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Pontypool to Premiere at TIFF

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Pontypool to Premiere at TIFF

Filmmaker Bruce McDonald's first horror film, Pontypool, is set to debut at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival. The film is an adaptation by Tony Burgess of his 1998 novel, Pontypool Changes Everything (ECW Press). Burgess is also the author of The Hellmouths of Bewdley, Caesarea and Fiction for Lovers. TIFF runs from September 4 to 13.

From the ECW Press Release:

Ten years after "Kinder Egg option" Canadian novel set to premiere at TIFF.

Pontypool Changes Everything a novel by Ontario author Tony Burgess (ECW Press, 1998) has been made into a full-length feature film that will have its world premiere this September at the Toronto International Film Festival. A psychological thriller, Pontypool — the movie's title — marks a change in direction for legendary Canadian film director Bruce McDonald. This is McDonald's first horror film. With a screenplay written by Burgess, it's the compelling, terrifying story of a devastating virus — one that is caught through conversation. In a radio station in the small town of Pontypool, Ontario, a feisty washed-up disc jockey gets trapped with his crew while the zombie-creating plague erupts outside.

The project began when Burgess was introduced to McDonald at the Pontypool Changes Everything book launch ten years ago. Given the galleys to read in advance, McDonald walked up to Burgess and offered to option the book right there on the spot. "He set a Kinder Egg in front of me and said, 'This is the option, let's make a movie," Burgess says. "That sort of blew my mind, because it was only my second book." Since that time, Burgess's credits have grown. He is the author of four books of fiction, one of which, Fiction for Lovers (ECW Press, 2003), won the ReLit Award.

Pontypool was filmed in Toronto's west end and near Stayner, Ontario, where Burgess resides. Cast in the film's central roles are Genie Award winning actor Stephen McHattie (300, A History of Violence, Seinfeld , Warner Bros. upcoming DC Comics The Watchmen ) and American-born Lisa Houle (Emily of New Moon, Seinfeld guest, and Due South ). Burgess was on set until the final day of shooting just six weeks ago. The film will hold a few surprises for those already familiar with Burgess's book. "Working with Bruce (McDonald) has been great," Burgess said, "I write him these insane things that I think he'll fire me over, but he just keeps putting them in the damn movie."

Pontypool is also the first full length Canadian feature film to be shot entirely using the new Red One 4k HD Camera and will be the first "Red" feature to ever screen at the fest. The Red One Camera requires no film or tape stock. Footage is instantly saved on a digital memory card. Visual effects for Pontypool are being done by leading special effects house Mr. X, whose recent credits include the Tom Cruise-produced Death Race, Resident Evil, Silent Hill , and the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake.

Pontypool, which was shot using 100 percent private funds, a rarity for most films, has quickly become one of the most talked about and anticipated films of this year's fest. McDonald can't wait to unveil the film at "his favorite, the best and most important film festival in the world." The Toronto International Film Festival is famous for supporting independent filmmakers and is often where distributors acquire new titles to release.

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