The inaugural edition of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival took place on October 20–24, 2006. It showcased 13 feature-length films from different countries and 15 Canadian short films. Some of the films screened at the Bloor Cinema included Hal Haberman and Jeremy Passmore’s “Special”, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s “Retribution”, and Scott Glosserman’s “Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon”. The latter won the festival’s first Audience Award. The program also included a workshop taught by American filmmaker Lloyd Kaufman. The inaugural festival drew over 4,000 attendees.
Toronto After Dark’s program features a wide array of feature-length and short films from Asia, Europe and North America. Over the year, it has grown into one of the leading festivals of its kind not only in North America, but the rest of the world. Each year, its program includes over 50 films from all over the world viewed by more than 11,000 spectators, including about 200 journalists and industry professionals. The festival’s program is divided into several sections.
Along with film screenings, Toronto After Dark’s program includes meetings with film directors, screenwriters, producers, actors and other industry professionals, the Pub After Dark parties where festival-goers can meet film directors and other special guests in a more informal and relaxed atmosphere, and Zombie Night. Zombie Night is a fun and scary costume party for horror movie fans.
Toronto After Dark is a competitive festival, but it has no jury. All winners are chosen by popular vote. Three films are awarded the Audience Award for the Beast Feature Film (Gold, Silver, or Bronze). Among the first laureates of the festival’s award were “Let the Right One In (Sweden), “Repo! The Genetic Opera” (the United States), and “4bia” (Thailand). Special awards are also handed to Canadian and international short films.