Denver, CO
3/24/17 Alamo Drafthouse Mason Park - Katy (Houston), TX
3/24/17 Valley Art - Tempe (Phoenix), AZ
3/31/17 Alamo Ritz - Austin, TX
3/31/17 Loft Cinema Twin - Tuscon, AZ
3/31/17 Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Winchester - Washington, DC
4/14/17 Celebration Cinema Grand Rapids North & IMAX - Grand Rapids, MI
4/14/17 Celebration Cinema 11 - Mt Pleasant (Flint), MI
4/14/17 Studio C! Meridian Mall - Okemos (Lansing), MI
4/14/17 Celebration Crossroads 15 - Portage (Kalamazoo), MI
4/28/17 Guild Cinema - Albuquerque, NM

If it’s not playing at a theater near you then the Devil will visit your home on these digital platforms from tomorrow:
iTunes
Amazon
Sony
Google
Xbox
Vudu
Comcast
Cablevision
Charter
TW
Direct
AT&T

Originally Appeared 09/11/15 Midnight Madness Blog 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

THE BELKO EXPERIMENT Interviews with James Gunn, Sean Gunn & Greg McLean

                                       James Gunn speaks with Robert Mitchell

The Belko Experiment was one of my favorite films that premiered at the 2016 edition of Midnight Madness at the Toronto International Film Festival. I was able to speak with writer and producer James Gunn (Slither, Guardians of the Galaxy) actor Sean Gunn (The Gilmore Girls) and director Greg McLean (Wolf Creek, Rouge).


Sean Gunn sharing a laugh with Robert Mitchell




Director Greg McLean talks with Robert Mitchell


Monday, March 13, 2017

SPACE BABES FROM OUTER SPACE: TRAILER, POSTER AND BLURAY PRESALES LAUNCH


SPACE BABES FROM OUTER SPACE are arriving to planet Earth very soon! Here is the poster and trailer. The film is written and directed by Brian Williams (Time To Kill, Harvest Lake), Produced and Cinematography by Scott Schirmer (Found, Harvest Lake) and starring Ellie Church, Allison Maier, & Alyss Winkler. I also have an acting role in the picture. Here is the trailer:


Click HERE To Pre-order The Blu-ray!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

RAW aka GRAVE Interview with Writer/Director Julia Ducournau

                                         Julia Ducournau in conversation with Robert Mitchell

To say that there was some commotion during the premiere of Raw at the 2016 Midnight Madness program would be an understatement. The film was extremely well received. Here is my interview with Julia Ducournau.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Toronto International Film Festival Midnight Madness 2016 Adventures: A Photo Essay

Robert and Sarah Mitchell attended the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival and returned to the red carpet at the Midnight Madness programme. Here is a photo essay of their adventures. All photographs by Ian Goring unless otherwise noted.

                                    Interviewing Sunny Pang & Iko Uwais at the HEADSHOT
                                                   World Premiere September 9th, 2016

Interviewing Chelsea Islan & Julie Estelle at the HEADSHOT
World Premiere September 9th, 2016

Interviewing Kimo Stamboel & Timo Tjahanto at the HEADSHOT
World Premiere September 9th, 2016

Speaking with James Gunn at THE BELKO EXPERIMENT
World Premiere September 10th, 2016

In conversation with Sean Gunn at THE BELKO EXPERIMENT
World Premiere September 10th, 2016

Speaking with Director Greg McLean at THE BELKO EXPERIMENT
World Premiere September 10th, 2016

Director Adam Wingard at BLAIR WITCH World Premiere
September 11th, 2016

Talking with Director/Writer Julia Ducournau at the RAW/GRAVE
International Premiere September 12th, 2016

Having a moment with Morgan Spurlock at the World Premiere 
RATS September 13th, 2016

Talking with Gemma Arterton at the North American Premiere
THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS Sept. 14th, 2016

Speaking with Director Colm McCarthy at the North American Premiere
THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS Sept. 14th, 2016

Interviewing Director André Øvredal at the World Premiere
THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE Sept. 15th, 2016

 Speaking with Screenwriters Ian Goldberg & Richard Naing
World Premiere of THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE

Sharing a laugh with legendary Writer/Director Paul Schrader
North American Premiere DOG EAT DOG Sept 16th, 2016

Film Geek/Interviewer Robert Mitchell shakes hands with legendary 
Writer/Director Paul Schrader

Screenwriter Matthew Wilder speaks with Robert Mitchell aka Mr. Blue
North American Premiere DOG EAT DOG Sept. 16th, 2016

Robert Mitchell somehow talks with vengeful spirit Kayako
SADAKO vs KAYAKO September 17th, 2016

Almost cursed by Sadako
SADAKO vs KAYAKO Sept. 17th, 2016


Sarah Mitchell Robert Mitchell on the Midnight Madness Red Carpet
September 16th, 2016

Sarah Mitchell, Robert Mitchell with photographer Ian Goring
Sept. 16th, 2016 Photo By: Dominik Magdziak

Robert & Sarah Mitchell arrive at TIFF 2016
September 8th, 2016 Photo: Random Volunteer  


Having a "Bro" moment with Jason Momoa at the World Premiere
THE BAD BATCH Screen Grab From Video Files

Film Festival Nights Selfie

"You Either Eat The Shark or the Shark Eats You"
Survived TIFF 2016

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

ROBERT MITCHELL'S VIDEO DIARY AT THE 2016 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL


As the new year begins here is a quick video diary looking back at my time at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival and in particular the Midnight Madness programme. It was great to be back in the city and seeing so many friends from around the world. As always the whirlwind and the buzz of the film festival was an amazing experience!