University of Toronto
The film community at U of T is thriving thanks to the Hart House Film Board and the Raindance on Campus groups. Though they may not have the same resources as their film school counterparts, their productions have no lack of heart. While the premise is a bit out of left field, there was chemistry in Edy Garfinkel's Blowdryin' Sunday. Carla Veldman's Uncle Antlers memorized audiences despite some faulty playback on the Hart House computers. I was hoping to see more from those in Mississauga due to their partnership with Sheridan College. Perhaps at Toronto Youth Shorts this year!
I attended three screenings at York and some of these films really made that trek on the Finch bus worth it. From their second year, I found the documentaries to be strongest with The Friendly Giant by Mariah Enarson, Yes I Can by Lalo Nixon-Pasten, and Salamander by Aidan Cheeatow being exceptionally notable for presenting engaging characters with a vulnerability that audiences can empathize with. Same goes for Last Step by Rachel D’Ercole, produced from the third year group. Salmonella by Michele DesLauriers showed a lot of charm with its art direction, colour palette, and kooky characters.
The content coming out of 4th year truly impressed me, with Tidal Waves by Kristina Wang being amongst one of my favourite dramas across all the film screenings I’ve attended so far. Emmerek Van Leur’s Tinder Dad rightfully solicited laughs from the crowd and it was crazy to see how much they were able to get away with. And despite being 18 minutes long, there was no lull in the bittersweet story of Christian Harrison's Moods Like Jazz.
I had the pleasure to see work from the graduating classes of both their Film and Television Production diploma program and their Film and Media Production degree program at the Bloor Cinema. This is the first time in years that I was able to directly compare the work between the two. Some of the best films from both programs are stories based on being an outsider or being different. Both Stall by Ramon Lapshin and Distance by Roya Edalatmand are effective relationship dramas that hit the right emotional notes. Interestingly enough, both programs ended on films about someone who is terminally ill. Both Jacob is Ready by Tatevik Galstyan and Severance by Katie Hill feature beautiful landscape photography to parallel the inner character conflict.
Event organizers and filmmaking collaborators, Sanchita Mitra, Jessica Sinopoli, and Molly Shears produced the Next Exit Film Festival, giving me a taste of OCAD's Integrated Media program. In addition to three narrative films that they collaborated on in different roles, the screening featured a lot of video art. Stylistically speaking, they stand out from the rest of the film schools due to the differences in their curriculum and resources. Father’s Story by Sook Jung features still images that are hauntingly beautiful, with a direction that is very different compared to the work seen in industry-based animation schools. As expected of OCAD, a lot of the work do not adhere to traditional formats and artists are more free to experiment. Now that our good friend, Jamie McMillan, is back from overseas to run Augmented Cinema again, I can’t wait to see what other OCAD U projects are out there.
I’ll be going to RUFF this week as well and they definitely have some shoes to fill when it comes to my expectations. But if the quality of past content is any indication, I’m sure it’ll be just as amazing. Hopefully we can show some of these films to you at Toronto Youth Shorts this year!