If you blinked, you just might have missed this year’s U of T Film Festival. Rather than the traditional grandeur and prestige of Hart House, festival director Rick Palidwor decided that the low-key Innis Town Hall was to be this year’s venue. His decision turned out to be a wise one.
Truer to the nature of aspiring screenwriters, Innis Hall’s grungy vibe set the mood for a showcase of various student productions, with no lack of originality. Nearing the end of the week-long event, Friday night’s screenings kicked off with the second annual Shitty Film Contest, a collection of comical shorts which left the audience in a state of ambiguity, wondering what their purpose was, if there was any at all.
Of the six entries, a 59-second film entitled Lampreydator by Monica Granados and Maggie Neff was awarded the coveted title of shittiest film, relaying the accounts of a blood-sucking parasite devouring the earth.
After the laughs, some noteworthy films followed during the Spotlight on Cinema Studies Students, all of which were written and directed by current students of Innis College. Heavily reminiscent of the foreign compilation Paris, je t’aime, a short film entitled Faut-il Que Je t’aime by B. Lai was a crowd favourite with its depictions of everyday life and people as they are, set to a rhythmic Parisian tune. Yet it was The Vintage Thinker that claimed the prize for best short film in the category, another of Lai’s French-inspired fusions in which skirmishes through the woods attempt to describe the journey of a light bulb.
As part of its Free Friday Films, the CINSSU (Cinema Studies Student Union) presented the feature of the night, Hard Core Logo, a mockumetary that recounts the story of a washed-up Canadian punk band on their last leg as they tour across Western Canada, all while trying to keep their once-strong relationships intact. Directed by Bruce MacDonald and released in 1996, the film is based on a Michael Turner book by the same name and is often regarded as one of the all-time best films to come out of Canada.
Interesting to note is the character of Billy Tallent, Hard Core Logo’s fame-crazed guitarist, after whom Streetsville rockers Billy Talent got their name. It is also crucial to acknowledge that despite popular belief, Canada’s film and music industries are not as far-gone as they’re made out to be. Movies like Hard Core Logo are out to prove that if you have an original script and the right amount of gusto, you’ll just about always be successful. Even if you are from Canada.
After the screening, editor Reg Harkema and screenwriter Noel Baker stepped out of the audience for a Q&A session. Of the many questions posed by avid film students, “What advice do you have for young filmmakers trying to make it in the industry?” seemed to be the most popular inquiry.
Harkema stressed the usefulness of re-editing the final cut no matter how perfect you deem it to be, “because the quality will always be increased whenever you revisit your work.” Baker however, offered a less technical type of advice: “Find the heart of the story.”
The U of T Film festival is an annual event which runs every year in the middle of the winter semester downtown. Check out the events website at www.uoftfilfest.ca for more information and the history of the festival.