The 18th annual Ryerson University Film Festival held in Ryerson’s very own theater, presented audiences with a very strong lineup of student made short films. From comedy, to sci-fi, to drama, the festival presented diversity in not only genre but content and subject matter. The quality of the films exhibited in this year’s festival exceeded all of any expectations we could have ever had. Each piece told an engaging and emotional story, enhanced by the high quality acting, cinematography and sound design. A large quantity of the films on Day 1 of the festival felt very raw with real people telling real stories in real worlds. Most notably, Bookends by Pia Abrahams, Dreaming is a Private Thing by AJ Smith, Menesetung by Kyle McDonnell and Mannish Boy by Ryan Tonelli stood out as films that could definitely be presented in professional industry festivals such as TIFF.
The overall highlight of the evening was undoubtedly Mannish Boy, a coming of age drama set in 1970’s Brooklyn, NY. This heartfelt piece explores the relationship between two brothers tied up in street crime while touching on topics of racism and police brutality relevant in the 1970’s. There are so many aspects of this film, which make it the incredible and impressive piece it is. Most notably, maintaining the illusion of 1970’s Brooklyn in 2015 Toronto requires a large amount of strategic pre-production research and planning. The art department did a phenomenal job in capturing the aesthetic of the 1970’s in a Brooklyn setting through costume, set design, prop and colour pallet choices. The cherry on top was the final twist at the end of the short, which left audiences on the edge of their seats wanting more (or maybe it was just us).
The second night of RUFF was exciting because after screening many more fantastic films, there was also an award ceremony. Ryan Tonelli's short film Mannish Boy took home several awards. My favourites of the night were Cafe Caveat directed by Tim MacLennan, Earth to Avery directed by Julianna Notten, and NrG Elite directed by Emmett Fraser. NrG Elite was my overall favourite because it struck all the right notes in terms of editing, humour and production design.
This was my first time at RUFF, and it was the best-run student film festival I've attended so far. I look forwarded to seeing future projects by each of the film-making teams . More information about all of the RUFF films can be found here: http://www.imagearts.ryerson.ca/ruff/
We wish the Ryerson Film Class of 2015 good luck as they culminate their education and enter the professional film industry.