The second annual UTM Film Festival was a night to remember, with great films, prizes, and popcorn. The event was hosted by the Department of Visual Studies Student Society in the CCT Building last Wednesday night.

Films were submitted online until February 19, after which they were available for viewing on YouTube and Vimeo so people could watch them before the festival and vote for the viewer’s choice award. The lack of an entry fee meant the contestants faced one less obstacle in sharing their work with a wider audience.

The bulk of the night was the screening of the 18 entries, from as short as 60 seconds to as long as 11 minutes. Some of the films were very abstract, while others told a clear story, and this diversity meant that there was something in the festival for everyone. At the end of the night, awards were given out for the best screenplay, best video art, best documentary, best film, and viewer’s choice.

The best screenplay award went to Francesco Reale’s Salad, described on Vimeo as “a dinner at home gone terribly wrong”. This award was very well-deserved: the script, acting, and music worked together to make a very tense, real atmosphere. Lesley Hampton’s Extreme Comfort, which was both haunting and beautiful to watch, took the award for best video art.

The viewer’s choice award was won by Shaq Hosein’s Crave, a film about two estranged brothers and their reconnecting. It definitely deserved the award and was, in my opinion, one of the frontrunners for best film.

Alex Gougeon’s Filth Krew, a documentary about an underground rap group trying to make it in the music industry, won the prize for best documentary. This film gave a lot of insight into how the group was formed, and it was interesting to get to know them, see them perform, and appreciate their work.

Lastly, best film went to Wajahat Syed and Hassan Naeem’s Featherweight, a film about a police officer’s downward spiral. The film was only about five minutes long, but its impact made it seem much longer. The film was in film noir style, a choice that worked to its advantage. Considering its impeccable script and great acting as well, the film deserved the award.

This being said, I enjoyed a few other films, too. The first was Matthew Household’s Home-made Pizza, a hilarious DIY pizza tutorial that was only a minute long but that made me laugh the most.

Another was Katelyn NoyesMy Violent Society, described as “an artist’s critique of the overwhelming amount of violence in society (as a whole) today”. This film was enlightening and a little frightening to watch, because as the pictures and symbols of violence flashed erratically on screen to some very loud music by Nine Inch Nails, the audience realized how much violence we actually see on a daily basis and have become accustomed to.

The last film screened was my absolute favourite: The Invitation by Shaq Hosein, Mahmoud Sarouji, and Mubashir Baweja. The film is described as “the story of a young man afraid of human interaction after he receives a strange parcel in his mailbox”. But while watching the film, one realizes right away that there’s much more to it. The script, voiceover, and editing are quick, sharp, and funny. This film was a great, upbeat closing to the show, and I was surprised when it didn’t receive any awards.

The UTM Film Festival was a very enjoyable experience and a celebration of the talent at UTM. The only issue was the sparse attendance; I think this event deserved a larger audience than it attracted.

To watch the submitted videos, you can head over to