Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles
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Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles

John Foy (USA, Next)

Tuesday, May 3, 9 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 (350 King Street West)
Wednesday, May 4, 11:45 p.m.
Bloor Cinema (506 Bloor Street West)
Saturday, May 7, 9:15 p.m.
Cumberland 3 (159 Cumberland Street)

Conspiracy theories seem like an endless pursuit: as pieces of the puzzle fall into place, the puzzle itself just gets larger. As someone once said, “It’s like unravelling a big cable knit sweater that someone keeps knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting.” In Resurrect Dead, Philadelphia artist Justin Duerr attempts to unravel the proverbial cable knit sweater of the so-called “Toynbee tiles,” cryptic messages embedded in asphalt across the Eastern U.S. and South America bearing some variation in the phrase, “Toynbee idea in Movie 2001. Resurrect Dead on Planet Jupiter.”
Since the mid-’80s, different people have tried to get to the bottom of these cryptic messages. Resurrect Dead explores all these attempts, following Duerr’s decade-plus quest to understand the identity of the person behind the Toynbee tiles. His pursuit takes him to libraries, short wave radio conventions, and even to the doorstep of the prime suspect.
Through a series of interviews, re-enactments, and animations, Foy breaks down the surfeit of information on the subject with purpose and lucidity. Suffused in darkness and scored with minimal, eerie sound cues, Resurrect Dead unfolds like a lost episode of Unsolved Mysteries. Like Duerr, Foy follows a lot of dead ends, which makes it seem as if the film’s wheels are spinning a bit. And, like Duerr, he never reaches a satisfying conclusion. Still, even though Resurrect Dead doesn’t give a full view of the cable knit sweater, it’s easy enough to enjoy the yarn.